As almost everybody knows, the legendary Jeep started life as a General Purpose or GP workhorse for military applications in WW2 and that’s likely where the name “Jeep” came from in the first place (though there are other theories). Military personnel came to love the go-anywhere durability of the little rig and large numbers were sold to citizens after the conflict, during which some 640,000 were built. They were so popular that it made sense to carry on building them for civilian use, but back then nobody could have foreseen that in 2017, the Jeep would be as sought-after as ever, though today’s version is a lot more complex and sophisticated than the humble war hero that formed its origins.
The Jeep spawned countless imitators and even the original Land Rover was inspired by the WW2 Jeep. Of course, the Jeep brand covers a wide range of products, but for this feature, we’re only talking about the Wrangler.
One of the great things about Jeeps is that they really can negotiate terrain where few wheeled vehicles could ever operate - and I’ve proved this to myself over the years in both competition and recreational use. Seemingly impassable rock-strewn gullies and ultra-steep climbs, descents and sidehills are welcome territory for Jeeps.
New Jeeps don’t come along very often – they were bought to near-perfection years ago and don‘t need a regular major re-hash - but for 2018, we are getting an all-new Wrangler. Don’t expect the classic Jeep look to be interfered with though, especially the instantly recognizable keystone-shaped grille.
The design stays true to that of the original Jeep concept and you really need to put a 2018 alongside a 2017 too see the subtle enhancements. What buyers will get are more fuel-efficient powertrains, more open-air options and a roster of new safety features and other advanced technologies. For serious off-roaders (and there are lots of them in BC) the Wrangler features industry-leading ground clearance and approach and departure angles – critical elements in a serious 4X4. According to Jeep, the vehicle will happily negotiate creeks 30-inches deep.
Off road capability is better than ever with Command-Trac and Rock-Trac 4X4 systems mated to next-generation Dana axles. Other tech highlights include a Selec-Trac full-time two-speed transfer case, Tru-Lok electric front and rear axle lockers, a Trac-Lok limited-slip differential and 33-inch off-road tires. It may all sound a little confusing to a Jeep novice, but your dealer will explain how these elements aid driving over the rough stuff. I once drove a Jeep from Whitehorse to Tuktoyaktuk and back on the ice roads in mid winter and the vehicle never put a wheel wrong.
Of course, Jeep Wranglers are a lot more comfortable than they used to be because that’s what modern buyers demand. The new rig does have the drop-down windshield that’s been a characteristic since military Jeeps swarmed ashore on D-Day and off-roaders love this feature. On the other hand, a Wrangler can be sealed up from whatever exterior weather is being endured and you’ll be as cozy as you would in a Range Rover.
Under the hood you can choose a newly developed 2.0-litre turbocharged 4-cylinder or a 3.6-litre V-6. Transmissions include an 8-speed automatic and a 6-speed manual. This exciting new Wrangler should arrive in the showrooms during January of 2018 in several variant, including Rubicon. Also coming in 2019 is a very welcome 3.0-litre EcoDiesel V-6 that should provide both enhanced hauling torque and fuel economy.
SPECS AT A GLANCE…
BODY STYLE: 2-door or 4-door off-road utility
ENGINE: 2.0-litre turbo 4-cyl or 3.0-litre V-6. Diesel on the way
TRANSMISSION: 8-speed auto, 6-speed manual
TOWING CAPACITY: 1,588 kg (V-6)
FUEL ECONOMY: 14.2-litres/100 km city; 11-litres/100 km hwy. (V-6)
PRICE: $28,445 to $43,245 MSRP