4 Wheel & Off Road - - DRIVELINES - Drew Hardin BY ED­I­TOR@4WOR.COM

“The worst-kept se­cret re­vealed” in the 4x4 world was

Fi­nally, af­ter months of leaks, in­ter­net ru­mor mon­ger­ing, and a teaser pre­view by Jeep it­self at the 2017 SEMA Show, the worst-kept se­cret in the 4x4 world, the 2018 JL Wran­gler, was of­fi­cially un­veiled at the 2017 Los An­ge­les Auto Show.

Jeep chief Mike Man­ley spent the first part of the press con­fer­ence set­ting the stage for the Wran­gler’s lat­est evo­lu­tion­ary step. He said Wran­gler “rep­re­sents the orig­i­nal, quin­tes­sen­tial Jeep, the em­bod­i­ment of every­thing Jeep stands for,” and that its ap­peal “is far more about mind­set than de­mo­graph­ics.” The Jeep ex­pe­ri­ence “of­fers some­thing real, grounded and true, au­then­tic, and down-to-earth.”

A four-door Sa­hara model took the stage first. Man­ley walked through the aero­dy­namic im­prove­ments—from the raked grille to the small rear roof spoiler—and weight sav­ings, in­clud­ing alu­minum doors and mag­ne­sium swing-gate, all done to im­prove mileage. A “cat­a­log of open-air com­bi­na­tions” in­cludes the new Sky power top, a can­vas roof panel that fully re­tracts at the push of a but­ton. The new Wran­gler has some 75 safety and se­cu­rity sys­tems on­board, as well as im­proved con­nec­tiv­ity, in­clud­ing An­droid Auto and Ap­ple CarPlay.

Next, two- and four-door Ru­bi­con mod­els drove up steep ramps on the stage, giv­ing Man­ley the cue to talk about the JL’s ca­pa­bil­ity. He men­tioned the avail­abil­ity of four en­gines and de­scribed a tur­bocharged 2.0L four-cylin­der that pro­duces a best-in-class

270 hp and 295 lb-ft of torque (when paired with the eight-speed au­to­matic trans­mis­sion); the re­turn of the 3.6L Pen­tas­tar V-6, now with stop/start tech­nol­ogy; and the 2019 avail­abil­ity of the

3.0L EcoDiesel V-6, pro­duc­ing 260 hp and a whop­ping 442 lb-ft of torque. The en­gine de­scrip­tions stopped there.

Man­ley went on to dis­cuss trans­mis­sion op­tions, torque-man­age­ment sys­tems, tire sizes, and ford­ing depth. For a few min­utes we won­dered if he had mis­spo­ken about four en­gines. But he saved that fi­nal piece of news for last. In 2020 the Jeep will be avail­able with a “full plug-in elec­tric” pow­er­train, he said, a juicy bit of info that didn’t even make it into the of­fi­cial press re­lease.

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