While enthusiasts anxiously wait for the new 2018 Wrangler JL to go on sale next year, automotive journalists are already getting a chance to bash some press vehicles against the rocks. Scott Evans from MotorTrend was lucky enough to find himself test driving a Wrangler JL on New Zealand’s South Island.
If there was any doubt about the new Wrangler’s capabilities, this test drive should put them to rest. There was a 24-degree slope with an even steeper climb to one side and a sheer drop on the other. To make matters worse it was drizzling a bit on test day, turning the road into one muddy mess.
But his 3.6-liter V-6 powered two-door Rubicon vehicle equipped with the optional eight-speed automatic gearbox was able to handle it. Though at crawling speeds with four-wheel-drive, he probably didn’t have a chance to use every bit of that 285 hp and 260 lb-ft of torque.
Not limited just the two door, Evans was given a four-door Rubicon Unlimited with a six-speed manual gearbox and the same engine as its smaller sibling. Of course ride quality improved, but what stuck out was the improvements made compared to its predecessor. A JK Rubicon Unlimited support vehicle was beached in an obstacle that the JL was able to easily handle.
The JL may not be perfect, but it only has two faults in his opinion: a vague clutch take-up on the manual gearbox and the V-6 engine feels a “bit gutless” at low revs.