The most important Jeep ever made is the original Willy’s that spawned an entire industry, a brand, and a following second to none in the automotive world. The Wrangler JK has become the greatest selling Wrangler of all time making it possibly the second most significant Jeep in history. With an 11 year run and the highest sales numbers of any Wrangler ever, its replacement has a lot to live up to.
Wrangler JL First Impression
Have you ever run into an old friend you haven’t seen in awhile? The type of friend who immediately feels like you just talked yesterday and nothing in your lives have changed and you part ways knowing if you ever called on them they would be there for you no matter what.
Well that’s what the new Wrangler JL feels like. Everything is newer, more refined, and slightly different but it all feels similar and there is comfort in that familiarity.
One major difference is the change in dash materials. gone is the extensive plastic, replaced by a waffle pattern rubber. The grab handle, dash components, and radio trim are all made from the new material. It definitely feels nicer and should be much more durable. It is even used on some of the buttons to create a whole new feel.
Speaking of buttons. Everything is bigger. The radio knobs, climate control, and switching gear are all larger and easier to use.
The locker control is now a wide thin rocker switch that offers a much more intuitive engagement. Down for rear only, up for both. Much better than counting button presses to get them to engage.
The Little things
We will do a full review of performance and capabilities later. today I just want to focus on the little tidbits that I have noticed in the first few hundred miles.
While I mentioned a few above there are several others that are definitely worth mentioning.
One of the more interesting features is the door stays. Each door now has an arm that holds it open. I was actually confused the first time it did it. I was so used to the door swinging back at me and not staying open when I needed it to. The doors are super light compared to the old ones as well, so you no longer have to close them like a Gorilla smashing a coconut.
The exterior door handles are now a pull open versus pressing a button. The inside handles mimic the hood latches in their design.
Visibility has improved out the windows. I have not confirmed this but it feels like the door window is wider and the B pillar is further back. I certainly have a better side view that I did in the JK with the seat all the way back.
The seat backs now have a Molle style strap system with two hooks for hanging or organizing gear.
The extra size of the new JL Unlimited translated into more rear leg room for passengers with a slight increase in cargo area as well. Leg room increased by 1.1 inches while cargo went from 70.6 to 72.4 cubic feet. I can tell that the rear seat leg room looks like a lot more than 1.1 inches.
The JL is also weighs 82 pounds less (when comparing base Rubicon models) than the outgoing model. Considering it has far more tech stuffed in with a beefier front axle any weight savings is impressive. Another reason to celebrate a weight drop is the new JL is almost 4 inches longer overall and has a 2.4 inch longer wheelbase. Despite that new length the JL should turn tighter and handle better with an additional 3 degrees of steering angle.
Wrangler JL Performance
I have never thought of a Jeep Wrangler as fast. They are after all a mobile brick. The latest generation is definitely a step faster than the JK. There is a much more prominent kick in the pants above 2000 RPM, acceleration is improved in top gear, and the automatic version downright flies. While we may have opted for the manual those wanting or transitioning to the automatic will love the anew ZF 8 speed. Lightning quick shifting, excellent gearing, and smooth operation make it the best automatic I have ever tested.
More to come…
There will certainly be more to follow as we put more miles on the JL. There will definitely be a much more in depth discussion about the tech packed into the new model. My one and only current dislike about the JL is the addition of the automatic engine Stop/Start function. Great for emissions, terrible for everything else.