A Jeep is for the off-roader warrior. It’s the chariot inspired by military muscle, exactly the vehicle you need when you’re in a mood to conquer the land beyond the asphalt. That may be the line from the marketing department, but the engineering and design folks clearly take it seriously.
The new Jeep Wrangler, which debuted this week at the Los Angeles Auto Show, comes with a suite of upgrades to enhance the scrappiness its loyal fan base expects. Those include improved clearances allowing it to scramble over the gnarliest terrain. The doors are lighter and easier to remove, to help drop weight, increase visibility, and make clear this is indeed a Jeep. The windshield is easier to fold down. A refined five-link suspension delivers improved flexibility on the trail, and electro-hydraulic steering fine tunes the control.
Under the hood, you can opt for a 2-liter, four-cylinder turbo engine, good for 285 horsepower and 260 pound-feet of torque. The 3.6-liter V6 Pentastar engine delivers a bit less total power (270 hp), but a bunch more torque (295 pound-feet), so if you’re looking for pulling power, that’s your best bet. Come 2019, Jeep will introduce a 3-liter V6 that runs on diesel.
Of course, this new Wrangler isn’t just for rumbling and rambling, and those engineers and designers didn’t forget about the (presumably many) customers who just want a cool-looking ride to take shopping. They tweaked the suspension for flatter turns and more stable on-road performance, and used sound isolation and deadening strategies to make for a quieter ride.
And, this being 2017, Jeep loaded up the Wrangler with a bounty of modernizations. The off-roader now has a backup camera and rear park-assist sensors, blind-spot monitoring and cross-path detection tech, and the usual gamut of traction and stability controls. Inside, it deploys a fourth-generation Uconnect system for entertainment, navigation, and handsfree communication, and it now has a five-inch touchscreen (you can also go for a 7- or 8.4-inch version). The customizable instrument cluster has an option for full-color graphics. You even get Apple CarPlay and Android Auto.
But all that coddling tech doesn’t erase the Jeep DNA. Knowing their customers will indeed want to get dirty sometimes, the automaker made the Wrangler’s entire interior—from infotainment system to the speaker—fully waterproof. So after your day in the country, you can hose it down, and get it nice and clean for that next expedition through the mall parking lot.