New Jeep Wrangler Leaves Old Pain Points in the Dust

Smoother roof retraction, easier door removal, and a flip-forward windshield that won’t leave you in tears—that’s Jeep listening to its fans.

Eric Adams/TheDrive

The new Jeep Wrangler finally debuts in Los Angeles today, after months of speculation, spy photos, a leaked owner’s manual torn limb-from-limb online by enthusiast sharks, and—notably—after a media drive in New Zealand that we attended and will report on within a few weeks. Today, though, we have the technical details. The take-home: Many refinements in both size, shape, and power, and yet more tweaks that address complaints by the vocal and often crabby owner community.

For instance, the soft-top roof. Previously an infuriatingly unwieldy disassembly process, it’s now a smooth mechanical retraction using clock springs to maintain tension on the way up and down. Another pain point, for those who enjoy having their faces sandblasted on the trail, was windshield-removal; it previously required the removal of dozens of bolts, but now can be flipped forward after releasing just four. Those who also dig ditching the doors will be relieved to see they’re now made of lightweight aluminum and have staggered-length door pins to ease installation and removal. (You can insert one and then align the other instead of wrestling to align both at once.) They also stamped the Torx bit tool size right on the door hinge, so you don’t have to remember it, and added functional vents to eliminate hood flutter.

Eric Adams / The Drive

The new Jeep Wrangler in its happy place.

The redesign's more visible enhancements include a new seven-slot grille that more accurately reflects the configuration of the original CJ, optional LEDs front and rear, re-sculpted wheel flares, new latches for the clamshell hood, improved (and waterproof!) touchscreen user interfaces and displays, and, more stealthily, a stamped metal information plaque inside the swing gate that similarly echoes Jeep’s heritage, via the Willys.

Another pain point for Jeep enthusiasts has been on-road behavior—an often unpleasant affair in the off-road-optimized vehicle. Jeep addressed this with a new five-link suspension that uses repositioned shocks to reign in body roll and a structural design that isolates noise from wind, road, and the powertrain.

Of course, off-road chops remain the Wrangler’s raison-d’etre, and the redesign delivers the specs. It has improved clearance with a 44-degree approach angle, a 27.8-degree breakover angle, a 37-degree departure angle, and a ground clearance of 10.9 inches. The base engine is the 3.6-liter Pentastar V-6 mated to an eight-speed automatic of a six-speed manual. It still delivers 285 hp and 260 lb-ft, as its predecessor, and the company says low-end torque is enhanced. A new 2-liter turbocharged four-cylinder will come after the V-6 launches, bringing 270 hp and 295 lb-ft with it. The top-shelf Rubicon brings Dana 44 axles with electronic locking differentials and an electronic front sway bar disconnect for additional wheel travel when needed.

Off-road Fun in the 2017 Jeep Wrangler Rubicon Recon
The Drive

Those are the highlights, and there are plenty of other bits of modernization—including safety hits like blind-spot monitoring and Rear Cross Path detection—and off-road ingenuity going on in the car. We’ll unpack those in detail when our review hits in mid-December. But the gist is that the Wrangler remains dedicated to everyone from the enthusiast off-roader to the hard-core rock crawlers, and the redesign reflects this in the both the details and the big picture.