Model: Jeep Wrangler Unlimited Sahara 4X4
Exterior color: Granite Crystal Metallic
Interior color: Black
Engine: 3.6-liter, V-6
Transmission: 8-speed automatic
Fuel economy: 23 mpg highway, 18 mpg city
Price (as tested): $48,250
Local dealer: Crown Chrysler Dodge Jeep Ram Fiat
The most iconic model in the Jeep lineup is the beloved Wrangler, which brings to mind every World War II movie you've ever seen.
For 2018, Jeep has substantially upgraded the Wrangler, which only boosts its reputation as a vehicle that holds its value. Available in two- or four-door models, the new Wrangler has been upgraded both mechanically and aesthetically.
Our four-door, soft-top Wrangler Unlimited Sahara tester, provided for a one-week test drive by the manufacturer, felt more solid and buttoned-down than the previous generation. Still, drivers of car-based crossovers should go on an extended test drive before considering a Wrangler. In heavy wind or over uneven pavement, the Jeep can feel a bit bouncy — like a motorboat crossing a choppy wake.
Jeep knows that the Wrangler is not just for weekend warriors anymore. For a significant number of owners, it's their primary transportation. Consequently, Jeep has amped up the creature comforts. Our tester comes with Apple CarPlay and Android Auto, leather-trimmed seats, seven-inch color display, satellite radio, GPS navigation and an Alpine premium audio system.
Locally, Crown Chrysler Dodge Jeep Ram Fiat, 2120 Chapman Road, had 49 2018 Jeep Wranglers in digital inventory late this week.
WHAT IS IT? The Jeep Wrangler, dubbed by some the "original SUV," is an off-road specialist that has been tamed — but not shamed — into becoming an everyday driver, as well. Available at a variety of price points, your can order up a bare-bones off-roader, or a plush family hauler. Our Sahara tester is tuned more for the street.
WHICH MODEL TO BUY: While there are several trim levels available, our Wrangler Unlimited 4X4 Sahara tester ($48,250) is the best option for those who prefer asphalt roads to dry creek beds and boulder fields. Its Selec-Trac Full-Time 4WD system ($595) and anti-spin rear differential ($595) options offer a potent one-two punch against Chattanooga area snow and ice. Plus, it has Goodyear Wrangler all-season tires to improve ride comfort.
RESALE CHAMP: If the thought of a Wrangler approaching $50,000 makes you gasp, be reminded that the true cost of a vehicle is the difference in its showroom cost and its resale value. The Wrangler holds its value incredibly well. ALG, the company that has become the gold standard for determining vehicle resale value, has, for the second year in a row, named the Jeep Wrangler the resale value champion among off-road SUVS. According to Kelly Blue Book, a three-year-old Wrangler retains about two-thirds of its original retail value.
DRIVING IMPRESSIONS: The new Wrangler handles better and accelerates faster than the previous generation. Motor Trend clocked a Wrangler Unlimited Sahara at 6.9 seconds in the zero-to-60 mph dash. Our tester comes equipped with a 3.6-liter, V-6 engine that makes 285 horsepower. Power flows through an 8-speed automatic transmission.
ROOM FOR IMPROVEMENT: Wrangler soft-tops can be a bit noisy for those more accustomed to unibody crossovers. For most Wrangler owners, who value open-air driving, this is a worthwhile trade-off.
BOTTOM LINE: If you need a rugged SUV that holds its value, the Wrangler is your best bet.
Contact Mark Kennedy at email@example.com or 423-757-6645.