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Jeep Wrangler is the 2019 MotorTrend SUV of the Year

Look past the iconic grille, and youll see it. Behold the latest evolution of a seven-decades-old design, a soul-stirring affirmation of freedom, a surprisingly groundbreaking vehicle that shouldnt work in the 21st century as well as it does. The new Jeep Wrangler is what crossovers want to be when they grow up, and its the 2019 MotorTrend SUV of the Year. Rarely do past and future coexist so beautifully. The thoroughly redesigned and re-engineered Wrangler finds its own path to modernization, resisting the temptation to dilute its climb-that-mountain capabilities for crossover softness. Even so, beach-bound cruisers and daily commuters will appreciate the upgraded pavement game, and off-roaders will admire how much more confidently they can traverse their favorite trails. This Jeep delivers, no matter what. --> The Wranglers diverse range furnishes a model for every need. For the Jeep lover reminiscing about the Wranglers past, the capable two-door model with a V-6 and manual transmission costs about $30,000before hitting the aftermarket for customization. The four-door Unlimited model makes it easier to bring friends along for the journey. Perhaps the best part is the available mild-hybrid turbo-four, which improves EPA-rated city fuel economy by an astounding 38 percent compared to the outgoing model. The Wrangler is a thoughtful, thorough rework of an American original, international bureau chief Angus MacKenzie said. Its laser-focused on improving the performance of its intended function, right down to the last nut and bolt. Advancement in Design Its no easy task to update the look of an icon. Its a no-win proposition. Do too much (or too little), and the critics will howl. But Jeep nailed it. Jeep approached the Wranglers styling with a light but deliberate touch. Relocating the Jeep badge from the Wranglers face to the front fenders facilitates a less cluttered look, with round headlights touching the edge of the seven-bar grille. Other than LED turn signals mounted on the ends of the wheel flares and updated square taillights, not much else gives away the Wrangler as the new JL model. And thats exactly how it should be. The Wrangler isnt a crossover requiring twice-a-decade face-lifts to retain buyers interest. It embraces a classic style that continues to attract dreamers who want to remember what SUVs used to be. The standard canvas top and plastic side windows remain available, and like the fold-down front windshield, theyre easier and quicker to disassemble and reinstall than before, using simple tools. For further customization, black or body-colored hard tops are available, and the soft top comes in black or tan. A vibrant color palette, seven wheel styles, and a regular series of special editions present every opportunity to make a Wrangler reflect your tastesand thats before you venture to Mopar for accessories and upgrades. In so many ways, the Wrangler advances design to make Jeeping more rewardingwhatever that means to you. Open the power-retractable Sky One-Touch soft top, and a starry night will provide all the mood lighting front and rear passengers desire. The new option isnt cheap, but its worth the money. Features editor Christian Seabaugh noted it combines the safety of the hard top with the ease and open-air experience of the soft top and called it a revolution for the brand. Despite its unapologetically industrial interior, the Wrangler masters some details better than many sensible crossovers. Soft-touch and high-quality materials equal those of luxury competitors. As with many Fiat Chrysler Automobiles products, audio volume and channel-change controls are located conveniently on the back side of the steering wheel. Once you drive a car with this intuitive setup, youll wonder why more automakers dont adopt it. The same is true of the rear-seat headrests, which conveniently fold down when not in use for better rearward visibility. The Uconnect infotainment system, which can be optioned with a 7.0- or 8.4-inch touchscreen that includes Apple CarPlay and Android Auto support, is intuitive to use. Its controls can be learned in seconds, and it responds quickly to your inputs, associate online editor and resident tech nerd Stefan Ogbac said. Delightful design Easter eggs, such as the on-screen air recirculation control that looks like a Jeep in silhouette, add character. Remove the doors, and the exposed hinges will remind you how much more special your Jeep is than your neighbors anonymous lozenge every time you climb inside. And once youre there, the high seating position offers great visibility thats perfect for seeing obstacles ahead on a trail or peering over the roofs of idling cars on a traffic-choked freeway. Another win for Wrangler fans and first-timers alike: how well the interior is screwed together. Build quality seems so much better than before, executive editor Mark Rechtin said. Engineering Excellence The Jeep grille is iconic, but like the New York Yankees and their pinstripes, it can also be a distraction from the substance underneath. The Bronx Bombers also had Mickey Mantle, and likewise, this Wrangler is so much more than those seven vertical air intakes. The sport in sport utility vehicle doesnt mean tearing up a racetrack or winding road. In the body-on-frame Wranglers case, sport means heading beyond the paved roads end. Off-roading capability is its core DNA, bred for military use from the Ardennes to An Loc. And the 2019 edition got all the good genes. Jeep added to the Wranglers already impressive go-anywhere abilities, improving articulation and total suspension travel on the Rubicon trim. The boulevard-ready Sahara trim nonetheless offers full-time four-wheel drive thats sufficient for most trails, especially when it would be overkill to enlist the Rubicons Dana 44 front and rear axles with electronically locking differentials and disconnecting anti-roll bars. As for the impressive Rubicon, technical director Frank Markus aptly described the off-road-focused trim as designed and engineered to retain the faithful. The Unlimited Rubicon naturally behaved like the mother of all Jeeps, Markus said after taking the SUV off-road. In four-low with front and rear differentials locked, theres no stopping it in the sand. That confidence-instilling performance is standard on every Wrangler. Only one oddity: Hill-descent control can only be activated in four-low. The genius of this Jeep is that it can be configured to suit the ambitions of the off-roading neophyte and expert alike and deliver an experience that will reward them both, MacKenzie said. Thats also true with the new 2.0-liter eTorque turbo-four mild-hybrid powertrain, which is worth consideration regardless of how you enjoy your Jeep. The 2.0-liter powerplant provides 270 hp and 295 lb-ft of torque, making it an intriguing option. More responsive than youd expect, the engine is mated exclusively to an eight-speed automatic and employs a system that facilitates engine stop/start and regenerative braking. The new engine isnt impressive for a Wranglerits just plain impressive. Markus called the Wrangler 2.0s engine stop/start system amazingly quick to restart, lauding it as one of the best. Those who are nonetheless wary of a four-cylinder Wrangler can stick with the 285-hp 3.6-liter V-6 (which develops 35 lb-ft of torque less than the turbo-four). However, wed recommend upgrading the V-6 to the eight-speed automatic. The standard six-speed manual may be new, but multiple judges found the engines torque delivery poorly matched with this transmission. Performance of Intended Function Just as no one expects last years SUVOTY, the Honda CR-V , to traverse Hells Revenge, the Jeep Wrangler doesnt ride as smoothly, handle as crisply, or travel in such isolated splendor as a car-based crossover. (Such is the philosophical predicament in defining this category in todays market.) Yet for a vehicle more capable off-road than any other new SUV offered today, the Wranglers everyday trade-offs arent as severe as youd think. Revised suspension tuning makes both the Sahara and Rubicon trim levels more comfortable than their predecessors. New electrohydraulic steering brings more precision, but the Wrangler never pretends to be a sports car. Instead, the Jeep provides a deliberate pace, encouraging you to appreciate your surroundings. The Wrangler doesnt wallow or flop around, features editor Scott Evans said. It moves with a purpose. The ride quality is so, so much better than it was before. Stronger performance off-road is part of the package, and a stretched wheelbase provides more room in the rear seats. For those more interested in image-building than trail-running, Jeep offers nearly endless customization possibilities and ways to enjoy the sunshine. Efficiency The 2.0-liter eTorque engine is a huge upgrade, but even the 3.6-liter V-6 sees fuel economy improvements, and both engines feature stop/start tech. No matter the powertrain, Wranglers benefit from lighter aluminum used for the doors, hood, and windshield frame. With the V-6, fuel economy improves by 12 mpg in the city and 23 mpg on the highway. Go for the eTorque engine, and mileage jumps to 2223/2425 mpg. Put another way, the Wranglers 2.0-liter engines efficiency means more miles of Jeeping before you have to stop to refuel. Jeep is also planning a 3.0-liter turbodiesel V-6, and about the time a Wrangler-based pickup truck arrives, a plug-in hybrid should, too. Safety The best way to stay safe is to avoid accidents altogether, and the Wranglers superior maneuverability compared to its predecessors provides a good foundation. The Jeeps frame is strengthened with high-strength steel, and every new Wrangler comes with seat-mounted front side airbags. Blind-spot monitoring, rear cross-traffic alert, and LED headlights are available, and the Wrangler can apply maximum braking force in a panic-braking situation even if the driver hasnt pushed the pedal all the way down. For optimal on-road safety, the 2019 model offers forward collision warningits a feature youll value once it saves you from damaging the Jeeps iconic face. The Jeeps active safety also impresses off-road; its ABS system has a rough-road detection feature, which adapts its settings to improve performance over off-pavement surfaces. The body-on-frame Wrangler, which hasnt yet been crash-tested, wont handle a panic maneuver as well as a unibody crossover, obviously. Even so, the Jeeps all-around visibility rises above that of most new CUVs, and the Wrangler is a sure bet if youre seeking a vehicle that will feel secure off-road. Value Not everyone will fully appreciate the Jeeps appeal. But what price do you place on the smile a car puts on your face? The Wrangler is as far from a four-wheeled appliance as you can get. And when the going gets rocky, sandy, or snowy, the Wrangler outperforms vehicles costing more than twice as much. A two-door canvas-soft-topped Wrangler with 285 hp and four-wheel drive starts around $30,000, though a well-equipped four-door Unlimited with the excellent 2.0-liter engine and an automatic transmission can clear $50,000. Thats a ton of cash, but some buyers feel Jeeps seven-bar grille carries just as much cachet as certain luxury automaker logos. Compared to the Wrangler, no Fordyce Creek forder combines such capability, efficiency, infotainment tech, and overall appeal in quite the same way. For the Gold The Wrangler isnt for everyone. Guest judge, veteran automotive R&D executive, and 2013 Wrangler owner Gordon Dickie noted that second-row ingress and egress remains cramped, tire and wind noise is quieter but still intrusive, the manual transmissions clutch will ruin your Achilles tendon in rush-hour traffic, and the Rubicons around-town ridethough improvedis still flinty compared to car-based crossovers. Such are the trade-offs Jeep lovers willingly endure. But when youve gotta have an off-roaderor want to look like you spend weekends stomping terra firmathe Jeep is impossible to beat. Tracing its lineage to the original Willys MB, the Wrangler navigates nostalgia without getting stuck in it. The Jeep Wrangler is remarkably well-rounded for its core purpose, and its a most deserving SUV of the Year. READ ABOUT 2019CAR OF THE YEAR CONTENDERS: Buick Regal Ford Mustang Ford Transit Connect Hyundai Accent Hyundai Elantra Honda Clarity Kia Forte Lexus ES Lexus LS Mercedes-Benz CLS-Class Nissan Altima Toyota Avalon Toyota Corolla Hatchback Volkswagen Jetta READ ABOUT 2019 CAR OF THE YEARFINALISTS: Audi A6 Audi A7 Honda Insight Hyundai Veloster Volvo S60 and V60 READ ABOUT 2019 SUV OF THE YEAR CONTENDERS: BMW X2 BMW X3 BMW X4 Cadillac XT4 Ford EcoSport Ford Edge Hyundai Santa Fe Infiniti QX50 Jaguar E-Pace Jeep Cherokee Lexus RX L Mercedes-Benz G-Class Mitsubishi Eclipse Cross Nissan Kicks Subaru Ascent Toyota RAV4 READ ABOUT2019 SUV OF THE YEAR FINALISTS: Acura RDX Ford Expedition Hyundai Kona Jaguar I-Pace Jeep Wrangler Lincoln Navigator Range Rover Velar Subaru Forester Volvo XC40 READ ABOUT 2019 TRUCK OF THE YEAR FINALISTS: Chevrolet Silverado Ford F-150 Diesel GMC Sierra Ram 1500 2018 Jeep Wrangler Rubicon 44 Unlimited Rubicon 44 Sahara 44 DRIVETRAIN LAYOUT Front-engine, 4WD Front-engine, 4WD Front-engine, 4WD ENGINE TYPE 60-deg V-6, alum block/heads Turbocharged I-4, alum block/head Turbocharged I-4, alum block/head VALVETRAIN DOHC, 4 valves/cyl DOHC, 4 valves/cyl DOHC, 4 valves/cyl DISPLACEMENT 219.9 cu in/3,604 cc 121.7 cu in/1,995 cc 121.7 cu in/1,995 cc COMPRESSION RATIO 11.3:1 10.0:1 10.0:1 POWER (SAE NET) 285 hp @ 6,400 rpm 270 hp @ 5,250 rpm 270 hp @ 5,250 rpm TORQUE (SAE NET) 260 lb-ft @ 4,800 rpm 295 lb-ft @ 3,000 rpm 295 lb-ft @ 3,000 rpm REDLINE 6,600 rpm 5,800 rpm 5,800 rpm WEIGHT TO POWER 15.3 lb/hp 17.6 lb/hp 16.8 lb/hp TRANSMISSION 6-speed manual 8-speed automatic 8-speed automatic AXLE/FINAL-DRIVE/LOW RATIOS 4.10:1/2.95:1/4.00:1 4.10:1/2.75:1/4.00:1 3.45:1/2.31:1/4.00:1 SUSPENSION, FRONT; REAR Live axle, coil springs, adj anti-roll bar; live axle, coil springs, adj anti-roll bar Live axle, coil springs, adj anti-roll bar; live axle, coil springs, adj anti-roll bar Live axle, coil springs, adj anti-roll bar; live axle, coil springs, adj anti-roll bar STEERING RATIO 17.4:1 15.6:1 15.6:1 TURNS LOCK-TO-LOCK 3.6 3.2 3.2 BRAKES, F; R 12.9-in vented disc; 13.4-in disc, ABS 12.9-in vented disc; 13.4-in disc, ABS 12.9-in vented disc; 13.4-in disc, ABS WHEELS 7.5 x 17-in cast aluminum 7.5 x 17-in cast aluminum 7.5 x 18-in cast aluminum TIRES LT285/70R17 (M+S) BFGoodrich Bojo Champion All-Terrain T/A K02 LT285/70R17 (M+S) BF Goodrich Bojo Champion All-Terrain T/A K02 255/70R18 113T (M+S) Bridgestone Dueler A/T RH-S DIMENSIONS WHEELBASE 96.8 in 118.4 in 118.4 in TRACK, F/R 62.9/62.9 in 62.9/62.9 in 62.9/62.9 in LENGTH x WIDTH x HEIGHT 166.8 x 73.8 x 73.6 in 188.4 x 73.8 x 73.6 in 188.4 x 73.8 x 73.6 in GROUND CLEARANCE 10.8 in 10.8 in 10.0 in APPRCH/DEPART ANGLE 44.0/37.0 deg 43.9/37.0 deg 41.8/21.0 deg TURNING CIRCLE 34.5 ft 39.4 ft 39.4 ft CURB WEIGHT 4,355 lb 4,755 lb 4,541 lb WEIGHT DIST, F/R 51/49% 52/48% 51/49% TOWING CAPACITY 2,000 lb 3,500 lb 3,500 lb SEATING CAPACITY 4 5 5 HEADROOM, F/R 42.6/41.7 in 40.7/40.2 in 40.7/40.2 in LEGROOM, F/R 41.2/35.7 in 41.2/38.3 in 41.2/38.3 in SHOULDER ROOM, F/R 55.7/57.7 in 55.7/55.7 in 55.7/55.7 in CARGO VOLUME BEH F/R 46.9/12.9 cu ft 72.4/31.7 cu ft 72.4/31.7 cu ft TEST DATA ACCELERATION TO MPH 0-30 2.3 sec 2.6 sec 2.5 sec 0-40 3.6 4.1 3.9 0-50 5.2 5.8 5.8 0-60 7.4 8.0 8.1 0-70 10.6 10.7 11.1 0-80 13.8 14.7 15.1 PASSING, 45-65 MPH 4.6 4.4 4.6 QUARTER MILE 15.8 sec @ 83.6 mph 16.2 sec @ 83.2 mph 16.3 sec @ 82.6 mph BRAKING, 60-0 MPH 150 ft 145 ft 140 ft LATERAL ACCELERATION 0.63 g (avg) 0.68 g (avg) 0.68 g (avg) MT FIGURE EIGHT 31.3 sec @ 0.48 g (avg) 29.9 sec @ 0.56 g (avg) 29.5 sec @ 0.56 g (avg) TOP-GEAR REVS @ 60 MPH 1,900 rpm 1,750 rpm 1,400 rpm CONSUMER INFO BASE PRICE $39,540 $43,040 $39,890 PRICE AS TESTED $47,355 $56,100 $54,045 STABILITY/TRACTION CONTROL Yes/Yes Yes/Yes Yes/Yes AIRBAGS 4: Dual front, front side 4: Dual front, front side 4: Dual front, front side BASIC WARRANTY 3 yrs/36,000 miles 3 yrs/36,000 miles 3 yrs/36,000 miles POWERTRAIN WARRANTY 5 yrs/100,000 miles 5 yrs/60,000 miles 5 yrs/60,000 miles ROADSIDE ASSISTANCE 5 yrs/60,000 miles 5 yrs/60,000 miles 5 yrs/60,000 miles FUEL CAPACITY 18.5 gal 21.5 gal 21.5 gal REAL MPG, CITY/HWY/COMB 18.4/20.8/19.4 mpg not tested 22.7/28.7/25.0 mpg EPA CITY/HWY/COMB ECON 17/25/20 mpg 22/24/22 mpg 22/24/22 mpg ENERGY CONS, CITY/HWY 198/135 kW-hrs/100 miles 153/140 kW-hrs/100 miles 153/140 kW-hrs/100 miles CO2 EMISSIONS, COMB 0.98 lb/mile 0.85 lb/mile 0.85 lb/mile RECOMMENDED FUEL Unleaded regular Unleaded premium Unleaded premium The post Jeep Wrangler is the 2019 MotorTrend SUV of the Year appeared first on MotorTrend .

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