The 2018 Jeep Wrangler is better on the road and still a beast off of it

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A bright blue sky is the only thing visible through the windshield. All I can hear is the screech of metal on stone as the vehicle’s frame scrapes over boulders on a 60-degree slope in the Sonoran Desert. Everything is going exactly as it should in the 2018 Jeep Wrangler.

The new Wrangler is simultaneously the most capable off-road and quietest, most comfortable on-road vehicle in a 75-year lineage that traces directly to the original 1941 U.S. Army jeep.

“Its on-road manners are great, and the things it does off-road are mindboggling,” analyst Joe Phillippi of AutoTrends said.

The new Wrangler goes on sale in the first quarter of 2018. Prices start at $26,995 for a two-door and $30,495 for the four-door. The top Rubicon model, the most capable off-roader in the Wrangler family, goes for $36,995 for two-doors and $40,495 with four.

The Wrangler’s design is immediately recognizable. The new model, which made its official debut at the Los Angeles Auto Show, offers hard and soft tops that are easier to remove and a new folding canvas power hardtop on Sahara models of the four-door.

The doors are removable, and the windshield folds flat onto the hood. The new design makes it easier to accomplish both tasks, making it likely more Jeep owners will enjoy fully open driving.

What stands out

Capability: Still the best off-roader.

Comfort: Wrangler will never be plush, but a new interior raises comfort to a new level.

Weight: Up to 200 pounds less.

2018 Jeep Wrangler

What? A five-seat SUV based on the historic Army jeep.

Where? Made in Toledo, Ohio.

When? Coming to showrooms soon.

What makes it go? Either a 3.6-liter V-6 or a 2-liter turbocharged 4-cylinder engine.

How thirsty? 18 miles per gallon in the city, 23 mpg on the highway and 20 mpg overall for the V-6. The 4-cylinder is not yet rated.

How big? 15.7 feet for the four-door version.

How much? Starts at $26,995, plus shipping costs for the two-door version.

Overall: Jeep raises the bar.

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