Jeep Wrangler: Utilitarian interior philosophy gets key upgrades
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Admiring the new Jeep Wrangler, whether it be the two- or four-door model, is admittedly not something everyone sees in the same light. For the millions of Jeep enthusiasts, there are equally as many who cannot wrap their minds around something like the Wrangler.
The most important thing to know, for those who care to know, it that the differences between the former Wrangler JK and the new JL iteration are few and far between. That’s important to note because few vehicles have such a fervent fan base that is locked into such a distinct core philosophy.
Too much change, in Jeep’s world, equates to too much risk. And when you have a winner like the Wrangler, why mess around with fire? Philosophies for JK and JL interiors are patently the same. This is a vehicle that has drain plugs in the floor that are meant to be used and those kinds of utilitarian measures make the interior a very important part of the vehicle – never for what it is – but for what it is not. It is not vulnerable to the elements. That’s part of the Jeep DNA and a constant with the 2018 Jeep.
Layout is familiar, but materials are definitely an upgrade over previous models. Overall, user experience is enhanced by attention to style and design. I like the addition of the soft material on the dashboard, and love the faux exposed stitching. Door panels get the same soft padding and it’s a great comfort from just a little detail. The hardtop Jeep, where most are sold, has an optional headliner insert that minimizes noise while keeping the interior warmer in the winter and cooler in the summer.
The Uconnect infotainment system has been upgraded and it was a pleasure to experience and intuitive to use. Casual knobs and buttons are wrapped in rubber and dotted across the dash. Things are easy to reach and there’s little reason to pull eyes off the road ahead.
While I’ve tested Jeeps with both entry-level cloth and top-line leather, I’m not afraid to say I really like the enhanced comfort from the leather in my Unlimited tester. In addition, add to that list of likes the inclusion of heated front seats and a heated steering wheel, and I’m no longer a core Jeep enthusiast (who’d likely shun such luxuries). The Wrangler’s water- and stain-resistant cloth seats are definitely less expensive and lower maintenance for those who will want to be exposed to the elements.
Seating in the Jeep is, again, minimalist in design. This is endearing because the flat style is still quite comfortable and the seating position is still up on the dash and close to the windshield. Visibility was excellent in my tester and you never feel too anything other than slightly higher than the majority of vehicles on the road. Rear seating provides outstanding head and leg room, with three adults easily fitting into the space.
Minimalist also refers to cargo capacity. I appreciated the flip-up rear glass and swing-open tailgate design. Driving with the rear glass open, the side windows down, and the roof panels off makes the Jeep feel open at a level that easily matches any convertible.
On Wrangler Unlimited versions, the cargo space behind the second row offers 31.5 cu.-ft. of space, while 70.6 cu.-ft. is available with the rear seats out of the way. Always remember that if you spontaneously remove soft-top windows or roof panels, they will claim a lot of the available space. The cargo space in an Unlimited is far more functional than a two-door Wrangler.