TeraFlex has added a third 2018 JLU Jeep Wrangler Unlimited to its arsenal of all-new JL Wrangler models. The newest member of the fleet is a JLU Sport finished in Firecracker Red over Clear Coat paint and Black cloth interior.
Power comes from the same revised 3.6-liter Pentastar DOHC V-6 engine as our Rubicon and Sahara models. The engine is rated 285 hp and 260 lb-ft of torque and is backed by an all-new ZF 8-speed automatic transmission. Power is then sent to the two-speed Command-Trac part-time 4x4 system with a 2.72:1 low-range gear ratio. The JLU Sport rides on next-generation Dana 30 front and Dana 35 rear axles with a 3.45: 1 axle ratio.
I spent a weekend with the new JLU Sport to get a feel for the new model before any modifications. Although I didn’t have the opportunity to do any serious off-roading, I was able to evaluate its handling on some paved canyon roads including a giant slush puddle, on rain-slicked roads, and through a snowy commute.
The new 8-speed automatic is a godsend. Not only is the JLU faster than the JKU, but it is also EPA-rated 18/23/20 mpg city/highway/combined – an improvement of 2/3/2 mpg over the JKU Wrangler Unlimited. Even on rain-slicked roads, the new JLU accelerates strongly – and straight – with only occasional and minimal interference from the electronic nannies even with the transfer case in 2-High.
Despite riding on a body-on-frame platform with solid front and rear axles, only the worst potholes remind you of its off-road focused design. The JLU provides more on-road comfort than the JKU. After noticing a 30-mph speed limit through Mill Creek Canyon just east of Salt Lake City, I looked down to see that I was traveling 45 mph through the winding canyon roads.
The new JLU corners flat with nearly imperceptible body roll – likely attributed to its suspension tuning and front and rear sway bars. While sway bars are great for on-road handling, they hinder off-road flex. Rest assured, front sway bar quick disconnects will be on the list of all-new parts for the newest Wrangler – just like we make for most Jeep models.
Monday morning, I awoke to more than 6 inches of snow on top of “my” Jeep. In fact, the headlights and the majority of the front grille were buried under the white stuff. As I set out in 2-High down my long narrow driveway, I fishtailed slightly making a left turn onto the major street. With more than 20 years’ experience driving rear-drive cars in the snow, I was able to travel relatively un-phased – for about two miles.
This was no ordinary snow storm. At the next light, I shifted into 4-High before turning onto the busy divided highway. The next two miles were spent dodging lesser vehicles that couldn’t fight their way up the initial hill. No sweat. The conditions improved once I got through the next intersection thanks to the semi-plowed and salted roads. Unsurprisingly, I arrived at work without incidence.
Oh, did I mention the heated front seats and steering wheels? Both those features, as well as the front and rear defrost, automatically turn on when using the remote start if the outside temperature is below a certain point. Luxury combined with the ability to conquer adverse conditions? Sounds like a win-win to me!
As good as the new model is out the box, TeraFlex has lots of plans for our JLU Jeep Wrangler Unlimited Sport including a lift with Falcon shock absorbers, some beefier axles, and much more.
Base price for our JLU Sport starts at $30,495 including $1,195 destination charge and $2,000 8-speed auto.
Other standard Sport performance and off-road equipment includes skid plates (fuel tank, transfer case, transmission), 4-wheel disc brakes, and a Torx toolkit. The JL/JLU Sport rides on 245/75R17” (31.5”) all-terrain tires.
Active safety equipment includes an anti-lock braking system (ABS), electronic stability control (ESC), electronic roll mitigation (ERM), trailer sway damping, hill start assist, and ParkView rearview camera. Other safety equipment includes advanced multistage front airbags and supplemental front seat side airbags.
Standard convenience and interior features include vehicle information center, 3.5” TFT black & white display, eight (8) speakers, and Media Hub (USB, Aux).
Options include $3,200 Customer Preferred Package 24S (17”x7.5” Tech Silver aluminum wheels, power windows w/ front 1-touch-down features, speed sensitive power locks, power heated mirrors, remote keyless entry, security alarm, illuminated visor mirrors, automatic headlights, leather-wrapped steering wheels, deep tint sunscreen windows), $995 Technology Group (7” TFT color instrument cluster display, Uconnect 4 w/ 7” display, Apple CarPlay & Google Android Auto compatibility, SiriusXM satellite radio, and air conditioning w/ auto temp control), $195 Convenience Group (universal garage door opener), $895 Cold Weather Group (heated front seats, heated steering wheel, remote start, and engine block heater), $795 Trailer Tow and Heavy-Duty Electrical Group (auxiliary switches, Class II receiver hitch, 7- and 4-pin wiring harness, 240-amp alternator, 700-amp maintenance-free battery), $795 Jeep Active Safety Group (ParkSense rear park assist system, blind spot and cross path detection, LED taillights), $595 Anti-Spin Differential Rear Axle (3rd generation Dana 44 heavy-duty rear axle), $1,095 Black Freedom Top (3-piece hard top in place of soft top, rear window wiper/washer, rear window defroster, Freedom panel storage bag), $695 Tubular Side Steps, $1,295 Alpine Premium Audio System, and $895 17”x7.5” Polished Granite Crystal Wheels.
With options, our 2018 JLU Jeep Wrangler Unlimited Sport came to $45,240.
Although pricing is higher than the outgoing JK, the new JL features lots of new standard and available equipment never before offered on a Wrangler.
Stay tuned to our website, YouTube channel, and social media outlets (Facebook, Instagram) to stay up-to-date as we develop new and exciting products for the all-new JL Wrangler and JLU Wrangler Unlimited.
Check out the 4-door JLU JEEP WRANGLER UNLIMITED SPORT full gallery HERE!
- Jason Udy
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