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By Charl Bosch

Motoring Journalist

Black-nose updated Jeep Wrangler shows itself in New York

One of the biggest changes is the Wrangler’s specification where Jeep has overhauled the trim level designations.

Almost already six years in production having debuted in November 2017 at the Los Angeles International Auto Show, Stellantis, overnight, used the equivalent event in New York to unveil the facelift Jeep Wrangler JL.

Overhauled exterior

Touted as more than just a restyling, the freshened-up Wrangler’s aesthetics tweaks comprises a slimmer seven-slot grille finished in textured black or Natural Grey Metallic, a new ariel integrated into the windscreen and a vast array of wheel options ranging from 17 to 20-inch alloys wrapped in 32 to 35-inch tyres.

As before, the Wrangler can have its doors and roof removed completely and the windscreen folded forward onto the bonnet.

In total, the roof opens comprise a regular fabric soft-top, two hard-tops in black or the body coloured selected, the electric Sky-One roof and the Sunrider option derived from the Gladiator.

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The final new addition, as a result of the smaller grille, is the ability to place a factory-selected winch on the bumper without distorting cooling for the engine.

New model names

One of the biggest changes is the Wrangler’s specification where Jeep has overhauled the trim level designations.

Previously comprising Sport, Sport S, Sahara and Rubicon derivatives, the line-up now consists of Sport, Sport +, Willys, Sahara, High Altitude, Rubicon, Rubicon X and the V8-engine Rubicon 392.

Improved cabin

As part of the restructuring, Jeep has redesigned its dashboard to accommodate a brand-new 12.3-inch Uconnect touchscreen infotainment system fitted with wireless Apple CarPlay, Android Auto, over-the-air updates as well as Stellantis’ new Uconnect 5 software.

Jeep uncovers facelift Wrangler in New York
Wrangler’s doors can be removed and the windscreen folded onto the bonnet. The roof can be removed or folded back electrically. Image: Jeep.

A standard fitting across all models, the system additionally receives integrated satellite navigation and is joined by more upmarket materials over the instrument panel, plus a broader range of type-A and type-C USB ports.

On High Altitude models and above, a 12.3-inch digital instrument cluster comes standard, along with electric front seats, thicker carpets, and better sound deadening materials, plus a forward facing off-road camera.

Reserved for the Rubicon S and Rubicon 392 are heated front seats, 35-inch wheels when fitted with the automatic gearbox, a heated steering wheel and in the case of the former, steel bumpers, Nappa leather chairs, Blind Spot Monitoring, Park Assist, Rear Cross Traffic Alert and a nine-speaker Alpine sound system.

Off-road prowess

On the chassis front, the Wrangler’s body-on-frame structure has been tweaked to offer no less than four protection plates on the Willys and Rubicon models, a so-called full-float rear axle normally found on heavy-duty trucks Jeep says provides for improved weight transfer and less strain on the axle shafts, and on the Willys, a standard rear diff-lock.

Jeep uncovers facelift Wrangler in New York
Rear has been changed at all. Image: Jeep.

As before, the Wrangler comes with a choice of five four-wheel-drive systems; the Command-Trac, Rock-Trac – both with part-time four-wheel-drive – Rock-Trac with full-time four-wheel-drive and Selec-Trac also with full-time assistance.

On the Rubicon models, the all-paw gripping system comprises 17-inch alloys wrapped in BF Goodrich all-terrain rubber, the upgraded Dana 44 heavy-duty full-float rear axle, part-time Rock-Trac system, the electronic rear sway-bar disconnect and Tru-Lok front and rear differentials.

Included on the Rubicon X is the full-time Rock-Trac system and as mentioned, the 35-inch wheels around the 17-inch alloys.

Furthering the Wrangler’s off-road credentials are following:

  • Approach angle: 47.4-degrees
  • Breakover angle: 27.8-degrees
  • Departure angle: 40.4-degrees
  • Ground clearance: 328 mm
  • Wading depth: 864 mm
Facelift Jeep Wrangler revealed
Biggest interior new addition equally as easy to spot as the updates made outside. Image: Jeep.

Power of four and six

Underneath the bonnet, more emphasis has been placed on electrification, though not power uptakes have taken place.

It, therefore, means that the 2.0-litre turbocharged mild-hybrid Hurricane four-cylinder produces an unchanged 200kW/400Nm and the venerable normally aspirated 3.6-litre Pentastar V6 213kW/353Nm.

The sole transmission option for the former is an eight-speed automatic, which can be specified as an option on the V6 as the standard choice is a six-speed manual.

As for the mentioned electric version carrying the 4xe designation, the mentioned Hurricane mill is again paired with a 17-kWh lithium-ion battery pack mounted below the rear seats.

Facelift Jeep Wrangler revealed
New infotainment spans 12.3-inches and is standard fare across the entire Wrangler range. Image: Jeep

The result is a plug-in hybrid configuration with a combined output of 280kW/637Nm, a claimed all-electric range of 40km, and three driving modes called E Selec; Hybrid, Electric and eSave. Sole transmission option for the 4xe is the mentioned eight-speed self-shifter.

Completing the range is the Rubicon 392’s V8 which, as its name indicates, displaces 392-inch cubic inches or 6.4-litres. Outputs are rated at 350kW/637Nm, fed to the ground via the eight-speed ‘box.

Given the clampdown in Europe, models destined for the Old Continent are no longer fitted with the 2.2-litre turbodiesel, while the bigger 3.0-litre mill has also been dropped from the US range, though is continues to be offered in the Gladiator.


Going on sale later this year again as a three-door or five-door Unlimited, the latter being the sole bodystyle for the Rubicon 392, the final revision are choice of colours where 10 hues are offered; black, Earl, the new Anvil, Bright White, Granite Crystal, High Velocity, Silver Zynith, Hydro Blue, Firecracker Red and Sarge Green.

Facelift Jeep Wrangler revealed
Plug-in hybrid Wrangler 4xe has a claimed EV range of 40 km. Image: Jeep

South Africa waits

As before, production of the Wrangler takes place at the Toledo Plant in Ohio alongside the Gladiator with pricing in the States to be revealed later.

While still to be confirmed for South Africa, expect the local arm of Jeep to make the updated Wrangler available at some stage this year, albeit only with the combination of the Pentastar V6 and automatic transmission.

At present, prices range from R999 900 for the Unlimited Sport to R1 099 900 for the Unlimited Rubicon, so expect a likely price increase should the revised Wrangler receive approval.

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