2018 Lexus LS 500 First Test Review: Devil is In the Details

The Lexus LS has been taking it to the German triumvirate since the days when Audi was best-known for something it would rather forget. The first LS 400 changed the luxury dynamic with its unimpeachable quality and refinement, but the LS family has never quite achieved the cachet of some of its competitors. The outgoing model was no exception to that, still following the same formula of quality first and design second. This new 2018 Lexus LS, though, hopes to break the streak and shock the Germans, Americans, and now Koreans the way it did back in ’89.

Read a special feature on the 1991 Lexus LS 400 (and 1991 Acura NSX) right here

The heftiest arrow in its quiver is its unapologetic design. The Lexus “Spindle Grille” and its accompanying flourishes have been extremely polarizing, but there’s no denying sales have risen since the design language was introduced. This latest iteration is one of the best, we think, though perhaps we’re just getting used to it at this point. It’s not as good as the LC coupe it shares a platform with, but it’s less bad than the rest of the lineup.

The polarizing design carries over to the interior, as well. Once as conservative as the exterior, the LS’ new seating gallery is unmistakably Lexus. The door panels, in particular, caught our eye with their visually stimulating curves, layers, and use of materials. Likewise, we found the stitched leather surrounding the individual gauges a fresh and appealing touch and the semihidden vents integrated into the horizontal trim a neat execution. We were far less enamored with the hotel hallway art on the passenger’s side of the dash and the two handle bars hanging off the instrument binnacle.

Those knobs, controlling driving mode and stability control, are a good jumping off point for a discussion of the electronics package. On the whole, it’s a suite of good ideas with questionable execution.




Our greatest ire rests, as always, with the infotainment system and its track-pad controller. Although we appreciate the large screen, it’s only become more layered with menus and harder to navigate. At the same time, ever more functions have been buried there for you to find. As but one example, the seat heating and cooling controls are now beneath two menus. Turning either on starts with pushing the button with the picture of a seat or swiping several times over to the seat controls menu and clicking the pad. Once the seat menu is up, you must swipe down several times to get to the heating and cooling controls and click on them. Then you can swipe over to the controls for the seat you want and swipe up or down several times to get the level of heating or cooling you want. This is madness. Lexus would prefer you simply set your preferences in the system to have the heater or cooler come on when you start the car at given external temperatures, assuming you want the exact same experience every time you get in the car.

What’s truly infuriating about the infotainment system, though, is that Lexus knows better. We know this because our test car was equipped with the Luxury Package, which includes power reclining executive rear seats controlled by a touchscreen integrated into the center armrest. This screen is as intuitively laid out and easy to use—the main screen up front isn’t. Why, Lexus?

Other examples of questionable technological implementation abound. The enormous head-up display (HUD) is a great party trick, but why is your speed, the most useful piece of information, shoved way off to the side while the lane keeping system gets center billing? Why does it stay over there out of your direct line of sight even when lane keeping is turned off? The HUD also displays a frontal cross traffic alert so you don’t pull out in front of a car crossing your path. It’s a nice idea if you’re pulling out of an alley, but when you’re sitting at a stoplight and it’s going off constantly and taking over the entire HUD with flashing yellow arrows, the only information you want is how to turn it off. Finally, we must ask why the dash beeps at you when the car is in reverse. This isn’t a commercial vehicle.

It’s certainly not all bad, though. We found the adaptive cruise control and lane keeping systems to work well and ease long drives. The rear seat control screen is, as noted, very well executed. Those seats themselves are very comfortable and offer a very serene chauffeur experience. The front passenger’s seat folds up and moves all the way against the dash to give the passenger behind an enormous amount of space to stretch out, and it doesn’t block the passenger door mirror in the process.








It’s less optimal for the person sitting behind the driver. Although the new LS is even longer than the old long-wheelbase model, there’s still a disappointing amount of rear legroom with the front seats in their normal location. While the captain of industry on the passenger’s side can get the front seat out of the way, the spouse or business partner or whomever on the driver’s side will find it surprisingly small for such a big luxury car.

Still, it’s far from a bad place to spend a ride. The leather is sumptuous and the environment supremely quiet and relaxing. The Mark Levinson stereo is as velvety on the ears as anything coming out of Germany, and the car’s build quality is as impeccable as always. Our only suggestion on the luxury front would be to opt for the smaller 19-inch wheels rather than the 20s our car is rolling on. The heavier shoes with skinny run-flat tires undo some of the optional air suspension’s hard work rolling hard over road imperfections and introducing an unwarranted brittleness to the ride quality.

The new LS otherwise drives and rides as effortlessly as you’d expect from a flagship luxury sedan. Large road deformities are dispatched easily, and yet the car handles as well as you’d expect of one this size. It’s tighter and more responsive than the outgoing car but with no obvious sacrifice to ride quality. We would prefer more responsive throttle and brake pedals, but their softness suits the car and doesn’t hurt measurable performance.

Indeed, the new LS very much keeps the promise of a quicker and yet more efficient car, thanks to its new 3.4-liter twin-turbo V-6 and 10-speed automatic. The downsized mill returns a potent 416 hp and 442 lb-ft to the old, naturally aspirated 4.6-liter V-8’s 386 hp and 367 lb-ft while improving fuel economy from 16 mpg city and 24 mpg highway to 18 mpg city and 27 mpg highway.








The new powertrain similarly outperforms on a test track, needing 5.3 seconds to reach 60 mph from a stop, down from 5.6 seconds for the V-8. Stopping from that speed has likewise been reduced from 119 feet to 109-113 in the three cars we tested. Although drag racing is hardly a luxury sedan’s MO, those curious will be happy to learn the LS’ quarter-mile time has dropped from 14.1 seconds to 13.7, and trap speed has increased from 101.5 mph to 103.0. Some of this is attributable to our test car being equipped with all-wheel drive and the last V-8 LS 460 we tested utilizing rear-wheel drive, namely the initial launch, but not all. When we tested a rear-drive 2018 LS 500, that car completed the quarter-mile in 13.8 seconds at 102.8 mph.

Improvements to the handling are also more than subjective—the new LS out-grips the old car, too. Skidpad grip has increased from 0.82 average g to 0.85-0.86 among the three LS cars we tested, and figure-eight performance has improved from 27.2 seconds at 0.68 average g to 25.7 seconds at 0.73 average g (the rear-drive model was good for a 26.3-second time at 0.71 average g). The all-wheel drive helps some, but it’s prone to understeer at the limit and must be managed for a quick lap.

At the end, we return the new LS encouraged by its big leap forward in luxury and equally frustrated by its shortcomings. The car is a huge step forward from its conservative, long in the tooth predecessor. It’s properly equipped to take on the world’s best luxury sedans. At the same time, though, it’s let down by technology that’s more stressful than helpful and a comparative dearth of space. We like the new LS almost as much as we like what it has the potential to be, and we hope this time there will be continual improvement to get it there.

2018 Lexus LS 500 2018 Lexus LS 500 AWD 2018 Lexus LS 500 F Sport (AWD)
BASE PRICE TBD $85,000 (est) TBD
PRICE AS TESTED TBD $103,000 (est) TBD
VEHICLE LAYOUT Front-engine, RWD, 5-pass, 4-door sedan Front-engine, AWD, 5-pass, 4-door sedan Front-engine, AWD, 5-pass, 4-door sedan
ENGINE 3.4L/416-hp/442-lb-ft twin-turbo DOHC 24-valve V-6 3.4L/416-hp/442-lb-ft twin-turbo DOHC 24-valve V-6 3.4L/416-hp/442-lb-ft twin-turbo DOHC 24-valve V-6
TRANSMISSION 10-speed automatic 10-speed automatic 10-speed automatic
CURB WEIGHT (F/R DIST) 4,914 lb (52/48%) 5,103 lb (54/46%) 4,774 lb (53/47%)
WHEELBASE 123.0 in 123.0 in 123.0 in
LENGTH x WIDTH x HEIGHT 206.1 x 74.8 x 57.1 in 206.1 x 74.8 x 57.5 in 206.1 x 74.8 x 57.9 in
0-60 MPH 5.3 sec 5.3 sec 5.2 sec
QUARTER MILE 13.8 sec @ 102.8 mph 13.7 sec @ 103.0 mph 13.6 sec @ 103.8 mph
BRAKING, 60-0 MPH 110 ft 113 ft 109 ft
LATERAL ACCELERATION 0.86 g (avg) 0.85 g (avg) 0.86 g (avg)
MT FIGURE EIGHT 26.3 sec @ 0.71 g (avg) 25.7 sec @ 0.73 g (avg) 25.7 sec @ 0.73 g (avg)
REAL MPG, CITY/HWY/COMB 18.8/32.6/23.2 mpg
EPA CITY/HWY/COMB FUEL ECON 19/29/23 mpg (mfr est) 18/27/21 mpg 18/27/21 mpg
ENERGY CONS, CITY/HWY 177/116 kW-hrs/100 miles 187/125 kW-hrs/100 miles 187/125 kW-hrs/100 miles
CO2 EMISSIONS, COMB 0.86 lb/mile 0.92 lb/mile 0.92 lb/mile






























































































































The post 2018 Lexus LS 500 First Test Review: Devil is In the Details appeared first on Motor Trend.

Source: http://ift.tt/JPPTFe

2018 Lexus LS 500 First Test Review: Devil is In the Details

The Lexus LS has been taking it to the German triumvirate since the days when Audi was best-known for something it would rather forget. The first LS 400 changed the luxury dynamic with its unimpeachable quality and refinement, but the LS family has never quite achieved the cachet of some of its competitors. The outgoing model was no exception to that, still following the same formula of quality first and design second. This new 2018 Lexus LS, though, hopes to break the streak and shock the Germans, Americans, and now Koreans the way it did back in ’89.

Read a special feature on the 1991 Lexus LS 400 (and 1991 Acura NSX) right here

The heftiest arrow in its quiver is its unapologetic design. The Lexus “Spindle Grille” and its accompanying flourishes have been extremely polarizing, but there’s no denying sales have risen since the design language was introduced. This latest iteration is one of the best, we think, though perhaps we’re just getting used to it at this point. It’s not as good as the LC coupe it shares a platform with, but it’s less bad than the rest of the lineup.

The polarizing design carries over to the interior, as well. Once as conservative as the exterior, the LS’ new seating gallery is unmistakably Lexus. The door panels, in particular, caught our eye with their visually stimulating curves, layers, and use of materials. Likewise, we found the stitched leather surrounding the individual gauges a fresh and appealing touch and the semihidden vents integrated into the horizontal trim a neat execution. We were far less enamored with the hotel hallway art on the passenger’s side of the dash and the two handle bars hanging off the instrument binnacle.

Those knobs, controlling driving mode and stability control, are a good jumping off point for a discussion of the electronics package. On the whole, it’s a suite of good ideas with questionable execution.




Our greatest ire rests, as always, with the infotainment system and its track-pad controller. Although we appreciate the large screen, it’s only become more layered with menus and harder to navigate. At the same time, ever more functions have been buried there for you to find. As but one example, the seat heating and cooling controls are now beneath two menus. Turning either on starts with pushing the button with the picture of a seat or swiping several times over to the seat controls menu and clicking the pad. Once the seat menu is up, you must swipe down several times to get to the heating and cooling controls and click on them. Then you can swipe over to the controls for the seat you want and swipe up or down several times to get the level of heating or cooling you want. This is madness. Lexus would prefer you simply set your preferences in the system to have the heater or cooler come on when you start the car at given external temperatures, assuming you want the exact same experience every time you get in the car.

What’s truly infuriating about the infotainment system, though, is that Lexus knows better. We know this because our test car was equipped with the Luxury Package, which includes power reclining executive rear seats controlled by a touchscreen integrated into the center armrest. This screen is as intuitively laid out and easy to use—the main screen up front isn’t. Why, Lexus?

Other examples of questionable technological implementation abound. The enormous head-up display (HUD) is a great party trick, but why is your speed, the most useful piece of information, shoved way off to the side while the lane keeping system gets center billing? Why does it stay over there out of your direct line of sight even when lane keeping is turned off? The HUD also displays a frontal cross traffic alert so you don’t pull out in front of a car crossing your path. It’s a nice idea if you’re pulling out of an alley, but when you’re sitting at a stoplight and it’s going off constantly and taking over the entire HUD with flashing yellow arrows, the only information you want is how to turn it off. Finally, we must ask why the dash beeps at you when the car is in reverse. This isn’t a commercial vehicle.

It’s certainly not all bad, though. We found the adaptive cruise control and lane keeping systems to work well and ease long drives. The rear seat control screen is, as noted, very well executed. Those seats themselves are very comfortable and offer a very serene chauffeur experience. The front passenger’s seat folds up and moves all the way against the dash to give the passenger behind an enormous amount of space to stretch out, and it doesn’t block the passenger door mirror in the process.








It’s less optimal for the person sitting behind the driver. Although the new LS is even longer than the old long-wheelbase model, there’s still a disappointing amount of rear legroom with the front seats in their normal location. While the captain of industry on the passenger’s side can get the front seat out of the way, the spouse or business partner or whomever on the driver’s side will find it surprisingly small for such a big luxury car.

Still, it’s far from a bad place to spend a ride. The leather is sumptuous and the environment supremely quiet and relaxing. The Mark Levinson stereo is as velvety on the ears as anything coming out of Germany, and the car’s build quality is as impeccable as always. Our only suggestion on the luxury front would be to opt for the smaller 19-inch wheels rather than the 20s our car is rolling on. The heavier shoes with skinny run-flat tires undo some of the optional air suspension’s hard work rolling hard over road imperfections and introducing an unwarranted brittleness to the ride quality.

The new LS otherwise drives and rides as effortlessly as you’d expect from a flagship luxury sedan. Large road deformities are dispatched easily, and yet the car handles as well as you’d expect of one this size. It’s tighter and more responsive than the outgoing car but with no obvious sacrifice to ride quality. We would prefer more responsive throttle and brake pedals, but their softness suits the car and doesn’t hurt measurable performance.

Indeed, the new LS very much keeps the promise of a quicker and yet more efficient car, thanks to its new 3.4-liter twin-turbo V-6 and 10-speed automatic. The downsized mill returns a potent 416 hp and 442 lb-ft to the old, naturally aspirated 4.6-liter V-8’s 386 hp and 367 lb-ft while improving fuel economy from 16 mpg city and 24 mpg highway to 18 mpg city and 27 mpg highway.








The new powertrain similarly outperforms on a test track, needing 5.3 seconds to reach 60 mph from a stop, down from 5.6 seconds for the V-8. Stopping from that speed has likewise been reduced from 119 feet to 109-113 in the three cars we tested. Although drag racing is hardly a luxury sedan’s MO, those curious will be happy to learn the LS’ quarter-mile time has dropped from 14.1 seconds to 13.7, and trap speed has increased from 101.5 mph to 103.0. Some of this is attributable to our test car being equipped with all-wheel drive and the last V-8 LS 460 we tested utilizing rear-wheel drive, namely the initial launch, but not all. When we tested a rear-drive 2018 LS 500, that car completed the quarter-mile in 13.8 seconds at 102.8 mph.

Improvements to the handling are also more than subjective—the new LS out-grips the old car, too. Skidpad grip has increased from 0.82 average g to 0.85-0.86 among the three LS cars we tested, and figure-eight performance has improved from 27.2 seconds at 0.68 average g to 25.7 seconds at 0.73 average g (the rear-drive model was good for a 26.3-second time at 0.71 average g). The all-wheel drive helps some, but it’s prone to understeer at the limit and must be managed for a quick lap.

At the end, we return the new LS encouraged by its big leap forward in luxury and equally frustrated by its shortcomings. The car is a huge step forward from its conservative, long in the tooth predecessor. It’s properly equipped to take on the world’s best luxury sedans. At the same time, though, it’s let down by technology that’s more stressful than helpful and a comparative dearth of space. We like the new LS almost as much as we like what it has the potential to be, and we hope this time there will be continual improvement to get it there.

2018 Lexus LS 500 2018 Lexus LS 500 AWD 2018 Lexus LS 500 F Sport (AWD)
BASE PRICE TBD $85,000 (est) TBD
PRICE AS TESTED TBD $103,000 (est) TBD
VEHICLE LAYOUT Front-engine, RWD, 5-pass, 4-door sedan Front-engine, AWD, 5-pass, 4-door sedan Front-engine, AWD, 5-pass, 4-door sedan
ENGINE 3.4L/416-hp/442-lb-ft twin-turbo DOHC 24-valve V-6 3.4L/416-hp/442-lb-ft twin-turbo DOHC 24-valve V-6 3.4L/416-hp/442-lb-ft twin-turbo DOHC 24-valve V-6
TRANSMISSION 10-speed automatic 10-speed automatic 10-speed automatic
CURB WEIGHT (F/R DIST) 4,914 lb (52/48%) 5,103 lb (54/46%) 4,774 lb (53/47%)
WHEELBASE 123.0 in 123.0 in 123.0 in
LENGTH x WIDTH x HEIGHT 206.1 x 74.8 x 57.1 in 206.1 x 74.8 x 57.5 in 206.1 x 74.8 x 57.9 in
0-60 MPH 5.3 sec 5.3 sec 5.2 sec
QUARTER MILE 13.8 sec @ 102.8 mph 13.7 sec @ 103.0 mph 13.6 sec @ 103.8 mph
BRAKING, 60-0 MPH 110 ft 113 ft 109 ft
LATERAL ACCELERATION 0.86 g (avg) 0.85 g (avg) 0.86 g (avg)
MT FIGURE EIGHT 26.3 sec @ 0.71 g (avg) 25.7 sec @ 0.73 g (avg) 25.7 sec @ 0.73 g (avg)
REAL MPG, CITY/HWY/COMB 18.8/32.6/23.2 mpg
EPA CITY/HWY/COMB FUEL ECON 19/29/23 mpg (mfr est) 18/27/21 mpg 18/27/21 mpg
ENERGY CONS, CITY/HWY 177/116 kW-hrs/100 miles 187/125 kW-hrs/100 miles 187/125 kW-hrs/100 miles
CO2 EMISSIONS, COMB 0.86 lb/mile 0.92 lb/mile 0.92 lb/mile






























































































































The post 2018 Lexus LS 500 First Test Review: Devil is In the Details appeared first on Motor Trend.

Source: http://ift.tt/JPPTFe

2018 Buick Regal Sportback First Drive: A Few Surprises Up its Sleeve

It feels like ages ago, but I first drove the Buick Regal in 2014 during our entry-level luxury sedan comparison. When the Regal showed up to join its three competitors, it looked like the least athletic of the bunch, hands down. Perhaps it was the bookish type keen on correcting everyone else’s grammar. Little did we know the humble Regal would earn second place in that comparison, just narrowly missing the top spot to the BMW 320i. We praised the Buick’s accurate steering, plush ride, well-equipped interior, quiet cabin, and even its drive experience on windy roads. In short, the Regal exceeded our expectations. So naturally my imagination went wild before driving the new 2018 Buick Regal Sportback.

Buick has completely revamped the Regal, down to its body style. No longer a sedan, the Regal has transformed into a hatch and a wagon, the second of which we’ll drive later. As a hatch, the new Regal Sportback boasts twice the amount of cargo capacity behind the split-folding second-row seats as its sedan predecessor, Buick says. On top of that, it receives a more modern design, mixing elements from a coupe and sedan. From the updated grille to the narrower headlights and taillights, raked roof, and shorter rear decklid, the model actually stands out in some crowds. The Regal Sportback is 2.7 inches longer than its predecessor and has a wheelbase that is 3.6 inches wider. If it looks lower and more planted, that’s because Buick reduced the car’s height by a little more than an inch.

Under the hood lies a familiar 2.0-liter turbo-four with 250 hp. In front-wheel-drive guise, the Regal makes 260 lb-ft of torque, and all-wheel-drive versions boast 295 lb-ft. It’s hard to find a situation where the Regal Sportback doesn’t have enough power. It gets up to speed quickly on the highway, and it produces a growl you wouldn’t expect from a Buick.

That said, the Regal hasn’t changed its core personality. It returns for the new year with a tan and a toned body, but it’s still that bookworm academic at heart. It’s a sedan that prioritizes driving comfort and value over raw performance, despite its new “Sportback” name. Its steering is light and effortless, though you can feel the size of the body while making your way through turns. The new nine-speed transmission, available on front-drive models, shifts smoothly so that you hardly notice it at all. It’s a small step up from the eight-speed transmission that comes with all-wheel-drive models, though these vehicles benefit from slightly better handling.




Just like the previous Regal, the new model keeps wind and road noise to a minimum. Although the ride is overall composed, it’s not a cruiser that will smooth out every road imperfection you encounter. You can feel even small bumps in the road.

One of my fondest memories of the old Regal was its interior. Not only were the seats comfortable, but the cabin also offered special extras such as touch climate controls. We appreciate the new button-free infotainment system, but generally the Regal’s cabin seems a little sterile now. Hard plastics mix with shiny woodlike accents, glossy aluminum trim, and an outdated-looking instrument cluster, hindering the car’s premium ambitions. Bottom line: there’s nothing really special about the cabin that makes buyers feel they are in for a treat when they sit in the front seat. Keep in mind we drove a top-level Essence model, which rang out to $37,665 when equipped with two different Driver Confidence packages. Not only do these bring together features such as adaptive cruise control, forward automatic braking, and lane keep assist with lane departure warning, but they also add other features including wireless charging, a power adjustable driver seat with memory settings, and other goodies.

Prices for the Regal Sportback start at $25,915, or $2,000 lower than the previous-generation model. For that money, you get standard features such as OnStar and a 4G LTE Wi-Fi hotspot, keyless entry, a seven-speaker audio system, halogen composite headlights, LED daytime running lights, cloth upholstery, and a 7.0-inch touchscreen. Essence models add heated front seats, an 8.0-inch touchscreen, dual-zone automatic climate control, remote start, a heated steering wheel, and trifolding 40/20/40 rear seats. In comparison, the base Acura TLX starts off at a slightly higher price point as the Regal Sportback Essence and includes LED headlights and a suite of active safety tech but lacks a standard heated steering wheel and only has 60/40 folding rear seats.








The Regal Sportback gets GM Marketplace, a new feature that allows customers to order food and drinks at different restaurants on the go. The automaker intends for customers to use this new feature behind the wheel, raising concerns from at least one safety group about the possibilities of distracted driving. To get a better understanding of the feature, we tested it out for ourselves.

It seems pretty simple to use. Before using the feature in the car, drivers must set up the GM Marketplace app on their phones. Here, they can register their common orders that will appear as selections on the car’s touchscreen. While driving, users can choose an item from their list of preselected orders, as well as make a few other simple decisions such as whether to pick up their items inside the store or through the driveway. The whole process requires pushing buttons on the touchscreen, not typing in complicated orders that would no doubt leave drivers overwhelmed. Drivers can order from places such as Dunkin’ Donuts, TGI Fridays, and starting early next year, Starbucks.

The first Regal Sportbacks have just arrived, and it should take eight to 12 weeks to fill up dealer inventories, the automaker says. The Regal TourX wagon will come to dealerships soon, and the sportier GS hatchback will follow by the end of the first quarter of 2018. No Avenir version of the Regal is planned at this stage.

The new Regal Sportback didn’t exceed my expectations in the same way as the previous Regal. But given all the huge updates for the new generation, how could it? The Regal Sportback is a confident, comfortable, fun-to-drive car that offers some welcome surprises, but it’s not a sporty luxury offering. Just like the previous Regal didn’t quite fit in with the BMW 320i and Mercedes-Benz CLA during our 2014 comparison, the new Regal Sportback makes its own mark.

The Regal’s tall hatchback opening makes it particularly easy to load large items. With 60.7 cubic feet of space behind the first row, you can fit an entire bicycle without removing a wheel.



































The post 2018 Buick Regal Sportback First Drive: A Few Surprises Up its Sleeve appeared first on Motor Trend.

Source: http://ift.tt/JPPTFe

2018 Buick Regal Sportback First Drive: A Few Surprises Up its Sleeve

It feels like ages ago, but I first drove the Buick Regal in 2014 during our entry-level luxury sedan comparison. When the Regal showed up to join its three competitors, it looked like the least athletic of the bunch, hands down. Perhaps it was the bookish type keen on correcting everyone else’s grammar. Little did we know the humble Regal would earn second place in that comparison, just narrowly missing the top spot to the BMW 320i. We praised the Buick’s accurate steering, plush ride, well-equipped interior, quiet cabin, and even its drive experience on windy roads. In short, the Regal exceeded our expectations. So naturally my imagination went wild before driving the new 2018 Buick Regal Sportback.

Buick has completely revamped the Regal, down to its body style. No longer a sedan, the Regal has transformed into a hatch and a wagon, the second of which we’ll drive later. As a hatch, the new Regal Sportback boasts twice the amount of cargo capacity behind the split-folding second-row seats as its sedan predecessor, Buick says. On top of that, it receives a more modern design, mixing elements from a coupe and sedan. From the updated grille to the narrower headlights and taillights, raked roof, and shorter rear decklid, the model actually stands out in some crowds. The Regal Sportback is 2.7 inches longer than its predecessor and has a wheelbase that is 3.6 inches wider. If it looks lower and more planted, that’s because Buick reduced the car’s height by a little more than an inch.

Under the hood lies a familiar 2.0-liter turbo-four with 250 hp. In front-wheel-drive guise, the Regal makes 260 lb-ft of torque, and all-wheel-drive versions boast 295 lb-ft. It’s hard to find a situation where the Regal Sportback doesn’t have enough power. It gets up to speed quickly on the highway, and it produces a growl you wouldn’t expect from a Buick.

That said, the Regal hasn’t changed its core personality. It returns for the new year with a tan and a toned body, but it’s still that bookworm academic at heart. It’s a sedan that prioritizes driving comfort and value over raw performance, despite its new “Sportback” name. Its steering is light and effortless, though you can feel the size of the body while making your way through turns. The new nine-speed transmission, available on front-drive models, shifts smoothly so that you hardly notice it at all. It’s a small step up from the eight-speed transmission that comes with all-wheel-drive models, though these vehicles benefit from slightly better handling.




Just like the previous Regal, the new model keeps wind and road noise to a minimum. Although the ride is overall composed, it’s not a cruiser that will smooth out every road imperfection you encounter. You can feel even small bumps in the road.

One of my fondest memories of the old Regal was its interior. Not only were the seats comfortable, but the cabin also offered special extras such as touch climate controls. We appreciate the new button-free infotainment system, but generally the Regal’s cabin seems a little sterile now. Hard plastics mix with shiny woodlike accents, glossy aluminum trim, and an outdated-looking instrument cluster, hindering the car’s premium ambitions. Bottom line: there’s nothing really special about the cabin that makes buyers feel they are in for a treat when they sit in the front seat. Keep in mind we drove a top-level Essence model, which rang out to $37,665 when equipped with two different Driver Confidence packages. Not only do these bring together features such as adaptive cruise control, forward automatic braking, and lane keep assist with lane departure warning, but they also add other features including wireless charging, a power adjustable driver seat with memory settings, and other goodies.

Prices for the Regal Sportback start at $25,915, or $2,000 lower than the previous-generation model. For that money, you get standard features such as OnStar and a 4G LTE Wi-Fi hotspot, keyless entry, a seven-speaker audio system, halogen composite headlights, LED daytime running lights, cloth upholstery, and a 7.0-inch touchscreen. Essence models add heated front seats, an 8.0-inch touchscreen, dual-zone automatic climate control, remote start, a heated steering wheel, and trifolding 40/20/40 rear seats. In comparison, the base Acura TLX starts off at a slightly higher price point as the Regal Sportback Essence and includes LED headlights and a suite of active safety tech but lacks a standard heated steering wheel and only has 60/40 folding rear seats.








The Regal Sportback gets GM Marketplace, a new feature that allows customers to order food and drinks at different restaurants on the go. The automaker intends for customers to use this new feature behind the wheel, raising concerns from at least one safety group about the possibilities of distracted driving. To get a better understanding of the feature, we tested it out for ourselves.

It seems pretty simple to use. Before using the feature in the car, drivers must set up the GM Marketplace app on their phones. Here, they can register their common orders that will appear as selections on the car’s touchscreen. While driving, users can choose an item from their list of preselected orders, as well as make a few other simple decisions such as whether to pick up their items inside the store or through the driveway. The whole process requires pushing buttons on the touchscreen, not typing in complicated orders that would no doubt leave drivers overwhelmed. Drivers can order from places such as Dunkin’ Donuts, TGI Fridays, and starting early next year, Starbucks.

The first Regal Sportbacks have just arrived, and it should take eight to 12 weeks to fill up dealer inventories, the automaker says. The Regal TourX wagon will come to dealerships soon, and the sportier GS hatchback will follow by the end of the first quarter of 2018. No Avenir version of the Regal is planned at this stage.

The new Regal Sportback didn’t exceed my expectations in the same way as the previous Regal. But given all the huge updates for the new generation, how could it? The Regal Sportback is a confident, comfortable, fun-to-drive car that offers some welcome surprises, but it’s not a sporty luxury offering. Just like the previous Regal didn’t quite fit in with the BMW 320i and Mercedes-Benz CLA during our 2014 comparison, the new Regal Sportback makes its own mark.

The Regal’s tall hatchback opening makes it particularly easy to load large items. With 60.7 cubic feet of space behind the first row, you can fit an entire bicycle without removing a wheel.



































The post 2018 Buick Regal Sportback First Drive: A Few Surprises Up its Sleeve appeared first on Motor Trend.

Source: http://ift.tt/JPPTFe

2018 Jeep Wrangler First Drive Review: Because It’s There

TWENTY-FOUR DEGREES, INCLINED

We find ourselves on New Zealand’s South Island, perched on a soggy, precipitous mountainside east of Lake Hawea—following a long morning crawl down the ridge of Mount Prospect and crossing the Lindis River more times than I could remember.

While my off-road spotters discuss the merits of trying to creep forward versus backing down the narrow path cut in the hillside, I steal a glance at the Pitch and Roll feature displayed between the gauges of the new Jeep Wrangler. It was at least as informative as the view out the windshield—which by that point was mostly sky and mountaintops, with the occasional sight of a spotter’s head poking up over the hood. For reference, the steepest paved road in the world is 20 degrees.

Not that there was anyone to talk to. My driving partner had hopped out several minutes earlier, after watching the Jeep ahead struggle with the same obstacle. We resolved to make it without the support Jeep’s saving winch, but it was a precarious position. I needed to make a left turn up this 24-degree slope, with a steeper uphill slope to my immediate left and an equally sheer drop to my immediate right. For good measure, the light rain falling for the past hour had turned the hillside into a muddy mess. I didn’t begrudge my co-driver his choice to bail; I encouraged it.

We’re here because an all-new Jeep Wrangler is a rare thing to behold, one that arrives once in a decade at most. It is the rugged flag-bearer of the Jeep brand, the ur-SUV, and the most symbolically important vehicle Fiat Chrysler makes, which can only be properly showcased in the most extreme environments. It’s also an anachronism, a holdover from a bygone era of vehicle making that, had it never existed previous, would never be approved by a responsible corporate board today. It also is the one vehicle in the world that could properly surmount this ridiculous obstacle, and the Jeep folks wanted to prove it.








The Jeep Wrangler makes every bit of sense and none at all, and it must be accepted by a wildly devoted fan base that will tolerate no weakness. Fortunately for everyone involved, it doesn’t have many faults. In fact, it has so few we might as well just get them out of the way. First, the clutch take-up on the six-speed manual transmission is so vague even our officemates at JP and 4-Wheel and Off-Road were stalling. Second, the V-6 still feels a bit gutless at low rpm on pavement despite improvements. That about covers it.

Back on that hillside, I was driving a two-door Rubicon with the standard 3.6-liter V-6 and optional eight-speed automatic. It makes the same 285 hp and 260 lb-ft as before but gets better fuel economy and low-end torque. At crawling speeds and with four-wheel-drive gearing advantages, torque wasn’t an issue. Two days later, driving back into town in a heavier four-door Rubicon Unlimited with the same engine but standard six-speed manual, the lack of grunt was more apparent.

The enormous improvement in ride quality was also more apparent on the road. Don’t worry. It still drives like a truck, just one from this century. Moving the shocks farther outboard and raising the roll center have seriously reduced the head toss and impact harshness in everyday driving. Getting to the trail has never been so pleasant.




Although you’ll spend far more time on the road than the trail, we know you don’t care about that part, so let’s dive back into the mud. After lunch on the trail, it was a higher-speed two-track out to camp with one last river crossing to round things out. As if to drive the point of the new generation’s excellence home, one of the previous-generation Rubicon Unlimited support vehicles beached itself trying to climb out, right after the new ones drove right through.

After a night of unexpectedly heavy snowfall and several collapsed tents, we ran for the shores of Lake Wanaka and out another two-track toward Mount Aspiring National Park. On this day, I’d made a point of claiming the all-new 2.0-liter turbocharged four-cylinder. It makes 268 hp and 295 lb-ft and uses a belt alternator starter system that can take some load off the engine. This is the first four-banger Wrangler in over a decade and an optional upgrade over the V-6, so I had to know if it’s any good. This would be the day to find out. We were headed for a boulder field at the base of Mount Aspiring.

Available only with the eight-speed automatic, the turbo-four felt perfectly at home bumping along the two-track and down a stretch of paved road. The transmission, paired with either engine, continues to be a gem with quick, smooth gearshifts and a smart computer that always seems to know what gear it ought to be in. On-road and off, the engine felt just as powerful as the V-6, and its automatic start/stop system is among the smoothest on the market in any vehicle type. The real test, though, would be crawling.

Our test bed was a boulder-strewn gully 10 feet deep and in places just wider than the Jeeps. I dropped our Rubicon Unlimited into 4Lo, hit the switches to lock the front and rear differentials and disconnect the front anti-roll bar, and tiptoed in. I didn’t air down the tires, though; the Jeep people were so confident in the Wrangler they wouldn’t let us. Within 50 feet, every concern I had about power and turbo lag had been scraped away along with the paint on the factory rock rails. This little bugger crawls just as well as the V-6.

To be sure, I took another run in the other Rubicon Unlimited with the V-6 and the manual. Were it not for the shifting, I could barely tell the difference in power delivery. Between the belt alternator starter and turbocharger, the four-cylinder needed less revving to get the job done.

Speaking of, bouldering with a stock manual transmission has never been easier. Jeep has upped the crawl ratio from 73:1 to 84:1 on the manual (and from 55:1 to 77:1 on the automatic), so it can creep along at a half mile an hour in first gear in 4Lo without stalling. I only ever used the clutch to come to a complete stop while my spotters repositioned for the next obstacle.

The sun and cold wind beating on my face, this was Jeeping at its best: tough trail, manual transmission, roof down (thankfully now a tidy five-step process), and windshield down (now two wipers and four bolts, down from seeming dozens). We’d have taken the lightened doors off, too, if there were a place to put them. The included toolkit makes removing them and the windshield so easy you’re effectively obligated to do so.




The rock sliders thoroughly evaluated, I made one more run in the two-door Rubicon. Granted, the four-door Unlimiteds went everywhere the two-door went, but nothing makes a challenging trail easier than a shorter, lighter rig with a tighter turning radius. Regardless, the new 33-inch BFGoodrich All-Terrain T/A KO2 tires did a remarkable job at street pressure, and the extra inch of ground clearance afforded over the old 32-inch Mud Terrain T/A KMs was welcomed.

Off the rocks and back on the trail in the four-cylinder, we popped out the hard top’s “Freedom Panels,” which are held on by simple latches now instead of 1,000-turn knobs. It made for a better vantage point standing up through the roof as we crisscrossed the noticeably deeper Matukituki River’s West Branch. The 30-inch fording depth is engraved along with other stats on a panel on the inside of the tailgate for handy reference.

The next morning, leaving camp with the worst obstacles behind us, I decided I needed more than a mere trail run with the manual transmission. It’s a new Aisin unit with a shift linkage that has taken out most of the previous model’s slop. Were it not for the funky clutch pedal, I’d have nothing to complain about. The gates are easy to find, and the throws are short enough for a truck.

Read more about the 2018 Jeep Wrangler in our thorough First Look here.






Its crown is a nicely detailed metal and rubber shift knob with exposed bolts that cap off a wonderfully improved interior. The flat dash, round gauges, and front passenger oh-lordy handle are complemented by burly knobs, belt-buckle door handles, and exposed bolts that walk a fine line between historically informed and gaudy retro. Peppered in among them are welcome modern conveniences such as an optional 8.4-inch infotainment system, optional heated seats and steering wheel, optional high-end stereo, standard in-cluster digital display, and standard USB 2.0 and micro USB ports front and rear.

Descending through the Rees Valley and crossing its namesake river a few times (because at this point, why not?), we began the long trudge back down paved roads to the hotel and a hot shower. The improved ride is a welcome respite from three long days bouncing down the trail, as is the new electro-hydraulic steering that’s taken all the vagueness out of the rack. The Jeep is confident and planted on the road in a way Wranglers have never been. The hardcore guys will say the old trucks had more character, but the casual off-road enthusiast won’t mind the trade-off a bit.

The drive back gives time to reflect. If you went to an automaker today and asked them to build a two-door body-on-frame trucklet with a convertible roof and almost no cargo space—riding on live axles (and oh yeah, the windshield needs to fold down and you should be able to take the doors off and hose out the waterproof interior)—you’d be laughed out of the room. This Wrangler, this iconic Jeep, exists because it’s always existed, and this new one is the best one yet. No, Jeep faithful, they didn’t ruin it. They didn’t even make it just as good as the old one. They made it better in every way.








2018 Jeep Wrangler
BASE PRICE $28,190-$31,690
VEHICLE LAYOUT Front-engine, 4WD, 4- or 5-pass, 2- or 4-door SUV
ENGINES 3.6L/285-hp/260-lb-ft DOHC 24-valve V-6; 2.0L/268-hp/295-lb-ft turbocharged DOHC 16-valve I-4; 3.0L/260-hp/442-lb-ft turbodiesel DOHC 24-valve V-6
TRANSMISSIONS 6-speed manual; 8-speed automatic
CURB WEIGHT 4,000-4,700 lb (est)
WHEELBASE 96.8-118.4 in
LENGTH X WIDTH X HEIGHT 166.8-188.4 x 73.8 x 73.6 in
0-60 MPH 7.0-8.0 sec (MT est)
EPA CITY/HWY/COMB FUEL ECON 17-18/23/19-20 mpg (3.6L)
ENERGY CONSUMPTION, CITY/HWY 187-198/147 kW-hrs/100 miles (3.6L)
CO2 EMISSIONS, COMB 0.97-1.01 lb/mile (3.6L)
ON SALE IN U.S. January 2018

















































































































































































































































































The post 2018 Jeep Wrangler First Drive Review: Because It’s There appeared first on Motor Trend.

Source: http://ift.tt/JPPTFe

2018 Jeep Wrangler First Drive Review: Because It’s There

TWENTY-FOUR DEGREES, INCLINED

We find ourselves on New Zealand’s South Island, perched on a soggy, precipitous mountainside east of Lake Hawea—following a long morning crawl down the ridge of Mount Prospect and crossing the Lindis River more times than I could remember.

While my off-road spotters discuss the merits of trying to creep forward versus backing down the narrow path cut in the hillside, I steal a glance at the Pitch and Roll feature displayed between the gauges of the new Jeep Wrangler. It was at least as informative as the view out the windshield—which by that point was mostly sky and mountaintops, with the occasional sight of a spotter’s head poking up over the hood. For reference, the steepest paved road in the world is 20 degrees.

Not that there was anyone to talk to. My driving partner had hopped out several minutes earlier, after watching the Jeep ahead struggle with the same obstacle. We resolved to make it without the support Jeep’s saving winch, but it was a precarious position. I needed to make a left turn up this 24-degree slope, with a steeper uphill slope to my immediate left and an equally sheer drop to my immediate right. For good measure, the light rain falling for the past hour had turned the hillside into a muddy mess. I didn’t begrudge my co-driver his choice to bail; I encouraged it.

We’re here because an all-new Jeep Wrangler is a rare thing to behold, one that arrives once in a decade at most. It is the rugged flag-bearer of the Jeep brand, the ur-SUV, and the most symbolically important vehicle Fiat Chrysler makes, which can only be properly showcased in the most extreme environments. It’s also an anachronism, a holdover from a bygone era of vehicle making that, had it never existed previous, would never be approved by a responsible corporate board today. It also is the one vehicle in the world that could properly surmount this ridiculous obstacle, and the Jeep folks wanted to prove it.








The Jeep Wrangler makes every bit of sense and none at all, and it must be accepted by a wildly devoted fan base that will tolerate no weakness. Fortunately for everyone involved, it doesn’t have many faults. In fact, it has so few we might as well just get them out of the way. First, the clutch take-up on the six-speed manual transmission is so vague even our officemates at JP and 4-Wheel and Off-Road were stalling. Second, the V-6 still feels a bit gutless at low rpm on pavement despite improvements. That about covers it.

Back on that hillside, I was driving a two-door Rubicon with the standard 3.6-liter V-6 and optional eight-speed automatic. It makes the same 285 hp and 260 lb-ft as before but gets better fuel economy and low-end torque. At crawling speeds and with four-wheel-drive gearing advantages, torque wasn’t an issue. Two days later, driving back into town in a heavier four-door Rubicon Unlimited with the same engine but standard six-speed manual, the lack of grunt was more apparent.

The enormous improvement in ride quality was also more apparent on the road. Don’t worry. It still drives like a truck, just one from this century. Moving the shocks farther outboard and raising the roll center have seriously reduced the head toss and impact harshness in everyday driving. Getting to the trail has never been so pleasant.




Although you’ll spend far more time on the road than the trail, we know you don’t care about that part, so let’s dive back into the mud. After lunch on the trail, it was a higher-speed two-track out to camp with one last river crossing to round things out. As if to drive the point of the new generation’s excellence home, one of the previous-generation Rubicon Unlimited support vehicles beached itself trying to climb out, right after the new ones drove right through.

After a night of unexpectedly heavy snowfall and several collapsed tents, we ran for the shores of Lake Wanaka and out another two-track toward Mount Aspiring National Park. On this day, I’d made a point of claiming the all-new 2.0-liter turbocharged four-cylinder. It makes 268 hp and 295 lb-ft and uses a belt alternator starter system that can take some load off the engine. This is the first four-banger Wrangler in over a decade and an optional upgrade over the V-6, so I had to know if it’s any good. This would be the day to find out. We were headed for a boulder field at the base of Mount Aspiring.

Available only with the eight-speed automatic, the turbo-four felt perfectly at home bumping along the two-track and down a stretch of paved road. The transmission, paired with either engine, continues to be a gem with quick, smooth gearshifts and a smart computer that always seems to know what gear it ought to be in. On-road and off, the engine felt just as powerful as the V-6, and its automatic start/stop system is among the smoothest on the market in any vehicle type. The real test, though, would be crawling.

Our test bed was a boulder-strewn gully 10 feet deep and in places just wider than the Jeeps. I dropped our Rubicon Unlimited into 4Lo, hit the switches to lock the front and rear differentials and disconnect the front anti-roll bar, and tiptoed in. I didn’t air down the tires, though; the Jeep people were so confident in the Wrangler they wouldn’t let us. Within 50 feet, every concern I had about power and turbo lag had been scraped away along with the paint on the factory rock rails. This little bugger crawls just as well as the V-6.

To be sure, I took another run in the other Rubicon Unlimited with the V-6 and the manual. Were it not for the shifting, I could barely tell the difference in power delivery. Between the belt alternator starter and turbocharger, the four-cylinder needed less revving to get the job done.

Speaking of, bouldering with a stock manual transmission has never been easier. Jeep has upped the crawl ratio from 73:1 to 84:1 on the manual (and from 55:1 to 77:1 on the automatic), so it can creep along at a half mile an hour in first gear in 4Lo without stalling. I only ever used the clutch to come to a complete stop while my spotters repositioned for the next obstacle.

The sun and cold wind beating on my face, this was Jeeping at its best: tough trail, manual transmission, roof down (thankfully now a tidy five-step process), and windshield down (now two wipers and four bolts, down from seeming dozens). We’d have taken the lightened doors off, too, if there were a place to put them. The included toolkit makes removing them and the windshield so easy you’re effectively obligated to do so.




The rock sliders thoroughly evaluated, I made one more run in the two-door Rubicon. Granted, the four-door Unlimiteds went everywhere the two-door went, but nothing makes a challenging trail easier than a shorter, lighter rig with a tighter turning radius. Regardless, the new 33-inch BFGoodrich All-Terrain T/A KO2 tires did a remarkable job at street pressure, and the extra inch of ground clearance afforded over the old 32-inch Mud Terrain T/A KMs was welcomed.

Off the rocks and back on the trail in the four-cylinder, we popped out the hard top’s “Freedom Panels,” which are held on by simple latches now instead of 1,000-turn knobs. It made for a better vantage point standing up through the roof as we crisscrossed the noticeably deeper Matukituki River’s West Branch. The 30-inch fording depth is engraved along with other stats on a panel on the inside of the tailgate for handy reference.

The next morning, leaving camp with the worst obstacles behind us, I decided I needed more than a mere trail run with the manual transmission. It’s a new Aisin unit with a shift linkage that has taken out most of the previous model’s slop. Were it not for the funky clutch pedal, I’d have nothing to complain about. The gates are easy to find, and the throws are short enough for a truck.

Read more about the 2018 Jeep Wrangler in our thorough First Look here.






Its crown is a nicely detailed metal and rubber shift knob with exposed bolts that cap off a wonderfully improved interior. The flat dash, round gauges, and front passenger oh-lordy handle are complemented by burly knobs, belt-buckle door handles, and exposed bolts that walk a fine line between historically informed and gaudy retro. Peppered in among them are welcome modern conveniences such as an optional 8.4-inch infotainment system, optional heated seats and steering wheel, optional high-end stereo, standard in-cluster digital display, and standard USB 2.0 and micro USB ports front and rear.

Descending through the Rees Valley and crossing its namesake river a few times (because at this point, why not?), we began the long trudge back down paved roads to the hotel and a hot shower. The improved ride is a welcome respite from three long days bouncing down the trail, as is the new electro-hydraulic steering that’s taken all the vagueness out of the rack. The Jeep is confident and planted on the road in a way Wranglers have never been. The hardcore guys will say the old trucks had more character, but the casual off-road enthusiast won’t mind the trade-off a bit.

The drive back gives time to reflect. If you went to an automaker today and asked them to build a two-door body-on-frame trucklet with a convertible roof and almost no cargo space—riding on live axles (and oh yeah, the windshield needs to fold down and you should be able to take the doors off and hose out the waterproof interior)—you’d be laughed out of the room. This Wrangler, this iconic Jeep, exists because it’s always existed, and this new one is the best one yet. No, Jeep faithful, they didn’t ruin it. They didn’t even make it just as good as the old one. They made it better in every way.








2018 Jeep Wrangler
BASE PRICE $28,190-$31,690
VEHICLE LAYOUT Front-engine, 4WD, 4- or 5-pass, 2- or 4-door SUV
ENGINES 3.6L/285-hp/260-lb-ft DOHC 24-valve V-6; 2.0L/268-hp/295-lb-ft turbocharged DOHC 16-valve I-4; 3.0L/260-hp/442-lb-ft turbodiesel DOHC 24-valve V-6
TRANSMISSIONS 6-speed manual; 8-speed automatic
CURB WEIGHT 4,000-4,700 lb (est)
WHEELBASE 96.8-118.4 in
LENGTH X WIDTH X HEIGHT 166.8-188.4 x 73.8 x 73.6 in
0-60 MPH 7.0-8.0 sec (MT est)
EPA CITY/HWY/COMB FUEL ECON 17-18/23/19-20 mpg (3.6L)
ENERGY CONSUMPTION, CITY/HWY 187-198/147 kW-hrs/100 miles (3.6L)
CO2 EMISSIONS, COMB 0.97-1.01 lb/mile (3.6L)
ON SALE IN U.S. January 2018

















































































































































































































































































The post 2018 Jeep Wrangler First Drive Review: Because It’s There appeared first on Motor Trend.

Source: http://ift.tt/JPPTFe

2018 Jeep Wrangler First Drive Review: Because It’s There

TWENTY-FOUR DEGREES, INCLINED

We find ourselves on New Zealand’s South Island, perched on a soggy, precipitous mountainside east of Lake Hawea—following a long morning crawl down the ridge of Mount Prospect and crossing the Lindis River more times than I could remember.

While my off-road spotters discuss the merits of trying to creep forward versus backing down the narrow path cut in the hillside, I steal a glance at the Pitch and Roll feature displayed between the gauges of the new Jeep Wrangler. It was at least as informative as the view out the windshield—which by that point was mostly sky and mountaintops, with the occasional sight of a spotter’s head poking up over the hood. For reference, the steepest paved road in the world is 20 degrees.

Not that there was anyone to talk to. My driving partner had hopped out several minutes earlier, after watching the Jeep ahead struggle with the same obstacle. We resolved to make it without the support Jeep’s saving winch, but it was a precarious position. I needed to make a left turn up this 24-degree slope, with a steeper uphill slope to my immediate left and an equally sheer drop to my immediate right. For good measure, the light rain falling for the past hour had turned the hillside into a muddy mess. I didn’t begrudge my co-driver his choice to bail; I encouraged it.

We’re here because an all-new Jeep Wrangler is a rare thing to behold, one that arrives once in a decade at most. It is the rugged flag-bearer of the Jeep brand, the ur-SUV, and the most symbolically important vehicle Fiat Chrysler makes, which can only be properly showcased in the most extreme environments. It’s also an anachronism, a holdover from a bygone era of vehicle making that, had it never existed previous, would never be approved by a responsible corporate board today. It also is the one vehicle in the world that could properly surmount this ridiculous obstacle, and the Jeep folks wanted to prove it.








The Jeep Wrangler makes every bit of sense and none at all, and it must be accepted by a wildly devoted fan base that will tolerate no weakness. Fortunately for everyone involved, it doesn’t have many faults. In fact, it has so few we might as well just get them out of the way. First, the clutch take-up on the six-speed manual transmission is so vague even our officemates at JP and 4-Wheel and Off-Road were stalling. Second, the V-6 still feels a bit gutless at low rpm on pavement despite improvements. That about covers it.

Back on that hillside, I was driving a two-door Rubicon with the standard 3.6-liter V-6 and optional eight-speed automatic. It makes the same 285 hp and 260 lb-ft as before but gets better fuel economy and low-end torque. At crawling speeds and with four-wheel-drive gearing advantages, torque wasn’t an issue. Two days later, driving back into town in a heavier four-door Rubicon Unlimited with the same engine but standard six-speed manual, the lack of grunt was more apparent.

The enormous improvement in ride quality was also more apparent on the road. Don’t worry. It still drives like a truck, just one from this century. Moving the shocks farther outboard and raising the roll center have seriously reduced the head toss and impact harshness in everyday driving. Getting to the trail has never been so pleasant.




Although you’ll spend far more time on the road than the trail, we know you don’t care about that part, so let’s dive back into the mud. After lunch on the trail, it was a higher-speed two-track out to camp with one last river crossing to round things out. As if to drive the point of the new generation’s excellence home, one of the previous-generation Rubicon Unlimited support vehicles beached itself trying to climb out, right after the new ones drove right through.

After a night of unexpectedly heavy snowfall and several collapsed tents, we ran for the shores of Lake Wanaka and out another two-track toward Mount Aspiring National Park. On this day, I’d made a point of claiming the all-new 2.0-liter turbocharged four-cylinder. It makes 268 hp and 295 lb-ft and uses a belt alternator starter system that can take some load off the engine. This is the first four-banger Wrangler in over a decade and an optional upgrade over the V-6, so I had to know if it’s any good. This would be the day to find out. We were headed for a boulder field at the base of Mount Aspiring.

Available only with the eight-speed automatic, the turbo-four felt perfectly at home bumping along the two-track and down a stretch of paved road. The transmission, paired with either engine, continues to be a gem with quick, smooth gearshifts and a smart computer that always seems to know what gear it ought to be in. On-road and off, the engine felt just as powerful as the V-6, and its automatic start/stop system is among the smoothest on the market in any vehicle type. The real test, though, would be crawling.

Our test bed was a boulder-strewn gully 10 feet deep and in places just wider than the Jeeps. I dropped our Rubicon Unlimited into 4Lo, hit the switches to lock the front and rear differentials and disconnect the front anti-roll bar, and tiptoed in. I didn’t air down the tires, though; the Jeep people were so confident in the Wrangler they wouldn’t let us. Within 50 feet, every concern I had about power and turbo lag had been scraped away along with the paint on the factory rock rails. This little bugger crawls just as well as the V-6.

To be sure, I took another run in the other Rubicon Unlimited with the V-6 and the manual. Were it not for the shifting, I could barely tell the difference in power delivery. Between the belt alternator starter and turbocharger, the four-cylinder needed less revving to get the job done.

Speaking of, bouldering with a stock manual transmission has never been easier. Jeep has upped the crawl ratio from 73:1 to 84:1 on the manual (and from 55:1 to 77:1 on the automatic), so it can creep along at a half mile an hour in first gear in 4Lo without stalling. I only ever used the clutch to come to a complete stop while my spotters repositioned for the next obstacle.

The sun and cold wind beating on my face, this was Jeeping at its best: tough trail, manual transmission, roof down (thankfully now a tidy five-step process), and windshield down (now two wipers and four bolts, down from seeming dozens). We’d have taken the lightened doors off, too, if there were a place to put them. The included toolkit makes removing them and the windshield so easy you’re effectively obligated to do so.




The rock sliders thoroughly evaluated, I made one more run in the two-door Rubicon. Granted, the four-door Unlimiteds went everywhere the two-door went, but nothing makes a challenging trail easier than a shorter, lighter rig with a tighter turning radius. Regardless, the new 33-inch BFGoodrich All-Terrain T/A KO2 tires did a remarkable job at street pressure, and the extra inch of ground clearance afforded over the old 32-inch Mud Terrain T/A KMs was welcomed.

Off the rocks and back on the trail in the four-cylinder, we popped out the hard top’s “Freedom Panels,” which are held on by simple latches now instead of 1,000-turn knobs. It made for a better vantage point standing up through the roof as we crisscrossed the noticeably deeper Matukituki River’s West Branch. The 30-inch fording depth is engraved along with other stats on a panel on the inside of the tailgate for handy reference.

The next morning, leaving camp with the worst obstacles behind us, I decided I needed more than a mere trail run with the manual transmission. It’s a new Aisin unit with a shift linkage that has taken out most of the previous model’s slop. Were it not for the funky clutch pedal, I’d have nothing to complain about. The gates are easy to find, and the throws are short enough for a truck.

Read more about the 2018 Jeep Wrangler in our thorough First Look here.






Its crown is a nicely detailed metal and rubber shift knob with exposed bolts that cap off a wonderfully improved interior. The flat dash, round gauges, and front passenger oh-lordy handle are complemented by burly knobs, belt-buckle door handles, and exposed bolts that walk a fine line between historically informed and gaudy retro. Peppered in among them are welcome modern conveniences such as an optional 8.4-inch infotainment system, optional heated seats and steering wheel, optional high-end stereo, standard in-cluster digital display, and standard USB 2.0 and micro USB ports front and rear.

Descending through the Rees Valley and crossing its namesake river a few times (because at this point, why not?), we began the long trudge back down paved roads to the hotel and a hot shower. The improved ride is a welcome respite from three long days bouncing down the trail, as is the new electro-hydraulic steering that’s taken all the vagueness out of the rack. The Jeep is confident and planted on the road in a way Wranglers have never been. The hardcore guys will say the old trucks had more character, but the casual off-road enthusiast won’t mind the trade-off a bit.

The drive back gives time to reflect. If you went to an automaker today and asked them to build a two-door body-on-frame trucklet with a convertible roof and almost no cargo space—riding on live axles (and oh yeah, the windshield needs to fold down and you should be able to take the doors off and hose out the waterproof interior)—you’d be laughed out of the room. This Wrangler, this iconic Jeep, exists because it’s always existed, and this new one is the best one yet. No, Jeep faithful, they didn’t ruin it. They didn’t even make it just as good as the old one. They made it better in every way.








2018 Jeep Wrangler
BASE PRICE $28,190-$31,690
VEHICLE LAYOUT Front-engine, 4WD, 4- or 5-pass, 2- or 4-door SUV
ENGINES 3.6L/285-hp/260-lb-ft DOHC 24-valve V-6; 2.0L/268-hp/295-lb-ft turbocharged DOHC 16-valve I-4; 3.0L/260-hp/442-lb-ft turbodiesel DOHC 24-valve V-6
TRANSMISSIONS 6-speed manual; 8-speed automatic
CURB WEIGHT 4,000-4,700 lb (est)
WHEELBASE 96.8-118.4 in
LENGTH X WIDTH X HEIGHT 166.8-188.4 x 73.8 x 73.6 in
0-60 MPH 7.0-8.0 sec (MT est)
EPA CITY/HWY/COMB FUEL ECON 17-18/23/19-20 mpg (3.6L)
ENERGY CONSUMPTION, CITY/HWY 187-198/147 kW-hrs/100 miles (3.6L)
CO2 EMISSIONS, COMB 0.97-1.01 lb/mile (3.6L)
ON SALE IN U.S. January 2018

















































































































































































































































































The post 2018 Jeep Wrangler First Drive Review: Because It’s There appeared first on Motor Trend.

Source: http://ift.tt/JPPTFe

2018 Jeep Wrangler First Drive Review: Because It’s There

TWENTY-FOUR DEGREES, INCLINED

We find ourselves on New Zealand’s South Island, perched on a soggy, precipitous mountainside east of Lake Hawea—following a long morning crawl down the ridge of Mount Prospect and crossing the Lindis River more times than I could remember.

While my off-road spotters discuss the merits of trying to creep forward versus backing down the narrow path cut in the hillside, I steal a glance at the Pitch and Roll feature displayed between the gauges of the new Jeep Wrangler. It was at least as informative as the view out the windshield—which by that point was mostly sky and mountaintops, with the occasional sight of a spotter’s head poking up over the hood. For reference, the steepest paved road in the world is 20 degrees.

Not that there was anyone to talk to. My driving partner had hopped out several minutes earlier, after watching the Jeep ahead struggle with the same obstacle. We resolved to make it without the support Jeep’s saving winch, but it was a precarious position. I needed to make a left turn up this 24-degree slope, with a steeper uphill slope to my immediate left and an equally sheer drop to my immediate right. For good measure, the light rain falling for the past hour had turned the hillside into a muddy mess. I didn’t begrudge my co-driver his choice to bail; I encouraged it.

We’re here because an all-new Jeep Wrangler is a rare thing to behold, one that arrives once in a decade at most. It is the rugged flag-bearer of the Jeep brand, the ur-SUV, and the most symbolically important vehicle Fiat Chrysler makes, which can only be properly showcased in the most extreme environments. It’s also an anachronism, a holdover from a bygone era of vehicle making that, had it never existed previous, would never be approved by a responsible corporate board today. It also is the one vehicle in the world that could properly surmount this ridiculous obstacle, and the Jeep folks wanted to prove it.








The Jeep Wrangler makes every bit of sense and none at all, and it must be accepted by a wildly devoted fan base that will tolerate no weakness. Fortunately for everyone involved, it doesn’t have many faults. In fact, it has so few we might as well just get them out of the way. First, the clutch take-up on the six-speed manual transmission is so vague even our officemates at JP and 4-Wheel and Off-Road were stalling. Second, the V-6 still feels a bit gutless at low rpm on pavement despite improvements. That about covers it.

Back on that hillside, I was driving a two-door Rubicon with the standard 3.6-liter V-6 and optional eight-speed automatic. It makes the same 285 hp and 260 lb-ft as before but gets better fuel economy and low-end torque. At crawling speeds and with four-wheel-drive gearing advantages, torque wasn’t an issue. Two days later, driving back into town in a heavier four-door Rubicon Unlimited with the same engine but standard six-speed manual, the lack of grunt was more apparent.

The enormous improvement in ride quality was also more apparent on the road. Don’t worry. It still drives like a truck, just one from this century. Moving the shocks farther outboard and raising the roll center have seriously reduced the head toss and impact harshness in everyday driving. Getting to the trail has never been so pleasant.




Although you’ll spend far more time on the road than the trail, we know you don’t care about that part, so let’s dive back into the mud. After lunch on the trail, it was a higher-speed two-track out to camp with one last river crossing to round things out. As if to drive the point of the new generation’s excellence home, one of the previous-generation Rubicon Unlimited support vehicles beached itself trying to climb out, right after the new ones drove right through.

After a night of unexpectedly heavy snowfall and several collapsed tents, we ran for the shores of Lake Wanaka and out another two-track toward Mount Aspiring National Park. On this day, I’d made a point of claiming the all-new 2.0-liter turbocharged four-cylinder. It makes 268 hp and 295 lb-ft and uses a belt alternator starter system that can take some load off the engine. This is the first four-banger Wrangler in over a decade and an optional upgrade over the V-6, so I had to know if it’s any good. This would be the day to find out. We were headed for a boulder field at the base of Mount Aspiring.

Available only with the eight-speed automatic, the turbo-four felt perfectly at home bumping along the two-track and down a stretch of paved road. The transmission, paired with either engine, continues to be a gem with quick, smooth gearshifts and a smart computer that always seems to know what gear it ought to be in. On-road and off, the engine felt just as powerful as the V-6, and its automatic start/stop system is among the smoothest on the market in any vehicle type. The real test, though, would be crawling.

Our test bed was a boulder-strewn gully 10 feet deep and in places just wider than the Jeeps. I dropped our Rubicon Unlimited into 4Lo, hit the switches to lock the front and rear differentials and disconnect the front anti-roll bar, and tiptoed in. I didn’t air down the tires, though; the Jeep people were so confident in the Wrangler they wouldn’t let us. Within 50 feet, every concern I had about power and turbo lag had been scraped away along with the paint on the factory rock rails. This little bugger crawls just as well as the V-6.

To be sure, I took another run in the other Rubicon Unlimited with the V-6 and the manual. Were it not for the shifting, I could barely tell the difference in power delivery. Between the belt alternator starter and turbocharger, the four-cylinder needed less revving to get the job done.

Speaking of, bouldering with a stock manual transmission has never been easier. Jeep has upped the crawl ratio from 73:1 to 84:1 on the manual (and from 55:1 to 77:1 on the automatic), so it can creep along at a half mile an hour in first gear in 4Lo without stalling. I only ever used the clutch to come to a complete stop while my spotters repositioned for the next obstacle.

The sun and cold wind beating on my face, this was Jeeping at its best: tough trail, manual transmission, roof down (thankfully now a tidy five-step process), and windshield down (now two wipers and four bolts, down from seeming dozens). We’d have taken the lightened doors off, too, if there were a place to put them. The included toolkit makes removing them and the windshield so easy you’re effectively obligated to do so.




The rock sliders thoroughly evaluated, I made one more run in the two-door Rubicon. Granted, the four-door Unlimiteds went everywhere the two-door went, but nothing makes a challenging trail easier than a shorter, lighter rig with a tighter turning radius. Regardless, the new 33-inch BFGoodrich All-Terrain T/A KO2 tires did a remarkable job at street pressure, and the extra inch of ground clearance afforded over the old 32-inch Mud Terrain T/A KMs was welcomed.

Off the rocks and back on the trail in the four-cylinder, we popped out the hard top’s “Freedom Panels,” which are held on by simple latches now instead of 1,000-turn knobs. It made for a better vantage point standing up through the roof as we crisscrossed the noticeably deeper Matukituki River’s West Branch. The 30-inch fording depth is engraved along with other stats on a panel on the inside of the tailgate for handy reference.

The next morning, leaving camp with the worst obstacles behind us, I decided I needed more than a mere trail run with the manual transmission. It’s a new Aisin unit with a shift linkage that has taken out most of the previous model’s slop. Were it not for the funky clutch pedal, I’d have nothing to complain about. The gates are easy to find, and the throws are short enough for a truck.

Read more about the 2018 Jeep Wrangler in our thorough First Look here.






Its crown is a nicely detailed metal and rubber shift knob with exposed bolts that cap off a wonderfully improved interior. The flat dash, round gauges, and front passenger oh-lordy handle are complemented by burly knobs, belt-buckle door handles, and exposed bolts that walk a fine line between historically informed and gaudy retro. Peppered in among them are welcome modern conveniences such as an optional 8.4-inch infotainment system, optional heated seats and steering wheel, optional high-end stereo, standard in-cluster digital display, and standard USB 2.0 and micro USB ports front and rear.

Descending through the Rees Valley and crossing its namesake river a few times (because at this point, why not?), we began the long trudge back down paved roads to the hotel and a hot shower. The improved ride is a welcome respite from three long days bouncing down the trail, as is the new electro-hydraulic steering that’s taken all the vagueness out of the rack. The Jeep is confident and planted on the road in a way Wranglers have never been. The hardcore guys will say the old trucks had more character, but the casual off-road enthusiast won’t mind the trade-off a bit.

The drive back gives time to reflect. If you went to an automaker today and asked them to build a two-door body-on-frame trucklet with a convertible roof and almost no cargo space—riding on live axles (and oh yeah, the windshield needs to fold down and you should be able to take the doors off and hose out the waterproof interior)—you’d be laughed out of the room. This Wrangler, this iconic Jeep, exists because it’s always existed, and this new one is the best one yet. No, Jeep faithful, they didn’t ruin it. They didn’t even make it just as good as the old one. They made it better in every way.








2018 Jeep Wrangler
BASE PRICE $28,190-$31,690
VEHICLE LAYOUT Front-engine, 4WD, 4- or 5-pass, 2- or 4-door SUV
ENGINES 3.6L/285-hp/260-lb-ft DOHC 24-valve V-6; 2.0L/268-hp/295-lb-ft turbocharged DOHC 16-valve I-4; 3.0L/260-hp/442-lb-ft turbodiesel DOHC 24-valve V-6
TRANSMISSIONS 6-speed manual; 8-speed automatic
CURB WEIGHT 4,000-4,700 lb (est)
WHEELBASE 96.8-118.4 in
LENGTH X WIDTH X HEIGHT 166.8-188.4 x 73.8 x 73.6 in
0-60 MPH 7.0-8.0 sec (MT est)
EPA CITY/HWY/COMB FUEL ECON 17-18/23/19-20 mpg (3.6L)
ENERGY CONSUMPTION, CITY/HWY 187-198/147 kW-hrs/100 miles (3.6L)
CO2 EMISSIONS, COMB 0.97-1.01 lb/mile (3.6L)
ON SALE IN U.S. January 2018

















































































































































































































































































The post 2018 Jeep Wrangler First Drive Review: Because It’s There appeared first on Motor Trend.

Source: http://ift.tt/JPPTFe

2018 Jeep Wrangler First Drive Review: Because It’s There

TWENTY-FOUR DEGREES, INCLINED

We find ourselves on New Zealand’s South Island, perched on a soggy, precipitous mountainside east of Lake Hawea—following a long morning crawl down the ridge of Mount Prospect and crossing the Lindis River more times than I could remember.

While my off-road spotters discuss the merits of trying to creep forward versus backing down the narrow path cut in the hillside, I steal a glance at the Pitch and Roll feature displayed between the gauges of the new Jeep Wrangler. It was at least as informative as the view out the windshield—which by that point was mostly sky and mountaintops, with the occasional sight of a spotter’s head poking up over the hood. For reference, the steepest paved road in the world is 20 degrees.

Not that there was anyone to talk to. My driving partner had hopped out several minutes earlier, after watching the Jeep ahead struggle with the same obstacle. We resolved to make it without the support Jeep’s saving winch, but it was a precarious position. I needed to make a left turn up this 24-degree slope, with a steeper uphill slope to my immediate left and an equally sheer drop to my immediate right. For good measure, the light rain falling for the past hour had turned the hillside into a muddy mess. I didn’t begrudge my co-driver his choice to bail; I encouraged it.

We’re here because an all-new Jeep Wrangler is a rare thing to behold, one that arrives once in a decade at most. It is the rugged flag-bearer of the Jeep brand, the ur-SUV, and the most symbolically important vehicle Fiat Chrysler makes, which can only be properly showcased in the most extreme environments. It’s also an anachronism, a holdover from a bygone era of vehicle making that, had it never existed previous, would never be approved by a responsible corporate board today. It also is the one vehicle in the world that could properly surmount this ridiculous obstacle, and the Jeep folks wanted to prove it.








The Jeep Wrangler makes every bit of sense and none at all, and it must be accepted by a wildly devoted fan base that will tolerate no weakness. Fortunately for everyone involved, it doesn’t have many faults. In fact, it has so few we might as well just get them out of the way. First, the clutch take-up on the six-speed manual transmission is so vague even our officemates at JP and 4-Wheel and Off-Road were stalling. Second, the V-6 still feels a bit gutless at low rpm on pavement despite improvements. That about covers it.

Back on that hillside, I was driving a two-door Rubicon with the standard 3.6-liter V-6 and optional eight-speed automatic. It makes the same 285 hp and 260 lb-ft as before but gets better fuel economy and low-end torque. At crawling speeds and with four-wheel-drive gearing advantages, torque wasn’t an issue. Two days later, driving back into town in a heavier four-door Rubicon Unlimited with the same engine but standard six-speed manual, the lack of grunt was more apparent.

The enormous improvement in ride quality was also more apparent on the road. Don’t worry. It still drives like a truck, just one from this century. Moving the shocks farther outboard and raising the roll center have seriously reduced the head toss and impact harshness in everyday driving. Getting to the trail has never been so pleasant.




Although you’ll spend far more time on the road than the trail, we know you don’t care about that part, so let’s dive back into the mud. After lunch on the trail, it was a higher-speed two-track out to camp with one last river crossing to round things out. As if to drive the point of the new generation’s excellence home, one of the previous-generation Rubicon Unlimited support vehicles beached itself trying to climb out, right after the new ones drove right through.

After a night of unexpectedly heavy snowfall and several collapsed tents, we ran for the shores of Lake Wanaka and out another two-track toward Mount Aspiring National Park. On this day, I’d made a point of claiming the all-new 2.0-liter turbocharged four-cylinder. It makes 268 hp and 295 lb-ft and uses a belt alternator starter system that can take some load off the engine. This is the first four-banger Wrangler in over a decade and an optional upgrade over the V-6, so I had to know if it’s any good. This would be the day to find out. We were headed for a boulder field at the base of Mount Aspiring.

Available only with the eight-speed automatic, the turbo-four felt perfectly at home bumping along the two-track and down a stretch of paved road. The transmission, paired with either engine, continues to be a gem with quick, smooth gearshifts and a smart computer that always seems to know what gear it ought to be in. On-road and off, the engine felt just as powerful as the V-6, and its automatic start/stop system is among the smoothest on the market in any vehicle type. The real test, though, would be crawling.

Our test bed was a boulder-strewn gully 10 feet deep and in places just wider than the Jeeps. I dropped our Rubicon Unlimited into 4Lo, hit the switches to lock the front and rear differentials and disconnect the front anti-roll bar, and tiptoed in. I didn’t air down the tires, though; the Jeep people were so confident in the Wrangler they wouldn’t let us. Within 50 feet, every concern I had about power and turbo lag had been scraped away along with the paint on the factory rock rails. This little bugger crawls just as well as the V-6.

To be sure, I took another run in the other Rubicon Unlimited with the V-6 and the manual. Were it not for the shifting, I could barely tell the difference in power delivery. Between the belt alternator starter and turbocharger, the four-cylinder needed less revving to get the job done.

Speaking of, bouldering with a stock manual transmission has never been easier. Jeep has upped the crawl ratio from 73:1 to 84:1 on the manual (and from 55:1 to 77:1 on the automatic), so it can creep along at a half mile an hour in first gear in 4Lo without stalling. I only ever used the clutch to come to a complete stop while my spotters repositioned for the next obstacle.

The sun and cold wind beating on my face, this was Jeeping at its best: tough trail, manual transmission, roof down (thankfully now a tidy five-step process), and windshield down (now two wipers and four bolts, down from seeming dozens). We’d have taken the lightened doors off, too, if there were a place to put them. The included toolkit makes removing them and the windshield so easy you’re effectively obligated to do so.




The rock sliders thoroughly evaluated, I made one more run in the two-door Rubicon. Granted, the four-door Unlimiteds went everywhere the two-door went, but nothing makes a challenging trail easier than a shorter, lighter rig with a tighter turning radius. Regardless, the new 33-inch BFGoodrich All-Terrain T/A KO2 tires did a remarkable job at street pressure, and the extra inch of ground clearance afforded over the old 32-inch Mud Terrain T/A KMs was welcomed.

Off the rocks and back on the trail in the four-cylinder, we popped out the hard top’s “Freedom Panels,” which are held on by simple latches now instead of 1,000-turn knobs. It made for a better vantage point standing up through the roof as we crisscrossed the noticeably deeper Matukituki River’s West Branch. The 30-inch fording depth is engraved along with other stats on a panel on the inside of the tailgate for handy reference.

The next morning, leaving camp with the worst obstacles behind us, I decided I needed more than a mere trail run with the manual transmission. It’s a new Aisin unit with a shift linkage that has taken out most of the previous model’s slop. Were it not for the funky clutch pedal, I’d have nothing to complain about. The gates are easy to find, and the throws are short enough for a truck.

Read more about the 2018 Jeep Wrangler in our thorough First Look here.






Its crown is a nicely detailed metal and rubber shift knob with exposed bolts that cap off a wonderfully improved interior. The flat dash, round gauges, and front passenger oh-lordy handle are complemented by burly knobs, belt-buckle door handles, and exposed bolts that walk a fine line between historically informed and gaudy retro. Peppered in among them are welcome modern conveniences such as an optional 8.4-inch infotainment system, optional heated seats and steering wheel, optional high-end stereo, standard in-cluster digital display, and standard USB 2.0 and micro USB ports front and rear.

Descending through the Rees Valley and crossing its namesake river a few times (because at this point, why not?), we began the long trudge back down paved roads to the hotel and a hot shower. The improved ride is a welcome respite from three long days bouncing down the trail, as is the new electro-hydraulic steering that’s taken all the vagueness out of the rack. The Jeep is confident and planted on the road in a way Wranglers have never been. The hardcore guys will say the old trucks had more character, but the casual off-road enthusiast won’t mind the trade-off a bit.

The drive back gives time to reflect. If you went to an automaker today and asked them to build a two-door body-on-frame trucklet with a convertible roof and almost no cargo space—riding on live axles (and oh yeah, the windshield needs to fold down and you should be able to take the doors off and hose out the waterproof interior)—you’d be laughed out of the room. This Wrangler, this iconic Jeep, exists because it’s always existed, and this new one is the best one yet. No, Jeep faithful, they didn’t ruin it. They didn’t even make it just as good as the old one. They made it better in every way.








2018 Jeep Wrangler
BASE PRICE $28,190-$31,690
VEHICLE LAYOUT Front-engine, 4WD, 4- or 5-pass, 2- or 4-door SUV
ENGINES 3.6L/285-hp/260-lb-ft DOHC 24-valve V-6; 2.0L/268-hp/295-lb-ft turbocharged DOHC 16-valve I-4; 3.0L/260-hp/442-lb-ft turbodiesel DOHC 24-valve V-6
TRANSMISSIONS 6-speed manual; 8-speed automatic
CURB WEIGHT 4,000-4,700 lb (est)
WHEELBASE 96.8-118.4 in
LENGTH X WIDTH X HEIGHT 166.8-188.4 x 73.8 x 73.6 in
0-60 MPH 7.0-8.0 sec (MT est)
EPA CITY/HWY/COMB FUEL ECON 17-18/23/19-20 mpg (3.6L)
ENERGY CONSUMPTION, CITY/HWY 187-198/147 kW-hrs/100 miles (3.6L)
CO2 EMISSIONS, COMB 0.97-1.01 lb/mile (3.6L)
ON SALE IN U.S. January 2018

















































































































































































































































































The post 2018 Jeep Wrangler First Drive Review: Because It’s There appeared first on Motor Trend.

Source: http://ift.tt/JPPTFe

2018 Dodge Durango R/T V-8 Long-Term Arrival

Let’s try this again.

Last year, William Walker welcomed a Granite Gray 2017 Durango GT to our long-term fleet, only to have it stolen two months after its arrival—lock, stock, key fob, and 25 large worth of photo gear in the back—from a Los Angeles–area restaurant’s valet lot. It’s probably been hauling Russian mobsters around Kamchatka since shortly thereafter because it was never recovered. For a hot minute we considered quietly replacing it with a doppelganger and carrying on, but the ’18 models were just being announced, and we couldn’t resist upgrading to an R/T model with the cool new SRT nose. And because Dodges are less rare and exotic in the brand’s hometown (and hence hopefully less of an attractive nuisance than they apparently are in L.A.), the replacement vehicle has been entrusted to our Detroit office for safekeeping.

Upgrading from a GT V-6 to an R/T V-8 adds $5,900. Figure the engine is worth $3,995 of that (that’s the option cost on Citadel trim levels), with the extra two grand buying the aforementioned angry SRT bodywork (vented hood, blackout grille, sport front fascia), a lowered sport suspension with load-leveling, fancier lighting, rain-sensing wipers, parking sensors, Radar Red Nappa sport leather seating (with eight-way power in front), and the big-screen infotainment setup. Our snowbelt geography demanded another ($2,600) “Durango 4” upgrade. An MP 3023 transfer case delivers on-demand variable torque-split all-wheel drive with low-range gearing and a neutral setting (take note flat-tow RVers!). To this already high level of standard equipment we only added a tech package (adaptive cruise with collision and blind-spot and lane departure warnings for $2,495), the trailering group ($995), murdered-out black wheels and mirrors ($695), and a cargo package of roof rails, cross bars, and a cargo cover ($395). At $51,970 out the door, it’s $9,195 spiffier than our 2017 GT.

Having put our order in just as 2018-model production started, our White Knuckle beauty was built on August 17 and delivered to us on September 22. As any good new owner should, we consulted the owners’ manual break-in requirements, which were pretty simple: “Drive moderately during the first 300 miles,” and “while cruising, brief full-throttle acceleration within the limits of local traffic laws contributes to a good break-in.” Can do! Two trips to my lakeside cabin-restoration project had our Durango fully ready for action. On those treks we made abundant use of the 47.7 cubic feet of cargo space behind the middle row of seats to haul tools and supplies, but the 43-inch-wide rear deck will preclude us from using it for drywall or paneling delivery.








So far we are still grooving on our truck’s bad boy looks, the Hemi’s ready rumble, and the sport suspension’s ride/handling trade-off (reasonably supple on the bumps, respectably flat in the curves). To date, our Hemi Durango 4’s fuel economy is trailing that of our 3.6-liter rear-drive GT noticeably. After a month of service and about 1,800 miles of driving, we’re averaging 15.0 mpg. The GT managed 18.9 mpg over about 7,100 miles of driving. It’s tempting to hope our R/T’s fuel economy will improve as the engine continues to break in, but the 20 percent drop almost exactly mirrors the 19 percent difference in EPA combined ratings, so we’re not holding our breath.

Our Durango’s dance card is already filled with scheduled trips to antebellum Vicksburg, Mississippi, northern Canada, and numerous tailgate outings with the TEN party trailer in tow. We’ll report on all its surprises, delights, and any potential foibles. In the meantime, if you’re traveling in some sketchy foreign country and spot a nice Granite Gray Durango GT, send us a snapshot.

2018 Dodge Durango 4 R/T
BASE PRICE $47,390
PRICE AS TESTED $51,970
VEHICLE LAYOUT Front-engine, 4WD, 7-pass, 4-door SUV
ENGINE 5.7L/360-hp/390-lb-ft OHV 16-valve V-8
TRANSMISSION 8-speed automatic
CURB WEIGHT (F/R DIST) 5,426 lb (51/49%)
WHEELBASE 119.8 in
LENGTH x WIDTH x HEIGHT 201.2 x 75.8 x 69.8 in
0-60 MPH 6.7 sec (est)
EPA CITY/HWY/COMB FUEL ECON 14/22/17 mpg
ENERGY CONS, CITY/HWY 241/153 kW-hrs/100 miles
CO2 EMISSIONS, COMB 1.16 lb/mile
TOTAL MILEAGE 1,678 mi
AVERAGE FUEL ECON 15.0 mpg





































































































The post 2018 Dodge Durango R/T V-8 Long-Term Arrival appeared first on Motor Trend.

Source: http://ift.tt/JPPTFe