Photo credit Quadratec
Jeep Reveals the JL
November 29th, 2017 was closer to Christmas morning than most in November for many of us Jeep enthusiasts. Jeep unveiled the new JL Wrangler model at the LA Auto show at 12:50pm. Within minutes, social media was flooded with live videos, photos and opinions of the new Jeep, and we are sure it will continue to be that way for a long time to come.
It should be noted that JKS was not in LA for the reveal, so we have been beating the keyboard to death, searching, researching and viewing every inch of the JL looking for signs of life, and areas of interest in the new model. To say that we have found many would not be doing the new Jeep justice. Seven slots, round headlights have pulled us in, and the details are starting to really pop out.
Photo credit Quadratec
Exterior: We have been seeing the spy shots, photo leaks and guesses at the exterior for a while now, so nothing should have come as a big surprise with the reveal. The laid back A-pillar looks even better now that we have seen the windshield fold down operation. The grill is a bit more TJ than JK, we love it, and it is all Jeep! The front fender vents appear to be functional, and then there are the front fenders. Much has been said of them on the internet, and we have to say we love them. Are they going to handle the trail abuse us enthusiasts are going to throw at them? We hope so, but if not we know the aftermarket will come to the rescue as always. Moving past the A-pillar, we are pretty much looking at a JK here, slight tweaks here and there, but nothing that really shocks us and that is perfectly OK. Coming to the rear of the JL, more of the same, Jeep! Having trimmed down more than a few tail lights on the trail, we should probably order a few sets for our first JL, as they seem to be hanging out there asking for a date with an obstacle. Time will tell.
Photo credit allpar.com
Interior: Let’s be honest here for a moment: JKS is a suspension and Jeep performance based company, always looking for improvements, and opportunities in this area.Interior is just not a big focus for us. Does it have seats? Yes. Do we get a radio? Yes. Do we have shifters rather than buttons? Yes. OK, good enough for us. That does not mean that there is nothing important here, nor does it mean that once we get our hands on one that there will not be areas where we would like to make a change or even a product offering, it just means for now, we are content to say it is way better than we ever need, has more cool features than we could ever ask for. We are happy driving an old CJ, so hoping in any modern Jeep is always a treat.
Suspension: Now we are talking! We cannot wait to get one of these on a hoist, start looking at the canvas where we are going to build a masterpiece! Front and rear suspension looks familiar, arms, track bars, shocks…..we have seen this before. Maybe not the same length, maybe different bushings, maybe mounts in different places, lots of maybe’s here, but the reality is, there is nothing revolutionary here, and why should there be? The JK was a pretty darn good starting point, and the JL looks to have made subtle improvements over the design. Looking at the front axle, it appears the axle disconnect is back for 2018 and beyond. We also noticed CV style axle shafts in the lower models, where the Rubicon stuck with some rather beefy looking axle shaft joints. Without having one in front of us, and peering through the screen pretty hard at this point, is that an aluminum steering knuckle? Those inner C’s and ball joints in the front axle look different as well. These are the little details where having one in the shop will really start to tell the tale, but the excitement is there. We can say that we are very excited when looking at the front and rear shocks. The upper front shock mount is no longer a stem mount buried in the inner fender, and the rear is outboard the frame. Both of those are obvious improvements over the JK, and could lead to some innovative products in the future. The rear track bar has a pretty unique shape, and the mount is raised compared to the JK, and really even the TJ, being above the centerline of the axle so much. Jeep has done their homework. Aside from these obvious differences, we are really going to have to get our hands on one to see all the little things, and know where to make our adjustments for increased ride height, and increased off road performance.
Powertrain: It is wrong that we are more excited about the 4-cylinder than the 3.6 v6? Maybe, but we already have the 3.6, and who does not get excited about turbo’s? Let’s not even get started on the excitement of diesel model coming for 2019. The available manual and 8-speed auto are what we expected, so no massive changes or shocks here. The standard ratio in the differentials is published at 3.45, which would be an improvement for all of us who have ever endured some 3.21’s off road.
Summary: To say that JKS is excited about the JL would be an understatement. It is a massive change from the JK? So far, we would say no, but that does not mean we are any less excited about it finally being here after all this time. In a short period of time, we will have our hands on one, and be bringing the performance and quality you have come to expect from a JKS product to this new Wrangler. Stay tuned………