Review: 2019 Jeep Wrangler Unlimited Sahara
THE PROS & CONS
- What’s Good: Iconic Wrangler cues tweaked with a modern twist in probably the best-performing Wrangler ever. And new powertrain choices.
- What’s Bad: Prices are getting up there. But you do get what you pay for.
I was waiting curbside and couldn’t quite stifle a “Wow!” when a green, and I mean very green, Jeep rolled up to a stop.
“It’s MOJITO!” Brad from FCA told me. “And, yeah, that’s in all-caps and with an exclamation mark,” he added.
Hmmm, I sensed a theme.
The colour green covers a wide range of tones from deep, dark, calming forest shades to the eye-searing lime shock of safety vests.
It’s a colour swath categorized into a lexicon encompassing everything from envy to nausea, either of which, I thought, might be triggered by this particular shade of green.
But, even although the great frog philosopher Kermit once opined that “it ain’t easy being green”, there didn’t seem to be any problem with this colour for my MOJITO!-favouring audience.
“That’s cool,” one passerby commented, with others cracking wise agreeably or acknowledging with waved thumbs-up signals.
Okay, so exterior colour situation resolved.
“Being green” can also be equated with a tender-horn level of rookie inexperience, but even though the 2019 Wrangler is a relatively recently revealed fourth-generation JL model, there’s really nothing “inexperienced” about any Jeep.
Tracing battle-tested bones back to the earliest army-green World War Two GP (general purpose) models, all Jeeps have evolved with renowned levels of off-road ability and growing on-road civilities, culminating in the rugged Wrangler that is the epitome of the brand’s all-road or no-road prowess.
Tested here we have the Unlimited model, the stretched version that, in sales numbers and in most other ways, has superseded the original two-door Jeep by offering real four-door accessibility, roomier second-row passenger accommodation and cargo space for more than just a two-four of beer.
And, although there may be nothing “green” about the abilities of any Trail-tested Jeep Wrangler Unlimited model, our Sahara ($45,495), smack dab in the middle of the lineup between the base Sport S ($41,495) and the ultimate off-road Rubicon ($48,495), brings some extras along with a healthy standard equipment list.
Most of those extras come courtesy of add-on packages that bolster this Sahara’s “Jeepness” with Hill Descent Control, a SelectTrac full-time 4X4 system, a Dana M200 anti-spin differential rear axle and gnarly 255/70R/18 Bridgestone Dueller M+S all-terrain tires on Tech Grey aluminum wheels.
A mix of Safety Packages add Park-Sense Rear Park Assist, Blind-Spot/Rear Cross Path Detection, Advanced Brake assist, Forward Collision Warning with Active Braking and Adaptive Cruise Control with Stop Braking, with all those techs balanced against a long list of Uconnect apps and interior amenities.
Other notable options here include a retro-style accordion-folding Sky One-Touch power soft top which, along with removable rear windows offers a different take on an open-air Jeep experience that already includes the standard fold-forward windshield and removable doors.
“Green” has also become the buzzword for boasts of environmental qualities and, while tree-huggers are more likely to equate off-roading with eco-terrorism, this Wrangler Sahara at least makes a stab at sustainability with an optional 2.0-litre four-cylinder turbo engine mated to an eight-speed automatic transmission and Jeep’s new eTorque system.
This mild hybrid system offers up to 70 lb/ft of electric motor launch assist at low revs (0-1,500 rpm). That added grunt raises this smallish engine’s overall power numbers to 270 hp and 295 lb/ft of torque compared to the standard 3.6-litre Pentastar V6’s 285 hp and 260 lb/ft of torque.
The eTorque electric motor/generator also spins the engine back up to speed during ESS (start/stop) anti-idling operation and offers regenerative braking and intelligent charging to keep the secondary battery’s 48-volt system fully primed.
This all works out to improved efficiencies and better fuel economy, rated at 10.9/10L/100km (city/hwy). My real world results came in at 11.2L/100km (comb).
Both engines offer a 1,588 kg (3,500 lb) tow rating so the optional 2.0-litre choice ($995) will probably come down to a personal weighing of cost and eco-conscientiousness.
Which won’t be the only choice made because the purchase of any Jeep Wrangler also depends on another kind of serious “green”, especially when the $46,745 MSRP swells to over $64K with over $15K of packages and options.
And, finally, regardless of whatever mix of trim qualities and add-ons customers decide on when they “green-light” a purchase of the best Jeep ever made, they’ll also be left with a final important choice – the exterior colour.
Which might include demure greys and monotones or, hmm, maybe an in-yer-face paint palette pick like Punk’n Metallic, HellaYella, Bikini or Firecracker Red.
Yup, lots of choices.
But make mine MOJITO!
2019 Jeep Wrangler Unlimited Sahara
BODY STYLE: Compact SUV
DRIVE METHOD: Eight-speed automatic with eTorque, full-time SelecTrac four-wheel drive
ENGINE: 2.0-litre direct injection DOHC Turbo four-cylinder with eTorque mild hybrid assist (270 hp, 295 lb/ft)
CARGO: 898 litres, 2,050 litres behind first row
TOWING CAPACITY: 1,588 kg (3,500 lb)
PRICE: Sahara MSRP $46,745. As tested $64,165 incl. all fees.
WEB SITE: Wrangler