Wrangler Road Trip! Epic Adventure from Phoenix to Boulder, via Moab [Video Review]

By now, we’ve taken plenty of opportunities to show you everything you’d want to know about the long-awaited Jeep Wrangler JK replacement. The 2018 Wrangler JL is brand new (with the exception of the carryover 3.6-liter Pentastar, but new engines are coming). The silhouette may be classic Wrangler, but in front, there’s a new grille, new headlamps and fenders. The windshield has been raked farther back for better aerodynamics. FCA vastly improved the interior over the outgoing model. Around back, there are distinctive new taillights and better visibility. Then, of course, there’s the power-sliding top. Now, we have something new for you. A TFLcar exclusive – we take the brand new 2018 Jeep Wrangler Sahara on an epic road trip spanning three states and 900 miles! Watch our Wrangler road trip video above to see just how well it performs, both on and off-road. There’s also a surprise near the end!

2018 Jeep Wrangler Road Trip
The all new, 2018 Jeep Wrangler Sahara. [Photo: FCA]

Leg one – Phoenix, Arizona to Moab, Utah

The first leg of our epic, 900-mile road trip covers the new Jeep Wrangler’s on-road driving dynamics as we head north from Phoenix. The ultimate destination is TFLcar’s home base in Boulder, Colorado. Along the way, though, we have to take the Jeep to its stomping grounds – Moab, Utah! From the outset of the journey, Roman and Tommy demonstrate just how much the Wrangler’s on-road manners have improved over the previous model.

Before that, however, its worth mentioning the new Wrangler’s pricing scheme. Whichever model you get – including the base Sport – expect a $2,000-$3,000 price hike over the old JK. That’s to be expected, considering the JL has much more equipment than the previous model, and it’s been over ten years since the JK debuted. Still, if you spec up a top-of-the-line Rubicon, you can spend over $57,000, according to Jeep’s online configurator. Spending nearly $60,000 for a Jeep may turn many prospective buyers off the new JL. If so, FCA is manufacturing the JK for one more model year before sending it out to pasture, with prices starting at $23,995.

The new Wrangler’s soft top is a great party trick and a major convenience against the freedom tops of old, but it’s not perfect. On the road, it does let in a bit more noise than a hardtop otherwise would. However, overall the new Wrangler is more civilized than the outgoing JK model. The interior has vastly improved, with better instruments and materials used throughout the cabin. While the windshield is raked at a steeper angle than before, the Wrangler JL still possesses the boxy characteristics of its forebears. How will that affect fuel economy? Check out the video above to find out!

2018 Jeep Wrangler road trip
The 2018 Jeep Wrangler Sahara tackles the Fins & Things trail – Moab, Utah [Photo: TFLcar]

Jeep Stomping Grounds – Moab, Utah

Of course, no true Wrangler road trip would be complete without a short run on the trails. To that end, we take the new Wrangler JL to the off-roading haven that is Moab, Utah. Now, while we are in the new Wrangler, it is not the most off-road worthy model – that would be the Rubicon. Bearing that in mind, Roman and Tommy take the new Wrangler Sahara up the Fins & Things trail just outside Moab. This 9.4-mile trail is a moderate course – a perfect test for the “city-slicker” Wrangler.

Despite the Sahara omitting some of the off-road kit you’d find on the Rubicon – K02 all-terrains, locking differentials, and disconnecting sway bars – it’s still a Wrangler. As with other Jeep models, the Sahara does uses its brakes to simulate a true locking differential, stabbing away when one wheel loses traction, while sending power to others that do. It still has a solid axle setup that keeps the wheels on the ground when you go off-roading.

In fact, Jeep has stuck to the tried-and-true formula of the JK, while beefing up suspension components and all around just making everything a little bit better. The approach and departure angles are still respectable on the Sahara thanks to its short overhangs and good ground clearance. In fact, the Sahara made it down a nearly 30-degree rock face with only a minor scrape to the rear tow hook. Check out the video to see how the rest of the off-road incursion went!

Home stretch – Moab, Utah to Boulder, Colorado

After a day of fun on the Fins & Things trail, it was time to head for home. The next challenge? Filling up in Moab and seeing if the new Jeep Wrangler JL could make it back to Boulder in a single tank. Will the new Jeep make it back, or will Roman and Tommy end of on the side of the road? After a slight mishap airing the tires back up after the off-road test, father and son wrap up this epic Wrangler road trip by heading along the Colorado River and up through the Rocky Mountains to Denver.

Along the way, there’s a neat surprise – watch the video above to find out what we encountered near Denver! At the end of the trip, the Jeep Sahara makes it back to Boulder, Colorado – still with over 100 miles of range left. The new Jeep Wrangler JL has improved in every aspect, but its fuel economy was remarkable on our nearly 1,000-mile Wrangler road trip. The final tally? We were able to make it 420 miles on the tank from Moab, Utah, averaging 22.8 MPG with the 3.6-liter Pentastar V6.

As always, check back to TFLcar for more news, views, and real-world, Wrangler JL reviews! Subscribe to The Fast Lane Car and TFLnow on YouTube for more on the new Wrangler and all your favorite upcoming models!