Most surprising are the Wrangler’s on-road manners. Shedding 200 lbs. (91 kg) through the use of aluminum in the doors, hood and windshield frame, and the addition of high-strength steel in the frame that boosts torsional rigidity 18%, help the suspension manage dips and corners with little drama. That said, there’s still a distinct top-heavy “Jeep” feel we’d expect in any high-strung vehicle with 10.9 ins. (277 mm) of ground clearance and the ability to ford 30 ins. (762 mm) of water.

The new electrohydraulic power steering keeps the Jeep on the path without the constant corrections necessary in Wranglers past. There remains a noticeable on-center dead zone which engineers say is necessary to prevent severe steering-wheel bucking in off-road driving. Despite an increase in wheelbase, track width and overall length, the turning circle is 1 ft. (305 mm) tighter thanks to sharper steering angle.

Wind, road and engine noise are minimal, even in models equipped with the sliding soft top. Off-road, we hear cooling system fans working overtime – “fans” plural because the turbo model is equipped with two cooling systems, one for the engine and a separate system to manage turbo, throttle body and eTorque temperatures.

Even though Wrangler owners typically aren’t a demanding lot when it comes to interior amenities, buyers of the new model will find little to carp about. Attention to details like floor and console climate control for the second row, myriad USBs and power sources scattered throughout, and even usable door armrests make the vehicle truly civilized. A small console-mounted kit provides tools necessary to remove doors and lower the windshield.

Three different Uconnect systems, fitted with three different screen sizes depending on the buyer, display everything from routes, vehicle angles, powertrain information and a clear view out back via Wrangler’s first-ever backup camera.

Anyone who has ever wrestled with a Wrangler soft-top roof will appreciate the attention to functionality built into the new one. Gone are window zippers, replaced by easy to-use sliding retainers, with rear pillars integrated into the window panels. Clock springs aid in raising and lowering the manually operated roof.

The all-new Sky One-Touch power-sliding top gives the Wrangler simple-to-access open-air capability, allowing full-length roof retraction. The thick canvas top provides enough sound insulation that many buyers could skip the removable hardtop option.

The Wrangler JL goes on sale in first-quarter 2018, priced at $26,995 for the 2-door Sport and $36,995 for Rubicon, while pricing for the 4-door starts at $30,495 (Sport), $37,345 (Sahara) and $40,495 (Rubicon). Prices do not include $1,195 for handling and delivery. The added cost for the 2.0L turbo is not yet available. 

bgritzinger@wardsauto.com @bobgritzinger