May 20, 2023

2024 Jeep Wrangler First Look: Trust Us, It's Different

The first rule of curating a legendary model? Never leave your icon unattended. As Stellantis executes its plan to migrate the vehicles in all 14 brands to electric in the years ahead, it is being careful to not neglect stalwarts with good old-fashioned combustion engines in the meantime. Surely, then, keeping the Jeep Wrangler fresh for its legions of fans and the patina it casts over the rest of the Jeep lineup is front of mind.

And it appears to be so—the team at Jeep has given the 2024 Wrangler a midcycle refresh and added two new trim levels, all designed to make the fourth-generation off-roader a bit more comfortable as a daily driver while adding more tech and safety features. The upgrades and additional models are not in response to competition from the Ford Bronco, head of Jeep Brand North America Jim Morrison says. Competition is good and likely contributed to all-time high demand for Jeep right now, he says, but it's hard not to read a little into the changes intended to up the Wrangler's livability in light of the more civilized Bronco's appearance on the scene.

This is still the same basic JL-generation Wrangler that debuted for 2019 and won MotorTrend's SUV of the Year award that year. Its sheetmetal is unchanged for 2024, but Jeep gives the SUV a face-lift in the form of a new seven-slat front grille that debuted on the 2023 Wrangler Rubicon 20th Anniversary edition. The blacked-out slats are slimmer, making it easier to fit the factory-installed 8,000-pound-capacity Warn winch mounted in the steel front bumper to the hardcore Rubicon models. There are two tow hooks up front and another at the rear.

The current powertrains carry over, all four of them. Customers can still choose the 270-hp, 295-lb-ft 2.0-liter turbocharged I-4; 285-hp, 260-lb-ft 3.6-liter V-6; 470-hp, 470-lb-ft 6.4-liter Hemi V-8; or the Wrangler 4xe plug-in hybrid with its 2.0-liter turbocharged I-4 and electric motor for a combined 375 hp and 470 lb-ft of torque. (That hybrid also boosts efficiency to 49 mpg-e and gets the ability to travel 21 miles on electricity alone.) Performance is unchanged, but there could be a slight improvement in fuel efficiency—EPA ratings are still to come.

Buyers of the 4xe can now opt for a new PowerBox with four 120-volt household-style outlets with 30 amps of total output to power a coffee maker, camping lamp, or other small electronics in your home during a power outage.

An important upgrade sure to please Rubicon buyers is Jeep's replacement of the semi-float Dana 44 rear axle with a new Dana 44 heavy-duty Dana 44 full-float solid rear axle. The new unit makes it possible to fit bigger wheels and tires and increase towing capacity. Full-float axles are usually found on heavy-duty commercial trucks; the design allows the weight of the vehicle to be transferred to the axle tube instead of the axle shaft, which allows an increase in towing capacity to 5,000 pounds on Rubicon 2.0-liter and 3.6-liter models with the eight-speed automatic transmission. Now you can haul that camper to the trailhead. Jeep continues to offer four 4WD systems, a crawl ratio up to 100:1, and 34-inch water fording.

Side-curtain airbags are now standard, too, among the roughly 85 safety features, and there are 10 new designs for wheels that range from 17 to 20 inches. Tire sizes for the 2024 lineup range from 32 inches to 35s. The updated Willys trim level now sits on 33-inch BFGs, and it comes with more ground clearance and a standard rear locker.

Another cool change: The radio antenna has been integrated into the windshield—no more antennas snagged by branches during a hard day on the trail or eaten by automatic car washes.

There are way more upgrades inside. The instrument panel is now hand-wrapped, and an integrated grab handle has been added on the passenger side. While the Wrangler keeps its round air vents on the outboard positions on the dashboard, Jeep swapped out the center vents for a single slim vent. Doing so freed up valuable real estate for the new Uconnect system with a much larger 12.3-inch infotainment screen, which is standard across the lineup. It is the largest screen to grace a Wrangler, and the full LED backlighting makes for crisper color graphics and better wards off glare. It also has a 7.0-inch digital gauge cluster screen.

The new display runs Stellantis' Uconnect 5 software, which was introduced in the Grand Wagoneer and then the Grand Cherokee before arriving now in the Wrangler. Continued enhancements include better maps that are easier to read on the larger screen. Jeep has partnered with Trails OffRoad to preload maps of 62 Badge of Honor trails, but availability will come later in the model year. A subscription unlocks a catalog of more than 3,000 rated trails. In addition to waypoints, there is historical info and tidbits about the locations, and adventurers can store waypoints to make their own trails.

Uconnect5 can handle five user profiles and provides quicker access to vehicle specific features and pages tailored to each model. E-hybrid pages for the 4xe show power flow, charge schedule, and driving history. Off-road pages show vehicle dynamics, pitch and roll, camera views, and more.

Making a phone call in a Wrangler with the doors and roof off can be a near impossibility (trying the same feat with the doors and roof on isn't much better), so Jeep has added more speakers and microphones and sound dampening. Executives say calling your mom while driving in a Wrangler at 70 mph will be doable with a little help from the acoustic glass, thicker carpeting, and sound-deadening foam.

Wireless Apple CarPlay and Android Auto is now offered so you can ditch that cord, and there is a new accessory rail mounted on the dash to place a phone or other devices.

Comfort is not a word normally associated with the body-on-frame Wrangler, but for 2024 the SUV adds 12-way power-adjustable front seats on the top trims—and yes, they are protected for water fording when the seat and its mechanics are buried under water.

The new trims are Sport S 4xe at the affordable end of the 4xe spectrum and Rubicon X nearer the pricier extreme. The Sport S is in response to consumer demand for a cheaper Sport 4xe model, Morrison says. The Wrangler 4xe is already the bestselling PHEV in America, and this adds a more affordable entry for those who want 49 mpg-e and 21 miles of pure electric range with its two electric motors and 400-volt battery pack. About 25 percent of Wrangler sales are now 4xe. Jeep executives are still not saying when to expect a fully electric Wrangler, but the continued updates to the Jeep Magneto concept hint at what is to come.

Rubicon X is a fully loaded off-roader, with 35-inch tires, beadlock-capable wheels, steel bumpers, an integrated off-road camera to better see the vagaries of the trail ahead, and a full-time transfer case (it's part-time on the regular Rubicon). It's available with gas and 4xe powertains.

For those keeping score, these new trims join the current trim levels of Sport, Willys, Sahara, High Altitude, Rubicon, and Rubicon 392 models.

Jeep has opened its order books, and the 2024 models will start arriving in U.S. dealerships later this year. Pricing has not been released but is not expected to increase much over the current lineup. The Wrangler will also be sold globally.