Archive for December, 2017|Monthly archive page

Use Tech to Help Stay Focused on the Road with Distraction-Free Driving Apps and Features

It’s one of the golden rules, or at least it should be: don’t text and drive.

We all know that distracted driving is dangerous, right? But still, nearly every one of us has seen it happen or worse — done it ourselves. Since most of us touch our phones well over 2,000 times per day, it can be a tough habit to break.

But, it only takes a quick check — just a few seconds with your eyes off the road — to invite disaster. As technology advances, it may only get harder to pull ourselves away even when we know we should.

We’d like to think that most of us would do just about anything to prevent tech-related dangers on the road. But, at the same time, going without or powering down might be too much to ask. So, why not let tech be the solution, rather than the problem?

While it might seem counter-intuitive, you can actually use tech to help prevent tech-related driving distractions. Read on for a few suggestions on how you can utilize Driving Mode and other potentially life-saving technologies to help avoid tech-related distractions on the road.

Driving Mode

Driving mode is a potentially life-saving feature that is available for most smartphones either through an app or natively on the device itself. While it can function differently on each device, Driving Mode disables certain functionalities that might distract you from the road, primarily by limiting or blocking notifications for incoming calls, texts, emails, etc.

Driving Mode is similar to Airplane Mode in many ways, except its functionality is really tailored around how we use our smartphones on the road. For example, most apps still allow you to stream music and use navigation, while preventing you from using other functions that could be distracting (but might be accessible during Airplane Mode) like playing games or checking your calendar. While Airplane Mode cuts off the cellular service for the device, Driving Mode does not cut off service entirely.

As soon as Driving Mode is turned off, any notifications you missed should all come in at once. Certain driving mode apps even allow your phone to send an automatic reply, to let your friends and family know you’re on the road and will get back them once you reach your destination.

Depending on your cellular provider, some apps are able to detect when you’re in a moving vehicle and may automatically switch on, while others expect you to manually activate Driving Mode before you hit the road. Most Driving Mode apps are very easy to switch off as well, so you can still use your phone while riding as a passenger.

Many major cellular providers — including AT&T, Sprint, and Verizon — offer their own version of a driving mode app. You can learn more about what these providers offer by following the links below.

AT&T: DriveMode App
Sprint: Drive First App
Verizon: Driving Mode

Mobile Apps to Help Change Your Habits

Blocking calls and messages while on the road can leave some of us feeling uneasy. If you want to work on maintaining focus on the road, but still want to be accessible by phone, there are several mobile apps that offer some middle ground. We outlined a few options below, but there are plenty alternatives which you can explore to find the app that suits you best.

SafeDrive (Android & iOS)

SafeDrive motivates its users to stay focused on the road with an element of gamification. This app does not disable any functions or block incoming calls and messages, but incentivizes you to focus with a simple point system. It automatically switches on once you’re moving over 6mph and beings monitoring your phone use. You can accrue points by driving without using your phone. And when you do choose to use it, you lose points. Then you’re able to redeem your responsibility points to purchase products in the SafeDrive marketplace.

This also has a play aspect that allows you to challenge friends or other users of the SafeDrive app to see who can avoid the most distractions while driving with their own phone.

Focus Screen Free Driving (iOS only)

This minimalist app gently trains you to not look at your phone, rather than blocking any functionality. The app automatically starts when you’re driving; once you install the app it’s invisible and begins working immediately. While you’re on the road and you pick up for phone, the screen is filled with a gentle reminder to put down your phone and focus on driving. After you start using the app, it periodically sends you a report card so you can track how driving habits.

MessageLOUD (Android only)

When this app is enabled, it automatically reads your texts, WhatsApp messages and email messages out loud without you having to look at your phone. In the right setting (like the privacy of your own home), this app can also be a convenient way to hear your messages while your hands are busy doing anything else.

Distraction-Free Tech for the Future

As we look to the future, we’re excited to see some new distraction-free tech on the horizon as well. For both new and seasoned drivers, there are growing opportunities to have the vehicle itself prevent tech distractions. Keeping the issue of distracted driving top of mind is paramount as new drivers hit the road — especially because these younger drivers have grown up in the digital age.

For those who aren’t interested in a mobile app, but still need help resisting driving distractions, a few companies are developing installable devices which limit tech-related distractions from popping up while you’re on the road. For example, Groove, which was developed by Katasi, is a device which plugs into a socket under your steering wheel. Groove is compatible with most smartphones, and works with your cellular carrier to help stop distractions before they reach your phone.

Drive ID by Cellcontrol is a similar device that can be placed on your car’s windshield. Drive ID is designed for not only individuals and families, but also fleet vehicles. When used by a family or a company fleet, Drive ID allows all drivers and vehicles to be managed from a single account.

While these devices may sound extreme to some, they’re favored by many who want an effective way to block potential tech-related distractions. When asked about these distraction-free technologies, 55% of drivers said they would not deactivate any technologies that eliminated potential distractions. As people become more aware of the dangers of distracted driving, we’re excited to watch as varying technologies are further developed and implemented to help make the road a little safer.

Do you use any of these technologies to limit driving distractions? If not, how do you maintain focus on the road? We want to hear your thoughts in the comments below!

Winter Driving Tips

Severe weather can be both frightening and dangerous for automobile travel. Motorists should know the safety rules for dealing with winter road emergencies. AAA reminds motorists to be cautious while driving in adverse weather. For more information on winter driving, the association offers the How to Go on Ice and Snow brochure, available through most AAA offices. Contact your local AAA club for more information.

AAA recommends the following winter driving tips:

  • Avoid driving while you’re fatigued. Getting the proper amount of rest before taking on winter weather tasks reduces driving risks.
  • Never warm up a vehicle in an enclosed area, such as a garage.
  • Make certain your tires are properly inflated.
  • Never mix radial tires with other tire types.
  • Keep your gas tank at least half full to avoid gas line freeze-up.
  • If possible, avoid using your parking brake in cold, rainy and snowy weather.
  • Do not use cruise control when driving on any slippery surface (wet, ice, sand).
  • Always look and steer where you want to go.
  • Use your seat belt every time you get into your vehicle.

Tips for long-distance winter trips:

  • Watch weather reports prior to a long-distance drive or before driving in isolated areas. Delay trips when especially bad weather is expected. If you must leave, let others know your route, destination and estimated time of arrival.
  • Always make sure your vehicle is in peak operating condition by having it inspected by a AAA Approved Auto Repair facility.
  • Keep at least half a tank of gasoline in your vehicle at all times.
  • Pack a cellular telephone with your local AAA’s telephone number, plus blankets, gloves, hats, food, water and any needed medication in your vehicle.
  • If you become snow-bound, stay with your vehicle. It provides temporary shelter and makes it easier for rescuers to locate you. Don’t try to walk in a severe storm. It’s easy to lose sight of your vehicle in blowing snow and become lost.
  • Don’t over exert yourself if you try to push or dig your vehicle out of the snow.
  • Tie a brightly colored cloth to the antenna or place a cloth at the top of a rolled up window to signal distress. At night, keep the dome light on if possible. It only uses a small amount of electricity and will make it easier for rescuers to find you.
  • Make sure the exhaust pipe isn’t clogged with snow, ice or mud. A blocked exhaust could cause deadly carbon monoxide gas to leak into the passenger compartment with the engine running.
  • Use whatever is available to insulate your body from the cold. This could include floor mats, newspapers or paper maps.
  • If possible run the engine and heater just long enough to remove the chill and to conserve gasoline.

Tips for driving in the snow:

  • Accelerate and decelerate slowly. Applying the gas slowly to accelerate is the best method for regaining traction and avoiding skids. Don’t try to get moving in a hurry. And take time to slow down for a stoplight. Remember: It takes longer to slow down on icy roads.
  • Drive slowly. Everything takes longer on snow-covered roads. Accelerating, stopping, turning – nothing happens as quickly as on dry pavement. Give yourself time to maneuver by driving slowly.
  • The normal dry pavement following distance of three to four seconds should be increased to eight to ten seconds. This increased margin of safety will provide the longer distance needed if you have to stop.
  • Know your brakes. Whether you have antilock brakes or not, the best way to stop is threshold breaking. Keep the heel of your foot on the floor and use the ball of your foot to apply firm, steady pressure on the brake pedal.
  • Don’t stop if you can avoid it. There’s a big difference in the amount of inertia it takes to start moving from a full stop versus how much it takes to get moving while still rolling. If you can slow down enough to keep rolling until a traffic light changes, do it.
  • Don’t power up hills. Applying extra gas on snow-covered roads just starts your wheels spinning. Try to get a little inertia going before you reach the hill and let that inertia carry you to the top. As you reach the crest of the hill, reduce your speed and proceed down hill as slowly as possible.
  • Don’t stop going up a hill. There’s nothing worse than trying to get moving up a hill on an icy road. Get some inertia going on a flat roadway before you take on the hill.
  • Stay home. If you really don’t have to go out, don’t. Even if you can drive well in the snow, not everyone else can. Don’t tempt fate: If you don’t have somewhere you have to be, watch the snow from indoors.


What Your Vehicle’s Towing Capacity Means

Know the facts before you tow with your vehicle.

Unless you use your vehicle to tow everyday for work, odds are you haven’t paid much attention to your truck, SUV or crossover’s towing capacity. Maybe you’re looking to buy a boat for some summer fun or just need to rent a trailer to get your belongings from one dwelling to the next. Whatever the reason for pulling something behind your vehicle, it’s important to get a firm grasp on what exactly your towing capacity means. Understanding how each of the components in your vehicle contributes to your overall tow rating can keep you from putting undue stress on your rig and keep you and your family safe.
Simply put, your towing capacity is the amount of weight your vehicle can pull. Keep in mind that doesn’t just mean what’s attached to the hitch out back. What most manufacturers neglect to tell you is that your towing capacity is really a combination of everything inside of your vehicle, including occupants, cargo and fuel, as well as the combined weight of your trailer and whatever is in/on it. In some cases, it may be more helpful to take a look at your tow rig’s gross combined weight rating, or GCWR. It accounts for all of the factors listed above in one easy-to-read figure.
So how exactly is your towing capacity calculated? Engineers take into account five main areas of a vehicle when discerning towing capacity.
Your vehicle’s beating heart can only do so much work. To that end, how much horsepower and torque your engine produces is one of the biggest factors in how much you can tow. Generally, big V-8s produce plenty of torque. The trade-off is that those motors also tend to get worse gas mileage than their smaller counterparts. If you’re looking to buy a vehicle for towing, be realistic with yourself. If you only plan on pulling a 1,500-lb pop-up camper, there’s no need for a 10,000-lb towing capacity and an engine that drinks more than necessary.
As important as your engine is to your towing capacity, what kind of transmission you have plays a pivotal role, too. While manual transmissions are often thought of as the best choice for hauling big loads, modern automatics can be just as capable as their cousins. The type of gearing inside as well as how stout the internal gears are will play the biggest role in what you’ll be able to tow with your vehicle. If you are planning on doing any serious pulling for long periods of times or up steep inclines, a transmission cooler and temperature gauge are great investments.
No matter what you are towing, each part of your drivetrain is under added stress, including your axles. In rear-wheel drive vehicles, your rear differential will decide your vehicle’s final gear ratio, further enhancing or inhibiting your towing capacity depending on the figure. The tougher your rear differential and the stouter your axles, the more you’ll be able to tow in the end.
Getting your vehicle moving is only half of the equation. At some point, you’re going to need to slow down, and if your vehicle’s brakes are too small, you may not be able to handle the additional burden of a big trailer and extra weight. While it is theoretically possible to upgrade your vehicle’s brake system, doing so is cost-prohibitive. If this is the weak spot in your towing formula, you may simply need to look into getting a tougher vehicle.
The last major ingredient in the towing capacity recipe is your vehicle’s frame. It handles all of the stresses of pulling and stopping the trailer behind you, so tough, body-on-frame-designed vehicles are typically better at handling towing abuse than unibody examples. The length of your SUV or crossover’s wheelbase will also play a factor in how much you’re able to pull behind you, as short wheelbase cars and trucks are harder to control with a trailer behind them than their long-wheelbase cousins.
But that’s not all
Even if you have the strongest tow rig on the planet, your vehicle’s hitch can still be a stumbling point when it comes time to hook up the trailer. Hitches are broken down into four classes based on the trailer’s gross trailer weight rating, or GTWR, and are rated as follows:
Class I: 2,000 lbs, maximum
Class II: 3,500 lbs, maximum
Class III: 5,000 lbs, maximum
Class IV: 10,000 lbs, maximum
Now that you have a good idea of what makes up your vehicle’s towing capacity, don’t push your luck and exceed it. Doing so will only shorten your vehicle’s life span and put you and those around you on the road in danger. Respect your vehicle’s limits and your towing experience can be easy and drama-free.

Looking ahead: product pipelines

What’s coming up for Chrysler, Dodge, Jeep, and Ram?

Given the oft-repeated complaints that FCA US doesn’t have any new product, and tightened budgets across the company to make 2018’s “net debt free” deadline, there’s a surprising number of cars and trucks in the works.

2019 Ram 1500 grille

  • Coming very soon: refreshed Cherokee, and ground-up redesigns of the Wrangler and Ram 1500
  • Next year: ground-up redesigns of the Ram 2500 and 3500
  • 2020-22: new large cars (Challenger, Charger, maybe 300)
  • 2021-23: possibly a new Dodge compact or midsize rear-drive car to more directly compete with Camaro and Mustang
  • Timing unknown: two new Chrysler crossovers (one based on the Chinese Jeep Grand Commander, which is based on the Cherokee, and one based on the Pacifica)
  • Timing unknown: ground-up redesigns of the Jeep Grand Cherokee and Dodge Durango
  • 2018-19: Jeep Wagoneer and possibly a Chrysler equivalent
  • Rumored: a Viper replacement, with basics shared with Alfa Romeo and Maserati, but a unique engine and likely other unique features

There’s still no known timeline on the big Ram chassis cabs, or the ProMaster City update. The former is less urgent, and not especially sensitive to style; the latter is dependent on what Fiat itself does.

There is likely a Ram ProMaster update sooner rather than later, as well; and that would be the entire product line refreshed or replaced, if you include the new Compass.

Build your own Jeep Wrangler JL!

You can now build your own 2018 Jeep Wrangler JL — at least, on the Web, using the Jeep “build and price system.” All come with the “Jeep Wave” — a dedicated member number and live chat; oil changes and tire rotations; $1,000 of trip insurance; special events; and member discounts.

BYOJ - build your own wrangler JL

There are four basic options, the Sport, Sport S, Sahara, and Rubicon. Sports have the five-inch touch-screen and start at $28,190 plus destination; the others have a seven-inch screen. The range between base Sport and Rubicon is exactly $10,000. Buyers have to pay $3,500 more to get the four-door version, which is expect to be the larger seller by a good margin.

All Wranglers have two-speed four wheel drive, UConnect, backup cameras, tow hooks, and skid plates. The two-door versions have 2,000 pounds of towing capacity, and the four-doors can tow up to 3,500 pounds.

The Sport is a stripped-down package by modern standards, with no air conditioning, crank windows, steel wheels, and such; it has the zipper-free soft top. The auxiliary switches are optional.

The Sport S takes the base Sport and adds aluminum wheels, air conditioning, the “power convenience group,” and leather-wrapped steering wheel. Sport S buyers can pay extra for a seven-inch touch-screen with UConnect 4; or to get the Safety Group.

The Sahara — only sold as a four-door — adds 18-inch aluminum wheels, side steps, body-color fender flares, the seven-inch center display, a seven-inch gauge display/trip computer, and dual-zone automatic temperature control.  Buyers can also opt for LED exterior lighting and full-time four wheel drive.

wrangler tops

Finally, the Rubicon stands at the top as the most off-road capable Wrangler. It has 17-inch wheels with 33-inch off-road tires; heavy duty axles; a lower-geared 4×4 system; remote front sway bar disconnect; off-road rock rails; and optional winch-capable steel bumpers.

If you don’t drive a stick, now might be the time to learn; not only is it the natural transmission for a Wrangler, but it saves $2,000 off the price of the eight-speed automatic.

The four-cylinder hybrid is not yet available; for the moment, buyers can only configure with the V6.

The free tire rotations may have ulterior motives — to detect alignment problems early and to prevent tire-related steering or handling issues. The Wrangler’s beam axles can intensify the effects of wear problems.

Prices are substantially higher than the “JK” series, which is also on sale in the 2018 model-year; both are being built simultaneously, in different factories, for a limited time, so JKs can still be special-ordered exactly as the buyer wants them. Still, the JL is, overall, a better deal, with its newer body using current metallurgical advances, the eight-speed automatic making better use of the V6 engine, and the nicer interior and superior tops. Thanks to Robert S. Miller for pointing out the appearance of the “BYOJ” system.


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Six-Point Vehicle Check: A Gift that Keeps on Giving

A six-point vehicle check is a gift that will keep on giving, both in better vehicle performance and fewer unexpected repairs this winter, says the Car Care Council.

“Why not wrap up the holiday season with a gift for you and your car? Inspecting six key systems ahead of time can save you the headaches and cost of an emergency breakdown later,” said Rich White, executive director, Car Care Council. “Regular vehicle maintenance is always more convenient when you’re doing it on your own schedule. By taking a few easy preventive maintenance steps now, you can have more confidence when driving in severe winter weather.”

The Car Care Council recommends a six-point vehicle check before the New Year arrives:

  1. Battery – Keep the battery connections clean, tight and corrosion-free. Cold weather is hard on batteries, so it’s wise to check the battery and charging system for optimum performance. Because batteries don’t always give warning signs before they fail, it is advisable to replace batteries that are more than three years old.
  2. Antifreeze – Antifreeze (coolant) should be flushed and refilled at least every two years in most vehicles. As a reminder, do not add 100 percent antifreeze as full-strength antifreeze actually has a lower freeze point than when mixed with water.
  3. Brakes – Have the brake system checked. Brakes are critical to vehicle safety and particularly important when driving on icy or snow-covered roads.
  4. Tires – Check the tire tread depth and tire pressure. If snow and ice are a problem in your area, consider special tires designed to grip slick roads. During winter, tire pressure should be checked weekly as tires lose pressure when temperatures drop.
  5. Oil – Be diligent about changing the oil at recommended intervals and check the fuel, air and transmission filters at the same time. Consider changing to low-viscosity oil in winter, as it will flow more easily between moving parts when cold. In sub-zero driving temperatures, drop oil weight from 10-W30 to 5-W30 as thickened oil can make it hard to start the car.
  6. Wiper Blades – Cold weather can affect the life of windshield wipers, making the rubber hard and brittle and increasing the potential for cracks. Wiper blades that are torn, cracked or don’t properly clean your windshield should be replaced. Some manufacturers offer special winter blades that have a rubber boot covering the arm assembly to keep snow and ice out. When changing the blades, have the windshield wiper system nozzles cleaned and adjusted if necessary, and check the fluid level in the windshield washer reservoir.

During the winter, the Car Care Council recommends keeping your vehicle’s gas tank at least half full as that decreases the chances of moisture forming in the gas lines and possibly freezing. Finally, if you’re due for a tune-up, consider having it done before winter sets in. Winter magnifies existing problems such as pings, hard starts, sluggish performance or rough idling.

Winter Driving Forecast – Say It Ain’t Snow

Heavy snow can be fun for some, but many drivers dread treacherous winter driving conditions. Being car care aware will help ensure your vehicle is ready for harsh winter weather encountered on the road, says the non-profit Car Care Council.

“Many drivers overlook auto care this time of year, even with inclement weather in the forecast,” said Rich White, executive director, Car Care Council. “Driving in snow, especially in heavy snowfall or a blizzard, takes patience and preparation. A vehicle that is properly prepared for the elements can help you avoid an unplanned road emergency when the weather takes an unexpected turn for the worse.”

To ensure that your vehicle is ready for winter driving, the Car Care Council recommends that motorists perform a six-point winter maintenance check of areas that have direct impact on winter driving.

  1. Battery – Cold weather is hard on batteries, so it’s wise to check the battery and charging system for optimum performance. Because batteries don’t always give warning signs before they fail, it is advisable to replace batteries that are more than three years old.
  1. Antifreeze – Antifreeze (coolant) should be flushed and refilled at least every two years in most vehicles. As a reminder, do not add 100 percent antifreeze as full-strength antifreeze actually has a lower freeze point than when mixed with water.
  1. Brakes – Have the brake system checked. Brakes are critical to vehicle safety and particularly important when driving on icy or snow-covered roads.
  1. Tires – Check the tire tread depth and tire pressure, including the spare. If snow and ice are a problem in your area, consider special tires designed to grip slick roads. During winter, tire pressure should be checked weekly as tires lose pressure when temperatures drop.
  1. Oil – Be diligent about changing the oil at recommended intervals and check the fuel, air and transmission filters at the same time. Consider changing to low-viscosity oil in winter, as it will flow more easily between moving parts when cold. In sub-zero driving temperatures, drop oil weight from 10-W30 to 5-W30 as thickened oil can make it hard to start the car.
  2. Lights & Wipers – Make sure all exterior and interior lights are working so you can see and be seen. Check the fluid level in the windshield washer reservoir and replace wiper blades that are torn, cracked or don’t properly clean your windshield.

In addition, the council recommends a thorough vehicle inspection by a trusted professional service technician as winter magnifies existing problems such as pings, hard starts, sluggish performance or rough idling. Drivers should keep their vehicle’s gas tank at least half-full to decrease the chances of moisture forming in the gas lines and possibly freezing and stock an emergency kit with an ice scraper and snowbrush, jumper cables, flashlight, blanket, extra clothes, bottled water, dry food snacks and needed medication.

The Car Care Council is the source of information for the “Be Car Care Aware” consumer education campaign promoting the benefits of regular vehicle care, maintenance and repair to consumers. For a free copy of the council’s popular Car Care Guide or for more information, visit

Windsor, AWD, and the mysterious CUV

The Dodge Grand Caravan is still in production, riding with the same body it’s had with 2011, save some incremental changes here and there, to satisfy demand for a good cheap minivan. Most people don’t expect it to last past the 2019 model year, though, when its place on the line will be taken by a new Chrysler crossover.

That new crossover, whether it’s called Atlantic, Mediterranean, Voyager, or Queen Mary, will essentially be a four-swinging-door version of the Pacifica, wearing an updated Chrysler “design language” and debuting new technologies some thought would first appear on the Pacifica (and still might).

The plant may shut down for a little while once the Caravan leaves it, to get updates for the new crossover. They’ll be needed: the crossover is to showcase a new electronic four wheel drive system, where the gasoline engine powers the front wheels, and electric motors power the rear when the front wheels start to slip. All four can work together to save fuel at other times. This is a more fully baked version of systems Chrysler used to show off nearly two decades ago.

portal - journey crossover replacement

Why bother with having electric motors in back, instead of a traditional (and much simpler) all wheel drive system? For that, we go back to the main reason all wheel drive was dropped from the minivans in the first place: the driveshaft. If you have a driveshaft running the length of the vehicle, you can’t have Stow & Go seats, which are likely to be a class-unique feature for the crossover.

Windsor is scheduled to build three vehicles based off the Pacifica architecture in 2021: the Pacifica, the full-size crossover, and a production version of the Portal (it probably won’t be called that) — a shorter version of the Pacifica platform, with, more than likely, a similar plug-in hybrid system and many autonomous capabilities.

Sergio has referenced Windsor several times over the past year. In his annual Detroit press conference, when a reporter asked him about a crossover coming to Windsor, he commented, “Kuniskis really wants one.”  He also said that the Portal is based on the Pacifica platform, and Windsor would be the “natural place” to build it.

Here’s what the 2018 Wrangler JL will cost

With the official announcement of 2018 Wrangler JL prices, we have discovered that, setting aside changes to standard features, getting into a new Wrangler JL will cost around $3,000 more than the Wrangler JK — regardless of the chosen trim line and body type.

2018 Jeep Wrangler JL Pricing

We will have to wait a while for the 2018 JL Wrangler to reach the “Build Your Own” portion of, but the Trail Rated automaker has announced the base prices for each of the new Wrangler types — though only those with the gasoline V6 engine, six-speed manual transmission, and soft top, and excluding the two-door Sahara.

The entry level 2018 Jeep Wrangler JL is the Sport two-door, starting at $26,995 (none of these numbers include destination) while the two-door Rubicon starts at $36,995.

2018 Jeep Wrangler JL

When you step up to the 2018 JL Wrangler with four doors (formerly dubbed “Unlimited”), the Sport starts at $30,495, the Sahara starts at $37,345, and the capability-king Rubicon starts at $40,495.

Jeep announced a Sport S package and 2-liter eTorque engine option, as well as an automatic transmission, but hasn’t released  pricing announced for them yet. We will also have to wait on the figures for the different roof packages and other options. However, we know how much each basic JL will cost – and they all cost quite a bit more than the similarly-named JK models.

Wrangler Pricing Increase

The 2018 Jeep Wrangler JL is almost entirely new, with new materials inside and out. This new Wrangler has aluminum and magnesium body panels, a frame comprised heavily of high-strength steel, a roomier interior with fully painted safety bars, and a never-before-seen level of interior technology. All of those changes don’t come cheap, so it comes as no surprise that the JL Wrangler costs about $3,000 more than the comparable JK Jeep.

The current (JK) Wrangler Sport two-door starts at $23,995, so getting into the base model will cost JL buyers $3,000 more. The JK Rubicon two-door starts at $33,645, making the JL Rubicon two-door $3,350 more for the new model.

2018 Jeep Wrangler Rubicon JL

In the four-door range, the JK Sport starts at $27,895, $2,600 less than the new JL and the plush JK Sahara started at $34,245 while the new Sahara starts $3,100 higher. Finally, the JK Rubicon four-door starts at $37,445, $3,050 less than the new JL Rubicon with the extra doors.

The other key expense is the unavoidable destination fee, which also increased for the 2018 JL Wrangler — by $100, going from $1,095 to $1,195.

The bottom line is that the new JL Wrangler is better than the JK Wrangler in pretty much every way, but all of those improvements come with an increase in price of $2,700 to $3,450 before any other options have been added on.

Patrick Rall was raised a Mopar boy, spending years racing a Dodge Mirada while working his way through college. After spending a few years post-college in the tax accounting field, Patrick made the jump to the world of journalism and his work has been published in magazines and websites around the world.

Tornado following the Hurricane?

Allpar’s sources are again saying that a new inline six-cylinder engine, officially known as GME T6 — in the same family as the Wrangler’s eTorque/Hurricane — is “closer than we might think.”

The engine may or may not keep the Tornado name; there’s no catchy name for the new four-cylinder turbo, though hooked up to a mild-hybrid, it’s the eTorque.

We still expect a displacement of around 3 liters, most likely using the same cylinder bores and strokes as the “Hurricane,” or FCA version of the GME T4.  We noted some of the tricks the company may play to keep the length close to that of the current 2.4 liter four-cylinders — and even reasonably close to the Pentastar. That would allow for use in pickups and cars alike.

We believe the Chrysler versions would use twin-scroll turbochargers, as the eTorque does; there may or may not be a naturally aspirated version.  Maserati and Alfa Romeo Italian versions, if any are planned, would be rather different in execution, with different blocks and heads.

The Tornado was originally rumored to be mainly a 5.7 Hemi (“Eagle”) replacement.

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