Pinnacle: The 2019 Jeep Wrangler Unlimited Sahara 4X4

Front view of 2019 Jeep Wrangler Unlimited Sahara
The 2019 Jeep Wrangler Unlimited Sahara.
At the very moment when the automotive industry is bracing for a future in which vehicles are autonomous and possibly anonymous, computer-driven bubbles in which we amuse ourselves while being whisked from point A to point B, the truest example of a basic you-drive-it motorized vehicle has now been perfected.  And it's the one that has the strongest brand identity in the history of the motor vehicle.  One word, no explanation needed:


Since 1940, when it was designed to get our troops anywhere they needed to go, Jeep has been a constant.  And part of that has been constant improvement. 

Front 3/4 view of 2019 Jeep Wrangler Unlimited Sahara 4X4
2019 Jeep Wrangler Unlimited Sahara 4X4.
I've written before, as recently as six years ago (our last test of a Wrangler), how I very nearly bought one (then called the CJ5 and CJ7) as a daily driver in 1979, only to reconsider at the prospect of living with the lack of refinement and the extreme thirst of the CJ7's V8 or even the six-cylinder CJ5, and bought a Toyota Corolla SR5 Liftback instead.

Re-reading the 2013 Wrangler review, I clearly thought at that time that I was driving the ultimate refinement---that Fiat Chrysler had taken the Jeep as far as it could go.  I was wrong.  The new generation Wrangler is a massive leap.  This is the Jeep Wrangler that I could not only own, but use as a daily driver.  The only question is whether I'd rather have this instead of pretty much any other two-row SUV or the new Wrangler-based Gladiator instead of pretty much any other mid-sized pickup truck (I'll need to drive the Gladiator to be sure).

Rear 3/4 view of 2019 Jeep Wrangler Unlimited Sahara
2019 Jeep Wrangler Unlimited Sahara 4X4.
First of all, the four-door Unlimited has been a great idea since the start, and the very subtle styling refinements of the new-generation Wrangler really work on this scale. 

Convertible top of the 2019 Jeep Wrangler Unlimited Sahara
2019 Jeep Wrangler Unlimited Sahara 4X4.
Refinement is so thorough in the 2019 Jeep Wrangler Unlimited that driving with the folding convertible top peeled back behind the second row is still quiet enough for normal conversations, with wind flow going around but not into the cabin.

Interior of 2019 Jeep Wrangler Unlimited Sahara 4X4
2019 Jeep Wrangler Unlimited Sahara 4X4 interior.
In top-of-the-line Sahara trim, the cockpit is a revelation---light-years ahead of previous Wranglers.  The materials and fit-and-finish are all top-rate, and while that looks like a lot of buttons, all are clearly marked, have a purpose and are positioned intelligently.

2.0-liter turbo four-cylinder engine in the 2019 Jeep Wrangler Unlimited Sahara
2019 Jeep Wrangler Unlimited Sahara 4X4 2.0-liter turbo four-cylinder engine.
The big news is the small engine. The 2.0-liter turbo four-cylinder engine is a $1,000 option and is absolutely worth it.  268 horsepower and 295 pounds per foot of torque compared to 285/260 for the standard 3.6-liter Pentastar V6 might not seem like a compelling argument, but the horsepower deficit is more than erased by the lighter weight of the four, the extra 35 pounds of torque is something you can feel---and you feel it sooner, at lower RPMs than you do with the six---and the EPA fuel economy estimate of 22 city/24 highway is a significant improvement over the V6, especially in the city (the six's estimate is 17/22). 

Choosing the 2.0-liter turbo four also means choosing the eight-speed automatic transmission and another $2,000 on the window sticker. It comes with hill descent control and tip start.  Again, it's worth it.  Drive both the four and the six back-to-back and tell me I'm wrong.

Hood and grille of 2019 Jeep Wrangler Unlimited Sahara 4X4
2019 Jeep Wrangler Unlimited Sahara 4X4. Edward R. Burro approves.

Wranglers start at $28,045 in two-door form.  Four-door Unlimiteds begin at $31,545 and the Sahara trim has a base of $38,395.  That comes with a lot of standard equipment:

  • ParkView rear back-up camera.
  • Third-generation Dana 44HD rear axle.
  • Heavy duty suspension with gas shocks.
  • Fuel tank skid plate shield.
  • Transfer case skid plate shield.
  • Transmission skid plate.
  • Tool kit.
  • Anti-lock four-wheel disc heavy duty brakes.
  • Electronic stability control.
  • Electronic roll mitigation.
  • Trailer sway damping.
  • Remote keyless entry.
  • Security alarm.
  • Universal garage door opener.
  • Uconnect 4 with seven-inch display.
  • Seven-inch TFT color display in instrument cluster.
  • Apple CarPlay and Android Auto.
  • One-year subscription to SiriusXM Satellite Radio.

And our tester was fairly loaded with extra-cost options beyond the $1,000 2.0-liter turbo four and the $2,000 eight-speed automatic:

  • Leather-trimmed seats with Sahara logo, leather-wrapped parking brake handle, leather-wrapped shift knob, premium wrapped instrument panel bezels: $1,495.
  • Customer Preferred Package 28G (Cold weather group---255/70R18 all-terrain tires, heated front seats, heated steering wheel, remote start system): $995.
  • LED Lighting Group (LED reflector headlamps, front LED fog lamps, LED taillamps, LED daytime running accent lamps): $995.
  • 8.4-inch display radio with nine-speaker Alpine Premium Audio Group, 4G LTE wi-fi hotpot, GPS navigation, auto-dimming rearview mirror, HDRadio, one year of SiriusXM Guardian service, five years of SiriusXM Traffic service, five years of SiriusXM Travel Link service, SiriusXM Traffic Plus and active noise-control: $1,595.
  • Jeep Active Safety Group (ParkSense rear park assist system, blind spot and cross-path detection): $895.
  • Adaptive cruise control/Forward collision warning, advanced brake assist and full-speed forward collision warning plus: $795.
  • Soft-top window storage bag: $75.
  • 2.72:1 Selec-Trac Full-Time 4WD: $595.
  • Anti-spin differential rear axle: $595
  • Remote proximity keyless entry: $495.
  • Premium black Sunrider soft top: $595.

With destination charge of $1,495, that's $52,015 in bold numbers at the bottom of the window sticker.  And you know what?  It's worth it.  That's what loaded five-seat SUVs cost today, and this one can take the Rubicon Trail in stock form.  Plus, you're not going to trade it in five years.  A Jeep Wrangler is a long-term purchase.  You'll probably own it for ten years.  You may own it forever. 

And I just might myself.

And that's why the 2019 Jeep Wrangler Unlimited Sahara 4X4 sits atop the TireKicker's Best Cars list on the right side of this page.

(By the way---our friends at Extreme Terrain are giving away four Jeep Wrangler TruShield soft tops as I write this.  You can enter daily until August 15, 2019).