Standing out in the crowded SUV segment is growing difficult. Automakers are scrambling to offer customers a plethora of options in hopes of grabbing a piece of the lucrative pie. Today’s SUVs range from luxury people movers like the 2019 Cadillac XT4 to the hardcore off-roader like the Jeep Wrangler, which beat the Cadillac to earn Motor Trend’s 2019 SUV of the Year Award.
While the 2019 Cadillac XT4 is an all-new offering from the brand, Jeep had the arduous task of updating the aging Wrangler without alienating its loyal fan base. Somehow, designers and engineers were able to retain the Wrangler’s iconic, boxy appearance while giving it an all-new platform and packing it full of new, innovative technologies.
“The Wrangler is a thoughtful, thorough rework of an American original,” said Motor Trend’s international bureau chief Angus MacKenzie. “It’s laser-focused on improving the performance of its intended function, right down to the last nut and bolt.”
The Jeep Wrangler has a distinct styling, but that hasn’t stopped Jeep from innovating. Under the huge is a new turbocharged 2.0-liter eTorque engine. The mild-hybrid powertrain provides 270 horsepower and 295 pound-feet of torque. There’s a more traditional 3.6-liter V6 making 284 hp and 260 lb-ft of torque. A six-speed manual and eight-speed automatic are available.
A significant improvement over the outgoing model is the revised suspension tuning, which makes the Wrangler more comfortable. However, even the improved ride quality isn’t luxury-level. One editor did criticize the Jeep Wrangler for its still rough-riding suspension.
“The Wrangler doesn’t wallow or flop around,” said another, Motor Trend’s features editor Scott Evans. “It moves with a purpose. The ride quality is so, so much better than it was before.”
On paper, comparing the JL Wrangler and 2019 Cadillac XT4 isn’t fair. Yes, both are SUVs; however, the ethos behind each is radically different. The Cadillac combines luxury and versatility into one package. The Jeep Wrangler is all about uncompromising off-road prowess regardless of body style and trims while still giving customers various levels of off-road capability. As Motor Trend notes, not every Wrangler owner needs Dana 44 front and rear axles.