The last long-term relationship I had with a Jeep Wrangler lasted from 1999 until 2003. My younger brother bought one new, and then for the next four years, he and I proceeded to beat it like it owed us money. Its 4.0-liter I6 was bombproof, but as a whole, the Jeep drove with a grace and agility of a Conestoga wagon.
That said? I just got done spending a week with a brand new 2019 Wrangler Sahara, and I’m happy to say that two decades of progress makes quite a difference.
2019 Jeep Wrangler Sahara Exterior
Unmistakably American, and undeniably Jeep, the Wrangler (or a variant of it) has been a staple on our roads for over 30 years. With its root embedded in the original Willys-Overland WWII Jeep, the new JL platform manages to move forward with an evolved flare while still making its great Grandfather proud. Our Granite Crystal painted Sahara is positioned dead center in the Wrangler lineup between the Sport and Sport S, and the Rubicon and MOAB. Think of the Sahara as more of a luxury-oriented Wrangler and you’ll then begin to appreciate how it’s outfitted.
The spokes of the polished 18-inch wheels, for instance, match the body and fender flares. The Sky One-Touch power top, while removable, seats beautifully to the body and gives the illusion that it is a permanently mounted piece. Then there’s the spare wheel and tire, a signature part of any Wrangler, which fits neatly in the notched out rear bumper.
Obviously, a Wrangler has to be true to its heritage, which is why the windshield still folds flat to the hood, and the roof and doors are still removable. Now granted, the bumpers, with their inset fog lights, the gloss painted running boards and the power top, maybe a bit too luxurious for some, but all-in-all, the Sahara manages to pull-off the uptown look very well — especially for a vehicle a that can still behave like a mountain goat when necessary.
2019 Jeep Wrangler Sahara Interior
If I’m being honest, I wasn’t prepared for just how well appointed the interior of this 2019 Sahara was. We’re talking double-stitched heated leather front seats, a heated steering wheel, a killer Alpine stereo that comes as part of the UConnect 4C infotainment system, leather covered rear seats, one-touch front and rear windows, dual climate controls, and enough auxiliary charge ports to keep your mobile devices at peak performance for an eternity. Gone are the days when the Wrangler was simply a vehicle for climbing through the mud, as now it seems it’s grown into a mature adult for the 21st Century.
The Sahara is a fully optioned package that lends itself more to on-road comfort, than sheer off-road madness. For instance, I doubt I’d want to take a chance mucking up those nice leather seats or hosing out the carpeted interior after slogging through the mud. Can the Sahara do it? Absolutely, but in this trim, I just can’t see its owners doing so. Instead, I see the Sahara as something for the 25 to 35 crowd who will use it for cruising to the beach, top retracted, and a radio blaring, its 32 cubic-feet of cargo space stuffed with coolers and inner tubes.
For those who do venture off-road (and it would be a shame not to), the interior electronics and readout screens that the Sahara provides are nothing short of spectacular. Everything from a vehicle operation guide, to a suite of technical readouts, can be found in the Off-Road Pages via the UConnect infotainment system. The information given is clear and informative and gives both drivers and passengers reassurance that this isn’t some watered down version of a Wrangler. It’s the real thing — just in a very nice suit.
2019 Jeep Wrangler Sahara Performance
The new turbocharged 2.0-liter I4 engine with eTorque was all-around impressive. Not only was it remarkably smooth, but also extremely quiet. It made great power to the tune of 270 horsepower and 295 lb-ft of torque. This is essentially a variant of the same engine used in Alfa Romeo’s Giulia and Stelvio, and by god does it make the Wrangler scoot. Getting to 60 mph takes a mere 6.5 seconds, with the eTorque hybrid system delivering an immediate kick as soon as you mash the go pedal. Power is put down via a smooth eight-speed automatic transmission that helps the Sahara (when equipped with the 2.0-liter) achieve an EPA rated 22 mpg in the city, 24 mpg on the highway, and 22 mpg during combined driving.* That means drivers can expect a range of over 400 miles per tank when cruising at posted highway speeds.
Ride quality was also quite good, thanks in part to the all-season (and beefy looking) Bridgestone tires. If there is a downside though, it’s the sheer amount of interior noise, both from the outside air and the tires themselves. So while you’ll enjoy a smooth ride, there’s no getting around the fact that you’re basically driving a barn door into the wind. Plus, the optional Sky One-Touch Power Top, while excellent, never feels like it’s fully closed in the same fashion as say, a traditional panoramic roof.
For those who want to go off-road, have no fear as engaging the 4×4 system is as simple as pulling back on a secondary drive lever. It can be done on the fly, however, low range must be selected whilst the vehicle is in neutral. Unfortunately, our time off-road was brief, but the Sahara’s confidence-inspiring manners and ease of use made us want to spend the afternoon bombing around off-pavement.
2019 Jeep Wrangler Sahara Safety
With an advanced front and side airbag system, high-strength steel beams for improved side-impact safety, to its anti-lock brake and blind spot monitoring systems, the Jeep Wrangler has you covered when it comes to safety. To further explore the safety features of the 2019 Jeep Wrangler Sahara head on over to Jeep.com.
2019 Jeep Wrangler Sahara Overall
There’s no question that time has been very good to the Wrangler, as not only was this Sahara version extremely pleasant to drive but as outfitted, it would also make one heck of a daily driver. On the outside, its good looks are only hampered by a loud interior at highway speeds. But if you can live with that, then I have no doubt that you’ll enjoy everything else the 2019 Jeep Wrangler brings to the table.
Drop by your local AutoNation Jeep dealer today to check one out!
*Fuel economy values (mpg) of 22-mpg city, 24-mpg highway and 24-mpg combined are EPA estimates. Actual mileage will vary and depends on several factors including driving habits and vehicle condition.
**Vehicle MSRP of $53,445.00 excludes taxes, title, transportation, options, and dealer fees.