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New 2018 Jeep Wrangler JL Is Incredibly Capable, but Even More Now

Posted in Features on December 13, 2018
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There is no denying that racecars are cool. They are loud and fast and turn heads. As the reigning King of the Hammers champion, Jason Scherer knows a thing or two about racecars. The same features that make these cars so cool can also make them somewhat of a challenge for day-to-day use though. Fortunately, Scherer has sponsors like Starwood Motors, Fox, and BFGoodrich, and friends like WFO Concepts and Rage 4th, to help him build a daily driver that is still a legit wheeler. Oh, and did we mention that they did it in under a week?

Starwood Motors is a Jeep dealer and customizer in Texas, and Jason Scherer is a lifelong Jeep fan, so starting with a brand new 2018 Jeep Wrangler Unlimited Rubicon JL made perfect sense. Scherer introduced Tyler McQuarrie from Starwood to Trevor Huiskens of WFO Concepts to help increase Starwood Motors’ West Coast presence. Huiskens and his crew took care of the rest, transforming the stock Wrangler into a custom rock slayer that Jason’s wife can still comfortably drive down the freeway with their children in the back and one finger on the steering wheel.

The 118-inch wheelbase on the JL Unlimited allows it to climb just about anything in its path while remaining stable. And the huge wheelwells mean that 39-inch BFGoodrich Krawlers fit with only 4 1/2 inches of lift.
Power comes from the same 285hp Pentastar V-6 engine that was used in the JK Wrangler. The big news is the new eight-speed ZF automatic transmission. It does a wonderful job of keeping the engine in the powerband.
Too fancy for a Jeep? The interior is relatively stock, but why change a good thing? It has heated leather seats and room for the entire family. The only thing we wonder about with the new JL is how well the painted surfaces will withstand scraps and scuffs over time.
The stubby front bumper was custom built by Rage 4th. It holds a Warn Zeon 10-S Platinum winch with synthetic cable, a 20-inch Rigid Industries lightbar, and Rigid Industries Dually LED lights. Behind the bumper there was room to mount an ARB twin air compressor.
Rolling stock consists of 39-inch BFGoodrich Krawler KX tires mounted on forged Method beadlock wheels. This combination offers excellent strength and capability while remaining relatively light for such a tall tire.
The front axle is a Dynatrac ProRock XD60 that came completely assembled in a crate and ready to bolt in to the JL, which really helped with the tight deadline. The ProRock XD60 uses a centersection that maximizes ground clearance and aluminum knuckles to reduce weight. Jason Scherer spec’ed out his axle with 5.38 gears, an Eaton E-Locker, and 35-spline chromoly axleshafts. The huge 13 1/4-inch-diameter brakes come standard.
WFO Concepts built the suspension using long, flat links that minimize pinon angle and caster changes as the suspension cycles. The 39-inch-long lower links are built from 2x0.250-wall DOM tubing and use Metalclock Duraflex joints that are quiet while also allowing for a full range of motion as the suspension cycles.
The rear axle is a Dynatrac ProRock 80 with a huge 10 1/4-inch ring gear and 4-inch axletubes. This full-floating axle uses 1 3/4-inch, 40-spline axleshafts that make breakage a nonissue, even when Scherer drives the Jeep like his Ultra4 car. The 13.88-inch disc brakes stop the 39-inch tires in a hurry, even from freeway speeds.
The rear suspension uses Rubicon Express coils and Fox 2 1/2-inch-diameter remote-reservoir shocks. The shocks have dual speed compression (DSC) adjusters to dial in the perfect ride over all bumps, large and small, no matter the speed. One of the changes that Jeep made with the JL was moving the lower shock mount out farther on the axle to make the shocks more upright, providing improved control.

Tech Specs

2018 Jeep Wrangler JL
Engine: 3.6L Pentastar V-6
Transmission: ZF 845RE 8-speed automatic
Transfer Case: NP241 Rocktrac with 4:1 low range
Front Axle: Dynatrac ProRock 60 with 5.13 gears and Eaton E-Locker
Rear Axle: Dynatrac ProRock 80 with 5.13 gears and Eaton E-Locker
Springs & Such: Rubicon Express coils, Fox 2 1/2-inch remote reservoir shocks with DSC adjusters, WFO long arm (front and rear)
Tires & Wheels: 39x13.5R17 BFGoodrich Krawler KX on 17x9 Method forged beadlock rims
Steering: Yeti drag link and tie rod, factory electronic power steering
Lighting: 20-inch Rigid Industries lightbar and Rigid Industries Dually LEDs in front bumper; flush-mount Rigid Industries LED lights in rear bumper
Other Stuff: ARB twin air compressor, custom Rage 4th bumpers, ARB fridge-freezer

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