The Jeep Wrangler is the ultimate go-anywhere SUV for many off-road adventurers, but soon, it will face stiff new competition from the Ford Bronco. To keep things fresh, the Jeep—our 2019 SUV of the Year—will reportedly receive a host of new features on various trim levels for 2021, according to Mopar Insiders, including more infotainment, safety, and off-road equipment.
More Full-Time 4WD Availability, Some Mojave Love
Previously, the Sport model (like most of the Wrangler lineup) could only be had with a Command-Trac part-time four-wheel drive system with a two-speed transfer case. Now, Jeep is offering the Selec-Trac full-time transfer case that is standard on some high-zoot trims and available on others, namely the Sahara, on the entry-level Sport. This two-speed transfer case is nominally more useful for Jeepers who don’t actually, ahem, Jeep all that much—mostly because it can be left in four-wheel-drive mode all the time, including on dry pavement. Why? Selec-Trac acts as a full-time system, almost like an all-wheel-drive setup, automatically switching from two- to four-wheel drive as conditions dictate.
Command-Trac is old-school, meaning when four-wheel drive is selected, it stays selected until the driver decides otherwise; it also locks the front and rear axles into sync, meaning that if four-wheel drive is used on high-traction surfaces like pavement, the system will “bind.” In other Selec-Trac-related news, Jeep is for the first time ever offering its full-time capabilities on the hardcore Rubicon off-road trim (likely another concession to a number of pavement-bound Rubicon buyers who don’t actually Rubicon all that often). However, for the Rubicon, Jeep has incorporated Selec-Trac’s functionality into the Rubicon’s beefier Rock-Trac system, so it maintains the part-time Rock-Trac’s 4.0:1 low-range crawl ratio.
Speaking of Rubicons, these models now come standard with Off-Road Plus, a feature which allows you to drive at higher speeds (i.e., brisker-than-rock-crawling-speeds) with the locking rear differential engaged. With the push of a button, you can tailor throttle, transmission shift points, and traction control parameters for peak performance at higher speeds on sand terrain. You may recognize this feature from the desert-running Gladiator Mojave, a “Desert-Rated” (as opposed to “Trail-Rated”) Jeep trim that reportedly is spreading to the Wrangler and other models soon.
The 2021 Wrangler Sahara and Rubicon models also will offer the same forward-facing camera system found on the Gladiator. Sitting behind the grille, the camera allows drivers to see obstructions on the trail more clearly. Because, well, you can’t see through a vehicle’s hood from the driver’s seat. Unless you have X-ray vision.
More In-Car Tech for More Buyers
One step above the base Sport sits the Wrangler Sport S, which now feature the previously optional Technology Group package as standard equipment. The package brings along a 7.0-inch touchscreen with Apple CarPlay and Android Auto, automatic climate control, a 7.0-inch TFT color display in the gauge cluster, a SiriusXM subscription, and other sought-after niceties.
On all Wranglers equipped with the 7.0-inch touchscreen, there is now a special tire-fill alert system. With this feature, the horn honks once when the optimal tire pressure has been reached when you’re topping off your tires, and three times when the pressure is too high or too low. For Jeepers who partially deflate their tires for playing in the sand or on some rocks, then air them up at a service station near their favorite off-road spot before hitting the highway home, this is actually a very useful new widget.
No More eTorque Four-Cylinder
Engine options will sound familiar from last year, although there are a few changes, according to Mopar Insiders. Once again, the lineup consists of Fiat Chrysler’s ubiquitous 3.6-liter “Pentastar” V-6, the just-introduced 3.0-liter diesel V-6, and the 2.0-liter turbocharged inline four-cylinder with eTorque mild-hybrid tech. But wait, the four-cylinder will no longer offer eTorque—a surprise move—but the 3.6-liter V-6 will continue to be available with the mild hybrid technology. Soon, Jeep is expected to introduce an electrified Wrangler.
. . . and Finally, 2021 Wrangler Paint Colors!
Expect Jeep to offer a wide range of exterior colors. These should include familiar hues such as Bright White, Black, Billet Silver, Sting Gray, Granite Crystal, Hella Yella, and Firecracker red, along with new ones like Sarge Green, Snazzberry, and Hydro Blue. A few paint colors that were recently discontinued will continue to be missed.