2019 Jeep Wrangler JL Sahara Sky One-Touch Offers Hybrid Convertible Fun
One of the Jeep Wrangler's most fun features is how quickly it can transition from an "indoor" to a "great outdoors" driving experience. When ordered with its soft top, flipping a few buckles and unbuttoning some snaps can have you roofless in just a few minutes. Unbolt the doors, and you're suddenly riding around in an off-road exoskeleton.
Unfortunately, not everyone lives in the kind of climate where the Wrangler's soft top is a safe or convenient option. Winter's chill has a way of seeping through fabric and attenuating even the most exuberant enthusiasm. Urban parking realities also often require more than the casual plastic-window security features offered by this setup.
It's here that Jeep has stepped up with a compromise. The Sky One-Touch roof option, available on the four-door Sahara and Rubicon models, aims to deliver the best of both worlds to the Wrangler lineup. This hybrid hardtop convertible isn't cheap, however, so I spent a week in its company to evaluate whether it's worth the investment on the order sheet.
For the most part, the Sky One-Touch roof is a fairly traditional convertible design. It maintains everything about the hardtop Wrangler that Jeep buyers love—the security and weather-proof seal of sheet-molded compound resin—while adding a power-retractable cloth panel that can slide back to expose the first two rows of the vehicle to the elements.
Unlike the regular hardtop, however, the Sky One-Touch roof's support system cannot be removed completely, so make your peace with that prior to purchase. Yes, you can still remove the doors and fold down the windshield should you so desire. While you can't take out the rear glass for a total pass-through effect, the One-Touch does offer pop-out quarter windows at the back to open things up as much as possible.
You still have to find a way to store the doors and windows without scratching them, of course—you're not going to be taking them with you—but in many ways it’s a reasonable approximation of what the traditional soft-top Wrangler has to offer.
One-Touch Is No Exaggeration
In addition to doing a good job keeping the interior warm and dry, as well as deflecting the ill intentions of would-be burglars, the Sky One-Touch top is simpler to use than a standard soft Wrangler roof. I mean, it's right there in the name: Simply hit a button and 18 seconds later the roof has rolled up over the cargo area.
This is contrasted against the Wrangler's flip-back function on the soft top, which is relatively simple to open but can be clumsy to close, with the angle for grabbing the pull handle not always comfortable or easy to get leverage on. If you go all the way back over the rear seat, this latter issue is further compounded and a complete removal and reassembly can occasionally be tedious.
You can also slide the Sky system back as far or as short as you want, depending on wind conditions and passenger complaints. This is another advantage over the regular soft top, which can only fold along preset points.
Rough Around the Edges
In actual practice, I found that the One-Touch design didn't fold back smoothly like retracting a window blind, but bunched up a bit in the process. This wasn't much of an issue, but don't assume that the area behind the leading edge of the top is still sealed to the elements—it's possible that the roof is open along the sides, which means water and wind can still get into the cabin.
I also don't understand why Jeep doesn't paint the inside of the hardtop. The slider rails along either side of the unit were white, which provided an ugly contrast against the orange hue of my Sahara tester. Given that we're talking about a roughly $4,000 option, this feels like a cut corner and a bit of a slap in the face for those willing to spend the extra cash.
In terms of providing fun-in-the-sun, however, the Sky One-Touch gets full marks. It's a convertible Jeep, plain and simple. Keep the side windows in and doors on and it's absolutely hassle-free open-top motoring. That's probably the biggest compliment I could pay to the design, and if you need a hardtop for all the reasons listed above and can afford the extra juice for UV exposure, there's really no reason not to go for it.
One last note on the 2019 Jeep Wrangler Sahara. The model I drove featured the optional 2.0L turbocharged four-cylinder engine. Previously, I had sampled this unit in a two-door Rubicon, and I was curious as to how its 270hp and 295 lb-ft of torque would handle the extra girth of the four-door model.
I needn't have been concerned. Although some might complain about the fact that going turbo means you'll have to stick with Jeep's eight-speed automatic, I honestly never missed the third pedal once during my time with the motor. Its fantastic power delivery and reasonable fuel economy make it a worthwhile upgrade over the good but modest V6.
Turbo power and single-button retractable cloth roofs might have pushed the JL Wrangler far past its barebones CJ roots, but in a world where modernization has sucked the soul out of so many automobiles, Jeep has managed to keep its flagship just as fun as it ever was while making it a little more comfortable to live with, too.