FCA granted off-road test drives of the  2018 Jeep Wrangler JL to a handful of invited guests in New Zealand, and some of the photos and video of the JL in action are out.

The heavily-embargoed first test drives are part of the carefully-staged media set-up for the big reveal of the Wrangler JL at the Los Angeles Auto Show at the end of the month. The first test drives are always awarded to long-lead media that require a weeks of notice to get the story into their next issues and onto the magazine racks. Next are the national U.S. and Canadian media, then the internationals and the local press, or what there is left of them.

None of these photos or videos includes specifics on clearances, power ratings, or driving characteristics, but there is plenty of new information in them, nonetheless.

Some of the test Rubicons they were driving had 2.0-liter turbo engines (at least one photo shows it), so that debate will have legs for another few weeks.  Is the Hurricane in the 2018 at all? The 2019? Or will it be a later addition?

Road and Track is running 25 photos of the 2018 Rubicon here.  They feature some good close-ups of features of note, including the hinge on the new fold-down windshield, some visible bolt-like panel fasteners (black, recessed), and redesigned hood hold downs which link directly onto the front fenders rather than front quarter panel.

Also featured prominently by R&T is the new soft top - power operated, it is rumored - and its many folding configurations.

Here is a short video of a two-door Rubicon doing some rock climbing on the New Zealand trip. You can hear the engine rev - make your own guess as to what it is - and see how the rear side windows can be removed while leaving the soft top in place for shade - a cool option we're going to be seeing a lot of next summer.

Here's another clip , from Automobilemag.com, of Jeep handlers guiding automotive media drivers around a huge boulder in a rushing stream. The water is only about a foot deep, but the speed of the flow had to give the drivers a bit of a pause.

More good pics from Dan Edmunds on outfitter site and Allpar sponsor  Quadratec.com , including a close-up of how the "frame-within-a-frame" new wind shield folds down — exactly as predicted by Allpar a year ago.