The Jeep Wrangler is an iconic off-roader and a key vehicle for Chrysler. The next generation will be the 2018 Jeep Wrangler “JL,” debuting in 2017. Buyers can expect an eight-speed automatic or a six-speed manual, with 300-hp turbo fours in addition to the usual V6.
We know Jeep has been making changes to save weight. It must continue to meet fuel economy standards and has to contend with ever increasing safety regulations. Despite these changes, Jeep says that the off-road prowess of the Wrangler will not suffer but will, in fact, be better. Rumor has the Wrangler switching to an aluminum tub, but the Wrangler will likely use a tough hydro-formed steel frame to save weight and increase rigidity.
Redesigning the top of the Wrangler could save even more weight. Cars without tops need heavy pillar bolstering, and as the Wrangler is built to withstand abuse, it has more supports than usual. Engineers may replace the safety roll-bar with stronger tubes over the top and reduce lower-body reinforcement, partly to avoid being punished by regulatory changes. Jeep could then also do a fixed-roof version with relatively little re-engineering and retooling.
The traditional soft top is going to be replaced by removable soft panels over the substructure. The bumpers, tailgate construction, and the 5×5 wheel bolt pattern are mostly the same as the current ones.
The appearance of the Wrangler is not likely to change much. Expect the front fascia to remain clearly recognizable as a Wrangler with slight changes in the roof replacement structure and aerodynamic improvements brought about mostly by changes in the windshield angle, mirrors, and underbody covers. The front turn signals are to be pushed back onto the fenders, as in a past generation, so no sidelights would be needed in North America. The tail-lights are likely to change to Renegade-style ones, and the headlights, while sticking to round shapes, should gain an LED or HID option.
Jeep reportedly tried an independent suspension for the Wrangler, based on the 1963 Jeep Wagoneer or a Ram pickup, but spy shots show that they have stuck with floating solid axles. This will help the aftermarket to keep selling modifications, and make it easier to keep the ground clearance high. There has been talk of both suspension tweaks and axle upgrades.
It’s expected that the JL platform Wrangler will be available with a 3.0L EcoDiesel engine to boost fuel efficiency while pleasing hard-core off-roaders with its low-end torque. It has been rumored for some time that the United States would finally get a diesel powered Wrangler that fans had been wanting for years. Power numbers haven’t been confirmed but if they are anything close to the Ram 1500, hold on tight. Aside from having enough torque to punish tires, the mileage from this redesigned and lighter Jeep should be well over 30 MPG.
It’s likely that the company will attempt to do a light-hybrid version a year or two after the main launch, and that a stop-start will be standard or optional, perhaps left off the Rubicon. The standard American engine will be a V6 that has been upgraded with more efficiency, and the upcoming, rumored-300-hp Hurricane Four.
Flip-up rear window
A new patent application shows a unique full folding back glass design. The Jeep Wrangler is used for the illustrations.
The current Wrangler has a tailgate/spare tire that swing sideways, then the rear glass can open upwards. The patent application is different in that the glass folds all of the way up to the roof, with clips built into the roof so it can be pinned down and left all the way open. There are clips inside, to hold the struts after they are disconnected from the glass so it can reach the roof.