Expect to hear some significant details on the long-awaited, and officially confirmed, Jeep Wrangler ute spinoff inside the next few months, well ahead of its expected premiere later in 2017.
Speaking with Australian media including CarAdvice at this week’s New York motor show, head of Jeep globally Mike Manley said the Jeep pickup would appear after the reveal of the next-generation Wrangler, which could occur later in 2016.
Jeep confirmed earlier this year that the next generation Wrangler would spin off a pick-up (ute), produced at the same Toledo plant. As we know, the next Wrangler will remain body-on-frame, and will use some aluminium in its construction, though not in a wholesale fashion, with a steel structure likely to remain.
“We’ve announced we are doing a pickup, which is great news that has been on my agenda some time. That will follow the next-generation Wrangler,” Manley said, adding when pressed on specific details regarding the platform: “You’ve only got a few more months to find that answer out.”
Above: a Wrangler ute conversion. Top of article: the 2016 Jeep Crew Chief concept, revealed in Moab this month
What this occasion will be is unclear. The new Wrangler’s reveal? A concept? A brand-wide product plan announcement? We aren’t yet sure.
As we do know, the new Wrangler two- and four-door is tapped to actually go on sale next year. It will keep a familiar design and rugged off-road underpinnings, though no doubt with significant tuning.
It will also have greater cabin technologies and next-generation petrol and diesel powertrains matched to a six-speed manual or new eight-speed automatic transmissions. A mild hybrid will feature at or near launch.
In regards to the pick-up derivative, we don’t know if it will be single-cab, dual-cab or both. When pressed on the basis and origin of the car (though not the design), Manley said “look at our concepts” with a smile.
This suggests a stylistic similarity to the well-publicised 2005 Jeep Gladiator concept single-cab (believed to have been based on the Ram 1500, interestingly, and pictured above), but perhaps more relevantly the Jeep Crew Chief 715 being shown at the Easter Safari in Utah at the moment.
However, what is not yet being made clear is where the next-generation Wrangler-based ute sits as far as a global rollout is confirmed. Manley was coy in discussing the right-hand drive rollout of the ute, though it is still expected to happen.
“Australia is considered a key market, [but] whether it gets that vehicle or not depends purely on what we perceive the demand to be. We’re gathering that information right now,” Manley said. “I’m not confirming whether it will or won’t be [RHD].”
Jeep Australia has said that it would like the chance to make a case for the vehicle for our market — which is a fairly obvious conclusion, given 4×4 utes make up about 12 per cent of the total vehicle market (134,000 units in 2015).