In the words of Jeep’s CEO, the next-generation Jeep Wrangler must be able to compete with soft-roaders, but will also retain its off-roading cred.
In an interview with Automotive News, Jeep CEO, Mike Manley, said the brand found over 19,000 new homes for the Wrangler in the US during May and these weren’t “people who just want to go off-roading”.
He followed up by asking, “Why would, for example, somebody else’s SUV that’s really an on-road ‘soft’ SUV not be for me a genuine target for Wrangler?”
Perhaps to allay the fears of Jeep fans, Manley did insist that “one thing that we will not do is dilute what Wrangler stands for”.
The next iteration of the Jeep Wrangler is expected to launch in 2017, which is when new stricter corporate average fuel economy (CAFE) regulations come into effect in the US.
One way to improve fuel economy is to decrease the car’s mass and with the current Wrangler weighing at least 1741kg, there’s a lot of scope for improvement. A possibility that Sergio Marchionne, Fiat Chrysler’s CEO, hinted at in May was that the next Wrangler may have an aluminium body.
The company could also replace the current Wrangler’s five-speed automatic transmission with the eight-speed unit found in the Grand Cherokee. That gearbox unfortunately doesn’t fit in the current-generation vehicle.
It’s unclear whether the next Wrangler will be available with solid front and rear axles. These solid axles are an asset for the Wrangler on tricky off-road jaunts, but are heavy and impact on the car’s fuel economy. They’re also responsible for the car’s less polished on-road manners.