The new Jeep Wrangler ute has been spied for the first time ahead of its debut some time next year.

jeep_wrangler-ute-spy_2

Visually, the new Wrangler will be evolutionary. As far the ute goes, it looks a lot like the five-door Unlimited, which was spied back in May, but with a tray tacked onto the end.

Judging by these photos, the ute will probably have a longer wheelbase than its Unlimited sibling. Under the skin, the Wrangler will stay true to the brand's off-roading heritage and feature a steel frame.

jeep_wrangler-ute-spy_8

Engine choices are said to include the company's 3.6-litre Pentastar V6, a turbo-diesel, and a new 2.0-litre turbocharged four-cylinder petrol engine.

Today's five-speed automatic will be junked in favour of an eight-speed unit sourced from ZF. Rear-wheel drive may be an option for the ute.

While fuel economy has been a key focus for the Wrangler's development team, Fiat Chrysler decided not to pursue an all-aluminium body, choosing instead to use a selection of aluminium components and other lightweight materials.

jeep_wrangler-ute-spy_13

Earlier this year, Mike Manley, chief of the Jeep brand, told CarAdvice that the Wrangler ute will make its debut after the rest of the range, which will likely be revealed later this year.

Production of the ute isn't expected to begin until around the fourth quarter of 2017. The Wrangler ute will be made alongside its siblings, as well as the current-generation vehicle, at the company's factory in Toledo, Ohio.