When you have a car as iconic as the Jeep Wrangler, big changes in design or production can ruffle a lot of feathers. Automotive News reports that contrary to previous reports, production of the next-gen Wrangler will stay in its historic home of Toledo, Ohio, keeping its body-on-frame design, though it will switch from a steel to an aluminum body.
That brings us to the question of how die-hard Wrangler owners will respond to aluminum, which is a lot more difficult (and expensive) than steel. The move to aluminum could shave hundreds of pounds off the next Wrangler, leading to greatly improved fuel economy. Rumor had it that the Wrangler might be ditching the traditional body-on-frame design in favor of a lighter unibody design, which would necessitate a move away from the Toledo assembly plant. But four separate sources to AN that production will stay in Toledo, and aluminum was the way forward.
That still leaves some questions though relating to the powertrain and chassis; the next Wrangler could ditch its solid axles in favor of a more ride-friendly independent rear suspension as in recent years the original Jeep has become a favorite of the mall crawler crowd. Then there’s the question of whether the 3.6 liter Pentastar engine is up to the task of meeting strict fuel economy mandates; the addition of the EcoDiesel V6 engine seems all but confirmed, though it’s starting to look like it won’t happen until the next generation at the earliest. Fiat-Chrysler will also likely upgrade the transmission from six-speeds to eight, squeezing every last MPG it can out of a traditionally thirsty vehicle.
A diesel aluminum Wrangler is a far cry from the Jeep that won the hearts of GIs during World War II, but it’s far better suited for car buyers of the 21st century as well. Are you a purist who thinks the Wrangler is being ruined, or is Fiat-Chrysler keeping the dream alive?