2018 Jeep Wrangler unveiled; brings a revamped design, new engine options and loses some weight

When Fiat Chrysler engineers and designers set out to revamp the venerable JeepWrangler for the first time in a decade, they didn't want to mess much with its looks. Changes, they know well, could upset loyal buyers who love the Wrangler's exterior that dates to its roots as a durable military vehicle in World War II.

Jeep wrangler 2018. Jeep.com

Jeep Wrangler 2018. Image: Jeep.com

But beneath the similar appearance of the 2018 version being unveiled Wednesday at the Los Angeles Auto Show, a lot is different. New engines are coming, including a diesel and a four-cylinder gas-electric hybrid. It's 200 pounds lighter and a little longer, gets some aerodynamic touches and more glass for better visibility, and it comes with an optional new high-tech ragtop.

The hidden updates bring a lot of change to buyers who may not want it. A few years ago, designers built a prototype without external door hinges and hood latches just to see if Jeep purists would accept it. When shown to a focus group, "It wasn't just disliked it was hated,'' said Mark Allen, head of Jeep design. The outdoor hinges and latches remain.

Jeep wrangler 2018. Jeep.com

Jeep Wrangler 2018. Image: Jeep.com

Engineers say the new engine choices were made with off-road performance as a priority, so they shouldn't bother the purists. Buyers will have a choice between an updated 285-horsepower 3.6-Liter V6, and a new 270-horsepower 2-litre turbocharged four-cylinder engine that comes with a battery-electric hybrid system to help the Jeep get rolling for better fuel economy. A 260-horsepower 3-Liter diesel V6 will come in 2019. The engines will be mated to either a six-speed manual transmission or an eight-speed automatic.

Engineers shed the 200 pounds by use of lighter high-strength steel in the frame as well making the hood, doors, fender flares and hinges out of aluminium.

Jeep wrangler 2018. Jeep.com

Jeep Wrangler 2018. Image: Jeep.com

For improved aerodynamics, the windshield was rounded and its angle lowered, and the Wrangler even gets a subtle small spoiler at the back of the roof. Yet Fiat Chrysler says in its press release that the Toledo, Ohio-built Wrangler has a "modern design that stays true to the original.''

Engineers also made other changes, including an internal roof support structure to accommodate the ragtop. Overall, the four-door is 2.5 inches longer than the outgoing model, while the two-door is 1.5 inches longer. The new version also has a higher ground clearance for off-road driving, enough to make it through 30-inch-deep water.

And Fiat Chrysler says it has better manners on a pavement, long a criticism of the Wrangler.

Glass area was increased all around for better visibility, and the windshield can be folded forward by removing four bolts instead of the current 28. "It's a motorcycle with a chair,'' quipped Allen.

The new Wrangler, customizable with different door, top and windshield combinations, is due in showrooms in January. The price, which currently starts around $24,000 excluding shipping, will be announced later.


Published Date: Nov 29, 2017 05:40 pm | Updated Date: Nov 29, 2017 05:45 pm



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