By on March 15, 2017

2005 Jeep Gladiator Concept Vehicle, Image: FCA

We know it’s coming. Jeep CEO Mike Manley, while speaking at the North American International Auto Show, definitively stated the next-generation Wrangler will spawn a pickup. However, nobody has said anything about what the soup base for this new Wrangler stew is going to use.

When Jeep showcased the Gladiator pickup concept way back in the DaimlerChrysler era, it was built using Ram 1500 framework. It was a truck converted into a Wrangler essentially, instead of a Wrangler modified into the pickup format. While it’s been a decade since that concept saw the light of day, its recipe might still be the one FCA uses for a modern-day incarnation.

There’s evidence to support that claim, but — be warned — there is also speculation ahead.

Initially, the pickup was intended to coincide with the release of the updated JL Wrangler. Then Manley told The Detroit News that the JT pickup — which FCA hasn’t yet given an official name — wouldn’t begin production until the end of 2019. This will follow FCA’s conversion of its Toledo North Assembly Plant from unibody to body-on-frame production. During retooling, current JK Wranglers will continue assembly at the complex’s South Assembly Plant.

However, Automotive News’ Fiat Chrysler expert Larry Vellequette says he has inside information that the Southern Plant is shutting down in April 2018 specifically because the JT pickup is too long for the paint shop at the Ohio factory. That doesn’t exactly convince me that FCA will use 1500 architecture. After all, who wouldn’t have thought the Wrangler pickup was going to be a longer vehicle? Early spy shots show it looking several inches longer than the JK, and that could just be down to the addition of the bed and some overhang.

It isn’t quite an a-ha moment, but Vellequette also reminded readers that FCA CEO Sergio Marchionne has mentioned the possibility of Mexican Ram production returning back to the United States — especially if Donald Trump begins throwing around those import tariffs he’s been talking about. FCA may even already be making plans to repatriate its trucks. If so, platform sharing the JT with the 1500 would make good financial sense.

The bottom line: we still don’t know if Jeep’s pickup will use the next-generation JL Wrangler frame, the older JK chassis, or make use of Ram 1500 framework. While this news does make the latter option possible, it’s by no means an assurance. In the end, it might not even matter. Wrangler loyalists are exactly that — loyal. Provided it looks and feels like their beloved 4×4, it should sell regardless of what underpins it.

(Although, I’m curious which platform off-road enthusiasts prefer to see.)

[Image: Jeep]

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29 Comments on “Which Platform Will the Jeep Wrangler Pickup Use?...”


  • avatar
    Big Al from Oz

    FCA need a midsize pick up in the US market.

    Using the Wrangler will distribute costs and manufacturing across a larger number of vehicle model variations.

    Using the Wrangler will allow for lower production numbers to remain profitable.

    A stretched Wrangler would be the most economical answer.

    • 0 avatar
      Drzhivago138

      Plus if Ram decided to offer a compact FWD unibody trucklet (I have no idea how likely that is), they wouldn’t be stepping on Jeep’s toes and vice versa.

      • 0 avatar
        Lou_BC

        Drzhivago138 – as long as fuel prices stay low and Import tariffs stay high, we won’t see a Ram trucklet. The Ram 700/Strada would not sell in significant numbers to warrant setting up shop in the USA. It would be viable in Mexico under NAFTA with sales to North, Central and South America but the current administration’s views means that isn’t even an option.

      • 0 avatar
        Big Al from Oz

        DrZ,
        Good point.

        The Wrangler chassis could be used by Ram. Just add IFS.

  • avatar
    Seth Parks

    Let me be the first to say that FCA tapping Ram for its Wrangler pickup platform is absurd, on so many levels. Here is one – The point of a Wrangler P/U is to extend the nameplate and capitalize on its exploding popularity. A Ram-based Wrangler pickup would alienate far too many buyers. FCA will not put the Jeep brand and Wrangler nameplate in such peril.

    • 0 avatar
      Hummer

      Why?
      As long as it has a solid front axle and the same 4WD expected of the regular Wrangler why does it matter what frame it uses?

      Unless I’m misreading this.

      • 0 avatar
        Lou_BC

        It would be much cheaper to use a Ram chassis adapted to using a solid front axle than it would be to stretch a Wrangler Unlimited frame.
        If they were to use the current Wrangler unlimited and keep the frame length, the box would be next to useless. A reg cab Unlimited would have okay box length but that would be a sales flop since most people want a crewcab.

        • 0 avatar
          link3721

          Ram frame is too wide and is meant for ifs. Extend the JL frame and all the forward cab bits and engine bay packaging don’t change. Only things that change are drive shaft length and rear body panels. It will be longer than the JL unlimited thus allowing a crew cab with appropriate bed. That’s why it’s cheaper to piggy back off the Wrangler.

        • 0 avatar
          low_compression

          I’m not in the auto mfg biz, but if the truck is a ‘Wrangler’ truck, that is contrary to logic. If FCA does anything other than add some length and beefing up the back half of an Unlimited frame I’ll be shocked.

          The goal of a JT is to capitalize on the Wrangler’s popularity and squeeze more money out of the platform. Starting with a Ram 1500 frame doesn’t accomplish that. Now, if they wanted to make a 1500 into a full size Jeep Gladiator, I wouldn’t complain.

        • 0 avatar
          Flipper35

          A 1500 with Power Wagon like drive train would be close to a Jeep but the whole truck would be a pretty large vehicle on Jeep trails. What they need is a Dakota frame with Wrangler underpinnings.

          I think what they will do is add a section to the frame of the Wrangler and put a bed on it.

          I guess they could do a unibody(ish) like the old Scrambler but I don’t see that happening.

      • 0 avatar
        Seth Parks

        Chassis are not interchangeable. Adopting a Ram frame would necessitate the redesign of the entire vehicle, making a Ram-based Wrangler pickup very expensive and a Wrangler in name only. The all new Wrangler has been designed from the outset with a pickup in the lineup.

        • 0 avatar
          Lou_BC

          Seth Parks – I was assuming that FCA did not have a Wrangler truck pre-planned with the next Wrangler chassis. If they already have that engineering in place then a Wrangler chassis makes sense.
          IIRC the Titan and Frontier globally share chassis design. So it wouldn’t be that far fetched.

          • 0 avatar
            Big Al from Oz

            The chassis design between the Titan and Frontier are differnt.

            The Alpha platform is a platform of differing chassis design to use the same production line.

            Nissan and Mitsubishi are using one line in Thailand to produce the Navara and Triton. Two different chassis designs.

          • 0 avatar
            DenverMike

            The Frontier and Titan obviously don’t share a “frame”. A platform is more about location of the engine, driveline, fuel tank, brake lines, and other major components.

            When they have the same location and the same build sequence is followed, those vehicles are said to be built on the same “platform”. They can run down the same assembly line.

            It’s possible to run a front solid-axle and an IFS on the same “platform”, with just swapping frame, just as a manual trans and automatic take slightly different frames due to differing mounting brackets, etc.

          • 0 avatar
            DenverMike

            Meaning Wrangler buyers wouldn’t realize it shared a Ram 1500 platform.

          • 0 avatar
            Big Al From 'Murica

            Are you sure the Titan and Frontier didn’t share a frame (I assume the new Titan doesn’t). People would bolt the suspension stuff from Titans on the Frontier when building off-road stuff to get a wider track.

          • 0 avatar
            DenverMike

            Figure Titan and Frontier frames aren’t interchangeable, like a manual trans Frontier frame won’t accept an auto trans. You can swap-in Titan A-arms on a Frontier, but the leaf-spring mounts are very different, Titan to Frontier.

            There’s also different cab mounts, shock/strut mounts. The Raptor uses wider frame than the regular F-150 line, but clearly the same platform.

          • 0 avatar
            DenverMike

            The all-new (current) Titan is still an Alpha platform.

        • 0 avatar
          TwoBelugas

          Has it bee confirmed that the Jeep pickup will actually have Wrangler in its name?

          • 0 avatar
            Big Al from Oz

            TwoBelugas,
            I hope the Wrangler name is kept for the pickup.

            The Wrangler name can only benefit marketing.

  • avatar
    gtemnykh

    “from unibody to body-on-frame production”

    Score one for BOF! :)

  • avatar
    Big Al from Oz

    gte,
    I do believe (hope) FCA realise the Wrangler to remain successful needs a full chassis. This makes for cheaper product variation.

    The only other flexible option is using a chassis similar to the XJ.

    This allowed for the Commanche.

  • avatar
    JMII

    Ram is too big. I think Wrangler owners want the flexibility of the pickup but without the size. A midsizer makes sense here. You don’t massive towing capacity either, some dirt bikes or SeaDoos on a small trailer fits the mold.

  • avatar
    relton

    Do you guys realize that MOPAR already makes a kit to convert a 4 door Wrangler into a 2 door pickup? Looks pretty good, and doesn’t even take much time to install.

    I worked for a year on the Wrangler pickup truck at FCA before someone from outside the company pointed this out to me. No one else on the program knew about it either.

  • avatar
    Saarinen

    I hope they stick with a size that is close to the current Wrangler Unlimited, however I would like to see a drastic improvement in the towing capacity. I would gladly exchange some rock crawling ability to tow 5,000 – 6,000 lbs. Most important feature to remain needs to be the removable top!

    • 0 avatar
      gtemnykh

      Saarnin I think that would be as simple as retuning the suspension somewhat, less emphasis on articulation, more on load-bearing. The JKU has got a decently long wheelbase, minimal rear overhang, and a decent powerplant to do light-medium towing with.

  • avatar
    Jeff S

    We have heard this before. Seeing a picture and reading an article about a Jeep truck is not the same as seeing one in the wild.


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