By on October 30, 2013

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With stricter fuel economy standards pushing automakers to reduce vehicle weight, it’s been suggested that the next generation Jeep Wrangler, due in 2016, might come with independent suspension. Solid axles weigh more than independent suspension and the Wrangler has solid axles in both the rear and front of the vehicle. Jeep brand manager Mike Manley hasn’t denied that the next Wrangler may lose the rugged axles that off-roaders love.

Not only would traditional CJ/Wrangler owners look askance at independent suspension, aftermarket suppliers would not be happy. The Wrangler’s simple live axle suspended by coil springs makes it the most popular SUV that people customize, according to SEMA, the Specialty Equipment Market Association. SUVs with more complex independent suspensions are less likely to be altered.

Chrysler has to be careful to avoid upsetting the current Wrangler’s customer base. For the first nine months of this year, Wrangler sales are up 11% to just under 120,000 units. Strong Wrangler sales helped Jeep set a brand sales record last year. Manley knows how important the Wrangler is to the Jeep franchise. “Massive. Absolutely massive,” Manley said to Automotive News. “Frankly, I know that if I screw up the next Wrangler, then I probably wouldn’t be able to leave my house for a long time.”

He wouldn’t promise, though, that the Wrangler will retain its sturdy solid axles. “We’re already in an environment where it’s a challenge to produce a vehicle in that way, and it’s going to get harder,” he said. “What I can tell you is that the vehicle is absolutely fundamental to our DNA, and it’s going to become progressively harder to make sure that the vehicle meets all of the standards that are required for it.”

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96 Comments on “Will The Next Generation Jeep Wrangler Lose Its Solid Axles?...”


  • avatar

    Do whatever makes the JEEP the car its customers want.

    Add a turbo diesel with high mpg… So I CAN IGNORE IT AND BUY THE SRT VERSION.

  • avatar
    threeer

    As somebody who is seriously considering purchasing a Wrangler when I get back from my tour in Saudi Arabia…WTaF (Hey Jack…just HAD to use that line once in my life)? The Wrangler can be argued IS Jeep. Hell, if you think the outcry was ridiculous when they changed the headlights from round to square, the purists will have a coronary over this one. That said…I wonder how many recent buyers are purchasing more for the “look” and not necessarily for the actual capability…

    • 0 avatar
      DenverMike

      The purists don’t pay the bills. Poser city boys and girls do. There’s too much sniveling about poor ride, ride height, wind noise, etc.

      • 0 avatar
        gtemnykh

        This is at least partially true. In a wealthy suburb of Indianapolis, a brand new wrangler is the new sports car/ SUV/ expensive play thing. The real ballers drive 1990s Defenders (I’ve seen 2 in this small exclusive neighborhood!). In the summer everyone drops the top and or the doors and cruises around in their shiny and clean brand new Jeep. The 4 doors are very popular, but plenty of 2 doors as well, in the expensive limited editions with knobby tires that will never see mud or rocks. I’m sure these people would just as willingly (or more willingly) buy a non-solid axle Wrangler. But overall I’d say it’d be jeep’s loss if they abandoned such a tried a true setup. Short of a VERY expensive long travel IFS/IRS setup with lots of durability built in, the solid axle will always be better for most offroad situations. Its inherent durability is a big factor that shouldn’t be ignored.

      • 0 avatar
        OldandSlow

        The Wrangler survived and prospered even though the purists weren’t too happy with the switch from leaf spring to coils when the YJ morphed into the TJ.

        For a true purist, the CJ 7 is the last true Jeep.

      • 0 avatar
        Ryoku75

        Aren’t these posers what the recent Cherokee and Grand Cherokee were built for?

        If Chrysler were very careful about loosing weight they could make the new Wrangler lighter but still have solid axles.

      • 0 avatar
        TW5

        Purists pay the bills because they create brand equity for the MBA’s to dilute. Without the XJ enthusiasts, the Cherokee nameplate wouldn’t have been worth reviving in Fiat form. Without Wrangler purists and their offroad culture, Jeep wouldn’t sell 100,000 Jeeps to suburban wannabes.

  • avatar
    Onus

    Go ahead jeep. Kill your whole customer base. Good luck getting those people back ever.

    I’m not a jeep loyalist but, i know the kind of people that own wranglers. They will be gone and they will tell others not to buy also.

    Seriously stick a diesel in it problem solved. Wranglers used to even come with 4 cylinders. What happened to that?

    Heck Chrysler should pick up the slack on there other vehicles so they can afford to keep the wrangler as is. Too bad Chrysler has some of the worst fleet average mpg.

    • 0 avatar
      azmtbkr81

      I agree it would be terrible but Jeep will have zero competition for the Wrangler by 2016. With manufacturers dropping off-road SUVs as fast as they can customers will have no where to run.

    • 0 avatar
      FractureCritical

      let’s talk about the real jeep wrangler customer base.
      Do you really (really?) see off road types in the Jeep dealerships and in new Jeeps? no you don’t. you see mid-20’s girls and that’s pretty much it. All they value is the fun / cheap convertible aspect of the Jeep, and they like the big rear window becuase their sorority letter sticekr are more easily visible to other drivers.

      • 0 avatar
        azmtbkr81

        It really depends where you live. Here in Arizona (and also Colorado) new buyers are mostly middle-aged guys who take their Wranglers into the mountains on the weekend for camping, fishing, or skiing trips. Back East I think your observation is correct.

        • 0 avatar
          hubcap

          We have mountains back East also. Not as big as yours in the West but they’re nothing to sneeze at.

          {I feel like this is the beginning of some sort of Napoleonic mountain complex.}

          • 0 avatar
            azmtbkr81

            “{I feel like this is the beginning of some sort of Napoleonic mountain complex.}”

            That’s hilarious. I should have been more specific: the urban areas back East. You are right, there are beautiful mountains all over the East.

          • 0 avatar
            pragmatist

            We have mountains in the East but we don’t have thousands of miles of real back country publicly accessible primitive roads and trails.

            I travelled out west a few years ago in my Jeep and had a ball. There is nothing like that in the east.

    • 0 avatar
      colin42

      Speaking to a friend who works for Chrysler he tells me the current Wrangler sells every model that is made and the plant is at capacity. A diesel version is sold in Europe but that does not met the US regs – the diesel from the Ram 1500 would be the best choice, but if it’s not going to increase sales why put in an expensive diesel engine (and it’s required expensive unreliable aftertreatment). I’d love to see the warranty claims for a cracked DPF because it was doing an active regeneration just before the driver forded a river!

    • 0 avatar
      Maymar

      What happened to the four-cylinder? Gaining 700lbs from TJ to KJ.

  • avatar
    PrincipalDan

    Yeah this is just stupid. Pay the penalties, jack the price up higher than it already is, make it a specialty vehicle in the vein of the Corvette and the Raptor but you’ve got to keep the solid axles.

    Sell hybrid Cherokees to make up for it if you need to, but keep the solid axles.

    • 0 avatar
      highdesertcat

      Without solid axles, it makes it difficult to jack up a Wrangler and put 31″ tires on it. That’s what most of us did way back when, when mudding was a big thing in our younger years.

      • 0 avatar
        Scoutdude

        Sorry but no need to jack it up to put smaller tires on it, other than the base model they come with 32″ tires and those are actual measurements rather than the old 31×10.50 which were barely over 30″ tall. Nowadays 31″ tires are considered tiny and you need 35s if you want any off-road or street cred.

  • avatar
    OldandSlow

    I smell the repercussions of a Federal CAFE formula with regards to a vehicle’s foot print. If Chrysler wasn’t tied to FIAT then I’d recommend adding the 4 cylinder Cummins diesel that may be slated for the Nissan Frontier.

    The Dana front and rear axles have a serious following amongst serious off-roaders. Urban posers who buy the lions share of Wranglers won’t know the difference between independent axles and solid axles.

    The M151 jeep I drove while in the Army had four wheel independent suspension. It was a wee bit skittish in sharp corners.

    • 0 avatar
      PrincipalDan

      And the M151s were illegal to sell as army surplus as civilians because the government was afraid of the handling due to the suspension. A few survivors did make it into collectors hands however.

    • 0 avatar
      TW5

      The Big 3 managed to acquire CAFE exceptions for full-size trucks. They can spare the Wrangler and other specialty off-roaders.

      Jeep announced in July that it was extending JK production until 2018. The extension is significant because CAFE 2025 must pass a Congressional review and feasibility test in 2017. The biggest economy restrictions occur after 2017. If we are lucky, Congress will not fully implement CAFE 2025.

      If CAFE for light trucks remains at 2017 levels, Wrangler will only need to reach 27mpg combined. Doable without killing the Wrangler. The new Cherokee 4×4 is almost there. Streamline. Add diesel. Move on and quit messing with a legend.

      • 0 avatar
        golden2husky

        The choice that the carmakers elected to pressure the Feds for is coming home to roost for Jeep. By pushing for standards that give the cash cow pickup a free ride, the relative guzzler with a modest footprint like the Wrangler gets burned. No footprint BS should have ever been considered. Pickups, as beasts of burden, should have been given a more relaxed standard as heavy work is what they were made for. Anything else is for passenger use and should have the higher standard. Still, this is a win for Detroit as pickup sales and profits dwarf Wranglers. Maybe an “off road” solid axle package could be offered…

        • 0 avatar
          TW5

          Best way to save the Wrangler is to use the XJ strategy. Keep the Wrangler Rubicon in production for the hardcore Wrangler buyers. Higher transaction prices and fewer variants should offset lower volume.

          Design a new experimental Jeep with independent suspension, streamline design, etc, but make it more true to the Jeep brand than the Cherokee. If it’s a hit, kill the Cherokee, Patriot, and Compass. If it’s a flop, back to the drawing board.

    • 0 avatar
      ttacgreg

      Somewhere years ago I read an essay that was anti-SUV. One of the points the guy made was that high roll center nonindependent suspension SUVs are something of a farce when you compare them to the original Hummer. The original Hummer had independent suspension to keep the differential up and away from obstacles. and it was designed with a relatively low is center of gravity so roll overs would be less likely.

  • avatar
    Quentin

    I don’t see why they couldn’t offer both. The Unlimited has already sacrificed off road ability with the long wheelbase, so they could just go IFS, keeping the axles solid on the rear. It would still be a pretty capable SUV. For the regular Wrangler model, make a volume model with at least IFS for the folks that really won’t offroad it anyway. That would be sufficient for your folks that like to take them on the beach and such. Make a super-base solid axle model for the guys that are going to tear the factory stuff out anyway. Then keep the solid axles on the Rubicon trim. This way offroaders have a good platform to build a rig, there is a great factory offroader, and your casual offroaders have a still capable vehicle that rides much better, does decent on gas, and you can still take the top off.

    That said, I think the Cherokee is where Jeep is trying to steer that last category. The only thing it is missing is the ability to take the top down. I think that is a huge part of the allure for a large number of Wrangler buyers, though.

  • avatar
    Larry P2

    Ditching the log axles would be an incredibly bone headed mistake. As big as Ford ditching the log rear on the Mustang.

    • 0 avatar
      Kyree S. Williams

      No, the Mustang’s solid rear end has to go.

      • 0 avatar
        Larry P2

        “No, the Mustang’s solid rear end has to go.”

        Which will immediately render the Mustang impotent at the dragstrip, just like removing log axles from the Wrangler will similarly render it impotent off road.

        • 0 avatar
          raph

          An IRS can be pretty effective at the dragstrip provided its baked in. GM has been pretty successful there as the Camaro can run into the 9’s on an IRS(as have many SVT Cobras).

          For most Mustang buyers its a non issue, as your typical Mustang isn’t going to do more than the typical bolt on stuff anyway with the very best of these cars running perhaps into the 10’s

          Ford just needs to design the IRS in the next Mustang to control axle hop (done by tuning axle wind-up to take this into account) and when it occurs be able to take it.

          My real beef with an IRS is its more expensive to modify and more maintenance intensive.

          The current Mustang is a fairly rugged car that’s cheaply modified with a short learning curve – added bonus you avoid the dumb as shit “stancers” since the rear axle cannot be set-up with an idiotic amount of negative camber (sadly these Darwin proving buffoons can still mount narrow tires on rims that are too wide for proper fitment).

          • 0 avatar
            Mikemannn

            i recently watched a stock-looking (and sounding) 11/12 Mustang GT with a procharger run 9.99s

            hell, my little procharged v6 was running 12.7s @112/113.

            I’d exchange drag-strip durability for cornering ability any day though.

            As for the Jeep? Off roaders will still have to buy something. Maybe like the Toyotas, there will be long-weekend solid axle swaps to look forward to.

      • 0 avatar
        danio3834

        The Mustang has proven to be very competitive with a live axle, and that’s that the Mustang fan base asked for. No one buys more Mustangs than Mustang fans, so ti was agood move for them to stick with it.

        Nowadays, things are changing. Ford needs to attact new customers to the Mustang and sell it globally to continue on with the car, so those pressures are what pushed Ford to go IRS. Otherwise, if they were still just selling Mustangs to Mustang fans, they would have stayed live axle.

  • avatar
    aristurtle

    I feel like we’ve been playing this game since Daimler was running the shop.

    [Just before the new model, when sales are slowing down] “Hey, guys, I’m not saying that the next Wrangler won’t have solid axles, I’m just saying, yknow, we’re thinking about it.”

    [sales are goosed]

    [new Wrangler is released] “We decided to go with the solid axles after all!”

    This is at least the second time we’ve gone through this.

  • avatar
    ash78

    Gosh darn it, our grandfathers didn’t spend 3 years chasing Hitler across Europe in their Jeeps, fighting infected pilonidal cysts and herniated lumbar discs just so a bunch of suburban pansies can kowtow to the environmental hippies by putting a Buick suspension on this thing. A little extra CO2 just makes you appreciate O2 more. Pantywaist.

    • 0 avatar
      PrincipalDan

      Had a pilonidal cyst, nothing to laugh at. Although the dang doctor called it “Jeep Driver’s Disease”. Guess he was older than he looked…

      There is definitely a reason I would prefer riding in a Packard Staff Car during WWII even if the Jeep guys had to pull me out of the mud once a day.

      It definitely made me get off my butt and loose weight once things were healed.

  • avatar
    LeMansteve

    It’s kind of like a self-fulfilling prophecy. The Real Jeep Fans stick to the old models because they are “real Jeeps”, so they never pony up the money for new Jeeps and therefore have no say in things like this.

    It reminds me a lot of the BMW crowd.

    • 0 avatar
      Les

      They stick with old models because they want to bounce them off boulders, and you just don’t do that to a New car.

      But it’s their desire to do this with Jeeps above all and instead-of any other brand that pushes the desirability of the Jeep brand as a whole, it keeps Jeep resale values high which enhances overall brand desirability even more. If the Enthusiasts abandon Jeep en-masse it’ll have massive knock-on effects as soon as people find that nobody wants their Independant-Suspension Unibody Twin-turbo ‘NEW for 2018’ Wrangler once the warranty runs out.

  • avatar
    bills79jeep

    Not that I’m currently in the market – so I’m just another dude living in his parent’s basement – but as the owner of 3 Jeep vehicles I’d really hate to see this. I know +90% of Wrangler first owners won’t modify their Jeep and won’t take it off road. However, jump on craigslist and look at the TJs and YJs from the 90’s. Over half of them have been modified, lifted, and wheeled. There are still a lot of Jeep owners who value their vehicles capabilities beyond knobby tires and bro rims.

    But, I’m sure IFS at a minimum is coming. It’s cheaper to share it across platforms, it’s lighter, and rides smoother. I guess the search for a nice CJ-2a will continue, if only so I can tell everyone that I own the last of a the real Jeeps.

  • avatar
    patman

    I’m confused. When the context is the Ford Mustang’s rear suspension then solid axles are lighter than an IRS. Unsprung weight for the SRA is higher but total weight for the whole system is always claimed to be less than for an IRS. I can see how a econobox’s spindly aluminum McPherson setup with twig sized half-shafts could be lighter than a beefy log axle but with IFS & IRS’es burly enough for a Jeep’s off road mission, where do they expect to save weight?

    • 0 avatar
      raph

      My thoughts exactly, however if the Jeep remains a BOF vehicle they can attach the IRS directly to the frame rather than having to use a subframe assembly as is the case in almost every modern IRS setup ( I think the late GTO was the last US car to use an IRS connected directly to the unibody ).

    • 0 avatar
      azmtbkr81

      I don’t buy the weight loss excuse, the current Wrangler weighs 3892lbs, the brand-new golden-boy Cherokee 4106lbs.

      This is either a ploy to drive up sales of the current Wrangler or an attempt to placate those who never leave pavement and gripe about the “bumpy” ride. I can’t imagine the second scenario is true given that Jeep sells Wranglers as fast as they can build them for a very healthy profit – bumpy ride and all. If it is hopefully the Cherokee will be enough to placate the posers and Jeep will leave the Wrangler’s axles alone.

    • 0 avatar
      DenverMike

      It’s a misconception that IRS is lighter. You’re really exchanging hollow axle tubes for pumpkin bracketry and tie rods. Everything else is common. Then adding IRS to a ladder frame would mean extra heavy crossmembers. Obviously an all IRS Wrangler would be unibody.

    • 0 avatar
      racer-esq.

      Right, this just makes no sense. No way solid axles, especially if aluminum is used, weigh more than an independent suspension with anywhere near the same durability.

      • 0 avatar
        danio3834

        Color me skeptical as well. They aren’t going to toss a McPherson strut setup on a Wrangler, so the only reason I could see them doing an independent setup would be for ride and handling like what they did with the Grand Cherokee over the years.

  • avatar
    ash78

    Maybe the EPA should stop testing Wrangers without the top, plus remove the 6 fraternity brothers and two full kegs from the back. That’s good for a few mpg, easy.

    Honestly, in cases like this I feel there needs to be an exclusion for such unique, purpose-built vehicles. Wrangler is one-of-a-kind. It can’t improve aerodynamics much because visibility must be king. How much more de-contenting can you do? Similarly, I think supercars should be excluded. Purpose-built.

    • 0 avatar
      Ryoku75

      Agreed, its not like Wranglers and Lamborghini’s are brought in huge numbers to be used like Camrys.

      Talk about a walk around the world in one sentence, Wranglers Lambos and Camrys all in one statement!

      • 0 avatar
        whynot

        The Wrangler so far is the 28th (out of about ~275) best selling car in the US. It is not a unique rare vehicle built in low numbers. There is no way that Chrysler or the government could justify giving them an exemption to anything.

        • 0 avatar
          TW5

          They give exemptions to fullsize trucks by requiring smaller proportional fuel economy improvement, and giving special credits, specifically for making hybrid pickups.

          The EPA has given exceptions to the #1 and #2 volume sellers. They can save Wrangler whenever they want.

  • avatar
    NMGOM

    There are several less-than joyful sides to this issue:

    1) One serious problem is that the solid axle suspension on Jeep (as well as on other solid-axle vehicles, like the old Land Rover), cannot be guaranteed to be free of “Death Wobble”. This becomes worse as the many complex solid-axle suspension components wear and develop “play”, — and as tires become imbalanced. But IFS and IRS, in addition to being lighter, have a much lower tendency to suffer from this frightening effect. And now that NHSTA is involved, with more than 400 Death Wobble complaints, including one fatality, Jeep finally has to do something to solve this problem, — especially with a class-action law-suit that may be pending.

    2) Independent suspension does allow greater and more rapid conformity to paved-road weather-hazards, and SMALL topographic features (bumps, holes) in mild off-road situations, but does NOT allow:
    …a) The massive articulation stretch for rock crawling and severe terrain features;
    …b) The easily adaptable and modifiable aftermarket accessories (lift kits, shocks, springs, etc).

    3) If weight were the only consideration (and we know it’s not), the solid axle design could be preserved but made out of lighter materials, just like many manufacturers have had to do with other components. There are high-strength steels, aluminum alloys, and even carbon fiber axles that would do just fine.

    So, am I happy about this. Hell NO! In fact, I am being picked up by a dealer’s driver in few minutes to buy my SOLID AXLE Jeep Wrangler, before they mess this American icon up any more than they already have…

    ——————–

    • 0 avatar
      aristurtle

      You can have a lot of articulation with a fully independent setup. The HMMWV has four-wheel IRS, and manages it with portal hubs and inboard differential-mounted brakes and a few other tricks.

      It’s just not nearly as cheap as doing the same thing with solid axles, is all.

      • 0 avatar
        afedaken

        THIS.

        I’d give up the solid axle for portals. Just sayin. :-)

        • 0 avatar
          NMGOM

          Yeah, portals would be nice,— but I can almost guaranty that that is precisely NOT the direction jeep will go for the Wrangler:
          1) Too heavy;
          2) Too complex;
          3) Way too costly, as in a ~ $15K add-on. So a $30K Jeep Wrangler may then add 50% more $$$; end up being a $45K Jeep Wrangler; —- and bingo, we’re getting close to Range-Rover territory for competition.
          This idea has been tried. See LInk:
          http://www.downunder4x4.net/forum/showthread.php?t=8337

          I’d rather just keep the solid axles and make them out of Carbon Fiber, if weight is that big a consideration. But for fuel savings, weight is not the only thing: the Cd of a Jeep Wrangler is about 0.55**, and streamlining it may be tempting, which would, of course, destroy its ambiance and military appearance.

          ** http://www.quadratec.com/jeep_knowledgebase/article-102.htm

          ——————

    • 0 avatar
      danio3834

      re: the Death Wobble, if your steering and suspension joints and dampers are all in good order, there is no Death Wobble. I’d be very surprised if Chrysler was found liable in those cases as it’s always due to worn components, or aftermarket additions.

      Then again, Chrysler is adding trailer hitches to Grand Cherokees that aren’t defective…

      • 0 avatar
        NMGOM

        danio3834 – – –

        You are right,— theoretically. But I know of two unhappy situations that would suggest it’s sometimes not that simple:
        1) A lady picked up her BRAND NEW Jeep Wrangler, tried to drive it home on the highway, and got death wobble in a few miles;
        2) A guy I know replaced EVERYTHING related to suspension, steering, and control components; and got new balanced tires to try to cure his death wobble. NO GO. It came back after a month. (I wonder if frame alignment or distortion is an issue here….) Boy, was he upset.

        ——————-

  • avatar
    Domestic Hearse

    Yes, the initial poser buyer who never off-roads his new Wrangler wouldn’t likely know the difference if Jeep lost the solid axles.

    But he would when he went to get the lift, which is first thing the poser does when the Wrangler leaves the lot. There are many affordable, easy-to-install kits available right now. Lifting an independent suspension vehicle will be a more expensive and complicated proposition.

    “Hey, wait. That’s twice as much as my buddy paid for his four-inch lift last year! You trying to rip me off?”

    So there’s that.

    Then there’s the fact that the faithful do buy new Wranglers as well, but many wait for poser to get tired of his toy after a couple years and buy their Wrangler used. The faithful are interested in making the most functional off-roader possible. Not saying that an independently suspended Wrangler can’t be made super capable, it’s just going to require a huge learning curve to get there (by both the faithful and the aftermarket suppliers).

    Chrysler full well knows that the Wrangler printing press keeps running because the vehicle sells so well second-hand. The demand for the vehicle is sustained throughout its entire life, until it is run down to its cancer-ridden bones and ends up at the crusher some 20+ years after its birth.

    So my vote is to keep the solid axles and fit it with an efficient 4-cylinder turbo diesel, something even hardcore fans have been begging for a long time. Low-end grunt. An all-day fuel supply in one tank thanks to increased efficiency. Better CAFE results. What’s not to like here?

  • avatar
    mnm4ever

    I am already regretting the backlash I am going to get for this, but if I bought a Wrangler I would be one of the posers. I am never going to take it off road, at one point I was at the Jeep dealer spec’ing out the infamous 2wd Wrangler Unlimited they used to sell. Laugh if you want, but I was getting it for a hair under $19k out the door, and that was with the tow package and locking rear diff, which was all the off-road capability I needed. Before you ask why buy a Wrangler if you aren’t going rock crawling, I live in Florida, we have no rocks to crawl and can’t even drive on the beaches anymore. I needed to tow jet skis, not anything heavy, and I wanted a 4-seat convertible that didn’t require a lot of care to keep looking nice, I wanted something sturdy and reliable because a Jeep is a vehicle I would keep for a decade or longer. There is no other vehicle that can deliver on all that.

    So I don’t hate on the Jeep posers, if it wasn’t for the posers the Wrangler wouldn’t exist today. Hell, real hardcore crawlers don’t even count anymore. Anyone truly into off road driving freely admits the Wrangler is a barely adequate base to start with in the first place. It is hardly worth dropping $30k on a new Wrangler then spending another $15k+ to get it rock worthy. Those guys are buying crappy old trucks and then rebuilding them from scratch with a tube chassis and all the hardcore suspension they need.

    The Wrangler is completely about image. They sell because people want to drive something cool. If Fiat doesn’t keep it cool they will lose the market completely. Softening it up a bit isn’t going to ruin it if they do it right. They could offer a hardcore option and a regular one. Even if they don’t, I am sure someone will offer a bolt-in solid-axle kit within weeks of release.

    What they really need is a diesel 4-cyl engine option. The gas mileage is the real problem for the Wrangler. I can’t really understand why they are not taking this approach with more SUVs, especially with all the CAFE crap.

    • 0 avatar
      Willyam

      No backlash, I’ve owned two myself (an 89 and an 04 Unlimited) and bought both after the first owner had taken the initial depreciation hit. Both were great at stock trail riding and terrible on the highway, but I would say that they’ve moved way upmarket.

      My first automotive job was next to the local Jeep dealer, who carried basically three types: “Postals” which were 4-cylinder, stick, no carpet, maybe a back seat, soft-top, bumperettes, usually no a/c, and in red, white, or blue. “Barbie Jeeps” in red, yellow, teal, Islander package, etc. Better equipped, but mostly appearance. Then the fully loaded “Cadillacs” – 6-cyl, auto or stick, hard top, full doors, tow hitch, alloy wheels, etc. Black, maroon, blue, green. No such thing as a Rubicon in those days, but maybe Renegade. My first was three years old when I got it, and was a fully loaded model. Stalled out and flooded a lot, auto on the column, rode like a coal cart, but I loved it.

      My point is that you could actually buy a YJ at the time as an alternative to an economy car if you wanted. But you really couldn’t get one as a replacement for the family hauler. Now, you can basically make one a loaded Tahoe with a removable roof. It’s awesome, and I’d love one if I could afford it.

      Points about posers are well made, as I worked last year next to a dude that HAD to have one for his gf. Four doors (no kids), lifted at the dealer before delivery (“It HAS to look TOUGH” – seriously, he said this about his gf’s ride), bought on payments after trade-in, probably more than 72. When gas goes up enough, and they trade it, maybe I’ll be able to swing it used in a few years…

      • 0 avatar
        mnm4ever

        haha… what depreciation hit? After commenting, I decided to check Auto Trader to see what those 2WD Wranglers were going for these days. Apparently they are either selling for more money than I was going to buy one new back in 2010, or maybe a grand or two less than that but with 80k+ miles on them.

        Wranglers, especially the new style ones 4-door ones, don’t really have a depreciation issue. In 3 or 4 yrs they have increased the price by around $4-5k but that hasn’t slowed sales at all, if anything they are more popular today than they used to be in 2010, because I distinctly remember a pretty big rebate being available which is why I looked at them in the first place. My coworker bought a used 2008 Wrangler that was completely done up with cut down fenders, huge wheels, crazy lift, etc, paid way too much and then sold it 2 yrs later for the same price he bought it for.

        The only “cheap” Wranglers are the ones that someone beat to crap in the woods, they are pretty much used up. Some of the TJs are getting to a somewhat affordable range now, I saw a 2006 4-cyl with no AC that was basically stock going for around $6k recently. But if you want a lower mileage model with a 6 and AC you are looking at $12-14k minimum regardless of age.

  • avatar
    danio3834

    I doubt they will stray much from the current formula because if they did, not only would there be the inevitable fan backlash, but the vehicle would overlap with other products more.

    I suspect they’ll get more advanced with the powertrain options, and look at weight savings, but I sincerely doubt that they’ll stray much from the current suspension setup. I could see them going to an IFS for all but the Rubicon, but not much change beyond that.

  • avatar

    Can anyone name the weight penalty in pounds that Wrangler is carrying, compared to an equally robust independent suspension (like Tatra’s torsions)? This discussion is pointless without numbers.

    I am asking in part because I learned that Wrangler is surprisingly light for its archaic construction. The curb weight of my 2010 is only 4000 lbs or so. This is surprisingly less than many popular vehicles including those with unibody and 4-corner independent suspension. Facts, guys! But if Wrangler is already this light, is the penalty this great? I feel like challenging the seemingly obvious assumption.

    Update: I checked 2014s and Sport is 3,785 lbs, Rubi is 4,129 lbs. This is less than, for instance, a stripper Pathfinder with engine across etc. Mind, I’m all for a lighter Wrangler. Just not sure if the axles are the lowest hanging fruit nowadays. Maybe make them thinner a bit?

    • 0 avatar
      NMGOM

      Hi Pete – – –

      Yeah. They could always get rid of the frame and (shudder) go unibody!

      —————-

    • 0 avatar
      NMGOM

      “Maybe make them thinner a bit?”

      Yes, and that could done with the new high-strength steels, without even going to aluminum or carbon fiber.

      But there is another challenge here, that may piggy-back on top of your challenge on actual weight differences between IS and SA: What is the PERCENT difference in a 4000-lb vehicle?? Even if the IS were lighter, does it really matter in mpg, considering the rest of the vehicle?? (as in Cd.)

      ————–

    • 0 avatar
      mnm4ever

      I think Pete nailed in… compared to most cars or trucks today, 3800 lbs for an SUV is pretty much a lightweight already. I am sure with some minor updates they could even get that down a cpl hundred pounds without affecting the capability or performance. All the need to do is stick a 4-cyl diesel in the darn thing and it would be perfect.

  • avatar
    greaseyknight

    Toyota went this route back on the mid 80’s with their trucks when they went to IFS. And while they are very popular as off road vehicles, I don’t think that have quite the same following since then.

    SOP for the enthusiast on a IFS truck is to chop off the front suspension and weld in a solid axle from an older truck.

  • avatar
    OliverTwist

    The Wrangler for the European market has a 2,8-litre 4-cylinder diesel motor option. I suggest you the Americans need to pester the members of Congress to harmonise the American safety and emission regulations with the international standards. This way, you can have more choices of motors, gearboxes, and body types than ever…

    If I recall correctly, the Toyota Land Cruiser for the Australian market used to have the option of either solid-axle or independent front suspension. I guess the Jeep Wrangler can have both as a compromise.

  • avatar
    Mandalorian

    Honestly, I’m not really sure if the vehicle needs a redesign. The Mercedes G-Wagen has been around since 1979, relatively the same. Jeep could just keep this generation around for another couple of decades with updates of course. It is enough of a niche vehicle, with very little competition, this might work.

    Also, now that Chrysler owns VM Motori, couldn’t they just drop a diesel V6 in?

    • 0 avatar
      Les

      Cummins makes a 2.5L inline-4 diesel, and a 3.8L inline-4 diesel, both are currently sold in the European market for road-use and shouldn’t be too much harder to make US-legal than a Motori engine..

      Plus if they did that they’d have Jeep enthusiasts AND RAM enthusiasts fighting over the thing. :)

  • avatar
    TW5

    Perhaps the loss of solid axles is just a baseless rumor, but it’s believable because car executives are becoming more inept with each product cycle.

    When Jeep released the XJ, it was unibody with square headlights, and the enthusiasts were less than impressed. But Jeep let unibody construction acquit itself, and the Jeep community became enamored with the XJ and its relative creature comforts. Now XJ is a legend.

    The key to XJ was that Jeep didn’t replace anything. The SJ platform was promoted to Grand Wagoneer, and Jeep let both models coexist. With the new Cherokee and the new Wrangler rumors, executives seem happy to kill a proven product and replace it with an unproven product. When the market starts flaming away in cyberspace, they act as if their customers are unreasonable.

    They aim low, and they never miss.

  • avatar
    thelaine

    Just kill CAFE. It makes no sense.

  • avatar
    Felis Concolor

    Having enjoyed a a pair of far more off road capable vehicles possessing 4 wheel independently sprung suspensions for more than a decade I can only point and laugh at the Jeep fanboys who worry about losing their precious straight axle dinosaurs. Jeep’s been riding the cutting edge WWII technology bandwagon longer than Mercedes and it’s time to move up to tech that’s only 55 years old. “IFS vs solid axles; which is better?” As a Pinzgauer and Haflinger owner, I know the answer is “neither.”

    • 0 avatar
      Hummer

      Regardless of your opinion on the technology being used, the plant runs full capacity and sells every vehicle with a handsome profit.
      Sure there are better vehicles for the task, but their not as cheap, don’t have the aftermarket support, aren’t as easy to modify, and don’t possess the legacy.

      • 0 avatar
        NMGOM

        Hummer – – –

        Amen. +1.

        What is theoretically possible is often not what is practically doable.

        ————-

      • 0 avatar
        Kaosaur

        I have a roommate with a ’97 Wrangler and he’s having an absolute bastard of a time sourcing some replacement parts. Cash For Clunkers took a pretty big bite out of that aftermarket support you mention.

        I doubt anyone with a Haf or a Pinz sent theirs to the wreckers for easy money.

        • 0 avatar
          mnm4ever

          I seriously doubt anyone with a 97 Wrangler sent it to the crusher either. Even a clapped POS 200k Wrangler brings $3-4k, and people almost never junk them unless they get wrecked. Wranglers are incredibly popular with huge aftermarket support, maybe your roommate is having trouble finding something obscure but blaming it on C4C is silly.

          • 0 avatar
            Kaosaur

            According to the C4C death list, 402, actually.

          • 0 avatar
            mnm4ever

            Wow ok, so prob once the aftermarket suppliers found out that there were 402 less Wranglers on the road, they just threw in the towel and stopped carrying parts for it. Yeah, that makes sense.

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