By on February 16, 2015

2014-Jeep-Wrangler-Sport-Front-Three-Quarter2

The next-gen Jeep Wrangler may have aluminum panels and hybrid power, but one more thing is now certain: the iconic vehicle will retain its solid axles.

Automotive News reports the Wrangler will receive tweaks to its suspension for improvements in ride comfort and fuel economy, but the floating solid axles will remain to maintain its ability to climb hills and rocks among those who actually do hit the Rubicon.

Other features for the upcoming vehicle include an eight-speed auto, fixed windscreen, and body-on-frame construction. Power will likely come from smaller turbocharged units instead of the current 3.6-liter V6, per FCA CEO Sergio Marchionne.

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77 Comments on “Next-Gen Jeep Wrangler To Keep Its Solid Axles After All...”


  • avatar
    SCE to AUX

    If only Porsche had stuck with air-cooled rear-engine layouts, the world would be a purer place.

  • avatar
    heavy handle

    Right on schedule, FCA releases another teaser about the next Wrangler. They do this every 2 weeks or so.

    I suspect that the next Wrangler will be as boring as a new Audi: uglier grill, more aluminum, more gears, but hard to tell apart from the previous model for anybody who isn’t a car geek.

    • 0 avatar
      TW5

      These aren’t teasers. Jeep royally screwed up the Cherokee PR by convincing the XJ crowd that a worthy successor was on the way. Jeep are just trying to manage expectations to avoid a revolt from the after-market and fanbase.

    • 0 avatar
      SC5door

      I didn’t realize that the Automotive news was the FCA PR department as Chrysler hasn’t said anything.

      “Fiat Chrysler Automobiles officials declined comment.”

      • 0 avatar
        Mandalorian

        The only reason they put stuff like this out there is to get the fan-boys riled up and generate publicity.

        The formula is so simple and successful, it’s been largely been unchanged for 70 years. Updated, upgraded, sure.

  • avatar

    Has anyone ever even seen a JK (or TJ for that matter) owner fold down their windscreen?

    • 0 avatar
      whynot

      Once. A few days after the news of the fixed windscreen broke and I actually learned that you can move the windscreen in the current wrangler.

      Apparently it is a pain in the ass to do though.

    • 0 avatar
      heavy handle

      Every Wrangler owner does it exactly once.

      • 0 avatar
        Featherston

        I would worry that the Germans had strung piano wire across the road.

        • 0 avatar
          Lou_BC

          @Featherston – Nazi/German is so passe’. Godwin’s law needs to be modernized to Muslim.
          Just ask CJinSD ;)

          I occasionally see a Jeep with top down, doors off. Rarely windshield down.

          • 0 avatar
            Lie2me

            Indeed…

            “Anti-Decapitation Device

            The Jerries were known to string tough piano wires neck-high across the roads that Allied Jeeps traveled on. The steel tension wire provided a nasty way to lop off the heads of Jeep drivers and passengers. Often the wire couldn’t be seen or if seen, it was usually to late to stop in time. The GI’s answer for this booby-trap was the Anti-Decapitation Device, field made angle iron bolted upright to the front bumper. The device extended above the the heads of those riding in the Jeep, and at the top it is angled forward and usually notched to catch and cut the wire.”

            http://www.jeep4ever.ca/heroes_facts_trivia_quotes.html

          • 0 avatar
            Lou_BC

            You can get “cable cutters” for helicopters and even snow mobiles.

    • 0 avatar
      Compaq Deskpro

      If I had a Wrangler, I could imagine driving around as much as possible with the roof and doors off, but I can’t really think of a practical reason to put the windshield down.

      • 0 avatar
        Lie2me

        Some people really like the wind in their hair and the bugs in their teeth

      • 0 avatar
        DenverMike

        It’s not legal to drive with the windshield down, but was more gimmicky than useful. At war, it was necessary to not reflect the sun, or you could be detected from 20+ miles away. And when hunting animals or otherwise, you can shoot straight on without leaving your seat, or leaving yourself exposed standing. And for serious mudding, it’s easier to shied/wipe your eyes than deal with a clogged windshield.

        • 0 avatar
          cgjeep

          It is legal to drive with it down provided that you are wearing glasses. It does however suck real bad with it down, way worse than a motorcycle without a visor. Can’t find a reason to ever need it down. Off road the winshield keeps branches from smacking you in the face.

    • 0 avatar
      Wheeljack

      It’s a huge PITA, about all it gets you is slightly better visibility under certain circumstances off road. I’ve never folded down the windshield on my ’06 Rubicon – too much plastic trim inside to remove, and JKs are even worse in that regard. My ’02 is a little easier (no plastic trim), but you still have to unbolt sections of the sport cage from the w/shield, so not fun.

      The only guys I see that consistently put their w/shield down are ones with an aftermarket roll cage, which further impinges on visibility, so folding the w/shield down helps out.

    • 0 avatar
      Timtoolman

      I had a CJ-7 for 7 years and never once put the windshield down. But I drove it all the time without doors and top. What I fear is all the frigggin’ added weight of “safety” items, a-la, airbags and such, with the continued modernization and civilization of the new
      Wrangler. I will have my new one this year.

    • 0 avatar
      ezeolla

      I have done it exactly once on my TJ in the driveway. Just wanted to see how it was done

  • avatar
    bucksnort

    I also took the hardtop of once…never again.

    • 0 avatar
      Wheeljack

      Hardtops are easy – you can either buy or build an apparatus to help out. That said, after removing the hardtop from my ’02 about 1/2 dozen times, I decided to suspend it in the garage and go soft top all the time. Much easier and faster to get the open air experience when the mood strikes.

      • 0 avatar
        AJ

        Correct. I have a hard top lift and can remove it in about five minutes. It usually hangs in the garage and my wife parks under it when I go to the summer soft top. Getting the top off is the second best day of owning a Jeep.

  • avatar

    The Wrangler is not something I’d ever buy, but I respect it. Really, between the Grand Cherokee, Cherokee, and now the Renegade, I’m impressed with the Jeep brand as a whole. Good on Jeep for keeping the Wrangler true to its roots, even as it is upgraded and updated into a more economical and safe vehicle. Hopefully it keeps its manual transmission option as well…

    • 0 avatar
      319583076

      I saw a Cherokee Trailhawk in a parking lot this weekend – it’s a really good looking vehicle. The most distinctive thing about the package was the restrained wheel/tire combo. The tires were more aggressive than your standard all-seasons, but not the ridiculous mud/knobby tire ubiquitous to the bro-dozer genre. The wheels were small, too. I cannot wait for designers to swing that pendulum the other way. Replacing rubber is a serious buying concern for me – I don’t want to have to deal with 20″+ lo-pros.

      I see that OEM size for the Trailhawk Cherokee is: 245/65-17 and the OEM tire is Firestone Destination A/T. Kudos to Jeep engineers/designers for a functional rather than fashionable solution!

      (Compare to the OEM 18″ wheel/tire combo on the Chevy Trax that was reviewed here last week.)

    • 0 avatar
      Drzhivago138

      When you consider how much it shares in common with the Model T, it’s a wonder it’s stuck around this long.

  • avatar
    PrincipalDan

    Wranglers are cool vehicles and I do admire them. I’m glad as it gets more modern that it stays true to its roots.

  • avatar
    MK

    I’m truly shocked they haven’t fuct up the wrangler yet.

    It’ll be a sad day when it loses solid axles…

  • avatar
    jacob_coulter

    I really think the #1 thing most Wrangler owners would want is a quieter cabin. That’s what’s always stuck out for me about it being an everyday vehicle.

    I would wager well over 90% don’t know or care about the suspension and the pros and cons of solid axles.

    • 0 avatar
      gtemnykh

      I test drove a JKU last fall and was actually blown away by how well managed wind noise was, even moreso when I realized the car I was test driving was a soft top! it’s atleast as quiet as my 1996 4Rummer Limited, which is a bit quieter than my 2012 Civic (for reference).

      I really liked the JKU I test drove, a 6spd stick shift Sahara as I recall. For a live axle layout, I found it decently behaved over expansion joints on the highway, even mid-corner. Again, relative to a 20 year old Toyota 4×4.

      My beef is with the tight interior, which is a direct result of the removable roof. The roll bars intrude a lot into cargo and passenger space. Rear seats are bolt upright and can’t possibly be comfortable in any drive lasting more than 20 minutes or so. Lastly, I can’t carry a canoe on the roof without a monstrous looking external cage that mounts to hard points lower on the body (it’s also quite pricey). Rear hatch is a whole process to access as well.

      Now I know it’d be stupid to suggest that they lose the removable roof concept altogether to appease one buyer, I just realized that it wasn’t the vehicle for me. A new 4Runner is probably my best bet.

    • 0 avatar
      TW5

      You’re probably right, but those people are not supposed to be buying Wranglers. By selling them Wranglers, Jeep has merely imperiled the existence of their iconic model by driving down fleet fuel economy. Customers who crave creature comfort and refinements are supposed to move into the Cherokee or Grand Cherokee.

    • 0 avatar

      No, because if you want a quieter cabin you can buy one of the other Jeep CUV offerings for much less money.

      They might want a quieter cabin, but they’ll have that compared to the current generation.

  • avatar
    Fred

    Problem for FCA is you have two groups buying the Wrangler. The hardcore offroader and those who never take it off road. So how does FCA create more sales without softening up the traditional Jeep?

    • 0 avatar
      jacob_coulter

      The thing is, I don’t really think new Wrangler buyers are hardcore offroaders. I think the few that do use the Jeep for occasional offroad duty could easily get by with the mildest of CUV/SUVs.

      Older Jeeps are a different story for a certain crowd, but even then, most of the people I know that buy Wranglers, it’s more about a lifestyle statement than anything.

      I’m not making a case for softening the Wrangler, but I think the reality is almost like a Rolex Submariner watch. It’s all about the iconic look and heritage, not a watch than can actually do deep sea diving.

      • 0 avatar
        karvanet

        You need to go to an off road event then. The majority of the 4X4’s present are Jeep Wranglers followed by a solid showing of Cherokees, Toyota Land Cruiser and Tacoma’s. Of the Wranglers you’d be surprised how many are JK’s.

        Fred is right, you have a group that buys for the image but you also have a very loyal off roader group that buys these. However if you cater too much to the casual buyer you turn the hard core guy off the brand, that causes the image to flounder which turns off the casual buyer.

        • 0 avatar
          jacob_coulter

          I’ll stand by my assertion that NEW Jeep Wrangler buyers aren’t hardcore offroaders.

          The fact that at some promotional event there were some new ones doesn’t surprise me. It’s all about maintaining that image.

          Most of the Wrangler owners I see have their Sorority letters on the back.

          • 0 avatar

            The point being if you go to an offroad event, you will see lots of NEW Wranglers in attendance.

            This is akin to any other sports car: 90% of the users don’t use the capability, but they wouldn’t buy one if they didn’t have the image they earn with the hardcore crowd.

          • 0 avatar
            jacob_coulter

            It’s a form of advertising, Land Rover shows all sorts of print ads with their $90k SUVs in the Sahara or Outback.

            Can it handle those conditions? yes, but that’s not reality of what the owners actually do with them. I remember at an event seeing an elaborate obstacle course Land Rover did to show attendees. It’s laughable when you think not 99% of them will probably never leave the pavement.

            It’s the same with the Wrangler, I’m saying the overwhelming majority of new buyers would not know the difference in offroading capability with a solid axle because most (but not all) are not buying a new Wrangler because they would be stranded in a “lesser” 4 wheel drive vehicle. I really think you’re talking to 1% of buyers.

          • 0 avatar
            Lie2me

            How do you know what people do with their Wranglers or any other SUV. You see one parked at the mall and you immediately assume the owner is some kind of poser. You don’t know if he went trail blazing or rock crawling last weekend or if he’s going next weekend.

            Unless you’re following these people around, which is a little weird, you have no idea what they’re doing with their vehicles so quit thinking you do and if you say it doesn’t look “beat-up” enough to pass your inspection, just remember every vehicle on the road was brand new once

          • 0 avatar
            heavy handle

            99% of S Class buyers almost never make multi-million dollar coke deals out by the dock yards. They just want to look like they do. I have no problem with that.

          • 0 avatar
            Lie2me

            I was driving behind a guy in a mini-van, just him no one else, I wanted to yell out the window, “Hey, everyone knows you don’t have a family, stop being a family guy phoney”

    • 0 avatar
      Lou_BC

      @Fred – the “never take it off road” group buys the Wrangler because of the hardcore offroad group. The former likes the latter group’s image BUT over time I’ve seen the “hardcore group” grow smaller and smaller while the “image group” grows like wildfire.

      Companies cater to the larger volume buyers i.e. “image buyers” until they kill the brand by watering down the image.

    • 0 avatar
      el scotto

      They are a darn fine urban vehicle. Pock marked pavement? Puh-lease. City might might plow your street next week? I have a CJ, I can go NOW! Taking a short curt to the liquor store front door by driving over the parking lot bumper blocks? Exit your CJ and announce to the gentlemen socializing outside the store that “We’re here for whiskey and smokes” will ensure joviality for all. Example three is the least used but most fun option.

    • 0 avatar
      Wheeljack

      I’ll back up mad_science and say that there are a surprising number of people who show up to offroad events in brand new (or fairly recent) Wranglers and have no compunction about banging them up. A fair amount of Wrangler owners are well-heeled and the vehicle is relatively cheap to them.

      Just go to Easter Jeep Safari sometime and you will discover that the JKs now outnumber the TJs/YJs, and many of these JKs have thousands of dollars in modifications from high-end companies like AEV or similar.

    • 0 avatar
      Crosley

      It’s a poser vehicle.

      It’s usually some teenage girl who’s parents have a lot of money or a guy with a winch and snorkel on the car that has braved the pot-holed parking lot of Starbucks.

      • 0 avatar
        Wheeljack

        SOME of them are bought by posers. But this is a good thing as it creates a ready supply of clean Wranglers that have never been offroad or abused for buyers who prefer to go used.

  • avatar

    As a long-time Jeep owner, this makes me happy to hear. That’s a massive uphill battle, given the tradeoffs they face keeping the solid axles. With every successive generation of CJ/Wrangler, they’ve managed to make them more efficient, safer and liveable while simultaneously improving the offroad capability. Hopefully this trend continues.

    The current JK Rubicon, right off the showroom floor is _the_ most capable new 4×4 you can buy.

  • avatar
    Big Al from Oz

    It seems FCA is in a bit of a conundrum regarding which direction to take the Wrangler in.

    I do foresee the Wrangler of the future with only the long wheel base offered.

    The Wrangler has challenges. Just the very fact it is designed as a more capable 4×4 has everything going against it in meeting CAFE.

    It’s ride height, short wheelbase, brick shape and overly large engine.

    The easiest way to maintain the Jeep as it currently is, is to offer diesel only vehicles.

    Judging by all of the “it’s the best 4×4” comments a diesel will be loved by the off road set.

    The reality is most Jeeps are sold to the hair dresser set, the “hey, look at me, doesn’t my Jeep go well with my clothing today” types.

    I don’t agree that aluminium is the answer, as has been shown with the F-150. The largest gains to the F-150s FE was due to drivetrain changes.

    The Jeep will live on globally. I thought the Chinese were going to start to manufacture them.

    • 0 avatar
      TW5

      The problem with diesel is that it cuts into their profits, and emissions equipment has virtually no return on investment. The Wrangler is a money making machine, like full-size pickups. If they make Wrangler diesel only, they might reach CAFE more easily, but they’ll also lose their margins. Plus, the diesel tax disparity will probably not be fixed in our lifetime.

      FCA seem to be more interested in aluminum body panels, engine downsizing, and perhaps hybrid and air-suspension.

      It’s a problem that need not be solved. If Congress is content to allow 1.5M new pickups at 23mpg, they shouldn’t balk at adding another 100,000 Wranglers to the tally.

      • 0 avatar
        NoGoYo

        They could at least offer the 3.0 diesel as an option, maybe starting with a small pilot run (like…a thousand vehicles) just to see if people would actually want a diesel Wrangler.

      • 0 avatar
        Wheeljack

        It only cuts into their profits if they are willing to take a loss on the costs of the diesel engine and associated aftertreatment system by selling it below their development and material costs. I doubt they would do that – witness the fact that the Cummins engine option on a Ram is around $8,000.

        • 0 avatar
          Big Al from Oz

          @Wheeljack,
          I know where you are coming from?

          It can cost over $10 million to have different engines on a Boeing 747!

          I saw a coastal freighter can cost only $150 000 more to have a 16 cylinder engine as opposed to a 12 cylinder.

          Really. What has large vehicles got to do with this? $8k?

          I don’t think HDs are in the same segment as a midsize vehicle.

          It might cost, if you are lucky an extra $2000 more for a 2.8 VM diesel as opposed to a V6 Pentastar.

          8 grand! Sphincter speak, I’d think.

          • 0 avatar
            Wheeljack

            My point is that the aftertreatment systems (DOC, DPF, SCR catalyst and DEF delivery system) can often cost several thousand dollars on their own, notwithstanding the diesel engine they are attached to. There is no way a diesel Wrangler would only be $2000 more than a gas Wrangler here in the U.S. unless Chrysler is deliberately willing to take a loss on them for some reason.

            Take a look at the pricing of the Grand Cherokee here in the US as your guide – the diesel is $4500 more and it’s not offered on the base “Laredo” model, allowing them to absorb some of the cost in a higher trim level vehicle.

  • avatar
    formula m

    I’m in my early 30’s and I know 3 guys that drive wranglers and one of them use it off road/for ice fishing. I can also think of 6 girls who drive Wranglers off the top of my head and I don’t think they see more than a dirt road. Props though that 3 or them drive manuals. One girl said she had always wanted one since she was a child because she had played with her Barbie Jeep. People buys these for all the wrong reasons but it’s amazing that they exists with solid axles.

  • avatar
    Hummer

    Here we go again, the “you shouldn’t have something if it doesn’t meet a certain guideline individuals”. Why does it matter why someone buys something, the wrangler is great as an offroader and a daily driver. How come you people don’t complain on BMW posts, those people could be driving corollas or mopeds.

    The biggest issue Im concerned about is the CEO stating the wrangler would get a steeply raked windshield, the fold down windshield is an amazing concept, but I have no doubt it is highly unused. But getting a heavily raked windshield would hurt the wrangler as much as losing the solid axles. Hell I can’t even drive vehicles with steeply raked windshields they give me a headache on anything more than a short trip. Changing the windshield design also changes the interior layout, which changes the seating position, which changes the roof design and everything else. The safe bet here is to produce a wrangler II alongside the current wrangler and see if it gets acceptance before destroying a one of a kind vehicle.

    • 0 avatar
      Hummer

      Let’s also not forget a turbo 4 with 35 or 37 inch tires is going to make the current 3.6l look like a Prius in comparison as far as mileage goes.

      And I’m sure the turbo will love moisture just as much as the ecoboost has been proven to act.

      They need to just put the 5.7l as an option, the wrangler should be able to do better than the already good numbers of the Ram.

    • 0 avatar
      Luke42

      I do point out on BMW posts that *I* am happier and wealthier driving a decade old Prius than I would be driving a new BMW – and I my opinion is that a lot of the people who buy BMWs have misspent their money on a machine that isn’t as good as a Corolla (as soon as the warranty ends, and actual ownership begins).

      I delete a lot of those posts before I post them, though, because nobody asked my opinion, and because it’s not my segment. I don’t have a problem with people blowing their money at a casino or people who smoke weed – though I have to desire to do either myself. I try to extend the same courtesy to those who buy German cars. ;-)

    • 0 avatar
      TW5

      Raked windshield and aerodynamic design are problematic because the probably mean lack of headroom. Headroom is necessary in a rollover so the raked windshield announcement is not really the best news.

      • 0 avatar
        Luke42

        @TW5:

        Balancing those tradeoffs is rarely an either/or question and it is what engineers do for a living.

        It’s a pretty safe bet they’ll come up with some shape which can address both concerns (along with a dozen others), while still looking mostly like a Jeep.

        This is one of the thousands of questions that those tens of millions of dollars worth of product development effort go toward answering.

  • avatar
    LALoser

    Just bought a new Rubicon Unlimited this past Saturday. 6M. So far…2 days… I like it.

  • avatar
    Luke42

    If they make a hybrid Wrangler, please include an electric power takeoff!

    I’ve been trying to figure out where to put an off grid (solar-style) inverter in my Prius. The Prius HV system runs between 200 and 240VDC, which is within the range that a string of PV panels will produce. Alas, the car is just too damn small, and it would be safer if it received more engineering hours than I can give it.

    A Wrangler with a hybrid system and a big esectric power takeoff (I’m talking a pair of L6-30s and some 20A 110V outlets) would be a go-anywhere mobile powerplant. That would be beyond badass.

    Diesel would be cool, too. And I like the Renegade, since solid axles aren’t important to me.

  • avatar
    Truckducken

    I can see it now, the new Dana 44 enhanced with aluminum and carbon fiber.

  • avatar

    This announcement looks like it could be predicted years in advance.

    Remember, Wrangler is very, very light for its size, already. Yet, Marchione asked for weight reductions. Clearly, you cannot save weight by going to independent suspensions and unibody. Just look how much Pathfinder weighs, for example. Back in the 60s, unibodies were lighter, when frames were made by forming a C-channel from a flat stock, or even worse – by welding. Now, not so much. Therefore, it might as well retain the BOF construction and solid axles, because there aren’t weight savings to be found there. It may actually be easier to swap the tub to aluminum one on a BOF vehicle.

    Still, making the windshield fixed could save a pound or two, in part by integrating the roll cage with A-pillars better. And, you’re going to have curtain airbags standard. Oops, there go the saved pounds.

    As for the 8-speed, it could be seen from a kilometer away. That tranny is well regarded and was used in trucks for years.

    Turbo is coming too, no doubt. Personally, I’d be quite happy with a 2.4L turbo, rated for about 205 or 210 hp. Together with weight reduction and the 8-speed, it would move just fine.

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