By on August 31, 2017

2018 Jeep Wrangler pickup, Image: Off-Road.com

As part of a larger group of automotive publications, TTAC has access to a variety of content from a handful of other sites, and we wanted to bring you some of the unique content that we think lives up to TTAC’s standards and offers legitimate insight or a properly critical viewpoint to car evaluation. This story, by Off-Road.com’s managing editor, Stephen Elmer, showcases the upcoming 2018 Jeep Wrangler and its pickup sibling.

A new set of spy photos, exclusive to Off-Road.com, shows us that Jeep is getting the Wrangler JL’s towing dialed in.

In the photos, we can see the two-door JL along with the new Wrangler-based pickup truck, reportedly called the Scrambler, hooked up to different sized enclosed trailers.

Some rear-end squat is visible from the two-door Wrangler, a typical trait of a vehicle with a soft, off-road-ready suspension, much like today’s Wrangler. The Scrambler appears to be sitting flat with the larger twin-axle trailer, though it is using a weight distributing hitch to help it out.

2018 Jeep Wrangler, Image: Off-Road.com

Obviously, there is no way to know what’s inside the trailers, though we can make an educated guess as to their weight. The small Uhaul trailer appears to be a 5×8 Cargo Trailer, which according to Uhaul’s website can only handle a maximum load of 1,800 pounds. As for the big twin axle, it really depends on what the axle ratings are, but it’s probably rated around 7,000 pounds based on comparable trailers.

The current short wheelbase Wrangler tops out at 2,000 pounds of maximum towing while the Wrangler Unlimited can handle up to 3,500 pounds. Thanks to weight savings and more power, the new Wrangler JL should be able to boost those numbers at least a little bit.

2018 Jeep Wrangler JL, Image: Off-Road.com

As for the Scrambler pickup, it makes sense that Jeep would be targeting a tow rating around 7,000 pounds to make it competitive with the Toyota Tacoma and Chevy Colorado, which can tow a maximum of 6,800 pounds and 7,700 pounds respectively when properly equipped.

Other notable traits from the photos include Falken Wildpeak tires on the truck, though the tires on the two-door appear to be different and less aggressive.

2018 Jeep Wrangler pickup, Image: Off-Road.com

The photos were taken on Arizona State Route 68 near Kingman, Arizona, a piece of asphalt that comprises a 3,500-foot rise in just 11.4 miles. The Davis Dam test, as it’s known, is a part of the SAE J2807 tow rating standard. All trucks and vehicles that intend to use the standard have to test on this stretch of road, so it looks like Jeep is going to make sure all of its numbers are J2807 tested.

We also can’t be sure which engines are powering these testers. Right now, it is believed that three engines will be offered in the Wrangler JL, a 2.0-liter turbocharged four-cylinder engine, a new version of the 3.6-liter V6 and a 3.0-liter diesel.

The all-new Wrangler JL will be debuting at the LA Auto Show at the end of November.

A version of this story originally appeared on Off-Road.com.

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53 Comments on “Spied: 2018 Jeep Wrangler JL and Scrambler Pickup Undergoing Towing Tests...”


  • avatar
    ash78

    So is this particular park just a place where auto spy photographers and metal playground dome aficionados hang out all day?

    • 0 avatar
      JohnTaurus

      Yes. Just like this site is nothing but a place where aficionados of cynicism and wit hang out all day…or where people come to read about and talk cars?

      Maybe that’s just a place where many stop to rest on that stretch of highway (which, as stated, is a common place for manufacturers to conduct towing tests), increasing the chances that one may see such. Nahh, couldn’t be.

    • 0 avatar
      xander18

      I dunno what got into JohnTaurus’ breakfast this morning but yeah you’re correct. Super common place for OEMs to test and calibrate vehicles so often you’ll see 2-3 teams from different companies out at one time. Especially this time of year when the hot weather is tapering down. So spy photographers often go out there.

  • avatar
    Scoutdude

    Just shows how rinky dink the FCA organization is when they rent a trailer from Uhaul to do their towing tests.

    • 0 avatar
      ash78

      The other trailer appears to be a Wells Cargo, which has already signed the JL up for 7 credit cards and force-placed liability insurance on both trucks at twice the market rate.

    • 0 avatar

      I think these are being run by an outside contractor. Automotive Testing something or other. Thats said I always find uhaul trailers interesting I have seen several mules pulling them over the years.

      • 0 avatar
        Scoutdude

        Why would they use a contractor to do the testing? Oh yeah it is FCA and they are a rinky dink outfit.

        • 0 avatar
          FOG

          @Scoutdude, most world class organizations use contractors for testing. In fact, it would be a bad idea to let the same people who built the thing test it.

          Please feel free to use this venue to release the deep emotional hurt you suffered at the hands of a big mean Jeep while driving your Scout. FYI, I don’t think they will build anymore Scouts, but we are all here for you.

          • 0 avatar
            Scoutdude

            World class organizations want to keep their secrets, secret, so they don’t let a 3rd party near it until it is done and the wraps have come off so to speak.

            They also have in house testing groups that are not the engineers that design it. I have a friend who is a engineer for a very well known company and he will design a product or make changes to the product and then it is passed off to the testers. I also know the guy who’s job it was to try and break the things that my other friend designed. Believe me he gave it all in trying to find a problem and break the item and the engineer that designed it just saw the aftermath. Then the engineer went to work fixing that deficiency. They will then build a few more test pieces and have the testers go at it again.

            Now once the wraps come off you do send it out to a 3rd party for validation, but not before you are ready to let the public know about it and you are absolutely certain that it will meet your specs.

          • 0 avatar
            guardian452

            We use TRC as well as other firms, and we are not alone…

            trcpg.com
            http://www.trcpg.com/confidential-and-secure/

        • 0 avatar
          MrIcky

          So they rented some trailers, who cares? Even with their struggles they’re still a multibillion dollar company and it’s probably cheaper to rent a few trailers. Especially the small ones. Who wants to buy and store a bunch of small trailers in AZ for the product testing you only do on occassion when a uhaul is $30 a day?

          Considering a potential release date of Q4, this likely IS validation testing. And grats to you for knowing an engineer and being able to know all engineering procedures everywhere for every company.

        • 0 avatar
          tylermattikow

          Nothing to do with rinky dink. If they have to do a quick day or two testing why bring your own trailers and not just rent one at the closest uhaul.

    • 0 avatar
      ahintofpepperjack

      Uhaul is probably the most used trailer rental company in the country. Meaning it’s very likely that Uhaul trailers will be towed behind this vehicle. Does it not make sense to test the most likely scenario?

      • 0 avatar
        Scoutdude

        Sure when people are moving it is a good possibility they will rent a Uhaul, but it likely won’t be a trailer they are renting. Seriously I can’t say the last time I saw a Uhaul trailer on the road. However every day I see vehicles with Horror Freight utility trailers, cargo trailers, open trailers with motor cycles, ATVs, snowmobiles (ok only in the winter) and camping trailers. So far more likely that this vehicle will be used for that.

        However my point was if you are an auto mfg that makes vehicles suitable for towing you should have a wide range of trailers for testing purposes.

        • 0 avatar
          FOG

          @Scoutdude, we now see that you just want to pretend you are intelligent. So you assumed that this was the one and only test that was done with this vehicle. Thank you for clearing that up for the rest of us.

          • 0 avatar
            TwoBelugas

            I drive about 40k a year for work and I see U-haul trailers on interstates all the time.

          • 0 avatar
            Scoutdude

            @Fog, This is FCA we are talking about here, not a world class automaker. I’ve talked with one of the engineers that was responsible for the Dart and 200 and he flat out said that they didn’t give them enough time or budget to do it right. It is highly unlikely that they gave the engineers for this product enough time or money to do it right and to properly test it.

            As far as this being the only test see above, Sergio is very stingy with development and testing budgets. There is only one place in the world and a small time of the year that they can actually do a proper SAE test, so while I’m not saying this is the only towing testing they did, it wouldn’t surprise me if this is the only testing they did under the proper SAE test regimen.

            @ TwoBelugas, there is a whole lot of the world out there off of the interstate and maybe you live and drive in economically challenged area where the people move more frequently, are escaping the area, or just can’t afford to rent the truck. Regardless I’m certain you see a lot more other trailers than you see Uhauls.

          • 0 avatar
            JohnTaurus

            Only poor people rent UHaul trailers

            https://goo.gl/images/1HNnSM

            https://goo.gl/images/DUyx3h

            Or maybe those who don’t need a truck and want to use their own vehicle (because its going on the trip anyway)?

        • 0 avatar
          gtemnykh

          “Seriously I can’t say the last time I saw a Uhaul trailer on the road”

          Honestly they’re pretty common for moves, I’ve towed a twin axle unit twice now with the 4Runner. Perfect size and much cheaper than renting a moving truck, even locally.

          • 0 avatar
            JohnTaurus

            The only way I can think of one NOT seeing them regularly is if they have become oblivious to them due to sensory overload. (Kinda like seeing a silver Altima with wheel covers.) It just becomes indistinguishable background, consciously unnoticed .

          • 0 avatar
            DenverMike

            Thanks, just yesterday I started to, almost made a left turn, directly in front of a silver Altima. Midday, no glare, it’s like it just wasn’t there.

            I know I’m not going blind…

            Yellowing headlight lenses make it worse. Same with dirty/dusty and/or faded paint on them. They should be forced to run DRLs. Beige Camrys too, depending on the background.

            Or are they TRYING to get hit??

        • 0 avatar

          I’ve rented U-Haul trailers a couple times- I have a side business selling on eBay and at flea markets and won large lots at auctions that I needed to pick up. I didn’t own a van at the time, and renting a trailer was way cheaper than renting a truck, because they charge by the mile for trucks and the pickup locations were a couple hours away.

          I recently drove from MD to Vegas and back and saw plenty on the road. A few made me nervous, when I got passed by people doing 90 while towing them.

        • 0 avatar
          Vulpine

          I see quite a few u-haul trailers on the road. Then again, a fair portion of my driving is on expressways, not 2-lane highways.

        • 0 avatar
          Dave M.

          Heh – come to Houston. They’re all over the place since I-10 is the major conduit between southern east and west coasts.

          And of course this week….

    • 0 avatar
      sirwired

      I don’t know why renting (instead of buying) a trailer indicates that FCA is “rinky-dink”. It’s entirely possible that this particular test was a “one-off” done by a particular team that doesn’t really spend much time on towing.

      • 0 avatar
        JohnTaurus

        I don’t know either. I’m usually with scoutdude, but not on this one.

        They rented a trailer? I bet they stay in a motel out there instead of buying a house, too. Oh, the humanity.

        I guess FCA isn’t the only “rinky-dink” automaker

        Nissan http://www.tflcar.com/2016/08/next-nissan-rogue-caught-towing-test/

        GM
        http://thenewswheel.com/spy-shots-reveal-chevy-equinox-details/

        VAG
        http://www.leftlanenews.com/spied-2018-volkswagen-cc-92544.html

        • 0 avatar
          FOG

          Thank you John. @Scoutdude, I would be interested in what you consider a world class manufacturer. Jeep is Jeep the world around. In Brazil they call all SUVs “Jeeps”. No one has ever been able to unseat their minivan from the top of the sales heap. The Grand Cherokee is the most sought after vehicle in China. I get that you don’t like the brand, but please use documented facts when you attempt to make a point. Right now you just look like a person who likes to see their words in print.

          Your stories of knowing a guy who… and someone you know worked at… Even if it isn’t BS, it is a sample of one. You personally are on the outside.

          • 0 avatar
            Scoutdude

            Fact is that to properly do the SAE tests you need to use a trailer that meets the specifications of the particular rating class. They are very specific about the trailer, from listing a max effective tongue length to the brand(s)and sizes of the tires on the trailer. They also have standards for the minimum frontal area of the trailer, that it is flat, and a max radius of the corner.

            Now I can’t say I’ve checked recently but the last time I looked Uhaul had tires made with their brand on the side, not Goodyear Marathon Radials. Plus they run them until they are at the minimum legal tread depth yet the SAE specs require a minimum of 5/32″ of tread depth.

            Uhaul trailers also have extended tounges relative to their length compared to the common consumer trailers.

            So the Uhaul trailer probably meets the min frontal area of the standard, could meet the max effective tongue length but not likely, and almost certainly does not meet the tire standards.

            There is an old saying “Fast, Good or Cheap, pick two” FCA since its inception has made it pretty clear that Good is not their choice.

            There are lots of examples of that.

            How did that Dart and 200 work out for them?

            How about all those 9 speed Cherokees they delayed start of production for a couple of weeks to work out transmission issues? Seems like they said screw it and started the line and shipped them even though they new there were serious problems they hadn’t resolved. I guess their attitude was that the dealers can fix them when ever we figure out an acceptable calibration. Oh but that didn’t fix it, so there was a 3 calibration.

            Good, Fast or Cheap pick two.

          • 0 avatar
            Vulpine

            Despite your complaints about FCA, I have to disagree. I’ve now owned two different FCA-built products and have found them remarkably good and happen to like the fact that they’re willing to delay production if something doesn’t seem to be working right. That 9-speed? By all means I love that thing! I now have 10 months on a 9-speed Renegade and not one driveline problem. I was questionable at first, given their reputation, but discovered that over the months that 9-speed has learned my driving habits to the point that it shifts pretty much at every point where I would have manually shifted it before.

            And despite the small engine, it has PLENTY of pep due to having so many gears available. No compromise here.

          • 0 avatar
            Scoutdude

            As usual you missed the point Vulpine. I’m not complaining that they delayed the start of production to fix a problem, I’m complaining that they delayed production and still didn’t fix the issue. IF they they were given the budget and time to do it right in the first place then they could have done the testing needed to find the problem and fix it before they shipped them to dealers and sold a number of them.

            Also look a the EcoDiesel. Like VW they found they couldn’t hit their targets for what ever reason so they cheated on the emissions. Though in this case they just waited until they were caught to fix it.

            FCA just doesn’t do proper testing before they ship a vehicle.

          • 0 avatar
            Vulpine

            Maybe, Scoutdude, because there was no real issue; people complained about it because they didn’t understand how it worked. The 9-speed in the Renegade is essentially the exact same transmission. Because of the hound’s-tooth clutch, certain shifts, especially when engaging the rear axle, can seem harsh but it eliminates clutch slip and helps ensure all wheels turn at the same speed, instantly.

            Compared to VW, FCA has been angelic in its efforts to offer a legal and reliable vehicle.

          • 0 avatar
            Scoutdude

            @ Vulpine. If there wasn’t an issue they wouldn’t have issued multiple fixes.

            So you are saying that FCA’s slogan should be, “At least we aren’t as bad as VW” or “FCA, you could do worse”.

          • 0 avatar
            Vulpine

            They issued fixes because the customers kept complaining. The customers kept complaining because they didn’t understand that the transmission was supposed to work that way. At best, FCA was only able to marginally improve the initial performance of the transmission but after a mere three months of NOT MONKEYING with it, my Renegade’s tranny is smooth as silk and you don’t even feel it shift UNLESS it has to kick in the rear axle.

  • avatar
    TXCOMT

    So here’s a way to check out what’s underneath, TTAC…get an RC car and put a camera on its hood pointing, naturally, up! Run that sucker underneath it and done! BTW, go with electric rather than nitro for stealth.

  • avatar
    thelaine

    Porn. Love me some Scrambler. New pickup Golden Age is arriving. Bring on the Ranger and God bless America.

  • avatar
    stuki

    Whether it will ultimately end up being all that practical, I have too say I like the looks and proportions of that Scrambler truck.

    It looks a bit like a massively butched up Ridgeline. Another truck (or not, depending on who you ask…) of seemingly similar basic, and to me pleasing, proportions. Albeit one with a decidedly more practical, less off roadish, focus.

    • 0 avatar
      JohnTaurus

      So, being able to go off-road isn’t practical to some people?

      What exactly is less practical about it, the lack of an in-bed trunk? I would think the massively increased capabilities of the Jeep would make up for that.

      I guess the Ridgeline is more practical if you live in an urban area, don’t tow, don’t go off pavement and don’t haul heavy loads. If that’s the case, the vehicles from which the Ridgeline is derived would be more practical than it is (Pilot/Odyssey).

      • 0 avatar
        stuki

        I’m sure you’re right. At least for some people.

        For many others, the improved paved road, high speed handling and, I presume, mileage of the Ridgeline, make more sense.

        The Ridgeline isn’t a bad offroad/soft road vehicle, either, although it’s no Jeep. And on snowy and icy roads, the Ridge’ puts Subarus to shame. Something no Wrangler will ever do.

        Personally, I just can’t get over having vehicles that long without any continuous flat space long enough to plop down a mattress and sleep (hence why I want a midgate in both), but aside from that, they both look nice enough.

        • 0 avatar
          thelaine

          Stuki,

          “And on snowy and icy roads, the Ridge’ puts Subarus to shame.”

          I would love to know why this is true. The Subi’s have a great snow and ice reputation. (And I know first hand how horrifying Wranglers can be on ice) Is Subi’s reputation exaggerated? Does the Ridge have some secret sauce?

          Do tell…

  • avatar
    Zane Wylder

    All I’m gonna say is it better be available fully loaded with Manual, or I’ll get myself a Taco

  • avatar
    mrwiizrd

    They are going to sell those scramblers as fast as they can build them as long gas prices stay reasonably low.

  • avatar
    tylermattikow

    @Scoutdude While the 200 and Dart may have been underfunded and rushed. I don’t think they are doing the same thing with the Wrangler. It is a far more important and profitable vehicle for FCA. The Wrangler has to not only endure regular use but the driveline has to be able to all manner of 3rd party modifications. It amazes me how often I see 35″ tires on Wranglers without larger axles and such. Yet they take the abuse..

  • avatar
    Firestorm 500

    Unless U Haul has changed their rental terms, they won’t rent any trailer to a vehicle like a Wrangler that does not have a permanent steel (or aluminum) top.

    • 0 avatar
      bikegoesbaa

      Their website says that SUVs must have a “hard top” but is non-specific as to the material. It does not flag a 2017 Wrangler as an unacceptable tow vehicle, so I suspect they’re OK with removable nonmetallic tops.

      They also will apparently let you tow with a convertible, just not an SUV. No flags on a 2017 Miata.

      They will not rent any trailer to be towed by a 2010 or older Ford Explorer, period. This is the only absolute model specific Uhaul prohibition that I know of.

      Hilariously, they are fine with renting to a Mercury Mountaineer or Mazda Navajo. They only have a problem with the Explorer.

    • 0 avatar
      bikegoesbaa

      Hmmm, also no flags generated for the Murano CrossCabriolet. It probably doesn’t come up very often.

      Their website doesn’t even acknowledge the existence of the Dodge Dakota convertible.

    • 0 avatar
      Vulpine

      Interesting point. When I had my JKU Wrangler, I sold the hard top after the second summer… I just never put it back on the Jeep.

      I wonder why they have that requirement?

      But note that the JL towing the u-haul IS a hardtop model.

    • 0 avatar
      jh26036

      I definitely have rented a trailer from UHaul when I had a hard top on my JK.

  • avatar
    Hummer

    Wouldn’t mind an extended cab with a 5.7, unfortunately by the time I get a JL with a proper engine I could have a fully restored Scrambler and a Gladiator with a 360 V8.

  • avatar
    Pete Zaitcev

    I’m glad FCA at least consider letting the 2-door to tow something. BTW, the current tow rating is only 1,000 pounds, which is just not enough for anything. Even a glider trailer is going to be more than that.

    P.S. It would be really cool if they made a factory 7-pin harness at last. It’s easy to go from it to 4-pin, but not in the other direction.


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