By on August 10, 2017

2015 Jeep Wrangler Unlimited

Screenshots of preliminary information added to the Fiat Chrysler Automobiles dealer network computer system suggest the next-generation Jeep Wrangler, due for a late-November reveal, breaks with tradition in more than a few ways. The largest break involves how the 2018 Wrangler puts its power down to all four wheels.

The dealer system images, shared by JL Wrangler Forums, show the Wrangler adopting a Selec-Trac full-time four-wheel-drive system, among other drivetrain details. Is this a goodbye to the manly transfer case lever?

The addition of Selec-Trac places the Wrangler in line with the user-friendly, highly automated SUVs and crossovers already on the market, potentially increasing consumer appeal. Forget about using your extremities to manually switch your Jeep from rear-wheel drive to four-wheel drive, or to select low range. That’s neanderthal stuff. However, it’s also a nod to the great off-roaders of yesteryear. It’s romantic. It’s involving.

Despite the need to satisfy modern buyers, it seems Jeep isn’t willing to dispense with tradition quite so easily. The dealer system lists Selec-Trac as only being offered on family-friendly, four-door Unlimited Sahara models — vehicles often seen plying the parking lots of Whole Foods in upper-middle-class neighborhoods or hauling bikes to suburban recreational areas.

That’s just the beginning of the changes.

According to the leak, there’ll be no two-door Wrangler offered in Sahara trim, leaving just the base Wrangler Sport and uplevel Wrangler Rubicon. Roof options are numerous. Three-piece hardtops join Sunrider soft tops and premium soft tops in black or tan, but the big news for 2018 is an available power soft top (offered only in black).

Again, another electronic convenience seems poised to join the Wrangler fold. And electricity, the screenshots show, isn’t absent from the engine bay, either.

Available powertrains include the trusty 3.6-liter Pentastar V6, available with a six-speed manual or eight-speed automatic transmission, and a turbocharged 2.0-liter four-cylinder with a belt starter-generator. Yes, a mild hybrid of undetermined strength, though its main function will be to run power accessories and manage the vehicle’s fuel-saving start-stop system.

An affordable mild hybrid system is something FCA has been pursuing for years. Strapped to the “Hurricane” four-cylinder, which is rumored to make about 300 horsepower, the system, coupled with Jeep’s lightweighting and aero enhancements, should keep the EPA off the Wrangler’s back for some time. This engine is reportedly only available with an automatic transmission. A true hybrid variant, at last check, remains a go for the near future.

Also green-lit for 2018, at least according to the dealer info, is a 3.0-liter turbo diesel V6. That engine’s availability hinges on EPA approval, but the recent regulatory thumbs up given to FCA’s 2017 Jeep and Ram EcoDiesels (which contain the same engine) has clearly given the automaker confidence. Another green touch found on the 2018 Wrangler is electronic start-stop (ESS), found on both the gas and diesel V6 models.

JL Wrangler Forum cautions this information could change between now and the release of the next-gen model, due for an unveiling at this year’s L.A. Auto Show. Certainly, a recent report suggests diesel availability won’t occur until late 2019, which coincides with the launch of a pickup variant.

What isn’t a mystery is that the Wrangler remains an outlier in an increasingly modern (and numerous) crop of utility vehicles. Too many changes, and loyalists could revolt. Not enough, and it risks being seen as a dinosaur, repelling new buyers and incurring the EPA’s wrath. FCA needs to walk a fine line with this model.

[Image: Fiat Chrysler Automobiles]

Get the latest TTAC e-Newsletter!

Recommended

43 Comments on “2018 Jeep Wrangler Specs, Options Leaked: Full-time 4WD on the Way?...”


  • avatar
    Pig_Iron

    They put on four doors and started to slow boil the frog.

    (To the delight of CoreyDL no doubt.)

  • avatar
    Boxerman

    Wheres my srt wrangler pickup with a 6.4

  • avatar
    jh26036

    All the moves are reasonable. Curious if they give the Willys a second go around. That trim was way more popular than FCA probably could ever imagine.

  • avatar
    30-mile fetch

    Offering an auto-AWD option seems like a no-brainer if you want to capture some sales to people who want the rugged image of the Wrangler but don’t want to be bothered with determining when and how to use 4WD. The 3.6 Pentastar and turbodiesel make sense, but the 2.0T mild hybrid is an odd in-between.

    Jeep Wrangler MallCrawler Edition: 4 doors for the kindergarten run, carefree SelecTrac, and a trendy two-liter turbo with start-stop and the low axle ratio. From a business standpoint it frankly looks like a great idea, but the more serious offroaders probably won’t touch it with a ten foot pole new or used.

    • 0 avatar
      PrincipalDan

      Make sure the tires are huge (say at least 33 in) but make them Michelin Defender LTX so there isn’t any untoward tire noise.

      • 0 avatar
        low_compression

        Splitting the Sahara off as the ‘luxury’ trim was a great bonus from the Rubicon. The only thing better than a high margin premium trim is multiple high margin premium trims with different customer bases.

        I don’t begrudge the 4 door mall crawlers and bro wheel Rubicons, so long as the volume they purchase keeps at least model on the lot that is faithful to the Jeep tradition.

    • 0 avatar
      PenguinBoy

      Optional “carefree SelecTrac”, with a proper two speed transfer case, would be a good option for all trims. A user selectable full time AWD would be useful for highway driving in Winter conditions (in addtion to, not instead of, appropriate Winter tires).

      No need to full time AWD to preclude serious off road capability, or the inclusion of “4Hi” and “4Lo” modes. The transfer case could even be shifted with a lever if desired. See other Jeep and Land Rover models for examples of how this can be done.

      • 0 avatar
        Pete Zaitcev

        Frankly, I’m tired of the driveline binding and wheel hop every time I turn around an obstacle. As long as the center diff is lockable, it’s a great thing to have.

      • 0 avatar
        30-mile fetch

        Sure. I’m speaking more to the optics of it from the fans who view the old-school manual transfer case driveline of the Wrangler with pride. For most Wrangler owners, Selec-Trac will be on-road bad weather boon and it is logical to offer this. Jeep’s been selling ~200K of these per year, and with numbers like that you know most of them aren’t out in the rough.

        Start-stop is silly and completely out of character with this vehicle any way you look at it, though, and I’m not sure how I feel about a small turbo four powering this.

    • 0 avatar

      There is some discussion that the 2.0 hybrid may get a special offroad edition that has more torque and a special electric crawl mode. Will be interesting to see if that happens.

    • 0 avatar
      Big Al From 'Murica

      if it is anything like the full time 4WD Land Cruisers I had it should be plenty tough off-road BUT enjoy rebuilding the birfield joints every 50000 miles or so. Not terribly difficult but pretty nasty and pretty spendy should you not have the means to do it yourself.

      • 0 avatar
        gtemnykh

        50k rebuilds, really?

        Wrangler axles use u-joints anyways.

        • 0 avatar
          Big Al From 'Murica

          Yep. Repacking them was a 50 or 60 k service item and I never did one that had gone that far with stock style axle seals that hadn’t failed and caused all sorts of issues. If you look under one and the knickle is wet bring your wallet. Now with upgraded seals and some other goodies they would probably go longer but with stock stuff it is a pretty intense service. Of course this is a vehicle that the maintainence schedule included a 250k service that contained the phrase “hone cylinder walls” so it is on a different level than a Jeep.

          • 0 avatar
            Big Al From 'Murica

            Also only applicable to the full time awd rigs. The 60 and 62 series trucks seemed to be more robust in this respect though rust will get you on those.

  • avatar
    NMGOM

    “Is this a goodbye to the manly transfer case lever?”

    I sure as hⓔll hope not. AWD systems have not been robust, — and I want to engage 4WD when I want it, not when some dumb computer thinks I need it. The more the electronic do-dads, the more unreliable.

    If AWD wussy systems are offered as an option for mall crawlers, then fine. But IdDon’t want it.

    It’s no wonder that FCA is keeping the JK assembly lines running concurrently with this new JL, — just in case nobody buys them (JL’s)!

    I don’t want a Jeep to be efficient: I want a Jeep to be a Jeep. What is MIke Manley thinking??

    ===================

    • 0 avatar
      30-mile fetch

      You read the part where Selec-trac is only being offered on one trim level of the Unlimited, right?

    • 0 avatar
      bikegoesbaa

      And I want to advance my spark timing when *I* say it’s time, not when some wussy computer or dumb vacuum line says decides I should!

      Dagnabbit, all these electronic doo-dads are why cars are so much less reliable today than they were in 1970.

      “What is MIke Manley thinking?”

      I assume he’s thinking “Make stacks of fat paper from the 99% of Jeep buyers who are never going to go offroad and couldn’t recognize a transfer case if their life depended on it.”

    • 0 avatar
      mikeg216

      And here I am driving a jeep with a full time all wheel drive model that’s 22 years old and it has low range and a rear locker.. I must have missed the memo on it not being reliable. And it’s been put in jeep cj and wagoneer and grand wagoneer and gladiator trucks since about.. 1972..

      • 0 avatar
        gtemnykh

        mike I’m curious, what model Jeep are you speaking of? Was not aware there were any factory locking rear diffs on any mid 90s Jeep products.

        • 0 avatar
          mikeg216

          1996 jeep grand cherokee limited orvis edition. It’s got the up country suspension.. Full skid plates tow hooks. Tow package and forgive my faux pas.. A Dana 44 rear with the limited slip and the 5.2 v8.. Flawless and torque a plenty.. 14mpg

          • 0 avatar
            gtemnykh

            Nice! Recently helped a friend test drive a ’98 GC Limited V8, that 5.2L is a peach. The body on it was really nice but it had a howling rear axle and needed a lot of odds and ends.

            One of my go-to Russian youtubers just did a really awesome review/off-road test of a mildly lifted ZJ Limited V8, made me want one:
            youtu.be/8fkIptI2DwY?t=147

          • 0 avatar
            thelaine

            Yeah, I have a 2004 Dodge pickup with full time AWD with selectable 4hi and 4 low. It works great.

  • avatar
    gtemnykh

    Back in the day, Selec-trac was still a manually operated t-case, it merely denoted the presence of a locking center differential, so you had a selectable 2WD, shift-on-the-fly 4Hi-unlocked (for mixed traction slick pavement, otherwise known as full-time mode), 4Hi-locked, and 4Lo-locked. This would indeed by an INCREASE in the Wrangler’s capability for all users, not a ‘dumbing down’ by any means. Or if it is a permanent full-time transfer case with the ability to mechanically lock the center diff and with a low-range, not unlike say a Toyota FJ Cruiser (arguably the most rugged and mechanically simple/reliable 4wd system Toyota makes, no electronic actuation at all in terms of hubs or axle disconnects), this again is no bad thing although I personally like having a 2WD mode to save a bit of fuel.

    In short, I don’t really get the hand-wringing over this, calling it un-manly.

    • 0 avatar
      JohnTaurus

      Agreed. Advance or die.

      Jeep evangelist said having a V-6 instead of the old I-6 would kill demand. They said a 4 door would water down the image and kill demand. There will always be those who protest to change, but without change, the Wrangler wouldn’t be as popular as it is. The 4 door opened up new possibilities, increasing the vehicles usefulness for those who take more than just a buddy when they go to the lake or tackle a trail.

      If more households are going to single do-all vehicles, I don’t blame Manley or FCA one bit for trying to sell them a Wrangler.

      It isn’t my choice for a single vehicle (I’d personally take a two door diesel manual, as an extra vehicle and not something I drive 100% of the time), but I know people who would absolutely love it. More power to them, glad they have the option (and that the option is getting better/easier for them).

    • 0 avatar
      Big Al From 'Murica

      But the frontend required more diligence in the upkeep on the Toyota system than many new Jeep buyers are used to. Not sure about the FJ Cruiser but the 80 series required servicing the Birfield joints every 50-60k and replacing the axle seals. I had one the owner neglected. Diff oil leaks in to the axle, flushes out the axle grease. Now you get to buy new Birfield and since it was a high pinion I got to buy a new ring and pinion. It was a plenty tough system when maintained though…lockers on both axles and the center diff and a beast in the snow.

      • 0 avatar
        gtemnykh

        FJ cruiser is the standard Prado 120 IFS with CV axles. No excess wear to note on my friend’s ’08 with 160k-ish miles, boots look fine. GX470/460 use the same setup as far as fulltime 4wd goes. As I and others have mentioned, solid front axle Jeeps have had optional full-time systems since the 1970s, without any rampant reliability issues. You pointing to standard Birfield joint maintenance procedures on an LC80 Toyota as some kind of issue related to the 80 series in the US being full-time 4wd is kind of misleading IMO. As you say, with decent upkeep it’s a non-issue. Secondly, Jeep front axles use u joints. The only premature failures I can think of on Jeeps with fulltime systems is actually the viscous coupling on the NP249 of full-time ZJ/WJ Grand Cherokees. And that’s not a horrible job to replace it, although a new VC runs about $400, used ones are cheap and everywhere the problem becomes finding a used one that isn’t also shot.

        • 0 avatar
          Big Al From 'Murica

          It is, with decent upkeep. My point was that that level of “decent upkeep” isn’t really what a new Jeep buyers would expect. It was a pricey service if you paid someone else to do it and a nasty one if you did it yourself. I’m sure it will be less of a big deal on the Jeep but it will still likely result in increased wear up there. Hell I hope they put CV axles up there on the full time models if for no other reason than to see the Jeep purists heads explode on the Jeep forums. Anyway I’d skip it unless I lived in the snow belt. But I don’t disagree with you…it will likely be a simpler system.

    • 0 avatar
      rpn453

      An AWD option in addition to locked 4WD would be beneficial. The problem is we’re talking about FCA here, where 4LOCK on a “4WD” truck is defined as on-demand AWD with a slow reaction time; with no capability for actually locking the drivetrain in situations where 4WD is truly necessary.

      If you have to spin your rear wheels and dig them deeper into the snow/sand/mud before the fronts will bother to engage, it’s not 4WD.

    • 0 avatar
      mikeg216

      I’ve had the rear end howl since I bought it.. It’s been 70k..its no better or worse.. And they all have little issues but.. A couple of hours at pull a part and a couple of hours in your driveway per year and you are good to go again.

      • 0 avatar
        gtemnykh

        “I’ve had the rear end howl since I bought it.. It’s been 70k..its no better or worse.. ” Haha must be a Jeep-guy mentality kind of thing then. I couldn’t stand if my 4Runner made any sort of out-of-sorts noises.

        You’re right though, a simple junkyard rear axle swap, a few hundred in suspension freshening-up, a new axle boot, and it would have been a really sweet truck. My coworker just didn’t want the hassle of having to wrench on it to “baseline it.” Dunno what he was expecting for less than $2k. A clean body without excessive rust, decent interior, and a smooth running healthy motor and fresh transmission made it one of the best Jeep-deals locally for sure. If I didn’t already have my vehicle-roster full I would have definitely been tempted to scoop it up to drive through the winter, maybe give it to my wife to drive (she drives over some horrendous roads commuting downtown), or flip it come tax season for a really tidy profit.

  • avatar
    Kato

    Full-time 4wd is highly desirable in cold climates where road conditions can switch rapidly between dry pavement and ice/snow. How does making this feature available water down the Wrangler? Answer: It doesn’t, in fact it makes it more capable in a broader range of conditions. The bigger question is, is it available with a manual transmission? My guess is no.

    • 0 avatar
      PenguinBoy

      I can see no reason they couldn’t offer Selectrac with 6MT. In fact I’ll bet a diesel, Selectrac, 6MT two door Rubicon could be sold profitably to a small number of enthusiasts. If the high spec JGC is the “American Range Rover”, this would be the “American Defender”.

  • avatar
    Feds

    Lack of Selec-Trac is what kept me from buying a Wrangler twice. I ended up in a Grand Vitara and an Expedition, specifically because they have an open-centre-diff option to go with high and low range 4×4. Whether open, viscous limited slip, or electronically controlled, an un-locked centre diff is so much nicer in snowy road conditions than a locked centre diff.

    If I had to guess, I would suggest that the extra length of the select-trac transfer case prevents it from going into the short wheelbase wrangler. Sahara trim makes sense, as sport is base and anything above it would get the 4:1 transfer case.

    And for the angry purists, SJ and XJ Cherokees came with 4-mode transfer cases way-way back in the 1980s, operated by a big old manual lever.

    I’m starting to see the stars align for a JL pickup with the Pentastar and Selec trac! Bring back a ridiculous orange or yellow, and the deposit will go down.

    • 0 avatar
      mikeg216

      That expedition with the 4×4 and the torque on demand system that can transfer all torque to one wheel is a beast.

      • 0 avatar
        gtemnykh

        “torque on demand system that can transfer all torque to one wheel”

        Never heard of this, what generation of Expedition was this?

        • 0 avatar
          mikeg216

          It’s called advancetrac.. As far as I know all generations

          • 0 avatar
            gtemnykh

            Hmm I guess I personally really haven’t heard much good about it as an actual off-road aid like Toyota’s A-TRAC or Jeep’s BLD. Then again the subset of Explorer/Expedition owners who do a lot of wheeling is quite small.

          • 0 avatar
            gtemnykh

            Additionally, none of these offroad aides can send “100% of torque to 1 wheel” that’s not how differentials transfer torque, to say nothing of factoring in additional power losses when using a brake-based traction aid.

  • avatar
    Mandalorian

    I’m still holding out for a Hemi, not banking on it.

  • avatar
    bikegoesbaa

    Jeep guys saying the new Jeep is not a “real Jeep” is a Jeep tradition as old as Jeep.

    They always predict sales are going to collapse with the latest redesign. They’re always wrong.

  • avatar
    Flipper35

    Just because it is full time AWD doesn’t mean there won’t be a lever to make it 4WD.

    Like stated above, my Ramcharger had AWD and a big honking lever to lock the center diff and allow me to choose AWD hi, 4WD hi, AWD low, 4WD low. Pretty decent setup really.


Back to TopLeave a Reply

You must be logged in to post a comment.

Recent Comments

  • dougjp: A waste of time and talent. Instead after all these years has anyone listened while countless upscale...
  • Hummer: “Here in BC, my F350 insurance alone was 1900/yr. And that was with a full 43 % safe old fart discount.”...
  • trackratmk1: Assuming for a moment that widespread electrification comes to pass, what are the differentiators going...
  • jacob_coulter: Less taxes are not the same thing as a handout.
  • sgeffe: Next time, he’ll buy the damned TruCoat! “You’re darn tootin’, I gotta deal for ya!”

New Car Research

Get a Free Dealer Quote

Staff

  • Contributors

  • Timothy Cain, Canada
  • Matthew Guy, Canada
  • Ronnie Schreiber, United States
  • Bozi Tatarevic, United States
  • Chris Tonn, United States
  • Corey Lewis, United States
  • Mark Baruth, United States
  • Moderators

  • Adam Tonge, United States
  • Corey Lewis, United States