By on August 13, 2019

All-new 2018 Jeep® Wrangler Sahara

Reports of alarming oscillations transmitted through the steering wheels of various Jeep Wranglers started landing on the NHTSA’s lap last year, years after off-road enthusiasts began complaining of the same issue. A product of a solid front axle, higher speeds, and an unexpected jolt ⁠— like hitting a bump in the road ⁠— the so-called “death wobble” sparked a class-action lawsuit that alleges Jeep’s Wrangler boasts an inherently unsafe axle and suspension design.

Now Fiat Chrysler says it has a solution to the wobble, with notifications headed to owners’ mailboxes from coast to coast. Will the supposed fix serve to pour cold water over the lawsuit? At this point, it doesn’t seem so. (Read More…)

By on August 12, 2019

Can you kill a ghost? While Hollywood and some Catholic priests say yes, in the automotive realm the process of ridding oneself of a spectre usually involves a new sheet on the drawing board, not a ceremonial ritual.

As you may have already heard, a ghost long rumored to haunt Detroit’s future product stable has reportedly disappeared into the ether from which it came. It never had much of a form, its name carried a question mark, and no one officially admitted to its existence. It only had a clear rival: the Jeep Wrangler Unlimited and upcoming Ford Bronco. (Read More…)

By on June 13, 2019

2017 Jeep Wrangler Sport

A Jeep Wrangler owner has accused Fiat Chrysler Automobiles of ignoring an alleged safety issue with the vehicle’s steering system; one that leads to the notorious “death wobble.”

The term is one Jeep fans are already familiar with and basically entails sudden, violent vibrations from front-end steering components, usually taking place on the highway. On Wednesday, a lawsuit filed on behalf of New Jersey resident Clair Reynolds claimed FCA delivered a “defectively designed and/or manufactured front axle and damping system” allowing for the dreaded wobble to occur after “encountering road variations” at speed.

While the National Highway Transportation Safety Administration has never issued a recall related to the issue, it’s familiar with the phenomenon and has been pressured by safety advocates to investigate since before 2012. But previous studies into the wobble found it relatively difficult to replicate, and no serious injuries have stemmed from it. Reynolds’ legal council says that doesn’t cut it.  (Read More…)

By on May 30, 2019

All-new 2018 Jeep® Wrangler Sahara

In the middle part of this decade, as sales of the Jeep Wrangler (and the Jeep brand itself) rose into the stratosphere, speculation cropped up that General Motors would not let its rival dominate the off-road SUV market unchallenged. The company offered hints that it might field something of its own.

A GM SUV with serious trail-rated chops is still talked about today, even after GMC brand boss Duncan Aldred, speaking in 2017, said, “I don’t think it’s worth trying to take on Wrangler.” Even after the reborn Chevrolet Blazer turned out to be an Acadia-based crossover. Blame Ford’s upcoming Bronco and the Wrangler’s continued popularity for the continued speculation.

Now, the internet is once again abuzz after photos revealed two Wranglers at GM’s Milford Proving Grounds. (Read More…)

By on May 28, 2019

Despite the previous generation boasting above-average frontal crash test scores from the United States’ Insurance Institute for Highway Safety (IIHS), Jeep’s new Wrangler has earned harsh criticism in Europe and Australia. The model received a one-star European New Car Assessment Programme (NCAP) crash rating in December, followed by a similar review from the Australasian New Car Assessment Program (ANCAP) this month.

That makes it the only one-star vehicle in that particular market, which is not a position Fiat Chrysler wants to find itself in. However, as FCA took great strides in improving the Wrangler for on-road duty — including adding dual front and side airbags as standard — the dismally low score is a bit of a mystery.  (Read More…)

By on April 16, 2019

All-new 2018 Jeep® Wrangler Rubicon

Studies have shown that purchasing a new Jeep Wrangler is almost as stable an investment as buying gold. In terms of retaining value, the Wrangler is king, boasting a rate of depreciation that undercuts the industry average by half.

With this in mind, it’s not common to see people shopping around, sniffing out boffo bargains on hard-to-sell Wranglers polluting local dealer lots. It simply isn’t a thing. If you’re in the market for one, however, now may be a good time to start searching. (Read More…)

By on April 8, 2019

Every year, the Easter Jeep Safari treats us to a batch of Fiat Chrysler’s finest off-road concepts and breathes a little fun into the auto industry.

While assuredly a marketing ploy, it’s one of the most enjoyable (and something this author eagerly waits for every spring). This year’s marketing proved a little more heavy-handed, thanks to the presence of Jeep’s all-new Gladiator, but no less palatable. Jeep is bringing six models to Moab for 2019 and every one comes with a truck bed and loads of accessories Mopar cannot wait to sell you via the Jeep Performance Parts catalog.  (Read More…)

By on March 26, 2019

Image: FCA

As Fiat Chrysler prepares the Jeep Gladiator for its highly anticipated dealer debut, consumers are gearing up for the first midsize pickup conceived of outside the boundaries of established industry norms in quite some time. The Gladiator is very different from the competition. It looks like a modified Wrangler, has a removable windshield, soft or hardtop roof, and doors, and even comes with a manual transmission option. It’s also new, which is noteworthy in itself.

Midsize pickups have a tenancy to linger. The second-generation Chevrolet Colorado first appeared in 2012 and Toyota’s Tacoma typically enjoys a ten-year lifespan before the manufacturer feels the itch for a full redesign. Even Ford’s Ranger is a reheated leftover sourced from the global market. While not necessarily a shortcoming in itself, the segment suffers from a distinct lack of innovation — and that’s exactly where the Gladiator could find its place in the sun(Read More…)

By on November 14, 2018

This, apparently, is it. The Jeep Wrangler pickup, which we just learned will resurrect the Gladiator name from the dustbin of Jeep’s past.

Details and very pleasing images of the model, scheduled for an L.A. debut at the end of the month, were apparently posted to Fiat Chrysler’s media site for a brief time, during which the now-renamed JeepGladiatorForum secured screenshots. (Read More…)

By on November 13, 2018

The wheelbase of a 2001 Chevrolet Corvette Z06 is 104.5 inches. The wheelbase of a Jeep CJ-6 is 103.5 inches. Other than winning trivia night at the weirdest bar around, having that sort of knowledge isn’t typically useful. But for Texas enthusiast David Whitener, it yielded an incredibly weird and impossibly cool track toy, and it’s now up for auction at BringATrailer.com.

I’m not sure I’m brave enough or outgoing enough to drive this, but dropping 700 pounds from a C5-generation Z06 has to make it frighteningly quick.

(Read More…)

By on October 6, 2018

All-new 2018 Jeep® Wrangler Sahara

A key component tasked with taming the Jeep Wrangler’s front live axle might not live up to expectations, forcing Fiat Chrysler Automobiles to issue a recall on 2018 and 2019 Wrangler JL models.

The problem lies in a weld that, in about four percent of the recalled JLs, did not occur in the right place.

Confirmed by JLWranglerForums, the recall impacts about 18,000 2018-2019 Wranglers. In a dealer communiqué, FCA claims some vehicles “may have been built with a front track bar bracket weld located off the seam,” which could lead to the bracket separating from the vehicle’s frame. “The separation of the front track bar bracket from the frame may cause a reduction in the steering response, which can cause a vehicle crash without prior warning,” FCA states.

In response to the voluntary recall, FCA has issued a stop sale on afflicted vehicles. Owners of existing JLs will be notified this quarter if their vehicle is included in the recall, with all impacted vehicles inspected for the wonky weld. The automaker will re-weld the bracket if deemed necessary.

Instances of front track bars shearing off of new Wranglers first appeared on owners forums earlier this year.

In September, the new Wrangler’s popularity helped the Jeep brand reach a monthly sales record, with volume up 14 percent, year over year. Wrangler sales rose 2 percent last month, despite one less selling day than the preceding September and a number of factors that suppressed sales across the industry. Year to date, Wrangler sales are up 27 percent.

[Image: Fiat Chrysler Automobiles]

By on May 8, 2018

All-new 2018 Jeep® Wrangler Rubicon

The 2018 Jeep Wrangler JL is not the inline-six-powered, aerodynamic brick it was in years past. For the current generation model — now the only Wrangler built in Toledo — Jeep’s Jeepiest Jeep saw a host of improvements designed to lighten its curb weight, reduce aerodynamic drag, and cover more ground on a gallon of gas.

The model launched with only the 3.6-liter Pentastar V6 under its hood, aided in its fuel-sipping mission by standard stop/start and an eight-speed automatic transmission. Depending on the model and tranny, combined fuel economy rose 2 mpg between the old JK and newer JL models, and highway mileage rose as much as 4 mpg.

Finally, we now have EPA figures for the turbocharged 2.0-liter four-cylinder Wrangler. (Read More…)

By on May 1, 2018

All-new 2018 Jeep® Wrangler Rubicon

If you didn’t pop into a Fiat Chrysler dealer last month to pick up a Jeep Wrangler, congratulations, you’re now a nonconformist.

April was the best-ever U.S. sales month for the go-anywhere model, but the cause had more to do with availability than Americans suddenly discovering their rugged side. With old and new models rolling off of two Toledo assembly lines, buyers found themselves spoiled for choice. (The JK model ceased production on April 27th).

How well did the Wrangler do last month? The model accounted for almost as many sales as the entire Acura and Infiniti brands combined. (Read More…)

By on April 24, 2018

Amid all the hoopla surrounding the new 2018 Jeep Wrangler JL, you’d be forgiven for not realizing there are still versions of the old model rolling off Jeep’s Toledo assembly line. But not for long.

Assembly of the Wrangler JK, introduced for the 2007 model year, carried on alongside its updated near-twin after the JL entered production last November, but that line grinds to a halt on Friday, April 27th. The model isn’t wanted anymore, and there’s an awfully lucrative vehicle that needs the space. (Read More…)

By on April 20, 2018

Jeep really loves touting its off-road heritage, along with the capability of its current stable of SUVs. To that end, FCA invited Chicago-area automotive media out to play in the mud at an off-road park in central Illinois.

The very same off-road park in which I stuffed a Ford Raptor into the mud, multiple times.

Even though this was not a traditional first drive, and I’d driven both the new Wrangler and new Cherokee off-road – one in Arizona, the other in California – I wanted a little more time with both away from the pavement. Especially since the never-ending winter of 2018 provided rain and snow in the days leading up to the drive.

That meant there’d be mud, and lots of it.

(Read More…)

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