The discussion of testing vehicles, sometimes called mules, often lead to a lot of speculation regarding what a new vehicle will be and how it will be presented. It’s no secret that car companies love to show us testing cars that are supposed to hide the features and look of a model, but often don’t hide the features enough to make us wonder as the released version ends up looking a lot like what we get to see. Even though this is a shameless ploy at some publicity we are more than happy to oblige and offer our own version of speculation when called upon to do so.
The new Jeep Wrangler has been spotted testing in hot-weather conditions in the Southwest. What does it look like, how will it perform in off road conditions, what powertrains are we going to get? These are the typical questions with any car that shows up with the shameless camouflage covering it. To answer the first question though, the Jeep Wrangler that was spotted testing looks like a Jeep Wrangler. That’s probably as simple as I can make it and the reason for this is the Wrangler look has been so highly successful for so long this is a look that is not going to be messed with.
The only suggested changes so far is a slight extension of the wheel base and hood which would make the Wrangler much easier to handle and give it more room. Of course with this extension the mule has to be tested to ensure it can still perform the off road duties as well as previous models, that is a must. The carry over items will certainly include much of the rest of the build including highly recognizable features such as the seven port grill and round headlights along with items underneath such as the body on frame design, solid axles and mostly steel construction, although there is talk about using some aluminum in order to reduce weight and improve the overall fuel efficiency of the Wrangler.
As for the power plants, the current engine is a 3.6-liter V6 which is expected to remain the main engine offered especially since FCA just updated the Pentastar engine. There will probably be a diesel offered in the US similar to the one offered overseas already and a hybrid powertrain may at some point show itself in this new version. The transmission is expected to be a six-speed manual as the standard offering with an eight-speed automatic as an option which will certainly help the powertrain with even better overall performance.
This new Wrangler will start being built in 2017 in the current Toledo, Ohio plant and will be ready for the 2018 model year, which is the projection. The four-door version, the Wrangler Unlimited will continue to be offered for those who want more space to bring the whole crew. This gives a full lineup to the Wrangler that is much the same as it is now, but with more power options and even possibly a longer build.
Will the Wrangler be the next model from FCA to have a Hellcat engine dropped in it? With a longer hood I wouldn’t be overly surprised if at some point FCA gives it a try and offers a Wrangler that has the massive power of the 707 horsepower V8 engine. Until that time we will certainly have to settle for enjoying a classic off roading machine that will offer more power choices and make it easier for us to drive on any road with the rugged style that is truly owned by the Wrangler.