Someone at Fiat Chrysler Automobile’s Toledo, Ohio, assembly complex might be in trouble. That’s assuming management pins down the person who whipped out a phone while a next-generation Jeep Wrangler Unlimited sat exposed on the plant floor. (We’re assuming it’s Toledo, for obvious reasons.)
A photograph posted to Reddit this morning, clearly shot in a hasty manner as workers line both sides of the vehicle, shows part of the 2018 Wrangler — a.k.a. the JL/JLU Wrangler. It’s a vehicle at the center of an expensive redesign and lightweighting process, and it’s also one of the most heavily leaked vehicles in years.
So, what does this picture show us?
We’ve already seen spy photos of a heavily camouflaged prototype, as well as sketches purported to be of the final product. The design elements seen in the sketches, grainy as they are, seem borne out in reality (at least from this angle). A longer hood and slightly more svelte front fenders are apparent in this side shot of a four-door Wrangler Unlimited, along with a high and shallow belt/character line signalling the presence of aluminum doors.
(FCA is reportedly using a new C6A1 aluminum alloy sourced from Alcoa in the doors and hood — part of a weight-saving measure aimed at fuel efficiency.)
Each of the doors in the photo contain exterior hinges, meaning doorless driving remains an option after 2018. As well, the shallow recessed vent seen just aft of the front fenders in the sketches carries over into reality, joined by two more vents in the hood. The side mirrors now contain signal lights. The bumper, unfortunately, remains hidden out of frame.
According to leaked information from the FCA dealer computer system, next-gen Wrangler buyers face a number of engine options. The 3.6-liter V6 returns, outfitted with a start/stop system, while a turbocharged 2.0-liter four-cylinder with belt starter-generator mild hybrid system should provide the MPGs Jeep needs to satisfy anxious regulators (and eco-conscious off-roaders).
A 3.0-liter turbodiesel V6 is also on the options list, though that powerplant’s timeliness isn’t set in stone. It could arrive as late as 2019. If the dealer info pans out, 2018 also brings an available eight-speed automatic that should come standard on the four-cylinder variants. An optional Selec-Trac full-time four-wheel-drive system arrives for Unlimited Sahara customers only.
As for the looming pickup variant, Jeep boss Mike Manley claims it won’t start production until late 2019, some two years after the public gets its first taste of the conventional models. The 2018’s Wrangler’s big unveiling comes in late November at the Los Angeles Auto Show.