From when the iconic Willys MB went off to fight WWII until 2014’s Wrangler JK , good gas mileage hasn’t exactly been the Jeep’s strong suit. Even with modern advancements of electronic fuel injection, five and six speed gearboxes, and emission controls, the current Wrangler only manages 17 mpg city and 21 mpg on the highway. Then again, that’s not bad when considering it’s got two solid axles turning short ring gears, knobby tires, and a flat windshield. When the 2018 Wranglers roll out, we may be in for a lot more mpgs, given a recent report from Edmunds is true.
But more is always better, right? Well things appear to be headed that way. Jeep boss Mike Manley said in a recent press conference that the next generation of Jeep Wrangler would focus heavily on weight reduction and fuel savings without compromising its legendary off-road performance.
"We must be innovative in terms of what we do for the next Wrangler because clearly we have to make sure that vehicle survives into the future," Manley said. "It is vital for the brand." Of course, the dark cloud of CAFÉ standards and growing customer expectations are the two confronting factors. Also looming on the horizon is a future Wrangler competitor from Land Rover , Manley mentioned.
But take heart, Jeep fans. Manley continues saying, “There will be no compromises.” So we can apparently expect a Wrangler just as capable off the beaten path as the 2014 JK, but with better gas mileage. Okay, so how is Jeep to increase the Wrangler’s fuel efficiency while not killing its off-road prowess?
Though Manley didn’t go into specifics, we’ve been hearing rumors of a fully independent suspension system and perhaps intensive uses of lightweight materials like aluminum and possibly a diesel powerplant. One thing’s for sure; we can look forward to a future Wrangler that doesn’t strangle our wallets at the pump.
Note: Current Jeep Wrangler pictured here.
Click past the jump for some more speculation
2018 Jeep Wrangler
- Let’s get the bad news out of the way. Manley didn’t say one word about putting a diesel in the Wrangler. On the bright side, he did say the Jeep Cherokee would likely get an oil-burner, but not before sales of the diesel-powered Jeep Grand Cherokee doubled. Currently sitting at an eight percent take rate, that doesn’t seem like a outlandish proposition. If one thing leads to another, maybe that will mean a diesel in the Wrangler’s (distant) future.
- An independent suspension system is rather likely at this point. Not only have the rumors been swirling for some time now, but Manley’s comments reaffirm the near necessity of including such a setup. Independent suspension is known for its weight savings over solid axles, plus it provides a smoother, more controlled ride. The Wrangler’s off-roadability shouldn’t suffer, thankfully. After all, the military’s Humvee and its civilian Hummer H1 counter part are underpinned with independent suspension.
- Aluminum body panels make a lot of sense, especially after letting the market (and insurance companies) get over the newness of aluminum on a mass-market vehicle with the 2015 Ford F-150 . This is good news for Jeepers, too. Aluminum doesn’t rust. So say goodbye to welding in new floorpan in that future antique 2018 Wrangler. The main reason of course, would be for cutting weight. Ford says it cut some 700 pounds off the F-150 curb weight just by dumping the steel body.
- More efficient gasoline engines would also help the Wrangler’s case. Sure, the current 3.6-liter Pentastar is a great powerplant, but it does leave room for improvement. Perhaps direct injection or even downsizing and turbocharging is a solution. Then again, nothing would work nearly as good — nor sell as many Jeeps — as a diesel mill under the Wrangler’s hood. Loads of torque at low revs is like the Holy Grail for off roading.
- Jeepers can also rest easy knowing Manley plans on giving the upcoming Wrangler its own underpinnings and architecture, so it won’t come from a unibody crossover from Europe. With all the changes looming for Wrangler, our only hope is that it stays true to its roots – an all-American, blood and guts off-roader complete with drain plugs in the floor and removable doors.