Our Predictions for the Wrangler-based pickup

The Jeep Wrangler Pickup has been confirmed for some time now, but Jeep has been quiet on the details. Between spy shots and insider information, we know the pickup will use the upcoming 2018 Wrangler JL’s frame, front styling, cab, interior, and powertrains. The mystery still remains as to what the cargo bed looks like and the materials its constructional from. What’s more, Jeep has yet to define the exact target audience for the Wrangler pickup, otherwise known as the JT. Will it offer class-leading payload and towing or will it be more focused on off-road performance? While we can’t say for sure, we’ve got some strong indications of Jeep’s intentions with its 2019-model-year pickup.

The Wrangler Pickup will ride on a lengthened version of the Wrangler Unlimited JL’s frame to accommodate the extra length needed for the bed. This means a longer, more stable Wrangler for on-road driving and trailer towing, but a slightly less maneuverable and (dare I say) capable Wrangler for off-roading adventures. It’s the break-over angle that will suffer the most, making the Wrangler pickup more vulnerable to high centering. Still, expect the JT to come standard with 4WD and Jeep’s Trail Rated rating.

Update 08/22/2017: A report from JeepScramblerForum.com shows confirmation the Jeep Wrangler pickup will be called the Jeep Scrambler, a name already associated with Jeep pickups of the 1980s. What’s more, CAD drawings show the extended frame and upgraded Dana axles. Also confirmed is the pickup’s use of the 3.0-liter turbodiesel V-6.

Spy Shots

May 26, 2017 - One Step Closer to Production

2018 Jeep Scrambler
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2018 Jeep Scrambler
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Like the last set of shots we received from out camera ninjas, the upcoming Wrangler pickup was spotted from above. But, this time around, it doesn’t look like it was cobbled together by a backyard mechanic with an insatiable love for monster garage and no skill. It’s still wrapped heavily in camo and padding, but we can see that it will sport Jeep’s usual round headlights up front while the front bumper will protrude from the nose with a vengeance. Some padding has been dropped on the fenders, revealing wide wheel arches with a skinnier hood.

More importantly, however, is that this mule is wearing an official bed, even if it is covered in camo. Based on the way the padding and wrapping are setup, it looks like there could possibly be a step at the front corner of the bed on each side, allowing for easier access to the bed. The rear taillights appear to protrude from the corners a bit while a new step has been added to the rear bumper. The new bed also reveals much wider wheel arches than on the previous mule, hinting that this baby is that much closer to being production ready.

July 21, 2016 - First Testing Session

2018 Jeep Scrambler Exterior Spyshots
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2018 Jeep Scrambler Exterior Spyshots
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Exterior

2018 Jeep Scrambler
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The first noticeable feature will obviously be the cargo bed. This will likely be constructed from composites or plastics in order to save weight. The bed’s lining will also be plastic, much like the Toyota Tacoma and Honda Ridgeline. Expect to see some innovative cargo management features, like storage boxes or even a version of the Ram Box. The rear bumper will utilize the standard center step and license plate holder, while offering room for a trailer hitch receiver and tow hooks down low. Recent spy shots have also shown the rear bumper with Hummer-like D-ring tow hooks.

Beyond the bed, the Wrangler pickup should carry all the same design details as the standard Wrangler

Beyond the bed, the Wrangler pickup should carry all the same design details as the standard Wrangler. The front bumper, grille, headlights, fenders, hood, windshield, and doors will all be interchangeable. That’s great news for the aftermarket industry and consumers alike, given that aftermarket parts will fit both models.

As for the rood and top options, JeepScramblerForum.com has confirmation from a leaked FCA online ordering guide that shows the 2019 Scrambler will have three top options: a three-piece hard top in black, a three-piece hard top painted to match the body color, and a Premium Black Sunrider soft top. It’s unknown if a permanent bulkhead will separate the cargo box from the cab, or if the bed can extend into the cab by folding the rear seats, much like the old Chevrolet Avalanche. And like the Wrangler SUV, the pickup’s windshield will still fold flat, though it will probably require some work and hand tools.

Interior

2018 Jeep Wrangler Interior Spyshots
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The 2019 Jeep Scrambler pickup will use the same interior found in the 2018 Jeep Wrangler Unlimited JL. This includes the dashboard, instrumentation, infotainment system, and seats. The low-grade plastics and ho-hum switchgear of the current Wrangler JK will be replaced with higher-end materials, soft-touch surfaces, and more buttons that control luxuries like dual-zone climate control.

The Wrangler will thankfully retain its old-school, manually operated transfer case, and a six-speed manual transmission will be available – at least in the Wrangler, but we lack confirmation about a manual-shift JT. Also present is FCA’s well-loved 8.4-inch Uconnect system. It’s one of the most user-friendly and graphically pleasing systems in the industry. Add to that Jeep’s new Off-Road Pages, a feature that debuted in the 2017 Grand Cherokee.

Controls for the locking differentials and front sway bar disconnect are new, too, and are toggle switches located near the bottom of the center stack. The dashboard will also have auxiliary buttons that can be wired and programmed to control aftermarket equipment like off-road lights. Similar controls can already be found in the Heavy Duty pickup segment, with trucks like the Ram HD and Ford Super Duty offering switches for easy aftermarket upfitting.

Drivetrain

First Pentastar-Engined 2012 Jeep Wrangler Hits eBay Emblems and Logo
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Pentastar V-6 in 2012 Jeep Wrangler
Current 3.6-liter Pentastar engine shown here

As we mentioned before, the Wrangler pickup will share its powertrain with the Wrangler SUV. The base engine will likely be the new 2.0-liter “Hurricane” turbocharged four-cylinder. It’s rumored to have nearly 300 horsepower and be available with a hybrid drivetrain system. An updated version of the current 3.6-liter Pentastar V-6 will be the volume engine, with horsepower potentially greater than 315 matched with 280 pound-feet of torque.

An updated version of the current 3.6-liter Pentastar V-6 will be the volume engine, with horsepower potentially greater than 315 matched with 280 pound-feet of torque.

Better yet, the 3.0-liter EcoDiesel will finally make its appearance in the Wrangler, offering 240 horsepower and a stump-pulling 420 pound-feet of torque. This will be the engine of choice for those who go off-roading or plan to haul and tow.

All three engines will be backed by the ZF eight-speed automatic transmission. 4WD will be standard across the board, as will a traditional, manually operated transfer case. The two-speed unit will have positions for 2WD, 4WD high-range, neutral, and 4WD low-range. A six-speed manual transmission is confirmed for the Wrangler JL, but word on which engines it will be available with isn’t confirmed.

The Rubicon trim will surely be an option for the pickup, giving the Jeep stronger axles, a more robust transfer case, electronically locking differentials, and the electronically disconnecting front sway bar.

Suspension and Frame

2018 Jeep Scrambler
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The leaked CAD drawing shows fully boxed rails with plenty of cross members for torsional rigidity

The Wrangler pickup will utilize an extended version of the Wrangler Unlimited’s frame. The leaked CAD drawing published on JeepScramblerForum.com shows fully boxed rails with plenty of cross members for torsional rigidity. Extensive skid plating will surely be standard on upper trim models, especially the Rubicon.

The solid axles will make their return, giving the Wrangler pickup a firm foundation. Since this is a truck, we originally though Jeep would include the Dana 44 as standard equipment, however, the leaked info accompanying the CAD drawings show computer renderings of Dana 12-bolt solid axles. These are undoubtedly a stronger option than even the Dana 44, meaning the Jeep Scrambler might have class-leading payload and towing specs in the mid-size pickup category.

2018 Jeep Scrambler
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2018 Jeep Scrambler
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The Jeep will likely utilize an updated version of the multi-link coil suspension from the JK, giving it plenty of flex off road, while becoming better mannered on-road.

Suspension wise, the Jeep will likely utilize an updated version of the multi-link coil suspension from the JK, giving it plenty of flex off road, while becoming better mannered on-road.

Nevertheless, the Wrangler will continue to be a rough-and-tumble vehicle with plenty of trade-offs for its off-road prowess. Those looking for a cool daily driver for the suburban lifestyle may quickly grow tired of the relatively harsh ride when compared to modern crossover SUVs. Then again, Jeep engineers may perform a miracle and somehow give the Wrangler and Wrangler pickup a smooth ride without compromising is abilities.

Prices

2018 Jeep Scrambler
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The Wrangler pickup will certainly be competitive with the current crop of midsize pickups. We’d suspect prices will start at $31,000 for the standard Wrangler Unlimited, so the pickup could carry a price slightly higher than that, perhaps starting around $34,500.

Competition

Chevrolet Colorado Z71

2015 Chevrolet Colorado Z71 - Driven High Resolution Exterior
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2015 Chevrolet Colorado Z71 - Driven High Resolution Exterior
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The Colorado offers several cab, bed, and drivetrain configurations, but the Crew Cab Z71 will be the closest competitor. The truck can be had with either the 3.6-liter V-6 or GM’s new 2.8-liter Duramax four-cylinder turbodiesel. The Z71 trim offers meatier tires, upgraded shocks, and underbody skid plates for off-road action. 4WD is still optional, however.

Prices for the Colorado crew cab Z71 with 4WD start at $35,735.

Read our full review on the Chevrolet Colorado Z71.

Toyota Tacoma TRD Off-Road

2017 Toyota Tacoma TRD Pro High Resolution Exterior
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2017 Toyota Tacoma TRD Pro High Resolution Exterior
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The Tacoma has long ruled the midsize segment and continues to dominate with the new-for-2016 model. The truck features a new design, upgraded interior, and an all-new, 3.5-liter V-6. Toyota offers several different trim and TRD packages, but the TRD Off-Road is probably the most compatible with the non-Rubicon Wrangler pickup. (The TRD Pro would be a worthy competitor to the Rubicon.)

The Tacoma TRD Off-Road carries a starting price of $32,315 with the double cab (Toyota’s crew cab) and short bed.

Read our full review Toyota Tacoma TRD Off-Road

Conclusion

2018 Jeep Scrambler Exterior Exclusive Renderings Computer Renderings and Photoshop
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Though all this is speculation, we’ve paid attention to the rumors and small nugget of information Jeep has dropped. Sure, there’s plenty of room for interpretation, but no matter what the next Wrangler and its pickup version look like, both will be more capable, more comfortable, more powerful, and more efficient than the outgoing Wrangler JK.

As Jeep prepares to unveil the Wrangler JL at the 2017 LA Auto Show, we wait impatiently to see what Jeep has planned. The Wrangler is a huge sales leader for FCA and the Jeep team can’t afford a mistake. Perhaps the next-generation Wrangler will outpace the Wrangler JK’s impressive sales growth of 20,000 units per year since 2011. More than 202,000 JKs were sold in 2015 alone, so there’s plenty at stake for FCA. In light of that, we expect great things from the upcoming JL.

  • Leave it
    • * Probably more expensive than other midsize trucks
    • * Longer wheelbase decreases breakover angle

References

2018 Jeep Wrangler Exterior Exclusive Renderings Computer Renderings and Photoshop
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Read our full speculative review on the next Jeep Wrangler.

2017 Jeep Wrangler High Resolution Exterior
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Read our full review on the current Jeep Wrangler.

Update History

Updated 5/26/2017: The upcoming Wrangler pickup was caught testing once again, this time with what appears to be an official bed. Check out the spy shots section below to see the latest pictures and to read more about it.

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