Talks about the next generation Jeep Wrangler due out for 2017 are already heating up. Rumors of independent suspension systems, diesel powerplants, aluminum bodies, and even carbon fiber bits have sparked interest in the growing number of Jeep junkies. Now the idea of a hybrid powertrain behind the Jeep’s iconic seven-slot grille radiates from Mike Manley himself, Jeep’s President and CEO.

In an interview with AutoExpress, Manley says he and his team must first must preserve the look of the Wrangler. However, with looming CAFÉ standards, improving the SUV’s efficiency is critical to its continued success. Manley says that beyond preserving the Wrangler’s looks and improving its gas mileage, improving its on-road driving dynamics was the third biggest target.

In reference to improving fuel efficiency, he continued by saying, “You have the potential for hybrid powertrains in the future. For those people who use the Wrangler, the most important thing is the initial torque and the crawl ratio. With an electric motor, you have the most torque available and with the right combination of transmission and gear ratios, you can create incredible crawl ratios.”

Those great crawl ratios and smooth electric power would prove impressive on the trail, however adding hybrid technology to a vehicle that won’t always be near civilization proves problematic. “If you are eight hours and four miles into a trail, there is not a hybrid that we could do which could provides the battery support,” Manley continued.

Of course, the alternative is a diesel powerplant with higher efficiency than the current gas engine. Also, using lighter materials in the Wrangler’s construction would help reduce fuel consumption. Whatever solution is used, we can rest easy knowing the 2017 Wrangler will carry the iconic Jeep look.

Click past the jump to read more about the Jeep Wrangler.

Why it matters

It’s hard to imagine a hybrid powertrain under the rough and tumble Jeep Wrangler, but it’s also a necessity to consider with the CAFÉ standard tighten its grip on automakers’ corporate fuel economy averages. Add to that the number of high-horsepower products Chrysler makes these days, and the Wrangler is likely in dire need to added mpgs.

Then again, we’re wouldn’t wager on Jeep launching a hybrid Wrangler in this decade. We suspect a more efficient version of the Pentastar V-6 and an optional 3.0-liter EcoDiesel are a more likely.

Jeep Wrangler

The Jeep Wrangler traces its heritage back to the 1940s when America was entering WWII. The U.S. needed a small, go-anywhere vehicle and the Williys MB won the contract. Seven decades later, the soul of that fighting four-wheeler still lives on today in the Wrangler JK and four-door JK Unlimited.

Power comes from the venerable 3.6-liter Pentastar V-6 that makes 285 horsepower and 260 pound-feet of torque. Backing up every Wrangler is a manually operated transfer case that engages the front solid axle’s differential.

Pricing for the Wrangler starts at $22,795 and rises past the $40,000 mark for the JK Unlimited in its top-trim form.

Source: AutoExpress

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