What Should Jeep Name Its Wrangler Pickup?
Historic names are apparently under consideration
Development of Jeep’s upcoming Wrangler Pickup is well underway. We’ve spotted camouflaged test mules, heard rumors of turbocharged and turbodiesel powerplants, and even gotten bad news (more than once) regarding its production date getting shifted back. However, the Wrangler Pickup is happening! But what should Jeep name it?
Mike Manley, the head honcho at Jeep, has confirmed FCA is looking into historic Jeep names for the new vehicle. Manley recently told reporters at Detroit News that he, along with Fiat Chrysler Automobiles’ CEO Sergio Marchionne, were exploring the use of iconic names Jeep fans would instantly recognize.
Three names instantly come to mind: Comanche, Willys, and Gladiator.
Now, each provides something unique, including their own set of problems. Let’s explore this more in detail.
Continue reading for more on naming the Jeep Wrangler Pickup.
What Should Jeep Call It?
These three names, the Comanche, Willys, and Gladiator, each present some interesting connotations. Up first is the Comanche. Jeep used this nameplate on its mid-sized, Cherokee XJ-based pickup from 1985 through 1992. The name continued Jeep’s tradition of using Native American tribe names it began early in its post-war business. However, in today’s ever-offended and politically correct culture, introducing a new vehicle with an Indian name would likely prove problematic. Controversy would fly, social justice warriors would be triggered, and those who find cultural appropriation demeaning and offensive would call for a boycott while rioting the local Starbucks. As such, we probably won’t see a 2019 Jeep Comanche.
Then there’s the Willys name. It goes back to Jeep’s beginnings. See, it was a company named Willys-Overland that developed the winning design for the U.S. Government’s call for a lightweight, go-anywhere troop transport and scout vehicle. Though Willys-Overland was too small to fill the government’s entire order, and other automakers (like Ford) were called in to help produce the original Jeep, the brand is credited with the creation. In fact, the military-spec Jeep was known as the Willys MB. The nickname “Jeep” was given to it by U.S. troops.
The problem lies in the current usage of the Willys name. Jeep already uses it for a trim package on the Wrangler, the Willys Wheeler. While Jeep could shake things up with the next-generation Wrangler, I’m betting the Willys name simply won’t be selected to define the Jeep pickup.
Last but certainly not least is the Gladiator. Not only does the name hark back to professional fighters in the Roman Empire, but to a long history with Jeep pickups. From 1962 through 1970, Jeep produces the Gladiator pickup. It was based on the Jeep Wagoneer SUV but was offered in a regular cab and long bed configuration. Though the Gladiator name was dropped for 1971, the “Jeep Truck,” as it was renamed, carried on until 1988.
Jeep then revived the Gladiator name in 2005 when it debuted a concept pickup based on the then-upcoming Wrangler JK. The Gladiator never made it past the concept stage but garnered an incredible amount of attention – so much so, that most Jeep enthusiast will clearly understand what concept Jeep the Gladiator name is referring.
Regardless of what Jeep decides to call its upcoming Wrangler-based pickup, we’re betting it will be a solid competitor to the Chevy Colorado, GMC Canyon, Nissan Frontier, and Ford Ranger. Save for any specialty off-road versions of these trucks, the Jeep should easily have the upper hand when it comes to trail riding and rock crawling. If FCA allows its Jeep engineers to work unhindered, the Wrangler Pickup will also outperform the others in towing and hauling. Don’t expect, however, the Jeep to outclass the competition in luxury. Jeep will leave that category to the GMC Canyon Denali.
What do you think? Should Jeep name the Wrangler Pickup the Gladiator? Should Jeep go with another name? Let us know in the comments below.
Read our full review on the upcoming 2018 Jeep Wrangler Pickup here.