We have all heard the rumors, the speculation, and some of the SCARY things that Jeep may or may not have in store for us with the new model Wranglers due out soon, here is some more fuel for the fire!
Jeep is planning world domination of the SUV market over the next five years with the 2014 Renegade, an all-new replacement for the Compass and Patriot in 2016, redesigns of the Wrangler and Grand Cherokee in 2017, and a Suburban-sized SUV reviving the Grand Wagoneer badge in 2018.
The small SUV that replaces the Patriot and Compass will be launched to coincide with Jeep’s 75th anniversary, but I wouldn’t count on any commemorative insane off-roader. Jeep has made it clear that the Wrangler, which CEO Mike Manley described as a “bookend” in his presentation about Jeep’s future, will be Jeep’s singular “extreme off-road” application.
Off-road ability and customization aren’t going away… so they say.
Last year Jeep CEO Mike Manley told Car & Driver his company wants to keep the next Wrangler “easy to customize” and maintain the “halo-qualities” its off-road abilities bless the brand with, and his message hasn’t changed since.
Manley and his boss Sergio Marchionne have tried to guardedly comfort Wrangler’s enthusiast fan base every time they’re questioned about the vehicle’s development. Everybody knows the truck has to get more efficient, and everyone’s scared the beancounters will turn it into a lifeless crossover to save coin.
Frankly I don’t think such fear is entirely misplaced; Manley’s also been quoted saying his three priorities for the next Wrangler are “preserving the look, improving economy, and on-road dynamics.” If that’s to be taken literally, “off-roading” is the next Wrangler’s “job four” at best.
But I also think you should shut the fuck up and find a CJ-7 if you can’t handle new vehicles being built on improved technology. As anybody who’s ever been on a Jeep forum knows; any new Jeep sucks and the outgoing one is the only real Jeep. Such is the cycle.
Vellequette is convinced this is a done deal, but I’m not so sure. The factory retooling costs of switching to aluminum would be massive, the “billion dollar” aftermarket business would get majorly butthurt, the “repair controversies” Ford’s dealing with would come in twice as hard… and how much could the existing body panels of a Wrangler even weigh anyway? The Wrangler’s pretty much a steel mermaid covered in a few flimsy strips of sheet-metal providing as much coverage as a coconut bra.