Aluminum Jeep Wrangler On It’s Way
Sources are claiming that the next generation of Jeep Wrangler will feature an aluminum body. This will allow the Wrangler to shave some weight.
The redesigned SUV, which is due in 2017 will remain a body-on-frame vehicle, rather than switching to unibody construction. Jeep isn’t revealing too much about the redesigned Wrangler, or how it will be equipped. All they are saying officially is that it “will be the most capable Wrangler ever.”
What we don’t know about the new Jeep Wrangler is whether or not it’s engine will be downsized from it’s current 3.6-litre V6 engine, or if it will get Chrysler’s 8-speed automatic transmission. We know that it’s keeping the current model’s frame, but haven’t heard if it will also keep it’s solid axels, which are popular with off-roaders.
The company has provided a few hints, thanks to a series of one-off concept vehicles and experimental vehicles taken out to the annual Easter Jeep Safari in Moab, Utah. A Wrangler concept called the Pork Chop produced in 2011 sported some components that had been replaced with aluminum, carbon fibre and other lightweight materials, shedding 850 pounds. Another, called Stitch, was based on a heavy-duty Wrangler Rubicon but had reduced it’s weight by 1,130 pounds via it’s body, frame, axels and interior.
It’s a sure thing that any redesigned Wrangler will get more gears, up from it’s current 5-speed transmission, as a way to improve fuel economy. A more-angled front grille and raked windscreen will improve it’s aerodynamics as well.
The Jeep Wrangler is manufactured in Toledo Ohio. Last week, the city of Toledo agreed to buy 32 acres adjacent to the existing plant, suggesting that an expansion is planned. Since it is not switching to unibody construction, it is expected to stay in Toledo, and produce more Wranglers for export and for North American dealers. Chrysler CEO Sergio Marchionne promised to never build Wranglers outside of Toledo. The switch to aluminum caused some worry in Ohio, when some thought that the expense of retooling the Toledo plant for aluminum would be too expensive, and cause assembly to shift to another location.
One thing that is certain, is that the new Wrangler’s fuel economy will improve significantly, through not only weight loss, but through aerodynamics and drivetrain. Official details to come.
By Linda Aylesworth – car-news.ca