News about Jeep's new-product schedule continues to leak out. Fiat/Chrysler have ambitious plans for the Jeep brand, with a big focus on increasing European sales. Unfortunately, it seems that plans are to continue offering more street-oriented, Jeep-branded AWD cars rather than heavy-duty, truck-based SUVs that emphasize offroad performance.
Of note to readers of this blog are continued reports that the Wrangler will be redesigned for the 2016 model year; a pickup truck variant of the Wrangler continues to be a possibility, and a diesel and a new 8-speed automatic transmission are planned. Let's hope and pray that a proper 3-pedal manual transmission is still offered, not to mention the requisite front and rear solid axles and low-range transfer case. From Automotive News:
Jeep will re-engineer the Wrangler, probably for 2016. Its styling likely will change little, but the Wrangler will get Chrysler's eight-speed transmission and an optional diesel engine. It will also shed pounds. A Wrangler-based pickup is being considered if production capacity can be found.Other news includes a "baby Wrangler" that will be built in Italy alongside the Fiat 500X. As the Wrangler has continued to grow larger over the years, the demand for a smaller, more fuel-efficient 4x4 has grown. As much as I would love to see a "baby Wrangler" that's close in size and offroad capability to a Jeep CJ or Suzuki Samurai, I'm begrudgingly willing to bet that the Italian connection (and our federal government's incessant meddling in the automotive industry) will result in a Wrangler-looking faux-by-four with an independent suspension setup based on the aforementioned Fiat. From AutoGuide:
The new vehicles will be designed primarily for regular road use with better ride comfort – a tall change from Jeep’s traditional of rugged, off-road vehicles. The new subcompact crossover will be built in Italy alongside the Fiat 500X and the American automaker plans to take advantage of the booming crossover market by selling around 150,000 units annually worldwide. Its styling will be similar to a baby Wrangler and will appear in North American dealerships next year.It sounds like there's still some hope that the Wrangler may retain the heavy-duty features that make a Wrangler a Wrangler. Unfortunately, there's little indication that any other future vehicle that wears the Jeep badge will ever be true to the brand's heritage.