2018 Jeep Wrangler JL spotted playing offroad in the sand dunes

The videos here and here, among other things, highlight some of the reasons why it’s so terribly difficult for Jeep to introduce a new Wrangler. Needless to say, the ute has got to work offroad. Not only that, but the engineers need to make sure the vehicle is at least semi-content on the road and in the emissions and safety labs, and they have to make sure it pleases the diehards by keeping vestigial bits like external hood latches. Oh, and it can’t be priced out of the reach of the average car buyer. That’s a tall order.

Nevertheless, we’re pleased to see that Jeep is taking its offroad testing seriously. These videos were reportedly shot at the Silver Lake Sand Dunes near Lake Michigan. You’ll see some splashing through puddles, some steady-state medium-speed cruising, and even some Hazzard-style fishtailing. And you can rest assured that the Toledoans at Jeep have been busy testing their latest Wrangler in other off-road scenarios, like rock crawling at the Rubicon Trail.

These three clips are short, and it’s difficult to draw conclusions on the suspension action since we can’t really tell how flat or bumpy the terrain may be. Still, they’re fun to watch and important to Jeep fans. We expect to see plenty more spy footage of the 2018 Wrangler before its likely debut at the LA Auto Show later this year.

[Source: Autoblog]

Junkyard Gem: 1983 Jeep DJ-5L Mail Dispatcher

When it comes to putting mail in boxes, a simple and reliable vehicle works best. Say, a zero-frills steel box on wheels, with right-hand-drive, a fuel-efficient four-cylinder engine, no-hassle automatic transmission, sliding doors, and a big mail-sorting table instead of a passenger seat. That’s what the AM General Mail Dispatcher DJ-5 was all about, and these bouncy little trucks were everywhere for decades. Here’s a late-production example, still in USPS colors, spotted in a Denver-area self-service wrecking yard.

Neither snow nor rain nor heat nor gloom of night stayed this courier from the swift completion of its appointed rounds. Note the “Sonic Eagle” USPS logos on the doors; this became the official USPS logo in 1993, nearly a decade after the final Jeep DJ-5s were built. Plenty of these trucks stayed in service into our current century, and a few are still being used by private mail-delivery contractors in rural areas.

During the American Motors era of Jeep DJ production (1970 through 1984), a bewildering assortment of engines went into postal Jeeps. This is a 2.5-liter GM Iron Duke four-cylinder; before that, DJ-5s came with Audi power (more or less the same engine used in the Porsche 924, in fact), AMC straight-sixes, and Chevy Nova four-cylinders. The 1984 DJ-5Ms ran the AMC 2.5-liter four-cylinder.

The earliest DJs were equipped with three-speed manual transmissions, but the American Motors-built postal-delivery versions all had automatic transmissions. This one has a three-speed Chrysler Torqueflite A904, a weird engine/transmission combination that should help you stump your friends during car-trivia debates. Check out the ultra-bare-bones heater/ventilation controls!

These trucks were badged as AM Generals, not Jeeps (I couldn’t find a single Jeep label anywhere on this one), just like the original HMMWV. However, you’d have to be a real hair-splitter to refer to this as an AM General DJ-5 instead of just Mail Jeep or Jeep DJ-5.

Next time you complain about your subcompact rental car lacking driver-comfort features, consider this vehicle.

I had a few high-school friends who owned DJ-5s, back in the early 1980s when they were available for a couple hundred bucks at government-surplus auctions. The first thing civilian DJ-5 owners always did was tear out the mail-sorting table and replace it with a random junkyard bucket seat (or an aluminum lawn chair). These trucks were very noisy, very bouncy, and very slow, but they always ran.

[Source: Autoblog]

2018 Jeep Wrangler will keep classic hood style

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One of our spy photographers caught some FCA employees poking around under the hood of a 2018 Jeep Wrangler prototype. They had the hood open wide, and because of that, we can catch a couple little details that tell us a bit more about the exterior styling of the Wrangler. Mainly that some of the Wrangler’s signature hood details will remain for the new generation.

The first details we caught were the bolt holes in the hood at the base near the hinges. These show that, as with the previous model of Wrangler, the 2018 model will feature chunky, rugged-looking external hood hinges. We can also infer that if these hinges remain, the doors will likely have matching ones, and those will hopefully still be removable.

The second details we spotted were a bit more subtle. On the sides of the hood towards the leading edge, there are some indentations. Based on the positioning, and their small size, we believe these are the indentations for external tie-down latches for the hood, just like the old model. Actually, just like pretty much every Wrangler-style Jeep back to the military models used in World War II.

Based on a report last week from JL Wrangler Forums, we are expecting to see the fully revealed 2018 Jeep Wrangler and its classic hood details at this year’s LA auto show. It is then expected to arrive at Portland Jeep Wrangler dealer, Dick’s Country Dodge, in December with both V6 and four-cylinder engine offerings.

[Source: Autoblog]

Next-generation Jeep Wrangler arriving at the end of 2017, diesel for 2019 model year

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The folks at JL Wrangler Forums have come across some very juicy information regarding the next-generation Wrangler, thanks to an anonymous source who got the details from a dealer meeting. Among the information provided by the source is the timeline for the new Jeep’s release. It will be fully revealed at this year’s Los Angeles Auto Show, and it will hit dealers this December.

At launch, the next-gen Wrangler will be available with both a 3.6-liter V6 with either a manual or automatic, and a 2.0-liter four-cylinder that can only be had with an automatic. We expect this engine to be turbocharged and pack as much as 300 horsepower. It also seems Chrysler is still making good on its promise of a diesel Wrangler for this generation. Photos taken by a JL Wrangler Forums user show what looks like a diesel exhaust fluid tank underneath one of the prototypes seen above. There could be a bit of a wait on that powertrain, though. According to the JL Wrangler Forums source, it won’t be arriving until near the end of the 2019 model year, so potentially at the end of the 2018 calendar year, and possibly early 2019.

The other big news is that the anonymous source confirmed that there will in fact be a hardtop with a power sliding opening. The feature was rumored years ago, and we may have had our first look at it thanks to earlier spy shots also taken by a JL Wrangler Forums member. The photos showed a mysterious set of switches on the windshield header that may have been controls for the power top. This feature won’t be available at launch according to the anonymous source, and will instead debut near the end of the 2018 model year, so likely early- to mid-calendar year 2018. Some other minor changes to colors and equipment were revealed also, and can be seen at the forum website, here.

Jeep and Ram could be spun off from FCA, says Marchionne

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Jeep is surely the biggest single feather left in the cap of the Fiat Chrysler Automobiles portfolio. Under Sergio Marchionne’s leadership, Jeep went from fewer than 500,000 annual sales in 2008 to 1.4 million in 2016, and is on track for 2 million by 2018. Add in the brand’s legacy, status as one of the most recognizable nameplates in the world, and rabid fan base, and Jeep has extraordinary monetary value to its parent company.

Investors and analysts have certainly noticed Jeep’s inherent value. According to The Detroit Free Press, Morgan Stanley’s Adam Jonas asked FCA chief Sergio Marchionne if he would ever consider spinning Jeep and Ram, FCA’s dedicated truck brand, into a separate corporate entity, and he responded with a simple “Yes.”

Jonas estimated Jeep’s worth in January of this year at $22 billion. Ram was valued at $11.2 billion.

Marchionne has a history of spinning off brands while keeping them part of FCA’s corporate umbrella. The most noteworthy example of this value maximization was with Ferrari, which now trades on the New York Stock Exchange and rakes in $3.4 billion in annual revenue and close to $435 million in net income, reports the Free Press. Marchionne still serves as chairman and CEO of Ferrari, and Fiat heir John Elkann owns 22 percent of the Italian marque’s shares.

Even if the offloading of Jeep and Ram into a separate entity would amount to little more than a profit-driven ownership change on paper, it would be huge news to the brands’ loyal fanbases. In any case, such a move would likely take years to actually happen and probably wouldn’t mean much at all to the products that Jeep and Ram produce. In other words, Jeep fans can keep the pitchforks in the shed … for now.

[Source: Autoblog]

Here’s another look at the next-gen Jeep Wrangler Unlimited

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Yesterday, we got a sneak peek at the next generation Jeep Wrangler Unlimited. As you might expect, it looks a lot like the current Wrangler. Really, did you expect anything different? The big news is that the leaked images show that the doors and top are removable, something that was unclear until now. Thanks to our friends at JL Wrangler Forums, we have some pretty new renderings based on those same leaked images.

While these aren’t official, this should be pretty damn close to what the final production model will look like. While it may be all new, the design is just a revolution of the tried and true formula. Fans might burn down the factory if designers strayed too far. The entire body has been worked over, with changes to the grille, bumper, fenders, and lights. The square tail lights look a lot like those on the Renegade.

We keep seeing more and more leaks and spy photos, so an official reveal can’t be too far off. In addition to the four-door Wrangler Unlimited, look for the long awaited Wrangler pickup truck.

[Source: Autoblog]

New spy photos of the next Jeep Wrangler reveal a backup camera

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The new Jeep Wrangler JL is on the way, and we have new spy photos that give us our best look yet. The few vehicles seen in these photos all appear to be the four-door Wrangler Unlimited model, but we know the two-door and pick-up versions are coming as well. No word on when the new model, code-named JL, will debut, but don’t expect to wait too much longer before Jeep finally finishes pulling off the wraps.

While the Wrangler still is covered in test car camouflage, the “diaper” coverings have been removed from the side. But we still can’t tell how the new removable roof and side panels will fit. One new nugget that we can spot is the spare-mounted backup camera. At least the Wrangler is keeping its rear-mounted spare.

The overall shape hasn’t changed much, but there would be pitchforks and fire in Toledo if Jeep strayed too far from the current design. Like the Porsche 911, the Wrangler’s general design is permanently etched in stone. The grille is exposed on a few shots showing the new back-canted seven-slot setup that recalls the YJ generation of Wranglers. The windshield on the new model now appears to be fixed and tilted at more of an angle. Like we said, small changes.

[Source: Autoblog]