Jeep Wrangler rides into SEMA on new Mopar performance axles

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Mopar is unveiling Jeep Performance Parts axles as the latest off-road accessory to the Jeep Wrangler, which itself won the “4×4/SUV of the Year” honors at SEMA for the ninth consecutive year. The show opens Tuesday and continues through Friday at the Las Vegas Convention Center.

Mopar teamed with longtime partner and auto supplier Dana to develop the axles, which are co-branded under the name JPP Ultimate Dana 44 AdvanTEK. They’re installed on a Nacho Wrangler concept at Mopar’s 15,345-square-foot display.

The high-strength axles are built in the U.S. and feature gear technology that reduces gear set packaging, with added strength and overall rigidity for the trail. The high-clearance carrier design adds an extra half-inch of ground clearance, with an expanded range of gear ratios (4.56, 4.88, 5.13 and 5.38) to accommodate for more tire sizes. Chromoly axle shafts, thicker quarter-inch steel bracket mounts, 9.5-millimeter tubes and upgraded U-joints also add durability, while a nodular iron differential cover adds rugged looks, and its ribbing adds strength and rigidity.

The direct bolt-in assembly allows for use of OEM components and includes electronic differential lockers already installed.

The axles will be available for purchase starting next month.

Jeep Grand Wagoneer, Deserthawk and plug-in models coming soon

BOLOCCO, Italy — Today at FCA’s Italian proving ground, Mike Manley rolled out the roadmap for Jeep’s next five years. Manley has been in charge of Jeep since 2009 and has helped boost sales to more than 1.5 million units globally thanks to the success of models like the Cherokee, Grand Cherokee and Wrangler and submodels like the Trailhawk and Trackhawk. Well, there’s more on the way, including new sand-prepped Deserthawk models, the return of the Wagoneer and Grand Wagoneer nameplates, and electrified versions of every model by 2021.

While the plan for these next five years is a little less firm than the last one, it does provide the American automaker with some flexibility and breathing room. If you’ll remember, by 2018 we were already supposed to have a new version of the Grand Cherokee as well as the premium Grand Wagoneer. Both of those are still coming, just not as soon as Jeep had hoped.

Additionally, by 2022 Jeep plans to roll out two new three-row SUVs, new versions of the Renegade and Cherokee as well as the long-awaited Scrambler pickup. All in, Jeep plans to launch two models per year by 2022. That includes eight plug-in hybrids for the North American market. We saw one of the first Wrangler PHEVs at today’s presentation. There are also plans to have a Level 3 autonomous vehicle on the market by 2021.

Jeep will double down on its heritage, arguably one of the biggest things the brand has going for it. Its rugged image has helped boost sales in a market already clamoring for utility vehicles. By the end of 2018, FCA expects 1 in every 17 utility vehicles sold worldwide to wear a Jeep badge. The ratio should be even better for 2019.

[Source: Autoblog]

Jeep Wrangler Scrambler pickup truck spy shots reveal top and lighting details

Several spy shots have come out that give us further insight into the new Jeep Wrangler Scrambler pickup truck. Among them are some photos of a prototype being driven near FCA test facilities. They show that the Wranglerwill have LED headlights available similar to those on the SUV model, as well as the new Renegade revealed for Europe. They also show the taillights of the pickup, though they appear to be units from a previous-generation JK Wrangler. They’re probably placeholders for the new model’s lights.

These photos also include images of the truck’s interior. The dashboard is a mash-up of old pieces, including a JK Wrangler dash, and a Chrysler-badged steering wheel. But the important part of these photos is that they show parts of a normal Wrangler SUV roll cage, and latches holding down roof panels. These are evidence that the production model will have a removable roof.

Further evidence comes from photos taken by someone from the Jeep aftermarket part company Artec Industries was checking out the factory in Toledo, Ohio. The images were brought to our attention by Jeep Scrambler Forum, and they show an unfinished Wrangler pickup body sitting in the doorway to the painting facility. The photo is below, and it confirms a number of details.

[Source: Autoblog]

Jeep Grand One and Quicksand Concepts lead the charge to Moab

cn017-003jp-2.jpgJeep’s past, present, and future all share equal billing at the 51st annual Easter Jeep Safari in Moab. We’re suckers for vintage Jeeps, so the all-new Grand One Concept really stands out among the seven vehicles that make up Jeep’s conceptual take on the off-road event. It’s based on a 1993 Grand Cherokee in a slightly early celebration of the model’s 25th anniversary. Exterior mods include custom fender flares for clearance over 18-inch wheels and 33-inch BFGoodrich Mud-Terrain KM2 tires, trimmed front and rear fascias and what FCA is calling a “subtle wood grain” splashed on the vehicle’s bodysides. An extended wheelbase ought to offer a bit more room inside, and a two-inch suspension lift will help when the going gets tough. No alterations are mentioned to the vehicle’s 5.2-liter V8 or 4-speed automatic transmission.

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The second most interesting concept for Moab is the Jeep Quicksand. It’s clearly Wrangler-based, but instead of a traditional rock-climbing focus, this one’s built for the sand dunes. Power comes from a worked-over Mopar 392 Crate HEMI engine topped with an eight-stack fuel injection system that peeks through the hood. A six-speed manual sends the ponies to all four wheels, but with a unique twist: 32-inch BFGs in the front and 37s in the rear in what Jeep says is its first application of staggered tire sizes on a concept vehicle. A Warn winch concealed in a vintage-style Moon tank at the front is the finishing touch.

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The Jeep Safari Concept is all about letting the outdoors in while keeping the elements out. A translucent hardtop and four aluminum and clear vinyl doors are the most obvious changes from stock, and two rear seats have been angled outward so that their occupants get a better view outside. Dana 44 axles and a two-inch suspension lift come from the Mopar parts catalog, but the roof-rack-mounted drone and dash-mounted iPad are custom one-off touches. Power comes from a stock 3.6-liter V6 and five-speed automatic transmission.

Perhaps more intriguing than all the custom bits and baubles, though, are what appears to be next-gen Wrangler bodywork. Take a look at the kinked grille, the outer slats of which are pinched by the headlights, and the shape of the rocker panel between the front and rear door. No, this isn’t exactly a 2018 Wrangler hiding in plain sight, but it’s certainly a nod toward the future.

CN017_011JP.jpgJeep’s Switchback Concept looks to be a rolling Mopar parts catalog. Its front and rear Dana 44 axles, 4-inch lift with Remote Reservoir Fox shocks, heavy-duty cast differential covers, 10th Anniversary steel front and rear bumpers, Rubicon winch, grille, winch guard and cold air intake are all available from your nearest Jeep dealer. Most of the exterior bits, including the fender flares and rear spare tire carrier, are also off-the-shelf parts. The concept’s hood, cutout-style half doors, hard top, roof rack, and LED lighting package are conceptual, for now at least. Power again comes from a 3.6-liter V6 and automatic transmission.

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The Jeep Luminator Concept will be nice to have around when the lights go out at night. It’s plastered in LEDs head to toe, including some cool seven-inch projectors in place of the standard headlights. The magnetic underbody rock lights are a cool touch, but the lighted drone landing pad on top seems mostly for show, and the rooftop solar panel can’t possibly be powerful enough to provide any meaningful battery life for all those LEDs.

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Rounding out the new Jeep concepts is the Trailpass. It’s based on the new Compass Trailhawk, but gets a 1.5-inch lift kit and 18-inch wheels shod with Continental TerrainContact all-terrain tires. A Mopar/Thule roof basket holding some traction mats ought to come in handy if the Trailpass can’t pass a trail. A 2.4-liter four-cylinder engine and nine-speed automatic are unchanged from stock.

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The final vehicle Jeep is bringing to Moab is the CJ66 Concept that was first shown off at the 2016 SEMA Show in Las Vegas. A Mopar 345 Crate 5.7-liter Hemi engine sends 383 horsepower through a six-speed manual transmission to all four wheels. A narrowed body hearkens back to the time when Wranglers were actually CJs. Take a look at the instrument panel and its single centrally located gauge.

[Source: Autoblog]

Jeep teases its Easter Safari Wrangler concepts

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Every year ahead of the Easter Jeep Safari in Moab, Jeep shows off some wild concepts based on Jeep products. They usually don’t make it to production, but they do get the fans very, very excited. If you’ll remember last year, the company showed off a Hellcat-powered Wrangler concept called the Trailcat and some retro-inspired pickups, like a neo-Forward Control and one resembling the classic military Kaiser M715.

This year, we’re getting a sneak preview of two of the concepts Jeep will be showing off. Details are sketchy and the images aren’t very revealing, but such is the way of teasers. Let’s start with the Switchback, which appears to be a Wrangler Unlimited that features metal doors with large cutaways in them. They look like a cross between factory metal half-doors and the tubular trail doors that are a popular aftermarket add-on. It also appears to feature a bumper-mounted winch and a special top with a roof basket.

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The second concept is the Quicksand, which appears to be a two-door Wrangler with cut-down fenders, a roll cage, and no B-pillar aft of the door. Could it be a dune buggy of sorts, a Jeep analogue to the Baja Bugs or Meyers Manxs so popular in the 1960s and 1970s? It’s hard to tell, but all will be revealed soon.

[Source: Autoblog]

2016 Jeep Renegade Dawn of Justice in Portland

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Portland Jeep fans, check this out! The 2016 Jeep Renegade Dawn of Justice will arrive in Portland at Dick’s Country Dodge in Hillsboro later this year! For further information, please call us at (503) 640-6500.

Available in Granite Crystal or new, exclusive Carbon Black exterior paint colors, the Jeep Renegade Dawn of Justice Special Edition features new 18-inch Gloss Black wheels with Gloss Black accents around the exterior. The Jeep Renegade Dawn of Justice Special Edition models with Granite Crystal paint also feature a two-tone Gloss Black roof. A unique exterior badge hints at the inspiration for this special-edition Jeep SUV.

Inside, the Jeep Renegade’s blacked-out theme continues with a black interior, black premium cloth seats and High Gloss Black finishes. Metal Diamond accents are found throughout on key touch points such as the shifter knob and door handles.

The Jeep Renegade Dawn of Justice Special Edition is based on the Jeep Renegade Latitude 4×4 and comes standard with a 2.4-liter Tigershark engine with MultiAir2, nine-speed automatic transmission, Jeep Active Drive 4×4, Selec-Terrain with four drive modes and a variety of features, including the ParkSense rear backup camera. Also standard on the Jeep Renegade Dawn of Justice Special Edition is the Popular Equipment Group, which includes remote start, power driver’s seat and dual-zone automatic temperature control.

Arriving in Oregon Jeep showroom later this month, the Jeep Renegade Dawn of Justice Special Edition will be available for a U.S. Manufacturer’s Suggested Retail Price (MSRP) of $26,250 (not including destination).

Jeep Wrangler JK’s exit interview: brilliant

The engineers at Fiat Chrysler Automobiles, Jeep’s current steward (and there have been many), have to be sweating bullets as they ready the forthcoming, long-overdue replacement for the Wrangler. It’s the brand’s icon, its most recognizable vehicle, and the reason Jeep enjoys such success today.

Most brands use their flagships to lure shoppers who will then take home a more practical, pedestrian model. Think about the relationship between Corvettes and Malibus in the Chevy showroom. For Jeep, however, the Wrangler is a business unto itself: Nearly one in four Jeeps sold new last year was a Wrangler. That’s a lot of pressure as Jeep gears up to replace the current model, codenamed JK, which has been on the road since 2007. I took a Wrangler into the woods to ponder it all.

The Wrangler lineup starts around $26,000 but climbs rapidly from there. At the upper end of the spectrum sits the Rubicon Hard Rock, which builds on the already capable Rubicon’s locking differentials and electronic front sway bar disconnect with a host of styling goodies. At $43,325 as tested, the Hard Rock is no cheap trail toy.

Wranglers have gotten more comfortable and capable over the years, but driving one is still an exercise in compromises. Luxury here means durable leather upholstery and a lot of bass from the stereo. The driving experience is of the “well, it’s better than it used to be” variety on pavement.

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The rational buy in this segment is the Toyota 4Runner Trail, which goes off-road almost as well as the Jeep and does everything else way better. But nobody takes home a Wrangler because it makes sense. It’s a middle finger extended in the direction of conformity while fording the river of beige Corollas between home and office. You don’t need a Wrangler, but you probably want one. That’s why Jeep sold more than twice as many Wranglers as Toyota did 4Runners last year – and the 4Runner sells well.

Wrangler sales aren’t slipping, but increasingly stringent emissions and safety standards are signs of the inevitable forward march of progress – and so Wrangler must change with the times. Simple ways to improve the Wrangler are obvious: An updated interior with a modern infotainment system, user-selectable traction control modes tailored to specific terrain conditions, an eight-speed automatic, better aerodynamics, and a lot of weight-saving aluminum are inevitable. A turbocharged four-cylinder engine seems like a safe bet to replace the thirsty V6 in order to make the EPA happy, and we’ve heard about a hybrid. Still, they’ll be incremental changes… with the accompanying incremental price hike.

But does that mean the current Wrangler is a lame duck as Jeep gears up for a new model? Not a chance. As a point-and-go off-roader to take directly from the showroom up the side of a mountain, the Wrangler is better than ever.

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Setting out on a quiet weekday afternoon when other Wranglers in Denver lurked in the concrete jungle, I ventured into the heart of Colorado’s mining country, where a gold rush kicked off in 1859 and was rekindled by desperate southerners after the Civil War. It was in Clear Creek County that George A. Jackson discovered enough gold to set off a stampede of able-bodied, work-starved men from points East and West. They arrived to carve trails into hillsides and find their fortunes, despite attacks by roving tribes of Native Americans granted the land by the federal government. The horse and wagon trails remain today, and many cannot be explored without a high-clearance 4×4.

En route, the Wrangler reminds me that it isn’t an interstate cruiser. The V6 chugs along at higher rpm, demanding frequent downshifting from the now-outdated five-speed automatic to overcome elevation changes. It wants to be in the mountains, and with this in mind, I point it toward the line between Clear Creek and Gilpin Counties, anticipating rocks, mud, and rapidly changing weather along the way. A trustier companion is hard to imagine.

When you cling to the side of a mountain in a Wrangler, you forget about its cheap plastic door panels and wayward highway directional stability. Instead, you focus on its remarkable ease of use. Tug the transfer case lever into 4-high and all four wheels claw into the earth. When the going gets tougher, activating the differential lock allows each rear wheel to take advantage of its available grip, avoiding the spin you get on a traction-less wheel with an open diff. Another press does the same for the front wheels. That’s all there is to it – for now, there is no whizz-bang, multi-mode traction control system with pictographs of mountains or cacti.

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Virginia Canyon to the north of Idaho Springs is quintessential mining country. Remnants of extensive sluice mining pockmark the landscape and, 150 years after the rush, you still see amateur fortune panners. Mining isn’t on my mind when I venture down an offshoot of the main trail that inexplicably ends in a boulder-strewn landscape.

I encounter a steep incline on the way back up to the road and promptly dig the Wrangler’s BFGoodrich Mud-Terrains into the soft soil. Fearing a long walk back to town, I tap the rear differential lock button. The loose rear wheel spins before the locker engages, sending power to both sides to extricate the Jeep. I can appreciate manual control, but I can also speculate whether a “loose rock” setting might have pulled the Jeep through in the first place.

Despite increasing fog, I cover more ground than I expect and eventually find myself pushing the transfer case lever back into 2-high as I rejoin pavement near Central City. Once the richest square mile in the world, Central City and adjoining Black Hawk are now Colorado’s Atlantic City. A billboard hawks a Wrangler giveaway at a tacky casino. May the odds be in your favor, gambler.

Descending into suburban Denver with a filthy Jeep, I smugly pass a shiny, clean Wrangler Unlimited. It prompted a distinct thought: “I explored today. You did not.” That’s the feeling Jeep must replicate when the current Wrangler bites the dust. No matter how much more comfortable, refined, capable, or fuel-efficient the Wrangler becomes, it must counterbalance those added niceties with the ability to go wherever independence-seekers want to tread.

Beloved but a compromise between capability and comfort, the JK is a sign of how steady evolution can keep demand for a niche product on the boil. The next Wrangler will use less gas, but what we don’t know is just how much that will affect its on-road drivability or its off-road capability – or more important, its appeal. For now, the current Wrangler remains a hugely compelling buy – and Jeep, which has said it will build the JK alongside its replacement for six months, is happy to keep riding that wave.

[Source: Autoblog]