JEEP will muscle in Australia’s booming 4x4 Pick-Up market with a four-door utility based on the next-generation JL Wrangler.
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Championed for almost a decade by Fiat Chrysler Automobiles group chief operating officer for Asia/Pacific, Michael Manley, the JT Wrangler Pick-Up will enter production in the third quarter of 2018, about nine months after the three-door hardtop and five-door Unlimited wagon versions arrive.
“I fought for a Jeep pick-up for a long time… and it’s one I think would be very good for Australia,” he told journalists at last week’s LA Auto Show.
“The first production will be August or September 2018, so by the time that gets into our international markets, we’re probably looking at very early 2019.
“It’s one – since I became involved with Jeep in 2009-10 – that I felt we should have, and now we’re getting it. It’s going to be derived from the next-generation Wrangler… which goes into production at the end of 2017.”
Spy shots reveal a four-door dual-cab utility body, integrated neatly behind the future Jeep Wrangler front. As a rugged 4x4 vehicle it will retain a body-on-frame construction, but we hear that the newcomer’s doors and front mudguards will switch to aluminium to cut weight.
The rumoured revised 3.6-litre V6 petrol and revamped 3.0-litre four-pot turbo-diesel are expected to score either a six-speed manual transmission or an all-new eight-speed auto, to help improve fuel efficiency.
While the next-gen Wrangler’s styling is a gentle evolution of an eight-decade-old design, there are many detailed changes, including larger circular headlights with LED inserts, a more angled grille, longer bonnet, and a slightly more raked windscreen.
It’s all change inside, however, with a far more modern and higher-quality dashboard, featuring a large central touchscreen and better materials compared with that of the Wrangler that arrived in 2006.
Jeep has been on the Wrangler ute scent since it displayed the Gladiator Concept at the 2005 Detroit Auto Show – though nothing came of that.
FCA cannot wait for the Wrangler workhorse to appear. The Australian pick-up and cab chassis 4x4 segment is up almost 10 percent over the first 10 months of this year.
The Ford Ranger and Toyota Hilux are locked in battle for leadership with around 25,000 registrations apiece, with the Mitsubishi Triton third with almost 15,000 sales.