Jeep Australia has confirmed its interest in the pick-up variant of the next-generation Jeep Wrangler, when it becomes available.
The Wrangler double-cab ute will be built as part of the next Wrangler model line-up, expected to be called JL. However, it’s not planned until 2018.
“We’re looking at extending that (Wrangler) line beyond just two- and four-door variants that we have today with the pick-up,” said Zac Loo, head of product strategy and marketing at FCA.
The JL Wrangler will go into production at the Toledo, Ohio, plant in the third quarter of 2017, but FCA will continue to build the current JK Wrangler alongside it for around six months to keep up with demand until a new plant comes online in March 2018.
That new plant will be the one currently used for KL Cherokee construction, but it’s being moved elsewhere to allow for an extended Wrangler line-up. For the first time, that line-up will include the pick-up, as well as diesel Wrangler models for the USA.
Jeep recently built the Crew Chief concept double-cab (pictured) as part of its Easter Jeep Safari line-up, and an FCA spokesman commented that if you take away the military tyres and Kaiser-esque front end, there are elements of the concept that will make it to the new model.
The good news for Jeep fans is the JL Wrangler will retain its body-on-chassis design and live axles front and rear, making it one of the few true off-road vehicles left on the market.
The introduction of a double-cab ute Jeep variant will expand that line-up, giving buyers more off-road-capable options and the FCA an entry into the booming ute segment in Australia.
Specialist manufacturer American Expedition Vehicles (AEV) has been making the Brute Double Cab (pictured) for well-heeled buyers for some time now, but a factory Jeep offering should be more affordable. The AEV Brute also provides clues to what the JL ute might look like when it reaches the market.
We expect the JL Wrangler to continue with both two- and four-door variants of the soft-top wagon with the optional hardtop, the double-cab ute body, and a choice of petrol and diesel powertrains. It’s rumoured the new model will use some aluminium panels in an effort to reduce weight and minimise fuel consumption without sacrificing the Wrangler’s unrivalled off-road ability.
Expect to see more of the JL Wrangler in about 12 months’ time.