Looks like the next-generation Jeep Wrangler may get a hybrid powertrain in a bid to improve both fuel efficiency and off-road capability.
Since the current-gen Wrangler has been the same since 2007, it may be the right time to redesign the vehicle from top to bottom. It appears that Fiat-Chrysler is planning to do just that in 2017 to prep the vehicle for a next-gen debut in 2018, which is when we may also see the new hybrid drivetrain.
“For those people who use the Wrangler, the most important thing is the initial torque and the crawl ratio,” said Mike Manley, the Chief Executive Officer of the Jeep division. “With an electric motor you have the most torque available and with the right combination of transmission and gear ratios you can create incredible crawl ratios.”
In order to achieve its goals, the Wrangler may also include an aluminum body, eight-speed transmission and diesel engine. While none of these are officially confirmed, it’s entirely possible that some of the features will make it into the final product.
The eight-speed transmission is especially probable since it’s also within the Jeep Grand Cherokee, Ram 1500, Dodge Challenger and Dodge Charger. In addition, the United States Securities and Exchange Commission has stated that the ZF 8HO / Chrysler Torqueflite eight-speed “reduces fuel consumption by more than nine per cent over the five-speed” transmission in the current Wrangler. And since Jeep’s goal is to reduce fuel consumption, we’re inclined to believe that having this eight-speed gearbox would make a lot of sense.
Manley is a little worried, however, since many hybrid powertains don’t offer the kind of range a proper off-roader needs. “Where you have to be careful with the Wrangler is range. If you are eight hours and four miles into a trail, there is not a hybrid that we could do which could provide the battery support,” he said. “The way that combination is calibrated would be more unique for a Wrangler than it would, for example, a Grand Cherokee.”
As for the next-gen Wrangler’s style, Manley says that it’s probably going to stay the same. His reason? Because Jeep fans wouldn’t enjoy “a Wrangler that didn’t look a Wrangler.” And that’s fine by us.
The Jeep has never been particularly outgoing as far as changes are concerned, often choosing to stick to whatever its core group of customers is used to. That’s why we are so surprised to learn that the next-gen Wrangler may go hybrid.
But, will Jeep actually go through with the plan? Only time will tell.