The first Wrangler debuted in 1986 but its roots date back to the original Jeep of World War II.

Few new models have been the subject of more speculation, especially after Fiat Chrysler Automobiles put up a new version of the Jeep Wrangler outside its plant in Toledo, Ohio, albeit carefully covered up.

The waiting is finally over and, barely a month before the iconic sport-utility vehicle makes its public debut at the Los Angeles Auto Show, FCA is giving us a first look at the 2018 Jeep Wrangler. Unfortunately, it isn’t saying much then than confirming what our eyes already reveal: that the new Wrangler will retain plenty of cues from the outgoing model, including its keystone, seven-slat grille, round headlamps and square taillights. And, of course, the classic, fold-down windshield.

That said, the 2018 Jeep Wrangler also features big improvements in aerodynamics which should mean major improvements in both wind noise and fuel economy. Jeep engineers also were promising to shave off plenty of mass and make other improvements to Wrangler powertrain line-up to further improve its efficiency.

One can almost pity the designer assigned to the 2018 Wrangler project, given a mandate to make the ute “all-new,” but also required to make sure it remains completely familiar. We’ve seen similar challenges facing stylists assigned to work on other iconic products like the Ford Mustang and Porsche 911, not everyone pulling it off. In Wrangler’s case, the initial crop of photos suggest it’s worked here.

The 2018 Jeep Wrangler Rubicon viewed from above.

(Jeep begins exporting from new plant in India. Click Here for the story.)

As before, the new Wrangler will be offered in both two- and four-door configurations. And for those who take seriously its off-road bona fides, you’ll be able to not only fold down the windshield but remove both top and doors. Those doors, as well as the hood, incidentally, are believed to have been switched from steel to lightweight aluminum.

Preliminary observations suggest the 2018 Wrangler features new, more windswept bumpers with better integration of the foglamps. The slit-like running lamps – likely LEDs – and turn signals are better integrated into the front fenders. There’s more of a rake to the windshield, and there’s a small door now covering the gas cap.

One thing you can be sure of is that the new Wrangler will retain its “Trail Rated” status. This is the original American off-roader, as anyone who goes rock crawling will quickly confirm. Whether navigating an old gravel pit or the daunting Rubicon Trail, Wranglers are found everywhere.

“The most capable SUV ever delivers even more legendary Jeep 4×4 capability, a modern design that stays true to the original, advanced fuel-efficient powertrains, more open-air options, and is loaded with more safety features and advanced technology than ever before,” said a terse release from Jeep.

The four-door Sahara version of the '18 Wrangler.

(Jeep demand helps drive up FCA earnings. Click Here for the Q3 numbers.)

We’re expecting to see such advanced driver assistance systems as forward collision warning – and perhaps even automatic emergency braking – lane departure warning and blind spot detection.

There’s been plenty of speculation about what will be offered under the hood, and the 2018 Wrangler is expected to debut with an update of the current Wrangler’s 3.6-liter Pentastar V-6 package mated to an automatic or six-speed manual. A 2.0-liter turbo-four is expected to follow shortly afterwards. It’s being referred to inside Jeep as the Hurricane, an appropriate name considering rumor has it the package will punch out 300 horsepower, a hefty figure for a vehicle of this size.

FCA has spent close to $1 billion updating its Toledo plant to produce the next-generation Wrangler, winning concessions from union workers there in order to keep the plant running.

We expect to learn lots more at the LA Auto Show on November 29th, when the 2018 Jeep Wrangler formally debuts.

(The secret’s out. Click Here for a look at the Jeep Wrangler user’s guide.)

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