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First Drive: 2018 Jeep Wrangler

New design means better performance on-road and off.

by on Dec.13, 2017

The Wrangler is back — again! The 2018 Wrangler Sahara is part of a portfolio considered the most capable Jeeps ever.

Few vehicles can match the storied history of the Jeep Wrangler, born nearly 80 years during a competition to build a light-weight military vehicle.

The Willys Corp., one of the many, many ancestors of Fiat Chrysler Automobiles, won the design competition and the rest, as the saying goes, is history. The forerunner of the Jeep Wrangler has carried scouts, wounded soldiers and weapons during combat around the world and during the years has also evolved into a favorite of outdoorsman, hunters and fisherman who prized its ability to traverse all sorts of terrain.

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The 2018 Jeep Wrangler continues the long tradition of being able to travel over all sorts of ground. But it adds a measure of civility and safety that is sure to capture the attention of less adventurous buyers with its ride and handling and new technology. (more…)

All New Yet Surprisingly Familiar: Jeep Formally Unveils 2018 Wrangler

The archetypal SUV is now lighter, more fuel-efficient, more capable.

by on Nov.29, 2017

The 2018 Jeep Wrangler family shown alongside some classic Wrangler of the past.

It takes a second to realize that the Jeep Wrangler sitting on the stand at the Los Angeles Convention Center is new from the ground up. And that’s not by accident. When you’re redesigning an icon, Jeep officials explained, you have to respect tradition.

But don’t let looks fool you. A closer inspection reveals that the 2018 Jeep Wrangler isn’t just a light update. It really is a complete remake of the ultimate off-roader, a vehicle that traces its heritage back to the revolutionary off-roader that crisscrossed battle-scarred Europe and Asia during the dark days of World War II.

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“Wrangler is instantaneously recognizable anywhere around the world,” said Michael Manley, the head of the Jeep brand, during a preview of the new ute ahead of its official debut at the Los Angeles Auto Show. The challenge, he said, was to make it even better, addressing the issues that even the most dedicated Wrangler loyalists hoped to improve.

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What’s Coming to the 2017 L.A. Auto Show?

An array of utility vehicles, a handful of sedans – and a breakthrough gas engine.

by on Nov.27, 2017

The BMW i8 roadster gets a soft top and a more powerful drivetrain with a longer-range battery

This week marks the opening of the Los Angeles Auto Show, the nation’s first big car show of the 2018 model-year. Over a dozen manufacturers will roll out new products in Tinseltown, some making their global debuts, others appearing for the first time in North America.

While there are a few surprises in store, a number of manufacturers have already offered insight into what they’ll introduce at the L.A. Convention Center. That includes Jeep, which will lift the covers off the much-anticipated new Wrangler sport-utility vehicle. No surprise, in fact, that utes will dominate the show’s schedule, though we’ll see some intriguing products on the passenger car side, including the third-generation Mercedes-Benz CLS and, for mainstream buyers, the new Mazda6.

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The Los Angeles show has a tradition of focusing on green technology and there’ll be plenty of alternative tech to check out, including the new roadster version of BMW’s plug-in hybrid i8, as well as the new Infiniti Q50 which introduces the first variable-compression turbo engine.

Here’s a look at some of the most important introductions we’ll be seeing this week:

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First Look: All-New 2018 Jeep Wrangler

All-new yet completely familiar.

by on Nov.01, 2017

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.

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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.

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Secrets Are Out! 2018 Jeep Wrangler User Guide Leaked

Guide shed light on what to expect with new model.

by on Oct.16, 2017

The user's guide for the next-gen Jeep Wrangler was leaked by fan forum, revealing many details about the new model.

In today’s ever-shrinking, internet-based world, no secret goes unshared, especially when it’s the user’s guide for the next-generation Jeep Wrangler, which has been leaked, and reveals the new 4x4’s equipment including push-button start and a power sliding top among others.

The new Wrangler, who’s goodies were revealed by a fan site called JL Wrangler Forum, is set to roll down Fiat Chrysler’s revamped assembly line in Toledo, Ohio, beginning next month. Perhaps the most identifiable Jeep on the planet, the Wrangler boasts off-roading fans as well as open-air mavens around the world.

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The go-anywhere ute used to be a bare-boned beast, but over the years, more and more convenience features crept into the truck. The push-button start and power top are new for this iteration, but other niceties will include keyless entry, blind-spot monitoring, parking sensors and a backup camera, according to the newly — albeit unceremoniously — debuted user’s guide. (more…)

Unwrapping the 2018 Jeep Wrangler

Back to basics...but some modern touches.

by on May.12, 2017

A thinly camo'd 2018 Jeep Wrangler.

The new Jeep Wrangler is one of the most eagerly awaited models due to debut for the 2018 model-year, but the automaker isn’t saying much about the first complete makeover of the iconic SUV in more than a decade.

It’s not quite a red cape, but Jeep has been teasing Wrangler fans by placing what appears to be the next-generation SUV out front of its Toledo, Ohio assembly plant. The problem? It’s covered in a big white sheet. So, we asked our spy photographer Jim Dunne to try to capture images of what’s underneath.

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While these three shots of what is internally codenamed JL still leave some details covered up by camouflage, they offer the best look we’ve had, to date, of the 2018 Jeep Wrangler, and while the basic shape carries over some of the boxy cues that fans have long loved, there are some key updates that appear to bring the next Wrangler into the modern era.

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Is This Concept Toyota’s Answer to the Ford Bronco?

Japanese maker confirms plans to debut FT-4X at New York Auto Show.

by on Mar.29, 2017

Toyota drops a hint of what it has coming at next month's New York International Auto Show.

Rumors have been buzzing since last autumn, when Toyota registered the new trademark, FT-4X. What might that be used for? The initial inklings suggested it would likely show up on a light truck, perhaps the replacement for the old FJ Cruiser, dropped after the 2014 model-year.

The Japanese maker is now confirming a concept using that badge will make its debut at the New York International Auto Show next month, and from the teaser image accompanying that terse announcement, it’s safe to assume the show car will be some form of utility vehicle.

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But what type of ute does Toyota have in mind? A “soft-roader,” ala the RAV4, seems unlikely. The betting would suggest that the new Toyota FJ-4X will be a serious off-roader, perhaps even something opting for a body-on-frame design, that would take aim at the likes of the new Ford Bronco or next-generation Jeep Wrangler.

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FCA Set to Wind Down Passenger Car Production

Trucks Moving in at two current sedan plants.

by on May.09, 2016

The Jeep Crew Chief concept reveals some "hints" of a production Jeep pickup to come.

With pickups, utility vehicles and vans now capturing about 60% of the U.S. market, automakers are struggling to shift production to match consumer demand, in some cases dropping once-popular passenger car models and refitting plants to produce light truck lines.

Nowhere is that shift becoming more apparent than at Fiat Chrysler Automobiles. At least two of the maker’s sedans will soon head off to the junkyard, making room for expanded production of updated and possibly all-new pickups and SUVs.

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At least two plants will be impacted by the shift at the trans-Atlantic automaker, including one in Belvidere, Illinois and another in the Detroit suburb of Sterling Heights where 3,000 workers have been on temporary layoff due to slow sales of the Chrysler 200 since early this year. Nearly half will be put on indefinite layoff in July, likely for as much as two years.

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Jeep Will Keep Wrangler Production in Toledo, Add New Wrangler-Based Picked

But maker will relocate production of popular Cherokee model.

by on Sep.02, 2015

The question has been answered: Jeep is re-entering the truck market with the Wrangler-based truck.

After a long debate that put thousands of jobs at risk, Fiat Chrysler Automobiles has decided to retain production of the next-generation Jeep Wrangler in Toledo, Ohio. And CEO Sergio Marchionne confirmed that the maker will add a long-rumored, Wrangler-based pickup to the Jeep line-up.

But Toledo did get one setback in its bid to maintain its long-standing role as Jeep’s ancestral home. FCA will now move production of the Cherokee model to another, as yet-unspecified plant. The compromise follows an intense round of negotiations by Toledo and Ohio officials who struggled to help the automaker reduce costs and update the Toledo plant to handle what will be a radically redesigned version of the ever-popular Wrangler.

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“We found a solution that accommodates a variety of other interests to us because of the way in which we can move some product around,” Marchionne told trade publication Automotive News. “It doesn’t take a rocket scientist (to know) that the only way I can move around the Wrangler is to move it into the other Toledo plant.” (more…)

Jeep Expects to Hit 1.2 Million in Sales in 2015

Company struggles with Wrangler production issues.

by on Jun.29, 2015

FCA is struggling with what to do about increasing the production capacity of the Wrangler's long-time home plant in Toledo, Ohio.

Sales of Jeep-branded vehicles are on track to hit roughly 1.2 million this year, according to the FCA U.S. executive responsible for the nameplate.

Michael Manley, president of the Jeep brand, noted that Jeep sales have increased by 20% so far this year, after topping 1 million units for the first time ever in 2014. The plants belonging to FCA U.S., formerly the Chrysler Group, building vehicles such as the Jeep Grand Cherokee and Wrangler are having difficulty keeping up with the demand from customers, he told reporters at the company’s proving grounds in Chelsea, Michigan.

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Sales of the Jeep Cherokee, which was introduced last year, and the sales of the Jeep Renegade introduced this past spring are also doing well in the U.S. The Renegade is proving very popular with European customers and sales of other Jeep products also remain strong in Europe. (more…)