Jeep Mulls Over Aluminum, Turbo Engine for Next-Gen Wrangler

Jeep Mulls Over Aluminum, Turbo Engine for Next-Gen Wrangler

The next-generation Jeep Wrangler could be quite different than its predecessor.

Speaking to the media at the 2014 Paris Motor Show, Fiat Chrysler Automobiles CEO Sergio Marchionne spilled the details on what the American automaker is considering for the next Jeep Wrangler. While reports and rumors have been surfacing over the last year on which direction the Wrangler will head, Marchionne hinted strongly that the new Wrangler will likely be far different than the off-roader model available today.

Due in 2017, the next-gen Wrangler could be built on a unibody platform, sport an aluminum body and have a smaller, turbocharged engine under the hood. Currently, the Wrangler is powered by a 3.6-liter V6 but Fiat Chrysler needs to meet stricter emissions requirements in the U.S. which means downsized engines.

2014 Paris Motor Show Coverage

The biggest dilemma according to Marchionne is that building the Wrangler body-on-frame tub of aluminum means moving the Wrangler’s production away from its current Toledo plant. He did express that such a move is under consideration as well as debates on whether the move to aluminum is the correct one.

“We firmly believe that we have to downsize the engines that are going into the Wrangler, just in terms of displacements, and then increase the capabilities by putting turbos in and doing other things to that engine,” Marchionne said in an interview with Automotive News. “This requires a complete rethink of the architecture. And before we start committing capital to particular places, we need to make sure that we don’t spend an inordinate amount of money trying to get it done. That’s my concern.”

GALLERY: 2014 Jeep Wrangler Sport S


[Source: Automotive News]

Discuss this story at our Jeep Wrangler forum

  • Mlambert890

    Man… Im usually the last to do this BUT… I have to say… An aluminum unibody turbo Wrangler is, IMO, NOT a “Wrangler”. That’s the definition of a cross-over. Can’t *one* model be left alone to be purpose built and focused?

    Basically this is “build yet another cross-over and try to keep cashing checks on the Wrangler name” but this is a huge mistake IMO. The Wrangler is very much kept alive by enthusiasts and even “posers” buy it *because* they want to know they *could* survive the apocalypse in it even if the farthest “offroad” they go is to the beach once a year.

    Marchionne is nuts. Either kill the brand (if they feel it isn’t profitable or somehow can’t meet modern regulatory standards as unlikely as that seems) or leave it alone. Ruining it is just wasting money.

    Maybe it’s time to buy a 2015.

  • beekay31

    The Wrangler doesn’t have to meet emission restrictions. The Chrysler FLEET does. Sounds like nothing but an excuse to me. More likely, he’s just blowing smoke to get a bunch of people to buy the current generation before it’s gone.

  • JeepCollector91

    Why not just take a big step back and just use the newer engines in the smaller TJ chassis but use an aluminum tub in place of the steel tub. Heck, the aftermarket already makes an aluminum tub for the TJ so they could always just contract it out if its too much trouble for them to do…
    Also backing up to the TJ platform would mean there is already plenty of customers wishing they had another TJ after trading theirs in on the JK several years ago. And the aftermarket already has all our parts ready to build them up the way we want it. Wasn’t the TJ already over 500 pounds lighter than the 2-dr JK anyways? Just imagine how much lighter it would be with an aluminum tub and a smaller (yet more powerful) engine.
    I would still rather see the 4.0L come back and also a YJ with leaf springs, but if they went back to the TJ platform I would most likely be buying another new Jeep Wrangler.

  • BeierwaltesGarage

    Or, just by a good used YJ or TJ and build it how you want it for a third of what a new Jeep cost then you will enough money left over to actually take it places and use the damn thing. Also be out of debt a lot sooner.

  • Kelly Boone

    Yeah that’s right Marchionne kill the one that started it all. You and your money grubbing managers don’t have a clue what you’re even talking about. Jeep Wrangler sales have out paced all other models in the Jeep line up as well as those sorry ass Fiats. Why on earth would you want to screw that up? I currently own 3 Wranglers 02 TJ 09 and a 12 JK. If this is the direction your taking the Wrangler you can bet your sweet ass that the aftermarket will keep them running for the next 20 years. No way in hell would I buy another new one if that’s the direction you choose to go. Even with the 3.6 the Wrangler is under powered. Offer a Hemi and you would see sales sky rocket even higher. It’s time the general public and the automakers tell the Government to pack sand!!!!

  • Burnie

    Are they serious ? What the JK needs is a 4lt turbo diesel and leave the petrol at 3.6 or larger. Try and pull a boat with a 2.8lt, lol

  • oldnavy223

    Got my 2013 Sport and told the wife that is the last new one I will ever buy. Soon as it’s paid off the search for a used TJ will begin. Loved my old 97 TJ but she was old and tired and needed to retire. Decided on a new one, and after hearing these, and other rumors, I doubt I’ll ever buy another new one. At least the 2014’s and below still have solid axles. Plenty of power for me- I only haul a small trailer to our cabin in the VA Mountains. However I would agree the TJ is probably the best Wrangler overall (sorry YJ and CJ guys, and I owned an 81 CJ) and that will be what I look for next. Then the JK will be the DD, and the TJ will get outfitted for the apocalypse, assuming I get enough time. Fiat isn’t just shooting themselves in the foot- they are using a shotgun!

  • Kenneth Brennan

    I think the problem here is that Fiat lacks
    imagination. That is why they can’t see
    that the customer base for the Wrangler takes the base Jeep and uses their imagination
    to create a unique vehicle that is a reflection of them. No matter what your skill level is there is a
    MOD project that you can do to take your Wrangler from mild to wild. It is also a learning platform. Heck I have learned more about off-roading
    and off road vehicles just buy building my JK.
    What Fiat wants to do to us to take all that way and force us into a one
    size fits all for the masses. I think
    they call that Socialism. We are
    Americans. We are industrious, innovative,
    and free. We will not stand for European
    Socialistic restrictions on our life style.
    If you want to make the Wrangler better than talk to those that own and
    drive these uniquely American icons. We
    have the ideas on how to make the Jeep better, stronger, faster and more
    capable. Go the way you are talking and kill the most successful vehicle for
    70+ years.

  • If this is true my love for Jeeps will stick with the older models. I do miss my TJ and I am looking for one right now. I have 2 JKs but my TJ was the last year of what I consider a true Jeep. 2006, I should have never let it go.

  • desert dweller

    Ford pulled a 747 with their ecotech turbo, a bit heavier than most boats I’d say

  • Mark G.

    My 2009 JK Wrangler is an absolute gas hog. I have nicknamed it “the blue pig” as it is blue in colour. I cannot believe that Chrysler thought it was ok to build a vehicle in this day and age that gets 14.5 miles to the gallon in the city and only 19 on the highway. Especially when gasoline costs so much. It had taken all the joy out of owning and driving a Jeep. Me and the local gas stations see each other a lot and a lot of my income goes to them. And my Wrangler is not a good highway vehicle.
    I would welcome an aluminum body and smaller motor if it got better fuel economy. The original world war 2 Jeeps had small engines and were lightweight. Chrysler has strayed far from that concept and they should be ashamed of themselves for ruining what Jeep is all about. I would sell my wrangler in a heartbeat but I need it right now for my job as I do not want one of these giant 4X4 trucks. Unfortunately, auto manufacturers refuse to build smaller pick up trucks now too. What a mess. And I believe the last of the real Jeeps were the TJ`s. I regret not buying one when I had the chance.

  • Mark. G is a fucking retard

    Your an idiot. Jeeps are built for going offroad, not the highway. They would get less mpg if the epa would stay out of their business.

  • Rickers

    Is that your real name?

  • Felix James

    Yea… cuz that’s such a crazy coincidence

  • ???

    The Industries would be better off if the EPA was DE-funded and completely eliminated. The only thing.they have accomplished as of late is to destroy industry in the US leading to the demise and destruction n this country.

  • ???

    The only thing Fix It Again Tony has going for it is the POS Fiat 500 (Death Trap) it has been unloading on the US market

  • ???

    Have a 2006 Wrangler and although I like the newer body style, II will not buy a newer model. The engines suck and there is too much govt mandated computerized garbage built in them.

  • Peter J. Ford

    Whenever someone asks me about getting a Jeep (or other off-road vehicle) I tell them to first buy a cheap economical and reliable daily driver, and then we can talk about what kind of Jeep to buy. I know most people can’t afford 2 vehicles, so they want a Jeep that will do everything for them, but that only makes Jeeps worse.

    As far as WWII Jeeps, they didn’t get much better mileage. The top speed is about 45 mph. No seat belts, AC, heater, windsheild wipers, etc. How many people would want to drive something like that (besides me)? Add all those things? Huge weight increase. This doesn’t include things like airbags, ABS, emission, etc. The age of the simple lightweight vehicle is gone.

  • Fred


  • Seth

    Just go fully diesel… Duh… Offering any gasoline engines just reduce your average MPG rating… Go with inline-4 turbo-diesels. Maybe offer 2 sizes… Hell, maybe even offer an I5 TD, or V6 TD. And down size the damn bodies to be more like the TJ’s size, rather than the current ‘American Big Mac’-size. And turn the Unlimited into a 2+2 4-door instead of a family hauler…

    Wranglers are for enthusiasts and crazies… We don’t want no unit-body. The Grand Cherokee was always for hauling the family. Anyone rolling the Wrangler Unlimited to haul their unruly kids around in has a little d*ck and over-sized ego.

    Keep it straight people. You go unit-body with the Wrangler, and you’ll lose your hard-core base. Not that they’ll have anywhere else to really go anyway…

    Though, Chevrolet is supposed to adding an inline-4 tubo-diesel to the the 2015 Canyon/ Colorado line-up in 2016… And THOSE are still body on frame… Just shorten up the frame, put a cargo-carrier in the middle and a roll-cage over the back and you’d have yourself a nice little body-on-frame buggy, rather than some POS unit-body Jeep-abomination.

  • Over the Road Steve

    where do you get the idea that the wrangler doesn’t have to meet emissions? my YJ does here in TX, up to 1/1/15. when it will be 25 years old.

  • Over the Road Steve

    this is just a continuation of what happen to Chrysler when Mercedes owned it. the europeans don’t understand the american market and try to force european cars and sensibilities on us. if fiat wants the wrangler to continue, they will have to figure out a way to make a car that americans want but that meets legal requirements. it remains to be seen if fiat can do that.

  • Over the Road Steve

    yeah, pulled it a three mph. one wonders what rear end the truck had and what shape the torque converter was in when they were done. you believe everything you see on TV?

  • Over the Road Steve

    look around. there are plenty of half ton 4WD pickups that are a lot more useful than a wrangler, and no bigger. there is no law that says you HAVE to trick a 4WD up.

    I do believe you can still buy a 4WD tacoma; and isn’t GM building a new small pickup?

  • beekay31

    Sorry, I meant efficiency restrictions for fuel. Must have been overtired.

  • Jw.Draco

    First off you don’t buy a Jeep for it’s “Incredable” gas millage. Secound, they are desined for “off highway use” not groucery fetching. Indeed Both Chrysler and Faggot…I mean Fiat have butcherd the Jeep and it’s image. The only True Jeeps were CJ’s…and they were not good on gas ether! But They are what the Jeep namesake was built on.
    As for the Deisel clowns on here….Desiel is not the “Be all end all” of fourwheeling. Sad to say but a Deisel creat’s more emission by way of unburnt fuel than Any gas engine in the history of automotive creation by 10-1. And don’t fool yourself think the EPA is’nt cracking down on them as well. They too now have catalitic converters and egr valves not to mention a host of other electronic crap pluggging them up as well.
    Then there’s the added weight on the front axle….apparently none of you have ever been off road with a desiel. my answer… old and restore!

  • 3 CJ’s, an XJ and 2 ZJ’s

    Aluminum body Wrangler would be awesome. 300-500 lbs off +-. 2-5mpg gain. Keep the Pentastar engine, its great. Downsize and turbo it, fine also. No Unibody, it will harm loyalty buys. Make the frame of aluminum is a win/win. The Cherokee was (and still is to some degree) hated but is making many owners very happy. Very well reviewed. A person needs to drive something before griping about it…the experience is formed by the driving, not the looking at it. An aluminum turbo diesel Wrangler…now yer talkin’

  • Kenneth Brennan

    The rudeness
    aside in the name you are correct. My Jeep (2007 JK Unlim) averages about 16MPG
    over all. Would I like better MPGs, Yea!
    but is that going to stop me from using
    the Jeep for what is made for, NO. Now for the others on here You need to study
    engineering a bit more. A diesel engine produces more power per gallon of fuel
    and has emissions LESS than others gas engines in the same HP/Torque category.
    Diesels are also more adaptable to Bio Fuels than Gas engines. As for the
    weight issue, yes it does weigh more than the counterpart gas engine but not so
    much to make your comment a valid one. Now if you try to drop a 6.7L Cummins in
    there it will crush the front end. However, if you drop in one of the new
    smaller V6 diesels that have much less weight (And less power than the big
    brother but more than the gas) the weight increase is not as much. Do I think that
    a diesel is the answer? No. I do think
    it is a choice that answers some people’s needs and wants. There is no one size
    fits all. Anyone that fully believes that the one size fits all concepts on
    anything is a Unicorn and rainbow thinker.

    Now lastly
    for the original Mark G. You should get
    a Liberty or something. You are not
    Wrangler material. You just bought the
    wrong class of vehicle for what you want.

  • Kenneth Brennan

    I would hate to see what the trails would do to an all Aluminum body/frame. One way I paln to reduce weight is to replace my hood with a Carbon fiber hood. It is stronger and lighter and does not dent lie steel or crack like fiberglass or plastic.

  • Mentallect

    Jeep should have factory options for those who don’t want solid axles, and prefer highway gears and diesels. I would also love aluminum. 95% of Wranglers never go off-road.

  • Mentallect

    I agree. People believe they cannot have it all. You can, you just have to pay for it. Aluminum, independent front suspension, diesel, 8 spd automatic…I am sold!

  • 1weaver1

    The original WWII Jeeps had a 134 cu. in. 4 cyl. engine, large for its day, and the final prototype that won the contract for Willys Overland Motors exceeded the weight specs. by almost 500lbs. It had no heater, had a single manually operated windshield wiper, and calling it a primitive vehicle would be generous. Cruising speed of 45 mph, maximum permissible speed of 60. This is due to the 5.38 gears in the axles, and riding on 6.00-16 non-directional tires. By the way, if you try to run your WWII Jeep at 55-60 mph, it sounds like the engine is about to spin right out of it. They wer known for premature engine failure if run at high speeds too often. And the T-86 3 speed transmission was so weak it was never offered in any civilian Jeep. The first CJ-2 prototypes already had the better (heavier) T-90 3 speed.So much for small engines and light weight.

  • 99liftedxj35

    I have a 99 xj with 35s and a i6 4.0L and I get 22 on high way and 17 city so you guys need to learn how to drive and programmers do wonders for fuel economy

  • Jim

    pretty station wagon but I wouldn’t put lockers on those axles unless you upgraded them. It’s also easier to get better mileage in something that weighs 3300# than the JK which can weigh 700# more or the JKU which can be up to 4500# factory and armored up can be well over 5 kips

  • Jim

    screw IFS

  • 99liftedxj35

    Station wagon?? Lol and it’s got Dana 44s locked front and rear and it doesn’t weigh any where near 3300 pounds it weighs 4600 it’s got armor on the rear fenders and a custom front bumper with a 12,000 pound winch with 35/12.50/15 cooper discoverer stt also has a roof rack which weighs 150 pounds and will go threw more then a fully offroadable Jk all day already have done it

  • A not so civilized customer

    You’ve got Cherokees and Grand Cherokees, Mini-Joopers and what-not already in the line-up to appeal to the civilized customers, leave the Wranglers to your not-so-small core JEEP customer base who drive Jeeps because of their off-road ability, irregardless of how often or not we go off-road, it’s knowing we can anytime we want that matters. As well as having the largest aftermarket upgrade options available to make them even more capable, why do you want to mess with a good thing? You should be thinking of ways to Jeepitize even more to separate the brand from the pack and less how to Fiatize it. Just in case you need some suggestions, anything to increase the ruggedness would be welcome like a diesel option, keeping and even strengthening the SOLID axles, keeping the frame and body separate although going to aluminum or carbon fiber bodies and stainless steel frames would be great. Hopefully you people at headquarters get my point: Don’t Tread On Our JK’s & JKU’s!

  • Otakar

    I also agree, put a Diesel in it. Love the torque. DON’T mess with the architecture and Wrangler owners are not interested in comforts beond the ones already available.

  • Beau Hawkins

    The Jeep factory options are the Grand Cherokee, or Cherokee. They even have some cars, like the Compass. All of this has already been done, the market share and all…

  • Jeep can’t keep up with demand as it is, it seems like suicide to me to mess with the wrangler formula. unless messing with that formula involves adding a diesel, then the entire jeep world’s head will be collectively blown. The wrangler has been getting better and better recently, I think. better axles, better engine, less clunky, and they’ve already got so many of those garbage cross-overs.

    Now if someone else would have the balls to make a solid axle rig to compete with the jeep, say, GM, and bring back Hummer… but BETTER.