2018 Jeep Wrangler Mules Spied Testing

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The first set of next-gen Jeep Wrangler spy photos have rolled in, showing two- and four-door mules out testing.

Though the overall design of the Wrangler will stay mostly the same, we can see some slight body modifications have been done to the cowl and front fenders on these mules. The extent to which the design will be changed is still unknown, although a dealer who has seen the new Wrangler says it will stay “true to its current form.”

A rough, matte finish can be seen on many of the body panels fitted to these mules, suggesting they are made of a different material than the rest, likely aluminum. Rumor has it that the new Wrangler will have aluminum doors, fenders, tailgate and hood to help the SUV shed weight to improve fuel economy.

SEE ALSO: The Jeep Wrangler Pickup Truck is Finally Going to Happen

Some close up shots of the rear suspension reveal some more tidbits of info on the next Wrangler. A rear crossmember that is fitted to the current Wrangler, which serves as a track bar, is gone. This helps to keep the rear axle properly situated. The removal suggests that some thorough updates to the suspension have taken place.

Improving fuel economy is one of the biggest jobs for the new Wrangler, which is why an eight-speed automatic transmission and the addition of a diesel engine are likely for the new off-roader. A Wrangler-based pickup truck is also said to be coming.

Discuss this story at our New Jeep Wrangler Forum

  • Mario

    I think that we all understand what is happening with all that vw problem. Yes it’s bad and it’s time to stop and start to think about all thoes guys with big pick up trucks diesel ones that are removing exhaust system and egr valves to increase hp and smoking black exhaust in the air. They are just as bad.and they should be also stop and be given a big big tickets up 1000$.Some of the guys still have big ego bigger then they are, wake up and start to think.

  • blackdiamond925

    Nothing wrong or overly polluting with modern diesels if everyone is playing by the rules. You’re just not going to good fuel economy from a Wrangler without diesel.

  • Joseph Santiago

    Jeepers are not concerned about gas millage, these are considered MPV’s. For gas millage get a Honda.

  • Jon Austin

    Interesting that these vehicles are equipped with Rubicon Hard Rock bumpers, but Sahara wheels and tires. Anyway, glad to see that the JK design remains largely untouched.

  • Doug

    Oddly enough, egr deletes and towing tunes on large diesels greatly improve MPG and emissions go down. Still haven’t figured out why that is. My 01 F250 averages 19 mpg with 270,000 miles. Never see black smoke. However the black smoke you see actually isn’t what harms the environment.

  • Scott Brooks

    No way they got rid of the Rear Track Bar. It would have to be either a triangulated four-link, or a three-link to accomplish that. No way to do the triangulated four-link with that gas tank in the way, and you can plainly see there’s no link attached to the top of the differential housing for the three-link. In fact, if you look closely, you can see what appears to be a redesigned track bar arching around the top of the differential housing. You can also clearly see a mounting bracket of some sort on the left axle tube, near where the existing track bar bracket was. More likely, is that they simply moved the track bar to the front side of the axle housing rather than the rear, in order to increase trail clearance. Nothing to see here folks; move along.

  • shaun

    I think the general idea of “good fuel economy” has been fuddled to the point that if you aren’t getting Prius fuel economy you’re not getting good fuel economy.

    My 3.8 JK with the 6-speed gets ~15.9 around town and upwards of 24 on the highway. I don’t consider that bad at all for something with the drag coefficient of a brick. If nothing else I’d like more range between fillups, but the 2-door’s got a tiny tank so it’s whatever. It’s one of those things you learn to live with when you adopt a Jeep. With the VW scandals going on (which, to me, looks more like “Oooo, see? This is why we don’t like diesels in ‘Murika!” propaganda than anything else) I don’t think we’ll actually see a diesel Wrangler.

    So with that in mind..

    Wrangler Hellcat? 😀

  • JeepinJason

    You’re partially right. The trackbar is still there, but it’s not on the front side, it’s still on the back of the axle, right where it is on the JK – they just raised the axle mount up so that it’s parallel to the ground instead of at an angle as it on a stock JK. This will improve the ride and handling of the rear suspension, and reduce body roll.

    What I find more interesting though, is that that rear axle is definitely not your normal D44 axle.

  • egr deletes and towing tunes actually reduce black smoke by increasing the temperature of combustion which in turn causes more thorough combustion. Black smoke btw *is* toxic, the tiny particles cause cancer when they lodge deep in the lungs. But egr deletes/towing tunes increase NOx, which diesels produce naturally because the way they get their MPG is by running at higher temperature and pressure than gasoline engines (which naturally squeezes some of the nitrogen and oxygen in air to combine with each other before the fuel squirters squirt the fuel in there to go boom). The ammonia in DEF then combines with the NOx to create N2 and CO/CO2 (and CO is then turned into CO2 later on) but this requires a lot of DEF and VW didn’t want to put a big DEF tank on their tiny bunnies, so they cheated instead. You can’t meet NOx standards without DEF nowadays so any Wrangler diesel would need a big DEF tank stashed somewhere underneath the car. Luckily the left side of the car is pretty empty, there’s nothing there but the exhaust pipe, catalytic convert, and evap canister. Not that I expect it to happen. Fiat’s CEO complains that it costs $8,000 to meet US emissions standards with diesels, which is why they’re only shipping diesels on high-profit high end SUV’s and pick up trucks. They try to keep the Wrangler fairly affordable so it seems unlikely it’ll get a diesel.

  • Passingthru

    Still junk. Jeep hasn’t changed in 10yrs.

  • VulpineMac

    Actually, yes it has. The JK model wasn’t released until late 06 as the 07 model and there have been engine and transmission changes, along with several material changes and other modifications since then. By no means is is “junk” as it is more capable bone-stock than its predecessor the TJ with a 3″ lift.

  • VulpineMac

    Jeepers may not be concerned, Joseph, but Federal regulations are, and FCA HAS to obey Federal regulations to the best of their ability; so fuel mileage is of infinite concern over the next several years. Expect new engine/transmission combos and maybe even some battery capacity before 2020. I’d also expect more aerodynamic shaping as its highway mileage needs to improve. You may be able to achieve 25mpg with an existing JK (I have) but you have to run at or below 60mph to do it.

  • Michael Feddema

    lol, I have a jeep liberty turbo diesel and getting 32-35 MPG with lifted car and heavy offroad tires.
    the petrol engines are absolute crap for a jeep, it constantly hunts for a lower gear and if going uphill you just cant get up unless it shifts to first gear.
    The diesel however shifts UP even when the car is fully loaded. why there is no diesel in a wrangler is completely stupid. in Australia you CAN get a wrangler diesel. my best guess is that the EPA is being “lobbied” by the petrol industry

  • That’s completely untrue. If I could use half the gas on my ride out to the desert I’d be very happy with the cash left in my wallet. It may not be the most determining factor but it would be nice. Besides, you need to keep in mind that Jeep is in the business of selling cars, most of which never touch dirt. They need better MPG to compete.

  • Passingthru

    I can tell from your response you don’t use either a TJ or JK to their true potential. I don’t really believe you know what true capability is other than what size tire you can fit. Being one that has put stock ZJs and WJs thru their limits, I can say that JKs are not more capable. But you keep on defending the inflate price. I don’t and therefore label them junk related to the bloated pricing model.

  • Beau Hawkins

    A new JK base price is $23k, has a better approach, departure, and break over. It’s cool you have a passion for JGC’s and all, but take it easy.

    -Rocky Mountain Tj owner 😉

  • Jeepey

    The only thing I don’t like is the gas tank, it makes the jeep look like a cow with an utter, it hangs so low it’s going to scrape on everything.

  • VulpineMac

    What Beau says. I HAVE been out there… in fact, going factory stock with a JKU opposite lifted (but not extreme) TJs at Roush Creek in Pennsylvania. Every one of those TJ owners claimed I needed at least a 2″ lift to make some of the obstacles I attempted–and each time watched their mouths gape as the longer JKU took them with no trouble. No, I didn’t try the JKU at it’s full limits, but it was keeping up nicely with the TJs where I did take it.

    I’m not a fan of extreme Jeeping, but I do like to go where most cars (and full-sized pickup trucks) can’t.

  • Passingthru

    Come on now, we both know what you do not get at that price. But besides that…

    And showing my age here….the base price was 10k cheaper prior to jk. Capability achieved vs dollars spent equals ‘doesn’t add up’.

    It is more about the aggressive look in the end with the late model. To each there own but jks are over priced.

  • God Youreboring

    Dumb.

  • robb lincoln

    its an engineering mule–what you see is definitely not what your gonna get.

  • robb lincoln

    was right there with you right up until the end. Diesel is a natural fit for the Wrangler, and have you priced the higher end models? the only reason you can’t get a Hemi currently is it can’t fit without major modifications, not that wrangler buyers are too price sensitive.

  • Actually, AEV will sell you a Hemi conversion for your Wrangler. It fits just fine. The Hemi isn’t physically much bigger than the Pentastar, the Pentastar has very large cylinder heads due to its DOHC design while the Hemi is a pushrod motor, so the Hemi is about the same width and only a few inches longer and there’s plenty of space in front of the engine in the Wrangler albeit it’s probably for crumple zone. Chrysler themselves don’t sell the Hemi for the Wrangler probably because it’d impinge on the crumple zone or maybe because the Wrangler already is too big a hit on their CAFE numbers and the Hemi is even thirstier than the Pentastar, not to mention the certification costs — granted, Chrysler now sells 200K Wranglers per year but certification costs can easily exceed $5M and if they sell 50K Hemi Wranglers per year, that would take a *long* time to pay off. Besides, they sell every Pentastar Wrangler that they make. What would their incentive be to add the Hemi — or the diesel, for that matter?

  • Well, other than CAFE, of course. Which might in fact end up what drives putting a diesel into the Wrangler.

  • Australia follows the EU Tier V standards, which for diesels allow 10x the NOx emissions of US Level II standards. The US doesn’t have separate diesel and gasoline NOx standards, they’re all expected to comply with the same standard. That is why the brown smog haze that once covered Los Angeles is gone, while if you go to London there are still days where you need a spoon to breathe the air because it’s so thick with smog — 50% of the cars there are diesels, and they’re all emitting 10x the smog-creating NOx compared to what’s allowed in the US.

    The expense of complying with the Tier II standard has been the biggest issue blocking diesels in the US. Everybody wondered how VW could do it for such a low price penalty over their gasoline engines. Now we know :).

  • Devon

    And ur still dumber than a box of rocks

  • Devon

    I’ve wheeled a zj with a 6 inch rustys lift on 35 did great, a tj, and a xj. They all have their pros. But I have to say the jk did the best at hidden falls in tx. Even though it was a sport the brake lock diff got that jeep everywhere the others did with lockers. Everyone can hate but us jk owners just laugh in your jealous faces 😀

  • Passingthru

    Funny how sensitive jk people respond. Jeep doesn’t cater to the same demographic any longer. Its all changed.

  • Passingthru

    You went thru through setting up a special account for this?? Lame

  • Passingthru

    And how to you justify your existence?

  • Passingthru

    Just to be clear no jealously. Not really sure how that’s possible when i can walk onto any showroom and buy what you have.

  • Bob Foss

    Agree. I’d never get a diesel Wrangler. My 2012 Unlimited Sahara with the 3.6 Pentastar and Mercedes-derived 5 speed gets 17 city here in Las Vegas…23/24 on the highway. If I go the posted speeds (75-80 mph) I still get 21, though that’s rare as you have to go far out in the desert to go that fast. My Jeep dealer charges me $15 for an oil change…diesel vehicles are over $100, plus there are some extra oils diesels require maintaining. I’ll stick with gas, though many of my military friends who have Jeeps are anxiously awaiting for Wrangler diesels.

  • robb lincoln

    Like I said, it doesn’t fit. AEV does not need to be held to the same standards as the original manufacturer and can get away with LOTS of things Jeep cannot. For instance, not only does the Hemi impinge upon the crumple zone, but you need to move or replace the brake main cylinder in order to make enough room in the engine compartment, and thats a no go for this platform. They also might have to make changes to the firewall, although I’m not certain of this last point so please don’t quote me.

  • trex

    Still overweight and underpowered. I wish they had made more LJs (when the modern Jeep peaked, IMHO), maybe it wouldn’t be so hard to find a good used one.

  • Rockmaninoff

    The 6.4 Hemi adds 150kgs (330lbs) to the front and more to the rest because of bigger exhaust and more fuel weight. So even if the engine is 470hp, the effect is like 430hp or less. Also the NA 6.4, at least in the GC SRT, isn’t quick from a standstill in everyday traffic because of low torque down low.

  • Shawn

    I remember years ago, Mel at Off Road Evolution was working with corporate on suspension work. I guess anything is possible. If they get around that gas tank. I’m sure they are doing everything they can to get get rid of death wobble.

  • Mike Fissel

    Are you sure you aren’t referring to the muffler at the rear?

  • Venum29

    In all honesty, yes the prices do suck, but if they were produced and sold at 10 k less, really they can’t keep up with demand as is.