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Next-gen Jeep Wrangler to stay body-on-frame SUV

Still in the frame: The next-generation Wrangler will retain its ladder frame chassis which will please four-wheel driving enthusiast who value strength and rigidity it brings.

Insiders confirm next-generation Jeep Wrangler will remain a body-on-frame vehicle

Jeep logo24 Oct 2014

By RICHARD BERRY

JEEP’S next-generation Wrangler will remain a body-on-frame SUV despite Fiat Chrysler Automobiles CEO Sergio Marchionne telling media at the Paris motor show that it could become a unibody vehicleAccording to Automotive News, Mr Marchionne said significant changes were being considered for the new-gen Wrangler including an aluminium body with a unibody construction and smaller, turbocharged engines.

The Wrangler is built at Jeep’s Toledo, Ohio plant which has had a long association with the vehicle, but the facility is not equipped to produce it with an aluminium body and with a unibody construction, which Mr Marchionne pointed out.

“If the solution is aluminum, then I think, unfortunately, that Toledo is the wrong place, the wrong setup to try and build a Wrangler because it requires a complete reconfiguring of the assets that would be cost-prohibitive,” he said.

“It would be so outrageously expensive that it would be impossible to try and work out of that facility.”

He recommended two other facilities in the United States which would be better suited – both are unibody plants.

Now Automotive News is reporting that Chrysler insiders have confirmed the next-generation Wrangler, due in the US in 2017, will be built at Toledo and therefore stay a body-on-frame vehicle.

With the pressure on Jeep to improve fuel consumption, a weight-reducing aluminium body is still a possibility for the Wrangler if the Toledo plant is outfitted with the required tools.

Automotive News said Jeep spokesman Todd Goyer wouldn’t comment on the SUV’s construction, only saying the new-gen vehicle “will be the most capable Wrangler ever”.

Four-wheel drive enthusiasts value the Wrangler’s ladder frame chassis due to the strength and rigidity it provides off-road.

In the US the Wrangler is the second-best selling Jeep, but in Australia it’s the lowest seller in the local five-model line-up. Since the start of this year to the end of September 1951 units have been sold here, while the Grand Cherokee remains king with 12,932.

The high demand for the Wrangler in the US has meant allocations to the rest of the world have been constrained. Jeep brand president and CEO Mike Manley commented earlier this year that he was limiting volume to outside markets to ensure US dealers had sufficient stock.

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