CHELSEA, Michigan — The 2018 Jeep Wrangler will be lighter with a more aerodynamic shape when the redesigned models hit the market in the first half of next year, Jeep/Ram boss Mike Manley confirmed.
The new Wrangler is expected to be unveiled in January at the 2017 Detroit Auto Show, although Manley would not confirm the timing.
In addition, the production of the first factory-assembled Wrangler pickup is now scheduled to begin in early 2018 instead of late 2017 as had been previously announced. No reason was given for the delay.
Manley, who is the global head of both brands at Fiat-Chrysler, called the pickup's styling "fantastic, absolutely fantastic" and said the truck is aimed at buyers wanting a credible, well-equipped off-roader. A suggested sticker price was not announced.
"There will be a level of capability that drives to some extent the positioning of the vehicle and the cost of the vehicle. I have no desire today to do a stripped-down version," he said during a press event at the automaker's proving grounds here.
Improved fuel efficiency was a major goal in Wrangler's development, he said.
"We made a large number of changes both in weight and aero. We had to be very careful with the aero of Wrangler because at the end of the day it needs to be recognizable as a Wrangler," he said. "But we really pushed that vehicle forward in terms of its fuel economy."
The percentage increase in fuel economy was not revealed. The 2016 Wrangler delivers 17 mpg in city driving and 21 mpg on the highway, according to the EPA.
Manley said the engineers and stylists were told to create distinct Wrangler models, not one model that is stretched or shortened to create other flavors.
"No morphing a three-door out of a four-door, or a four-door out of a three-door; that's when you pick up compromises along the way," he said. "We really tried to make sure we made the best two-door, the best three-door, the best four-door we can."
Edmunds says: The iconic Wrangler has remained popular over the years thanks to its purposeful design. If Jeep can preserve its authenticity while boosting mileage, it should have little trouble maintaining its sales numbers.