Will the Jeep Wrangler Go Soft?

It just wouldn't be the same in aluminum

It just wouldn’t be the same in aluminum

The older they get, the more crotchety and overweight they can become. They can be tough as all get out, but just not quite able to keep up with the younger models.

Aging can take a toll and leave nothing but a softer, weaker version of their old selves.

I’m talking, of course, about the aging process of legendary off-roaders such as the Jeep Wrangler.

Heavy, inefficient, go-anywhere SUVs have started to fall out of favor, because newer models that weigh less and use less fuel are starting to come of age.

Should buyers jump ship from the old stalwarts and sign on to something newer and lighter, even at the expense of strength and capability?

There’s news this week that the Wrangler, one of the most legendary and capable off-roaders of all time, might shed its steel exterior in favor aluminum. And get smaller. And use a turbocharger.

If there was ever a perfect storm to set the Jeep faithful into a tailspin of doom, it’s those three words together. But at least there was no mention of the ultimate sin, unibody construction, right?

Oh, wait. Automotive News opened a story on the Wrangler with this:

The next-generation Jeep Wrangler may be built off a unibody platform, feature smaller and turbocharged engines, and switch to an aluminum body, Fiat Chrysler Automobiles CEO Sergio Marchionne said.

Can you say front-wheel-drive Wrangler? It would sure be possible.

If Jeep really wants to keep the Wrangler as the brute it is, but improve efficiency, it should use a diesel engine and call it a day. Instead what I’m hearing is that consolidating the Wrangler onto another platform would save money but turn it into nothing more than a Cherokee with a different body.

People don’t buy Wranglers for their aerodynamic, fuel-efficient qualities. I think if Jeep made such drastic changes on the new Wrangler, buyers would flock to the used market, and we’d see prices on older models skyrocket.

As old as the Wrangler is, I’d rather see it live out its natural life than see it go soft in an effort to modernize.

Would you be interested in a smaller Wrangler with an aluminum body, turbocharged engine and unibody construction?


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