New Coke. Crystal Pepsi. McDonald’s Arch Deluxe. Colgate Kitchen Entrees.
Some of the bigger product flops of our age, yet at some point all of these brand changes seemed like a great idea to their respective companies.
Coors Rocky Mountain Bottled Water. Apple Newton. DeLorean Automobiles.
Now we have Fiat Chrysler Automobiles about to roll out a new generation Jeep Wrangler – the automaker’s first overhaul of the iconic vehicle and the brand’s first redesign since 2007 – and understandably fans are worried.
Jeep CEO Mike Manley realizes all too well the lessons of history and wants Jeep lovers to know FCA has no intention of adding the Jeep Wrangler JL to that product scrap pile.
“Don’t screw it up,” Manley said in reference to how his design team approached the Wrangler redesign. “You have to be very careful with the aero of Wrangler, because at the end of the day, it needs to be recognizable as a Wrangler. To some extent that restricts you on some of the aero that you can do. But with weight and a number of the changes that we've made, you're going to see that we've really pushed that vehicle forward in terms of its fuel economy."
While FCA engineers have added numerous performance enhancers to the Jeep JL to help fuel economy, like aluminum body panels instead of steel, a raked back windshield, steeper-angled front grille, and a lighter but stronger frame, all spy photos confirm the vehicle will retain its historic boxy shape.
The JL Wrangler will also feature an eight-speed automatic and six-speed manual transmission, solid front and rear axles, and body-on-frame construction that have made Jeep, well, a Jeep for most of its 75 years.
FCA has also said the new Wrangler will have several engine options including the standard 3.6-liter Pentastar, a turbocharged 2.0-liter Hurricane four-cylinder, 3.0-liter Turbodiesel, and – down the road – a gas/electrical hybrid.
The vehicle will release with both a two and four-door option, and FCA says the highly anticipated Jeep pickup will follow early in 2018.
"We're obviously hoping to continue the success of the next-generation Wrangler," Manley said. "We've pushed this vehicle forward in many areas -- fuel economy being one of them and that's going to help us in many of the international markets."
The 2018 Wrangler will debut sometime in January, with vehicles expected into dealerships sometime next summer.
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