At this point we don't really have too many hard facts, what we do have are plenty of rumors swirling around. We've heard everything from independent front suspension to uni-body construction. Although I can’t confirm or deny anything with 100% certainty, I have heard from some reputable industry players, who will have to remain nameless for now, that the new Jeep® Wrangler JL will remain a body on frame design, and yes, it will still have solid axles! Whew… what a relief.
We’ve also heard the potential for an Aluminum body, which personally I think would be a great advancement for the Wrangler. Aluminum offers a lot of advantages over steel being lightweight and strong, as well as corrosion resistant. Anyone that’s owned a CJ or Wrangler over the years has at some point dealt with rust in one place or another… Floorboards anyone? Even with these advantages, it seems like there’s a lot of people out there on the interwebs that are put off by the thought of an aluminum body. I’ve read everything from fears of the body being weak and easily damaged to other people’s arguments that they’ll be unable to make repairs or weld on the aluminum body, due to the various different requirements involved switching from steel to aluminum welding. To which I pose the question, how often are you actually welding directly to the body of your Jeep®? Yes, I can see welding bumpers and suspension components when making upgrades, which will all still work just the same way it always has. Mind you there’s been no mention of making the frame from aluminum, just the body. I can’t really think of too many times where my only option was to weld an accessory or modification to the body of my Jeep®.
Secondly, the Wranglers of today are a lot bigger than 10 years ago, and once you throw a beefy bumper and winch on the front, bumper and tire carrier on the rear, along with some additional armor, they can really start tipping the scales in the wrong direction. Weight reduction, to meet both government EPA regulations as well as to keep us from draining our wallets at the gas pump becomes a necessity. So to that tune, I welcome the possibly of an aluminum body and weight reduction, be it big or small.
In other areas, we’ve been pretty well assured that the Wrangler will still come with removable soft and hard tops, though we’re sure there will be some design changes on the way. With the SEMA Show release of Bestop’s new Trektop PRO soft top with glass windows, yes I did say glass windows in a soft top, we can only wonder what Jeep® has up their sleeves. We’ve also wondered about the future of the folding windshield and removable doors, which I can only imagine pose difficult challenges for Jeep® in the way of making the Wrangler safer for on road travel and in crash testing. We can only hope these iconic features remain a part of the Wrangler’s future.
With the next generation Wrangler slated for 2017, we still have a little time on our hands before we’ll start seeing more facts and hearing less in the way of rumors… so don’t quote me on any of the statements I’ve made here, or for that matter anything at all. If and when we get more details, you can be sure I’ll let you know.