by Matt Konkle
Quadratec Channel Editor
It is no secret, for anyone paying attention, that Fiat Chrysler Automobiles is currently riding the Jeep, er, wave to a popularity level unheard of in the brand’s 77-year-history.
Leading that wave is a redesigned and re-engineered 2018 Wrangler model that has proved immensely sought after, while also playing a factor was the decision to continue production of the older JK Wrangler through April. Both have combined to push sales numbers into record territory month after month.
And all that popularity and interest has certainly put smiles on FCA executives, but those things have also served to keep another highly anticipated FCA vehicle largely out of the spotlight.
Namely the upcoming Jeep truck.
Well, expect that visibility factor to change as the vehicle inches closer to launch.
Perhaps the first wave of a Jeep truck information ramp up rolled in recently, as new photographs of two trucks emerged. But not just any old road photographs. Nope, these were captured on California’s Rubicon Trail where the vehicles were no doubt being tested on all kinds of things — possibly even to satisfy Jeep’s trail rated requirements.
That would mean the as-yet-unnamed Jeep Truck is being tested in five different categories; traction, water fording, maneuverability, articulation and ground clearance. All so it will have that ‘Trail Rated’ badge on its side at launch later this year.
From these shots, it appears two different trim levels could have been out testing — perhaps a Rubicon and Sport — based off the two different wheel configurations. However, it is entirely possible these vehicles were just built up mules designed to test certain functions.
Hard to say because that annoying camouflage doesn’t provide answers.
What you can tell, though, is testers were utilizing their trail time to the fullest as that camouflage appears ripped in several spots, along with body and bumper damage.
Of course, with a trail as tough as the Rubicon, you’d expect at least some type of damage. Especially in a long wheelbase truck. But if that truck rolls out with a price point in the range FCA announced earlier this year, then will it even be something people ‘want’ to take off-pavement if there are limitations like breakover and departure angles?
Here is a quick recap of what we know so far about the Jeep truck.
It will be a version based right off the JL Wrangler Unlimited from the front end through the rear doors, complete with kinked grille, running lights on the fenders, raked windshield frame, aluminum hood and doors, as well removable doors and a soft roof option. It will also feature solid Dana axles and at least two engine options – the 3.6L Pentastar and 3.0L Ecodiesel.
Currently, we’ve only seen a four-door model in spy photography and FCA isn’t saying if there will be a two-door option down the line. Likewise, spy shots have only displayed JK-type insides, but it is hard to imagine the truck launching without the more refined JL interior.
While FCA has not announced a launch date, others have indicated production should begin sometime in October once the old JK assembly line inside Toledo, Ohio's Supplier Park complex is fully retooled. If so, that would mirror how the automaker handled the JL rollout. That means probably a few treats and perhaps some uncovered photos during the Specialty Equipment Market Association event in Las Vegas this November, then a full out launch at the Los Angeles Auto Show in late November.
FCA expects the vehicle to arrive at dealerships sometime in early Spring 2019.
For more info, check out our Jeep JT Truck page.