We’ve all poured over the 2018 Wrangler JL spy photos.  We’ve all offered opinions.  Is the windshield really that raked back?  Will the front end be that much larger?  What about the soft top?

But one of the more telling changes for the next-generation Wrangler may be something we cannot see at all.  Something inside.

According to the off-road guide company Barlow Adventures, and picked up by several industry publications, Jeep representatives were at the 2016 Overland Expo earlier in May asking potential buyers for thoughts about the JL having no manual transmission.  At.  All.

This was apparently one of a series of questions Jeep reps were asking, with the others being:  ‘Would you be interested in a 3-speed transfer case?  Are you okay with not having a fold-down windshield?  What about a hybrid power plant option?  How much towing capacity and payload should the 4-door have?’

At first glance, the elimination of a manual transmission would make sense for the company as the majority of buyers across all brands these days are opting for automatic.  So why not make more of what people seem to want?

However, with Jeep acknowledging a current manual transmission order rate of around 10-20 percent, the brand is still making 10 to 20-thousand manual-based JKs a year.  That number is certainly nothing to dismiss.

And with its go-anywhere brand image of freedom, adventure, independence and self-reliance, an automatic-only Wrangler line would most likely seem somewhat blasphemous to Jeep purists.

For its part, Jeep isn’t saying - one way or the other - whether manual will make the cut into any 2018 JLs.

Hopefully it will.  The thought of no manual Wranglers just feels, er, un-Jeep-ish.


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