CHELSEA, Mich. -- Jeep brand head Mike Manley says the next-generation Wrangler must compete with rivals' "soft SUVs" while maintaining its off-road capabilities.
So Chrysler Group engineers are striving to improve the Wrangler's fuel economy with lightweight materials, more gears and perhaps a smaller engine.
"You're going to see continued improvements in terms of the powertrain package," Manley said at a press event here. "We've got a lot of experts at this moment in time working on that project."
The Wrangler is due to be redesigned in 2017 when the heavy body-on-frame SUV must meet more stringent fuel economy standards.
The 2014 Wrangler two-door and Wrangler Unlimited four-door are rated at 18 mpg combined city and highway with either five-speed automatic or six-speed manual transmission, according to fueleconomy.gov.