DETROIT -- The next-generation Jeep Wrangler will keep the floating solid axles considered key to the off-roader's ability to traverse nearly any terrain, Automotive News has learned.
The next-generation Wrangler, due in 2017, will get some updates to its suspension to improve ride and fuel economy. However, the basic design that allows the axles to maintain traction at all four wheels while traversing the most difficult terrain will remain.
News that the Wrangler will keep its basic suspension design will come as a huge relief to Jeep loyalists who had worried the body-on-frame SUV would move to an independent front and/or rear suspension to reduce the vehicle's weight.
Fiat Chrysler Automobiles officials declined comment.
It also will come as a relief to an aftermarket industry that sells several billion dollars in accessories each year to Wrangler owners, according to the Specialty Equipment Market Association.
A solid axle design means that the next-generation Wrangler can be "lifted" to allow greater ground clearance and makes it easier to use oversized tires. Vehicles with independent suspensions -- such as the other five vehicles in Jeep's global lineup -- are far more complicated to lift.
With the news, the design of the next-generation Wrangler -- which must shed weight and improve its aerodynamics to improve its fuel economy -- is beginning to come more fully into view. The SUV will have a lighter, aluminum body and be smaller than the current model. It will have a fixed windscreen with a significant rake to improve its aerodynamics. It also will come with an eight-speed automatic transmission, according to documents filed with the Securities and Exchange Commission.
FCA CEO Sergio Marchionne has said that the next-generation Wrangler will utilize smaller, more powerful turbocharged engines than the current 3.6-liter V-6 powerplant.