Not since 1992 has Jeep offered a pickup truck, but that will change within the next few years when an all-new model based on the platform underpinning the redesigned Jeep Wrangler SUV arrives to the market.
Long rumored and widely anticipated by Jeep enthusiasts, confirmation of the new pickup truck model was made by Michael Manley, who heads the Jeep brand for Fiat Chrysler Automobiles (FCA). Manley, speaking to members of the media on the first press day of the North American International Auto Show in Detroit last week, explained that the new model will follow the next-generation Wrangler.
Manley’s statement was later confirmed by FCA CEO Sergio Marchionne that day. Marchionne added that the truck will be built alongside the Jeep Wrangler at the company’s manufacturing plant in Toledo, Ohio.
The Nameless Jeep Pickup Truck
No name has been announced for the upcoming pickup truck and little else has been shared about its design, layout and powertrain choices. What we do know is that this will be a traditional body-on-frame pickup truck just as the Wrangler itself continues with this time-honored construction method. Maintaining the traditional style is important as it allows for more torsional flexing, which is ideal for off-roading.
To get some idea of what the unnamed pickup truck will look like, we should examine the Jeep Wrangler first. That model traces its heritage back to the very first Jeep. The Wrangler name was introduced in 1986 and now represents both the standard two-door Wrangler and the four-door Wrangler Unlimited.
Jeep Wrangler Now and in the Future
The current Wrangler was introduced for the 2007 model year and is ripe for an update. Earlier reports had FCA going with an aluminum unibody, but were dismissed later when the Toledo plant was guaranteed the new model.
The next generation Wrangler and by default the all-new pickup truck will make use of lightweight materials and may offer a turbocharged four-cylinder gasoline engine for the first time. FCA’s eight-speed automatic transmission is likely, but that leaves one question unanswered: Will a manual transmission remain available?
Building a truck based on the Wrangler platform allows FCA to spread its costs. The same powertrains in one should be available in the other. Another possible engine choice is the turbodiesel 3.0-liter V6 that’s currently available in the Ram 1500 and Jeep Grand Cherokee.
Six Concepts: One Production Reality
Jeep has teased us with several concept pickup trucks over the past several years. One of those models, the Jeep Gladiator, has been described as a “flexible utility truck,” featuring an open-air canvass top, an expandable truck bed and a stowaway rear seat cushion.
Weighing 4,150 pounds, the Jeep Gladiator sits on a 138.4-inch wheelbase and is 205 inches long by 76.6 inches wide, by 74.8 inches tall. Its overall dimensions compare favorably with the Chevrolet Colorado while coming in slightly longer than the Toyota Tacoma. Jeep would need to stretch the Wrangler’s platform to accommodate the truck. The brand already does this with the Wrangler Unlimited, which measures 20 inches longer between the wheels than the standard Wrangler.
The Gladiator also sports a 5-foot-8-inch bed and a midgate that allows you to stretch the bed length by a full foot. Drop the tailgate and the bed length expands to 8-feet-11-inches. Other notables about the Gladiator concept include its front and rear suspension with each featuring a solid axle and five bar links, along with dual coil over springs and 18-inch wheels. Under the hood is a turbodiesel 2.8-liter four-cylinder engine, which is paired with a five-speed manual transmission. Importantly, part-time four-wheel drive is offered.
But Jeep enthusiasts know that it is ridiculous to hang their hats on one concept as so many of them have been offered in recent years. Indeed, Jeep annually presents a number of concept models, including SUVs and trucks, at its annual Easter Jeep Safari off-road event in Moab, Utah.
In 2015, the Moab event featured the Red Rock Responder concept, which is a Wrangler-derived model with a truck bed. In 2012, Jeep fueled the pickup truck rumors further by offering a pair of retro-styled truck concepts: the Mighty FC and J-12.
In 2011, the Wrangler JK8 Independence was showcased one year after the Nukizer 715 Concept was presented. The Gladiator, introduced in 2005, is the oldest of the lot, but it is also seen as the one most likely to mirror the new Jeep pickup truck. At the same time, Jeep may surprise us with an entirely new design.
Jeep continues to enjoy record sales as it expands into new markets and updates its product portfolio. The Jeep Renegade is the newest model from FCA’s 4×4 brand and will soon be joined by a yet another new SUV, this one serving as the replacement for both the Jeep Compass and Patriot. Keep your eye on the 2016 New York International Auto Show at the end of March for its introduction.
Following the new Wrangler and the upcoming pickup truck, yet another model will roll out, the 2019 Jeep Grand Wagoneer, a six-figure model designed to take on the Land Rover Range Rover. When the Grand Wagoneer arrives, Jeep will be positioned to serve consumers across every demographic, with six SUVs and one pickup truck offered.