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New diesel planned for Jeep Wrangler

Oil update: Jeep is set to give its Wrangler off-roader a new, more efficient diesel option ahead of a completely new model in 2017 or 2018.

Jeep plans performance jump for Wranger by using the Grand Cherokee’s V6 engine

9 Mar 2015

JEEP’S iconic Wrangler is set to share the Grand Cherokee’s engine and transmission as part of a major overhaul of the model next year, ahead of a full-model change expected in 2017.

The plans, not officially confirmed by Jeep parent Fiat Chrysler Automobiles, are specifically designed for the United States market as a means of reducing the model’s average fuel consumption and emission levels.

Another fuel-saving proposal was the use of aluminium to reduce the Wrangler’s weight. The idea was mooted by FCA CEO Sergio Marchionne at the Geneva motor show in 2013, but has not subsequently been revived.

The option of the Grand Cherokee’s 3.0-litre V6 turbo-diesel and eight-speed automatic transmission are expected for the 2016 model year, which will be followed in 2017 by a completely restyled body for the Wrangler as a part of a generational change.

Based on unconfirmed reports from company representatives, the restyle is expected to include a more slanted seven-slot grille, the removal of the fold-down windscreen feature and a higher use of lightweight materials.

The new Wrangler’s expected changes have ramifications for the Australian market and could see the end of the ageing 2.8-litre four-cylinder diesel. This engine is also used in the Holden Colorado 7 off-roader.

The US market does not have a diesel option for Wrangler, unlike most markets – including Australia – that have the four-cylinder turbo-diesel built by FCA associate company, Italy’s VM Motori.

The inclusion of the Grand Cherokee’s 3.0-litre V6 turbo-diesel, together with its eight-speed automatic transmission, is expected to improve fuel economy over the petrol version by about 18 per cent.

In the Grand Cherokee automatic, the V6 diesel’s economy is 7.5 litres per 100 kilometres compared with the 3.6-litre V6 petrol at 10.4L/100km.

The Australian four-cylinder diesel version of the five-speed automatic Wrangler has an average of 8.6L/100km compared with the petrol version at 11.2L/100km.

When Jeep launched the eight-speed gearbox in the Grand Cherokee in July, 2013, the company said fuel consumption was reduced by 5.4 per cent compared with the previous six-speed automatic transmission.

It indicates that a V6 turbo-diesel Wrangler with the new gearbox could lower fuel consumption to 7.2L/100km.

FCA Australia group communications and media strategist Andrew Chesterton said timing for the new drivetrain and the following full-model change was yet to be determined.

“There’s a lot of rumours about the new Wrangler but we have nothing concrete as yet,” he said.

Globally, Jeep has become a runaway success for FCA, the conglomerate that combines the assets and products of car-makers including Chrysler, Fiat, Alfa Romeo, Ferrari, Maserati, Dodge and Jeep.

Last year more than one million Jeep products were sold – a record – and about one-quarter were Wranglers.

In Australia, Wrangler sales for the 2015 year to date to the end of February weren’t as promising. Sales are down 34 per cent on the previous corresponding period of 2014.

FCA Australia sold 347 Wranglers in January and February, against rivals such as the Toyota FJ Cruiser at 238 units. For the 2014 calendar year, Jeep sold 2900 Wranglers, up 0.2 per cent on the previous year.

Mr Marchionne said at the Detroit motor show in January that he wanted Jeep sales to almost double to 1.9 million by 2018.

That expansion is based on the new Renegade small SUV, the 2017 Wrangler, the seven-seat Grand Wagoneer and a single-model replacement for the Compass and Patriot that end in 2016 – incidentally, Jeep’s 75th anniversary.

The Renegade is being built alongside its sister, the Fiat 500X, in Italy. FCA will soon start building the Renegade in Brazil and by the end of this year, in China.

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