It was only last week that Fiat Chrysler Automobiles (FCA) had their closed doors meeting with the dealership representatives in Las Vegas. There was word of the next Wrangler, the Grand Wagoneer, the Grand Cherokee TrackHawk , and many more exciting cars. It’s amazing that no embargoed images came out of this meeting. Yet, there was also absolutely no mention of the Jeep Wrangler pickup truck that many expected.
Now, Automotive News has new information from the CEO himself, Sergio Marchionne. The crux of the report is that Jeep will shuffle production facilities in order to maintain uninterrupted production between the current and the next generation of the Jeep Wrangler. The Toledo Assembly Complex includes two factories. One is currently building the body-on-frame Jeep Wrangler and the other is churning out the highly popular Jeep Cherokee.
The plan is to move the Cherokee production to either Michigan or Illinois, convert the Toledo Cherokee line to build the next generation of the Jeep Wrangler and also add the Jeep Wrangler pickup truck. The total targeted volume of the Toledo Assembly Complex is 350,000 units per year. The Jeep pickup is part of the story to supplement the volume to justify the move of production and the factory retooling.
Think of the Jeep pickup truck as a 2018 model year vehicle or later. Is it too late to the game? Is the public tired of waiting?
There is no doubt that Jeep will defend its well-known off-road prowess with this upcoming pickup truck. It’s not clear whether it will be called Gladiator, Scrambler, or carry yet another name (aka. the Brute).
It would be entering the now highly competitive mid-size pickup truck market. The all-new 2016 Toyota Tacoma is aiming to be the best off-road truck in the segment. Of course, there are also capable entries from Chevrolet, GMC, and Nissan. The next generation of the Nissan Frontier will likely be out by the 2018 model year as well. Will the Jeep pickup truck have enough to compete? Will it offer the common dimensions with a crew cab configuration and a useful bed or will it go the more compact truck route? Perhaps, it can offer multiple configurations.
The rumor is that the 2018 Jeep Wrangler will be capable of up to 30 MPG on the highway. If the pickup truck version can come close to this number, offer unique compact dimensions, and provide unbeatable off-road capability, then Jeep will have another sales winner. If it is built on the Wrangler chassis and has the Wrangler looks, then it has no option but to be rugged and capable. And this is a good thing.
Here are the specifications on the 2005 Jeep Gladiator Concept pickup truck. This concept also featured the 2.8-liter turbo-diesel engine. This is a whole other story. There is no official word on whether the 2018 Wrangler will have a turbo-diesel option.
Watch this off-road first drive review of the 2016 Toyota Tacoma.