Among the key design features of the Jeep Wrangler, we’d say the solid-axle suspension is several orders of magnitude more important than the cool-but-perhaps-not-critical folding windshield. To that end, a recent Automotive News report should be mostly good news for the Jeep faithful.
The report states that the Wrangler will keep its solid front and rear axles when the vehicle is redesigned for the 2017 model year. That will have true believers breathing a sigh of relief, as Jeep had already ditched the solid axles in its other models.
The Grand Cherokee switched to an independent front suspension with the 2005 redesign and lost its solid rear axle with the arrival of the current generation, for 2011. Meanwhile, Jeep dropped the solid front axle in the transition from the XJ Cherokee to the Liberty and then went to a four-wheel independent setup when the Liberty was replaced with the new Cherokee.
Although the solid axles stay on, weight savings and improved fuel economy are major goals for the next-generation Wrangler—not a bad idea, given the current model’s 17/21 mpg EPA ratings. To that end, the new Jeep will get an aluminum body; a smaller, turbocharged engine in place of the current 3.6-liter V-6; and an upgrade to an eight-speed automatic.
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