Test mules of the next-generation 2018 Jeep Wrangler are being seen testing once again, complete with wiring harnesses and even one with what appears to be a microphone near the tailpipe, possibly for European drive-by noise compliance. Since we brought you the last batch of spy shots, we’ve found out a little more about the next Wrangler. We have it on pretty good authority that there will be a pickup version, possibly a year out from the introduction of the 2-door Wrangler and 4-door Wrangler Unlimited models.
Whereas all JK models have offered just one engine option, initially the 3.8L OHV V-6 and later the 3.6L Pentastar V-6, the next Wrangler is expected to offer at least two, and possibly more, engine options. The next-generation Pentastar V-6 will have a higher compression ratio and a cooled EGR system to meet future emissions requirements. Interestingly, as most of the rest of the industry is transitioning to direct fuel injection, the updated Pentastar retains port fuel injection, a tacit admission of the high particulate emissions from GDI engines, as can be seen from the many newer cars with black soot around the tailpipes.
FCA has hinted at an optional diesel for the next Wrangler, but the VW TDI emissions scandal may have put a chill on future diesels, even as FCA claims its diesel models are fully compliant with EPA standards in real-world conditions. The diesel could either be the 3.0L EcoDiesel V-6 found in the Ram and Grand Cherokee or an I-4 diesel with an emphasis on fuel economy. Transmissions are expected to be an eight-speed automatic and a six-speed manual. The fuel tank in these mules hangs lower than usual for JKs, suggesting the underpinnings have been modified to accommodate new hardware. But fear not, traditionalists: The next Wrangler will continue to have live axles front and rear. Jeep promises it will be “the most capable Wrangler ever.”