Future SUVs from Jeep, Jaguar, Land Rover, Lamborghini, Tesla, Honda
From luxury crossovers to tough off-roaders.
What We KnowTo shed serious weight, the Jeep Wrangler is expected to use lots of aluminum in its first full update since 2006. (Though it won’t use it as extensively, Jeep can thank Ford for embracing its use on the new F-150.) The Wrangler’s solid axles and body-on-frame construction will remain, appeasing off-roaders who find the unibody, independent-suspension Cherokee and Renegade nigh impossible to upgrade for trails. The aluminum diet could allow Jeep to use a smaller, more fuel-efficient version of its Pentastar V-6 engine, most likely the 3.2-liter from the Cherokee. Fiat Chrysler’s filings with the SEC suggest the dated five-speed automatic will give way to the eight-speed used in the company’s other rear-wheel-drive models. Jeep might also finally get its wish to sell a diesel Wrangler in America, although it will likely use a new four-cylinder rather than the V-6 offered in the Grand Cherokee and Ram 1500.
Why It MattersThe Jeep Wrangler is such an icon (and cash cow, as one of Fiat Chrysler’s top-selling U.S. products) that it will never go away,but it needs to be overhauled significantly for today’s car industry. Above all, the SUV’s drinking habits pull down all of Fiat Chrysler’s average fuel-economy scores, so raising fuel efficiency is the biggest priority. Jeep also needs to keep from alienating loyalists, which means maintaining serious ability off the beaten track and sticking with a clearly identifiable Jeep design, even if the boxy shape becomes slightly sleeker and more aerodynamic. “I can assure you that we’re not going to disappoint anybody,” Jeep president and CEO Mike Manley boldly claims.
Potential PitfallsJeep has built the Wrangler in Toledo, Ohio, for decades, but there are signs that could change. For one, production capacity at the plant is too low to meet projected Wrangler sales. Fiat Chrysler CEO Sergio Marchionne has also warned it could be too expensive to overhaul the plant for aluminum construction, although officials there are pushing for a pricey upgrade to keep the Jeep in Ohio.
When to Expect ItLook for the Jeep Wrangler in early 2018, likely putting it on schedule for a debut at that year’s Detroit auto show.
Jeep Grand Wagoneer
What We KnowThe Jeep Grand Wagoneer will essentially be a stretched, more luxurious version of the next Grand Cherokee. It will seat seven versus the Grand Cherokee’s five. Powertrains will likely mirror those of the next Grand Cherokee, which itself is still nearly two years away from reaching showrooms, but Jeep could also borrow engines from the upcoming Maserati Levante crossover. While the Grand Wagoneer will retain some off-roading ability, officials freely admit its increased size will make it less ready for Moab than the brand’s other trail-rated vehicles.
Why It MattersJeep’s Grand Cherokee already competes with luxury offerings such as the BMW X5, so why not make an even fancier version to take on the likes of Range Rover and others? Strong sales of the Cadillac Escalade and Lincoln Navigator underscore the market potential for a glitzed-up Jeep.
Potential PitfallsA large, luxurious model such as the Wagoneer is expensive to develop. If segment growth slows for any reason—say, a rise in gas prices—the business case could become much harder to make.
When to Expect ItMid-2018.
What We KnowThe three-row Jaguar J-Pace sport/utility will likely be based on the face-lifted Range Rover and share its all-aluminum architecture. Aimed at rich country bumpkins and wealthy city slickers alike, the J-Pace will get a bespoke interior and exterior, with proportions said to be more Range Rover Sport than Sir Range. The crossover will be available in both short- and long-wheelbase configurations. In addition to the requisite six- and eight-cylinder engines, the J-Pace should also include a plug-in hybrid as well as high-performance RS and SVR variants.
Why It MattersThe recently revealed F-Pace is to the XF what the J-Pace will be to the XJ. Old-school Jaguar needs to tap into growing segments. The hottest segment today? Crossovers, with luxury crossovers being the hottest of the hot. The F-Pace will establish a foothold where no Jag has before—in the land of constantly evolving utility vehicles—and the J-Pace will follow close behind.
Potential PitfallsThe J-Pace will be a niche model even by Jaguar standards, and one wonders whether it will generate enough volume to significantly help the automaker’s bottom line.
When to Expect ItWe expect the Jaguar J-Pace will debut in 2019, a year after the all-new XJ is unveiled.
Land Rover Defender
What We KnowThe all-new Land Rover Defender will appeal not only to off-road adventurers but also fashion-conscious urban guerrillas, with models ranging from a tough, no-frills utility truck to a butch-looking, go-anywhere luxury liner. Expect at least five different body styles: two-door short wheelbase with a metal top; two-door short wheelbase with a softtop; four-door long wheelbase with a metal top; two-door short-wheelbase pickup; and four-door long-wheelbase pickup.
The Defender should come with five engine choices: two diesel-powered four-cylinders (150 and 180 hp); two gas-powered four-cylinders (180 and 240 hp); and a 300-hp V-6 that will replace the current model’s ancient V-8. All engines will bolt to either a six-speed manual transmission or a nine-speed automatic.
The current Defender’s bash-proof live-axle rear suspension is set to survive, but it will no longer be located in a ladder-type frame made of tank-grade iron. Instead, Land Rover engineering has created a light, structurally rigid unibody that carries stout subframes fore and aft. A specially calibrated Terrain Response system, a sophisticated infotainment system, surround-view cameras, and navigation with dedicated off-road capabilities will be available. An optional low-range transfer case and two locking differentials should make mud hounds happy; those worried about getting their Ferragamos dirty will appreciate markedly improved interior comfort.