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Report: Eight-Speed Auto Coming to 2018 Jeep Wrangler

Motor Trend logo Motor Trend 11/24/2014 Eric Weiner

Fuel economy might not be the biggest issue for the typical Jeep Wrangler driver, but upcoming Corporate Average Fuel Economy (CAFE) regulations mean that even the longtime popular off-roader has to fall in line. A report from Automotive News indicates that the 2018 Jeep Wrangler will help increase efficiency with an eight-speed automatic transmission that will improve fuel economy by at least nine percent.

The ZF-licensed eight-speed automatic is already used in the 2014 Ram 1500 and 2014 Jeep Grand Cherokee, and it’s coming to the 2015 Chrysler 300 and 2015 Dodge Charger, so it's not too surprising that the next Jeep Wrangler will get it by 2018. In fact, AN cites a Fiat Chrysler filing with the Securities and Exchange Commission in which the automaker indicates that it, “plan[s] to use this transmission in all…rear-wheel-drive vehicles, except for heavy-duty versions of the Ram pick-up truck and the SRT Viper.”

While the current Jeep Wrangler returns 17 mpg in city and 21 mpg on the highway using either its five-speed automatic transmission or six-speed manual, expect markedly better numbers with the eight-speed automatic. The next Jeep Wrangler will also look to cut weight with a smaller displacement engine than its current 3.6-liter V-6, as well as a possible switch to an aluminum body.

2014 Jeep Wrangler Unlimited© Provided by MotorTrend 2014 Jeep Wrangler Unlimited

When it came to light that the next Jeep Wrangler might be aluminum, concerns emerged that the automaker’s Toledo would no longer build the off-roader. But CEO Sergio Marchionne has expressed his commitment to Toledo for Jeep Wrangler construction, so we’re confident that the SUV will remain a Toledo product with body-on-frame construction. If that’s the case, Chrysler will need to spend some serious cash to re-tool Toledo for aluminum-body construction.

In the meantime, the Jeep Wrangler remains one of the brand’s top sellers despite being last redesigned in 2006. Expect the next Jeep Wrangler to not divert too much from its classic off-road styling, which clearly still resonates with consumers.

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