The wraps come off the hotly anticipated, all-new, 2018 Jeep Wrangler at the Los Angeles Auto Show on Nov. 29. But Jeep can’t help but tease us a little.
At a news conference at the Specialty Equipment Market Association show in Las Vegas on Tuesday afternoon, Jeep showed three exterior pictures of the iconic off-road Wrangler that defines the rugged brand.
“The most capable SUV ever delivers even more legendary Jeep 4×4 capability, a modern design that stays true to the original,” said Jeep in a statement.
Sure enough, the fourth-generation maintains its familiar boxy shape, two- and four-door trims, signature, seven-slot grille, round headlamps and removable roof panels. But the sneak-peek pics also suggest subtle differences. The four-door Sahara model displays a bigger grille and headlights as well as a more sculpted front bumper. Two pictures of a blood red, plastic-fendered, two-door Rubicon — the rock star of rock-crawlers — suggest more open-air options.
Wrangler was first introduced in 1987 with roots going back to World War II Willys “Jeep” military vehicles. The compact SUV makes up in toughness for what it lacks in finesse. Available with twin locking axles, removable doors and roof, the Wrangler is capable of going anywhere and often does. It is a fixture in the American southwest, where owners and tour companies use the Jeep to climb rocky canyons far from paved roads.
In addition to evolutionary exterior upgrades, Jeep says the Wrangler will gain “advanced fuel-efficient powertrains, more open-air options and … more safety features and advanced technology than ever before.” Translation: the Wrangler will get its first hybrid powertrain and more electronic upgrades to its infotainment system.
Starting at just over $24,000, the Jeep is coveted by young males and females alike, making it not just a halo for the brand but an affordable entry point.
Jeep CEO Mike Manley spilled the beans on the Wrangler’s L.A. Show debut to the English publication, Auto Express, in mid-October. Then FCA financial chief Jeff Bennett revealed that the Wrangler would begin production later this year from the Toledo South plant.
Henry Payne is auto critic for The Detroit News. Find him at [email protected] or Twitter @HenryEPayne.