Jeep will introduce a new, redesigned Wrangler to New Zealand in 2007.
The new Wrangler goes into production in America at the end of 2006, and will arrive here around the middle of next year. It's said to offered new levels of sophistication while remaing true to its utilitarian roots.
The new Wrangler's styling is an evolution of the current styling, which can trace its roots back to the World War 2 Willys Jeep.
It will still come with an open top, side doors that can be removed, and a windscreen that folds forward if required.
Underneath is a strong, but redesigned, full ladder chassis that sits on the solid axles much loved by off-road devotees for their articulation.
Though it has retained much of its heritage, the new model looks different thanks to the smoother styling.
It can be optioned with a hardtop that has individually removable panels over the driver and front passenger so they can enjoy fresh air motoring without having to remove the complete roof. It is also loaded with more equipment, including electric windows and power door locks that previously weren't available.
The new Wrangler is bigger than its predecessor. Its wheelbase has grown 50mm and it has an 85mmm wider track. The increases give more occupant space front and rear.
The additional length provides more room behind the rear seats for luggage, and there is now a hidden, lockable compartment in the floor.
The extra longer wheelbase, in conjunction with redesigned coil spring suspension, also helps give the new Wrangler a better ride.
Jeep engineers say it is a much more refined vehicle on-road.
It also has new safety features, including ESP stability control, a roll mitigation system and ABS anti-lock braking.
The powertrain is all-new too. A more powerful and fuel efficient 200bhp, V6, 3.8-litre engine replaces the venerable straight six, taking up less room under the bonnet, and for markets like New Zealand, an all-new 2.8 CRD common rail engine means there will be a diesel engine available on the Wrangler for the first time.
Transmission choices are a six-speed manual and four-speed automatic for the petrol engines, and a six-speed manual and five-speed automatic for the diesel.
The Wrangler’s legendary off-road ability has been enhanced by increased ground clearance and improvements to the Command-Trac four-wheel-drive system. The top-of-the-range Rubicon model, which is not confirmed for New Zealand, retains the upgraded transfer case and locking axles and has a new electronically detachable front sway bar.