2018 Jeep Wrangler to get eight-speed automatic

Willie Grace | 11/24/2014, 1:17 p.m. | Updated on 11/24/2014, 1:17 p.m.
Fiat Chrysler Automobiles and Jeep won't discuss the details of the next-generation Wrangler. But in a filing this month with ...
An FCA filing shows the Wrangler getting an eight-speed transmission in 2018. This is a 2015 model.

WILL UP FUEL ECONOMY 9 PERCENT

DETROIT -- The long-awaited Jeep Wrangler redesign planned for 2018 will come with an eight-speed automatic transmission that promises to dramatically improve the off-roader's fuel economy.

Fiat Chrysler Automobiles and Jeep won't discuss the details of the next-generation Wrangler. But in a filing this month with the Securities and Exchange Commission, the automaker appears to have tipped its hand on its choice of an automatic transmission for the Wrangler.

"The 8-speed transmission is currently paired with gasoline and diesel engines in the 2014 Ram 1500 and Jeep Grand Cherokee and is also featured in the new 2014 Dodge Durango. We plan to use this transmission in all of our rear-wheel-drive vehicles, except for heavy-duty versions of the Ram pick-up truck and the SRT Viper," the company wrote in the filing.

The filing also noted that the eight-speed -- built by Chrysler under license from ZF Friedrichshafen -- "reduces fuel consumption by more than 9 percent over the five-speed" transmission it replaced.

The 2015 Jeep Wrangler has a five-speed automatic transmission and is rated at 17 mpg city and 21 mpg highway.

A Jeep spokesman declined to comment on the transmission statement in the SEC filing.

Chrysler would have liked to put the eight-speed automatic in the Wrangler before the 2018 redesign, but the transmission doesn't fit in the current model. In addition to the transmission upgrade, Chrysler is planning to convert the Wrangler to an aluminum body for the 2018 model year, which would allow a transmission repackaging. The Wrangler was last redesigned in 2006.

Chrysler CEO Sergio Marchionne has said that to improve its fuel economy, the next Wrangler needs to be lighter and have a smaller displacement engine than its current 3.6-liter V-6.

A key element of the next-generation Wrangler remains uncertain: whether it will retain its stock solid axles, currently provided by Dana Holding Corp. The solid axles are considered key to its off-road capabilities, but shifting to an independent suspension would improve fuel economy.

Neither Chrysler nor Dana are talking about the front and rear axles for the next-generation Wrangler. But last week, Dana was granted a tax abatement by city officials in Fort Wayne, Ind., for a $49 million investment in new machinery and equipment at its Dana Light Axle Products plant there.

The plant makes important components for the Dana 44 axles that come standard on the Wrangler. A spokesman for Dana would not comment on whether the investment in the plant involved the next-generation Wrangler.

"18 Wrangler to get 8-speed automatic, FCA filing shows" was originally published at Automotive News on 11/24/14.

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