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2018 Jeep Wrangler Unlimited: Near-Production Images

Ross Ballot March 30, 2017 All Things Hoon 1 Comment

Source: JLWranglerForums

After months of waiting, speculating, and hoping that the design lives up to those of yore, we may finally know what the upcoming JL Wrangler Unlimited looks like. Two photos were posted yesterday on JLWranglerForums, a site for which you can probably guess the purpose, showing us what very much look like legitimate images of the next-gen Jeep.

I wrote at length about what I/we would like to see from the 2018+ model year redesign of the iconic vehicle, and finally we may have put some nails in the coffin as to what the design entails. It seems likely that the JL will remain visually similar to the JK it replaces because, after all, why mess with a winning formula? Or as they say, if it ain’t broke, don’t fix it…right? Turns out that very well might be the case. Hit the jump to see what JL looks like sans-roof, and what we can deduce from the images.

Source: JLWranglerForums

As with all leaks of new models, there’s a chance this is fake…but it certainly doesn’t look so. Everything is consistent with what we’ve seen in spy photos and leaked images from FCA dealer meetings, and it’s definitely a believable set here.

A lot can be taken away from the semi-anonymously posted images, most of which would go unnoticed by the untrained or only passively interested eye. Things like a slanted grille with headlights inset into the outermost slats align with what we’ve seen in spy photos and reported on by sources like Allpar, and are very easily noticed by those looking closely. There’s a lot of subtle visual changes: turn signals on the mirrors, LED strips on the front, longer hood, door handles, slightly different roll bar, vent behind the front wheelwells, smaller door hinges, character line front front to rear along the side, and so on. It all makes the JL look a little more defined and chiseled than the JK, and that’s no bad thing.

An earlier rendering courtesy of JLWranglerForums– many similarities to the new images

It’s great to see that the doors and roof remain removable, as there were rumors this would be done away with, something that helps keep it a “true Jeep.” If anything, it’s as instantly recognizable as ever. Jeep made what seems like more technical, finesse-esque and “perfecting the art” type changes here rather than monumental steps away from the JK design, but everything that was done undoubtedly had a purpose. Whether that was to make it more mass-market friendly or to make it ever so slightly different from the JK is yet to be seen, but we should know soon.

The current-gen JK Wrangler Unlimited — Source: Gearheads

Again, there is the possibility that this could be a very well done job of editing a JK into a “JL” in Photoshop, but it doesn’t appear to be so. There’s too many consistencies and small, otherwise unnoticeable or overlooked things that are different (like the door handles, windshield hinges, location of the fog lights, etc.) that have been altered for it to believably be a fan messing with others.

Regardless of what we’re seeing here, it looks good…if not a little too similar to the JK. But hey, if you were Jeep, you’d likely wouldn’t be straying too far from the JK’s winning formula either. That vehicle helped the company repeatedly set sales records, and there’s no question that improving on the JK’s formula in every way will make it a better vehicle. There is a fine line between keeping things safely unchanged for the sake of not scaring off customers while still developing the vehicle and moving it into the future, and deliberately keeping it as similar as they could get away with. I’m betting they decided on evolving their prized possession rather than make big, over-throwing changes, for the sake of keeping the customer base happy. Obviously the devil will be in the details, namely how it does off-road and how it’s acclimated to being a more high-volume seller rather than a one-trick pony, but for now the JL seems to be shaping up nicely.

So is this actually the JLU? Will we see a full unveiling at the NYIAS? Will the Jeep show its face at the upcoming Moab Easter Jeep Safari? Will it have the rumored diesel and turbo-4 engine options? Will there be a pickup variant?? Stay tuned.

 

  • outback_ute

    Great analysis Ross