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Wrangler looks to aluminum suspension, not body

by David Zatz on

The Jeep Grand Cherokee may have shown the future direction of the Jeep Wrangler: using aluminum and other lightweight materials for the suspension and peripherals, but not for the frame or key body parts.

Wrangler-RocksStar-1-Web

Cheap body repairs are important for Wrangler, because it’s intended to be taken off-road. However, if the company can use relatively light, “high-strength” steel alloy for skid plates and more aluminum in the suspension and other major components, it could still cut weight, or at least maintain weight in the face of higher safety standards (both Federal and insurance-industry).

Key design changes, including using permanent A-pillars and having the windshield itself slide down over the hood rather than folding down both the windshield and pillars at once, could help the Wrangler to have greater “natural” torsional stiffness, so that chassis reinforcement would not be needed, also cutting weight while letting the Wrangler meet normal rollover standards.

The 2018 Jeep Wrangler is also likely to have a hydroformed frame, as Ram trucks do, increasing stiffness without weight gains. Some reports claim the windshield and grille will only be a little more slanted than the current Wrangler.

This gives the company more time to develop aluminum-bodied cars. Scuttlebutt now has the Grand Cherokee as the first to go with the expensive but lightweight metal.

David Zatz founded Allpar in 1998 (based on a site he had begun in 1993-94), after years of writing reviews for retail trades. He has been quoted by the New York Times, the Daily Telegraph, the Detroit News, and USA Today. Before making Allpar a full-time career, he was a consultant in organizational psychology. You can reach him by using our contact form (much preferred) or by calling (313) 766-2304


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