The new Wrangler JL won’t be seen in New Zealand until next year – but Jeep USA has been testing four North American-market prototypes over rugged country around Wanaka and Queenstown.
Jeep has already revealed static official pictures of the next-generation two-door and four-door Wrangler, but this is the first time either variant has been pictured doing what they were designed to do – rough it in the wild.
Wanaka events organiser Paul Nicholson (newzeal.co) worked with a Jeep contract company in the US to plan the gruelling test route, most of it over high-country stations.
“There is a lot of work for an event like this,” he said. “You have to make applications to DOC and WINZ, for example – it took us eight months to put the whole thing together.”
Among the US group were selected automotive journalists. Their impressions of Wrangler JL won’t go public until after the new model goes public itself at the Los Angeles motor show at the end of this month.
A handful of NZ motoring writers drove current NZ-spec Wranglers over the same route a week ago.
Jeep has yet to officially confirm the engine line-up for the new off-roader. But it will offer a wider range of powerplants as it seeks to give Wrangler more global appeal.
The current 3.6-litre Pentastar six-cylinder petrol unit will continue. Additions are likely to be a 2.0-litre turbocharged petrol, a petrol-electric hybrid using the same 2.0-litre engine, and a diesel, said to be the 3.0-litre V6 unit from the Grand Cherokee range.