Incredible Jeep Truck
Will The Jeep Truck Finally Make Its Return?
It has been years since we last saw a production Jeep truck, a vehicle prized for its good looks and unique place in the American pickup truck landscape. Back then, Jeep was part of American Motors and trailed Chrysler, Ford and General Motors in a truck building. Today, Jeep is a Chrysler product and best known for its SUVs. Still, a Jeep truck is a possibility, something we’ll explore over the next several paragraphs.
So, why a Jeep truck? Perhaps the best thing to ask is – why not? Jeep’s place in the market is legendary, dating back seven decades to when the first government-issued models were sent to assist allied forces in Europe. The GP as it was known then was compact and versatile, able to maneuver across bombed-out Europe and lead the allies to victory.
Once the war ended, Willys-Overland put the Jeep into production, giving American car buyers a taste of the vehicle credited with helping to win the war. Early editions of the Jeep were wholly unrefined, but that didn’t stop buyers who wanted a piece of American history. The Jeep CJ eventually became the Jeep Wrangler, a vehicle still in production today.
For the 1986 model year, Jeep released the Comanche, a pickup truck based on the Cherokee SUV. The Comanche, available in rear- and four-wheel-drive resembled the Cherokee from the front bumper to the abbreviated cabin, with six- and seven-foot truck beds following. Unlike typical pickup trucks of that era offering separate body and framing, the two- to three-passenger Comanche featured unibody construction. Various four- and six-cylinder engines and transmission combinations were offered, but the truck was dropped after 1992 as its new owners, the Chrysler Corporation, decided to concentrate on Dodge trucks.
Fast forward to 2011 and the dreams of Jeep enthusiasts for a return of a truck remains strong. At various auto shows in recent years, Chrysler has teased us with various concepts beginning with the 2005 Jeep Gladiator. That model was widely praised for its rugged good looks and supposed versatility.
There are three ways Jeep could gain a pickup truck, each of which we’ll now examine:
Jeep Wrangler – Modify the Jeep Wrangler to add a truck bed. This seems most logical and that truck would advance the Gladiator styling cues. Importantly, it would keep Jeep separate from Dodge, Chrysler’s other utility vehicle line. An extended cab would be possible too as the Wrangler now offers a four-door option.
Ram Dakota – If Jeep is to get a true pickup truck from the ground up, taking the next generation midsize Dakota and rebadging it as Jeep would be the easiest and most cost-effective approach. Chrysler could rework the grille, hood, wheel well, and truck bed accordingly to give this truck a more distinctive Jeep persona.
Ram 1500 – If you want to see a civil war break out at Chrysler, that might happen if the automaker tells its Ram team to modify the full-size 1500 for Jeep purposes. This option is problematic, but for reasons beyond internecine battling – the truck would be too large. Instead, what Chrysler could order is for Ram to shorten the wheelbase and produce an intermediate model between the Dakota and the Ram. That model might also be sold as a Ram.
Will we see a Jeep truck again? That seems likely as Sergio Marchionne, head of Fiat and Chrysler said as much at a 2011 auto show. Though details are still needing to be hashed out, some sort of Jeep truck may appear as soon as 2013, looking a lot like the Gladiator, but underpinned by either a Wrangler or a Ram platform.
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