Following up on our early look at a 2019 Jeep Wrangler pickup, new spy photos show a heavily disguised 2018 Jeep Wrangler undergoing testing ahead of its launch later this year. Seen here in 4-door Unlimited form, the still-rugged Wrangler will move to a new “JL” platform designation and undergo a weight reduction program to allow this iconic new Jeep to jettison a bit of mass in order to help increase its operating efficiency.

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While Jeep has provided few details about the new Wrangler family, these images do confirm it will maintain close family ties with the current model. Despite a slightly faster windshield rake, the next-gen Wrangler hangs onto its traditional boxy bodywork and bolt-on doors. Although this particular prototype is crowned by what appears to be an updated 3-piece removable hardtop, rumor has it there also will be a new variation on the theme similar to the MySky power retractable/removable panel system on the Renegade as well as a traditional soft top that also may have some sort of new power assist feature. A closer inspection shows the redesigned Wrangler’s well-covered signature 7-slot grille continues to be flanked by circular headlamps, but its prominent front fenders have gained new strip-style daytime running lights/directional signals while the restyled rear lamps have adopted a more pronounced wraparound design.

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Like the 2019 Wrangler pickup that’s due to launch early next year, the recast 2018 Jeep Wrangler is expected to come with FCA’s new turbocharged 2.0-liter 4-cylinder “Hurricane” engine backed by an 8-speed automatic transmission as standard fitment. The existing 3.6-liter Pentastar V6 and 3.0-liter turbodiesel V6 as well as a 4-cylinder plug-in alternative of some sort are likely to be optional. Based on its projected launch time, we anticipate the 2018 Jeep Wrangler will make its first public appearance this November at the Los Angeles Auto Show.

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