Revised Front and Rear End Design
Overall design changes from the JK to JL will be incremental, don't expect any major changes here. Although everything you'll hear currently is all speculation, spy shots speak volumes. Some expected changes are the tail lights (X design similar to the Renegade), grille, front and rear bumpers.
On the Pickup variant (JT) expect larger proportions, a 7-slot grille and different tail lights just to name a few.
So far, from what we can see in the test mule spy shots, the windshield seems to have a steeper rake to improve the Wrangler’s aerodynamics so we’ve incorporated that into the render along with an elongated front end in order to fit FCA's 8-speed automatic transmission. Something else that has been stretched is the wheelbase, just a couple of inches for a roomier interior.
As for the JL’s front, its grille may be getting a bend near the top and the turns signals have been relocated to the outer fenders instead of their traditional location on either side of the grille.
The tail-lights are likely to change to Renegade-style ones, and the headlights, while sticking to round shapes, should gain an LED or HID option.
Pickup Truck Variant
Knowing that design isn't set to deviate much away from the JK, with shots of the upcoming pickup like the above, its easy to connect the dots. Some of the most noticeable and significant to potential buyers is how much bigger it seems than the regular Wrangler. Bed dimensions should appeal to individuals in the mainstream truck segments.
These photos show a very-long-wheelbase Wrangler with a decent-size pickup bed. It looks to be about the same overall size as the AEV Brute Double Cab Wrangler pickup conversion, which itself is about the length of a Suburban. The bed appears to be in the five-foot range, maybe slightly shorter than the standard box of a half-ton truck. And those taillights, or at lest the covers on them, recall the shape of the lights on a Ram.
These overhead shots also give a better look at the next Wrangler's evolved seven-slot grille. We see bigger spacing between thinner ribs, which would seem antithetical to the goal of improving the Wrangler's traditionally poor aerodynamics. It's possible FCA is using an air shutter to manage airflow, as it does on the Ram pickups and some other products.
Features To Be Dropped
Although overall design isn't changing much (thankfully), we will be losing some things. Mentions of no fold-down windshield and no soft-top can be consistently found regardless of where you look. Factoring the increased level of safety that comes with just these changes, its easy to see why Jeep would go that route.
Most expect Jeep to make the Wrangler more aerodynamic, with a slightly larger slant to the windshield. The fold-down windshield may be dropped; it is unique for Jeep in North America, but few seem to care about it. Removable doors are likely to remain; the grille is reportedly to get a bend near the top. (See the Jeep Shortcut concept below for a preview of how these changes may look.)
Aluminum Throughout The Body
Rumors of Jeeps use of aluminum throughout the JL stretched as far as the entire tub being made out of the light weight metal, but that's yet to be proved. With aluminum use growing in the industry, don't be surprised if this happens, Ford's all-new F150 is a good example.
Rumor had the Wrangler switching to an aluminum tub, but in May 2015, Sergio Marchionne said, “I think we can do almost as well without doing it all-aluminum.” The Wrangler will likely use a tough hydroformed steel frame to save weight and increase rigidity
We knew the Wrangler would be lighter than the prior generation. Just read an article from Left Lane News that pretty much outlines where you'll find the weight savings.
In a nutshell, aluminum inner doors while the exterior may be out of steel still, the hood will be completely aluminum however. That may not be all, so we may hear more about other weight saving areas.
Improved Fuel Efficiency
Aside from subtle exterior design changes, little is known about what Jeep has planned to improve MPG's. One big game changer will be through offering a diesel power plant, much like what RAM has done along with other major players in the truck market.
"You have to be very careful with the aero of Wrangler, because at the end of the day, it needs to be recognizable as a Wrangler," Manley told AN. "To some extent that restricts you on some of the aero that you can do." Spy photos show a more rakish windshield and fascia, both key moves to lessen the aerodynamic impact of the Jeep's traditionally brick-like design.
"But with weight and a number of the changes that we've made, you're going to see that we've really pushed that vehicle forward in terms of its fuel economy."
The context of that last sentence points to a weight savings, something Automotive News backs up. While the Wrangler won't go all-aluminum, its frame is going to be lighter and stronger, and it will use aluminum for certain "hang-on" body parts. But this push for weight savings won't extend to the Wrangler's intangibles. It'll still ride on a body-on-frame architecture and feature solid axles at both ends, for example.
Combine Manley's comments and AN's reports with news that the Wrangler will use an eight-speed automatic and offer diesel and four-cylinder turbo power in its next generation, and it's clear Jeep is trying to make the biggest strides in decades without alienating its die-hard fans.