Mike Manley, Jeep brand boss let slip to Automotive News that the deletion of the Jeep’s solid axles is a possibility due to the weight savings. An independent suspension system would be used in place of the current coil-link suspension setup.
That would be a major change in the eyes of Jeep fans and loyalists who love the current suspension setup thanks to its easy to customize nature and durability. Manley says that Jeep engineers are working rigorously to make sure that the Wrangler meets its new requirements, while also keeping its hardcore off-road roots intact.
Other possibilities that may be implemented to help the Wrangler’s quest for improved fuel economy are improved aerodynamics and the further use of lightweight materials, both of which were seen on this year’s 2013 Jeep Moab Concepts (Wrangler Stitch Concept shown above). The introduction of a diesel engine for the Wrangler has also been hinted at by Manley, and could be borrowed from the Grand Cherokee diesel.
They already did it to the Grand Cherokee, now the new Cherokee, so of course, why not put off all other Jeep enthusiast by disgracing the Wrangler with independent suspension. Only if it is long travel with beefy components (like there concept from a few years ago) will it ever sell well.
In looking back at that story, I have to say the title is misleading. The article cites Automotive Times as its source. That article only speculates about the axle. Nothing was said by Jeep about adopting IFS. What was said is that they were trying to reduce weight. The writers of the article are speculating on losing the solid axle, as that would reduce weight. The people at Jeep aren't going to kill their cash cow. The CEO of Jeep stated:
Frankly, I know that if I screw up the next Wrangler, then I probably wouldn't be able to leave my house for a long time.
I can understand and appreciate the need to shave weight, improve efficiency, and remain competitive in the market. And I don't envy them the task of balancing the scales on a vehicle as unique as the Wrangler with a fan base as hard core as the Wrangler's.
I agree that the IFS appears to be entirely journalist speculation as there is no mention or hint of it at all in the videos or quotes from the Chrysler design guys.
I'm not going to panic just yet.