Still sitting on a ladder frame chassis but with gains of 35 mm and 60 mm longer compared to the outgoing two-door and four-door Unlimited models, the Wrangler's biggest trump card is a drop in weight of between 45-91 kg thanks to extensive use of lightweight materials such as high-strength steel and aluminium.
While the exterior has been extensively updated with the wheel arches now flared to accomodate 33-inch tyres, the interior is a radical departure from the old Wrangler with a brand new integrated UConnect infotainment system available in three sizes (five-inch, seven-inch and 8.4-inch), redesigned centre console, a TFT instrument cluster measuring 3.5-inch or seven-inches and a new steering wheel.
The biggest surprise is the retention of the second gear lever low range transfer case, although the switch for the diff-lock, surrounded in red, moves to below the HVAC and electric window controls. As with previous models, the Wrangler again offers the option of having the doors and panels removed and the windscreen folded flat, with roof options consisting of a traditional hard and soft-top, as well as a new electric variant of the latter.
In addition to being lighter, the Wrangler now boasts improved approach and departure angles, electronic anti-roll bars, a front axle able to disconnect itself for improved consumption, new suspension, electro-hydraulic power steering and two four-wheel drive systems; the standard Command-Trac and off-road focused Rock-Trac with Tru-Lock differential in the case of the Rubicon.
Model-wise, the US spec Wrangler will be offered in four trim levels; Sport, Sport S, Sahara and Rubicon with the Sahara being restricted to the Unlimited.
It is also mostly new underneath the bonnet where the Wrangler will have the option of two petrol engines and two turbodiesels. While the 3.6-litre Pentastar V6 has been retained with a output of 213 kW and 353 Nm of torque, the biggest talking point is the new 2.0-litre turbocharged four-cylinder mill dubbed Hurricane.
Previously at the centre of controversy after the wrong power and torque figures leaked online, the new four-pot makes 200 kW and 400 Nm of torque, and interestingly comes with a 48-volt battery and belt-driven generator system for a mild-hybrid setup.
A new ZF-sourced eight-speed automatic gearbox replaces the old five-speed Mercedes-Benz 'box as the sole self-shifting option, although a six-speed manual will be available on all V6 models.
In terms of diesel power, some markets will get a new 2.2-litre CRD punching out a rumoured 147 kW and 450 Nm, as well as the 3.0-litre CRD V6 shared with the Jeep Grand Cherokee and Ram 1500 that makes 191 kW and 600 Nm.
The new Wrangler is confirmed to arrive in South Africa next year with final pricing and spec yet to be revealed.