Prior to 2003, there were few factory options available that would increase the offroad ability of your YJ or TJ Wrangler. Lift kits, rock sliders, heavy duty transfer cases, heavy duty axles, selectable lockers, sway bar disconnects, and lower axle gearing (among other things) were reserved for aftermarket manufacturers, or ambitious do-it-yourself-ers.
Jeep changed the game a little bit when someone had the hair-brain idea to start offering these options themselves! I hope whoever that was got a medal or something… Now in its 9th production year; the Rubicon is still the most capable off-the-lot vehicle you can buy. And if the $40K loaded 2012 Wrangler Rubicon Unlimited you just purchased didn’t tap you out completely; Mopar wants anything you have left – and you’ll probably give it to them too.
The recently announced Call of Duty: Modern Warfare 3 special edition Wrangler (that added some pretty common aftermarket options to the already capable Rubicon model, specs here,) and Mopar’s announcement to offer over 250 accessories for the revised 2012 Wrangler makes one wonder what is coming down the pipeline. Mopar’s Wrangler offerings include interior accents like grab handles, seat covers, door sill guards, and all weather floor mats; security items like ignition key matching fuel and hood locks; and exterior pieces like Trek tops, half door kits, spare tire covers, and deck covers. Most importantly, Mopar is increasing it’s offering of offroad accessories for the 2012 JK.
Mopar has two available suspension upgrades for 07-12 JKs; a 2 inch lift kit good for 33-35 inch tires, and a four inch lift making room for up to 37 inch tires. Both are available through Mopar, and can be installed by dealers before you take delivery of your JK. The, now available, Mopar (read: America Expedition Vehicle’s) heavy duty JK bumpers (found on the Call of Duty edition) add clearance both front and back, and are ready for the installation of a front winch (warn winches can, now, also be ordered through the Mopar catalog.) Other goodies include rock sliders, AEV style wheels, skid plates, and cold air intake systems. New adventure items like bike racks, tents, and offroad camper trailers are also available.
Mopar’s knowledge of Jeep’s future plans gives them a significant edge on the competition; as well as the fact that their products are designed by the same people who designed the vehicle, their parts are likely to fit better, and more importantly, can be serviced by Jeep dealers. Additionally, warranty work will likely be questioned less if the dealer installed the lift, rather than a local shop, or driveway Jeep junkie.
So, could the Call of Duty Wrangler, and these new Mopar offerings, really be a huge market research project, to determine how Chrysler can charge even more for a well equipped Wrangler? My thoughts lead to yes (I hope.) The Wrangler has been a superior off-the-lot offroad vehicle for the last 25 years, and contrary to many enthusiast’s feelings; the addition of the 4 door unlimited opened the market to more than just soccer moms. The larger JK can not only carry more passengers than the two door version, it can tow more, and haul more. Jeep decided to capitalize on their enthusiasts desire to modify their vehicles when they introduced the Rubicon model; now, as the aftermarket grows further, Jeep seems to be keeping up with via the additions to the Mopar catalog. A fourth tier Wrangler seems like a good idea, especially if catered it to overlanders, rather than rock crawlers. If we take out the non-aesthetic features of the call of duty edition (badging, embroidered seats, etc.) and added a 4 inch lift with 35 inch tires, a snorkel, winch, and a more fuel efficient diesel engine; you’d have one heck of an overlanding rig. Add the Mopar offroad trailer, or a rooftop pop up tent and you’re ready to traverse the world!
If I were running the show – The Jeep Wrangler Overland (as I would call it) would be based on the J8, be available with either the 3.6L V6 gas engine, 5.7L Hemi V8 gas engine, or a 3.0L Turbo Diesel; all available with a 6-spd manual, or 5 spd automatic. It would start as a stripped vehicle with optional winch bumpers, snorkels, tow packages, and 33-35 inch tires. Jeep should contract with one of the many pop up camper manufacturers, as it has obviously done with AEV in regard to the use of their bumpers on the COD, to offer pop-tops as a factory option instead of a hard top. As with the current J8 (only available to foreign military or peacekeeping groups) the Overland would have a beefier frame, Dana 60 rear axle, and a dust storm resisting air intake system (we’ll leave out the machine gun mount, or ambulance package.) Both four door and 2 door extended wheel base versions of the J8 would be offered on the Overland as well.
Will we ever see a top tier Overland Wrangler? Maybe, but I’m not going to hold my breath. Maybe the next Wrangler variant will be the pickup that we’ve been teased with for the past few years. Hopefully, when the redesigned Wrangler debuts in a few years, whatever it looks like, it’ll finally get a diesel mill.