Will Jeep build a pickup truck based on the spunky and rugged platform of the Wrangler SUV?
That's the question blowing up at the second media day at an otherwise somewhat slow North American International Auto Show, where Fiat Chrysler Automobiles' biggest news is the introduction of, drum roll please, the Pacifica minivan.
According to our source, who wanted to remain anonymous because this news was in fact a slip let out by FCA chairman Sergio Marchionne, a Wrangler-based pickup is confirmed to be coming, and it could debut as soon as the next-generation Wrangler comes to market — likely as a 2017 model.
Why is it such a big deal? Well, the last time that Jeep sold a pickup in the U.S., it was the Cherokee-based Comanche, and the brand has been without an open-bed hauler since the early '90s. A revitalized Wrangler-based pickup will likely use a more powerful engine than its predecessor did, and could be a much more refined product. (The Comanche was a bare-bones pickup with few creature comforts that came of age under a Chrysler not known for its products' reliability). No word on whether the pickup will have two or four doors, or if it will be as off-road-focused as the Wrangler is.
"Obviously, we've got some heritage with Jeep pickup trucks," Jim Morrison, director of Jeep product marketing told us on the show floor when asked to comment. "So we're always looking at ways to grow."
Jeep turns 75 years old in 2016, and the brand will mark the occasion with special-edition models and color options, as well as events for owners and enthusiasts throughout the year. But a Wrangler pickup truck? Now that's more like it for a 75th birthday present.