Gear up for lots of talk about the coming 2019 Jeep pickup truck. Much of it will be coming from us; not because we have deep contacts within the Toledo, Ohio, production plant or at Fiat Chrysler Automobiles headquarters (although we might), but because we know you want to know what Jeep is planning.
You've seen the spy photos, but what do we really know about this pickup?
Just like Ram, Jeep is owned by FCA, which creates an interesting predicament because Ram is likely to offer a mid-size pickup in the future. And Jeep has some interesting competition to consider: the second-generation Honda Ridgeline, the all-new Nissan Titan lineup, the redesigned Ford F-150 Raptor and the soon-to-be-released Chevrolet Colorado ZR2, which we'll drive in May.
Clearly, other manufacturers have learned that it's easier to transform a desert runner into a rock crawler than it is to take a rock crawler and make it as proficient as a desert runner. Whether Jeep understands this is unclear. Maybe the guys at Ram (we're thinking Ram 2500 Power Wagon here) have explained this already; maybe not. Still, they should see it's no coincidence that both Ford and Chevy are following the same trail (although in different pickup classes) and are likely to have similarly successful results. But then again, neither Ford nor GM have a brand like Jeep or a customer base willing and able to embrace everything from extreme trail cliff climbers to racetrack dominators to all-wheel-drive micro-crossovers.
That has to make Ford and Chevy envious. Jeep will be taking a different approach because it has a different and, in many ways, more complex set of design requirements to hit because it has a wider set of goals to meet. A Jeep pickup must be capable, authentic, traditional and unique.
We've gathered some information from Jeep executives (who tend to communicate more with what they don't say than what they do) and suppliers who have already seen a few early prototypes. Although things could change significantly during the next few months, here are five things we know about the new Jeep pickup.
1. It Will Be a Mid-Size Player
But it will be large and long, and have four full-sized doors. It will not have eight-lug axles like a three-quarter-ton pickup — although Mopar could create one down the road — but it will be able to tow at least 7,000 pounds, which just happens to be a little less than the total weight of a good-sized double-axle trailer with a Jeep Wrangler Unlimited on top.
2. It Will Have a Longer Bed
The bed will be at least 6.5 feet long with a few surprise storage tricks — think RamBox with more ingenuity. It wouldn't surprise us at all if there are things like cooler straps and bike rack latches built into a composite bed. And don't expect this to be a "pretend" bed box a la the Ridgeline or the Chevrolet Avalanche; the bed will be separated from the body of the truck, and there will be a reinforced ladder frame underneath. We'll also be curious to see exactly what the bed height will be given Jeep's penchant for higher ground clearance.
3. It Will Offer a Strong Tow Package
There will be coils springs under the rear live axle, but that doesn't mean — as we've learned from the Ram 1500 — that the towing and load carrying will be compromised. We've already heard about an optional rear-end tow package that will stiffen and strengthen the Jeep's backside for those who need it. Remember, almost 75 percent of Colorados and GMC Canyons are equipped with a tow package (and it comes standard with the diesel engine option) — although many of those buyers don't tow. The Jeep needs to be a real pickup right out of the gate (not just a real Jeep) — unlike the Raptor when it was introduced with a much lower payload and towing capacity than anything else in the segment.
4. It Will Share the Wrangler's Interior
Both the new 2018 Jeep Wrangler and the new pickup truck that follows for 2019 will be built in Toledo. Given the fact that this is the spiritual home of the popular four-door Wrangler Unlimited, you can bet there will be similarities between the Wrangler and pickup interiors. Although we're not positive, we're guessing that the new pickup also will get a fiberglass T-top option. Remember the convertible Dodge Dakota? Unlike the Dakota, it makes sense that a Jeep will be the pickup to bring back open-air access.
5. It Will Have a Diesel Engine Option
From the day Mike Manley took over Jeep in 2009, the current head of Jeep and Ram has talked about how much sense it made for a Jeep to have a diesel option available in the U.S. since they're offered on every other Jeep sold around the world. So you can bet this new pickup will have one when it debuts. The question is which turbo-diesel engine will Jeep decide to use? Will it be the 3.0-liter V-6 EcoDiesel (420 lb-ft of torque) that's already in high demand in the Ram 1500 and Jeep Grand Cherokee? Or will it be the 3.0-liter inline-four-cylinder EcoDiesel (295 lb-ft of torque) used in the full-size Ram ProMaster van? No matter what the choice — could both be offered? — expect a torquey diesel option at launch or soon thereafter.