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Car and Driver: Fiat-Chrysler Reportedly Plans Turbo Four-Cylinder for Next Jeep Wrangler

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2018-Jeep-Wrangler-Spy-Photo-107-876x535

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Jeep is considering a range of new powertrain options for the next-generation Wrangler, from a gas V-6 (like the one it uses today) to a plug-in hybrid setup and even—finally!—a diesel. Apparently, there’s yet another possibility for what’s under the hood of the development mule seen in this spy photo: A turbocharged four-cylinder engine. Fiat-Chrysler insiders told Automotive News as much, even going so far as to give up the engine’s code-name, “Hurricane.”
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-The Jeep fanboys out there might recognize the Hurricane name, as it was applied to a Willys four-cylinder engine that powered early Jeep CJ models starting in the 1950s. Beyond its name association to a classic Jeep engine, however, the new Fiat-Chrysler Hurricane four is said to be completely modern. Following industry trends toward 0.5-liter-per-cylinder engine displacements, the four-pot Hurricane will be a 2.0-liter aluminum engine with twin-scroll turbocharging and direct fuel injection. It is reportedly capable of making up to 300 horsepower.

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Apparently, Fiat-Chrysler will look to the turbo four—in conjunction with the eight-speed automatic it builds under license from ZF—to be the “efficient” Wrangler engine option. (We reached out to Jeep for comment but, as with all things New Wrangler, the automaker is keeping tight-lipped.) It’s a logical step, given how many automakers are working to “downsize” their powertrains with smaller-displacement engines boosted by turbochargers, netting better EPA fuel-economy estimates without sacrificing power. The current Wrangler is EPA-rated at 17 mpg city and 21 mpg highway, numbers the company surely aims to improve with the next-generation model.

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Even so, we’ve found the supposed fuel-economy benefits of stuffing small displacement turbocharged engines in big vehicles to be mostly elusive in the real world, and we’re more skeptical of the driving experience of a Wrangler so equipped. The Jeep icon has become quite heavy over the years since it was last offered with a four-cylinder in 2006, and the company’s own weight claims for today’s Wrangler put the two-door between 3760 and 4129 pounds; the four-d00r Unlimited inflates that range to between 4075 and 4340 pounds. The new model isn’t expected to drastically reverse this trend, meaning the new four-cylinder engine had better produce epic torque down low to deal with the 4×4’s mass. To us, the most sensible Wrangler-engine-to-be remains a diesel, which would have the torque to handle the Wrangler’s considerable heft and barn-like aerodynamics while simultaneously lending itself to crawling around off-road, the Wrangler’s raison d’etre.

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