4 x 4 Australia - - Front Page - MATT RAUDONIKIS

IT’S NO se­cret that good ol’ live-axle 4x4s are on the de­cline, and news that Nis­san has brought the hatchet down on the GU Pa­trol means that an­other one has bit­ten the dust. While the Pa­trol name lives on in the Y62, it’s the end for the Pa­trol ute. It also means the LC79 is the only Ja­panese-made, liveaxle, heavy-duty 4x4 ute avail­able. If you dis­re­gard the Amer­i­can pick-up trucks, such as those we’ve tested in this is­sue, then the HD ute mar­ket looks pretty poor com­pared to the boom­ing one-tonne ute seg­ment.

Just weeks be­fore the news from Nis­san broke, FCA Aus­tralia re­vealed it was look­ing se­ri­ously at the dou­ble-cab ute ver­sion of the next-gen­er­a­tion Jeep Wran­gler (JL?) that has been con­firmed for the USA. That truck isn’t due to go into pro­duc­tion un­til 2018, but with the new Wran­gler set to re­tain live axles front and rear, the Jeep pick-up could give us an­other ute with real off-road po­ten­tial. As one of­froad ute is laid to rest, there’s light ahead for an new one. Fin­gers crossed we get it here.

One Jeep staffer at the Easter Jeep Sa­fari said clues to the new Wran­gler ute could be found in the Crew Chief con­cept that the brand un­veiled at event in Moab, Utah. In this is­sue, we’ve got an ex­clu­sive drive of the wild Crew Chief from our guy in the US, Chris Col­lard. And if it’s any in­di­ca­tion of the new model, then we’ve ev­ery rea­son to be ex­cited.

The Crew Chief looks to me like a JK Un­lim­ited with a Kaiser 715 front end and tray tacked on. So if this gives any clue to the JL model, it should re­tain that clas­sic Jeep look. The ru­mour mill says the next Wran­gler is set to lose weight with the use of alu­minium com­po­nents. These are ex­pected to be bolt-on pan­els, not a full alu­minium body. One the­ory sug­gests the use of alu­minium sus­pen­sion com­po­nents, but we don’t see how that would be pos­si­ble with the Jeep re­tain­ing its live axles, which are es­sen­tial to the model’s ex­cel­lent off-road abil­ity. I can’t wait to find out for sure.

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