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Since 1986, the Jeep Wrangler has been considered among Jeep’s toughest off-road vehicles. With its trail-ready capabilities and unmistakable boxy style, it has become a top pick for drivers who want to be able to tackle the trail.

Over the decades, Jeep has retooled its vehicles to include the latest advancements in off-road technology. By the early 2000s, the Jeep Wrangler Rubicon had taken top honors as Jeep’s most durable off-roader. While models like the Jeep Cherokee and Compass have been geared towards daily driving, the Wrangler has remained true to its off-road heritage.

Recently, Car and Driver unveiled newly leaked photos that show a potential prototype of an upcoming version of the iconic Wrangler. While rumors of a brand new model have been circulating for months, this is the first time that spies have seen a possible model out on the road. Though the exact specs remain hazy, the leaked photos show a trail-tuned vehicle that appears to be engineered to take on tough terrain.

What the Wrangler looks like today

The latest version of the Jeep Wrangler first became available for the 2018 model year. The latest generation features exterior styling that resembles the boxy, utilitarian Jeep models of decades past. Jeep has tapped into its enthusiastic fan base by allowing drivers to customize many components of their new Wranglers, including the exterior paint and styling.

With the 2019 edition, Jeep is still toeing the line between a utilitarian trail vehicle and a comfortable daily driver. The Wrangler can be equipped with either two or four doors, which adds additional space for extra passengers. Turbocharged and V6 engine options, along with a fully redesigned transmission, have made it capable in both off-road and paved driving conditions.

While the 2019 Wrangler is a 4×4 vehicle that can crawl over steep terrain, it is also equipped with many modern comforts. Jeep’s infotainment system includes Apple CarPlay connectivity, which means that drivers will remain connected, even if they venture off of main roads. Models like the Moab Edition remain true to its off-roading heritage. 

The Wrangler goes through extensive trail-testing before it hits the showroom. Jeep tests out key features, such as the vehicle’s traction, water fording capabilities, articulation, and available ground clearance. Only once Jeep has deemed a new Wrangler model Trail Rated™ will it release the vehicle to the public.

First glimpses of a potential new model

When Car and Driver spotted a potential Wrangler prototype model, this vehicle was being driven around a standard track. While this possible new Wrangler was not seen driving in off-road conditions, experts have speculated that the vehicle in the pictures may be a sneak peek of what is coming for the next evolution of the Wrangler.

Some key elements of the Wrangler prototype include a brand new fuel delivery system, which Jeep has been rumored to be testing in its new models. Observers of the prototype noticed that the engine was running noisily and roughly, suggesting that Jeep may have some work to do before its new 4×4 new is ready for the trails. The speculated prototype was also stripped of all doors and windows, leaving only the frame to protect the test drivers. 

With its aftermarket lift kit and souped-up suspension system, the possible Wrangler model could also be a test model that is being produced in a one-off capacity. The SEMA trade show coming up in a few months, and Jeep may be creating a fully custom vehicle that showcases some of its latest off-road innovations.