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Jeep’s solution to building a more efficient Wrangler won’t please purists

Jeep is under immense pressure to make the next-generation Wrangler more efficient than the model that it’s currently producing. To that end, the iconic off-roader could be offered with a turbocharged four-cylinder engine for the first time ever.

The turbo four in question is a 2.0-liter unit that’s currently being developed by parent company Fiat-Chrysler. Known as the Hurricane internally, the engine is shaping up to be a state-of-the-art unit fitted with direct fuel-injection, variable valve timing, and a single twin-scroll turbocharger. Its output is expected to lie in the vicinity of 300 horsepower, though only time will tell how much torque it will churn out. It will spin all four wheels through a ZF-designed eight-speed automatic transmission.

To put those specifications into perspective, the current Wrangler (pictured) is exclusively offered with Chrysler’s 3.6-liter Pentastar V6, a unit that generates 285 horsepower at 6,400 rpm and 260 pound-feet of torque at 4,800 rpm. A six-speed manual transmission comes standard, and a five-speed automatic gearbox is optional.

Jeep isn’t forgetting about enthusiasts who don’t like the idea of a Wrangler with a turbo four. Automotive News reports that the downsized engine will be offered at an extra cost, and the Wrangler will continue to come standard with a V6 engine, though details about it haven’t been made public yet. Later on, we’ll likely see the Wrangler offered with a turbodiesel engine — a configuration that’s already available in Europe — and even a gasoline-electric hybrid drivetrain.

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Jeep’s turbo four will make its global debut under the hood of the next-gen Wrangler, which will bow at a major auto show next year and go on sale shortly after as a 2018 model. The 2.0-liter isn’t Jeep-only, and we expect it will show up in a variety of Dodge, Chrysler, Fiat, and even Alfa Romeo models shortly after the Wrangler goes on sale.