Is Jeep Finally Ready To Build a Wrangler Pickup?

The only 2011 Jeep models we've seen thus far are the Grand Cherokee, Wrangler, and Patriot -- but could a long-awaited Wrangler pickup truck be waiting in the wings?

According to the Wall Street Journal, it sure seems likely. It's been reported that Jeep brand CEO Michael Manley previewed such a product during Chrysler's dealer meeting, held earlier this week in Florida, seeking their reaction to such a vehicle. PickupTrucks.com reports that, if approved , the vehicle would be built upon the long-wheelbase Wrangler Unlimited's frame, utilize a two-door cab with storage behind the seats, and launch in the third quarter of 2011 as a 2012 model. For Jeep fans and pickup enthusiasts, such a vehicle can't reach the market soon enough. The product itself may be new, but the idea certainly isn't. Jeep showed a similar Wrangler-based vehicle as the Gladiator concept at the 2005 Detroit auto show, but didn't push the idea far beyond the concept stage. It did, however, develop a long-wheelbase Wrangler pickup -- the J8 -- for foreign military use. Designers teased gussied-up versions of the J8 at different enthusiast shows, while American Expedition Vehicles inked a deal to sell a limited number of J8s in North America for roughly $50,000 a pop. Chrysler's own Wrangler pickup would likely carry a price tag well below that mark, but pricing, content, and marketing plans are still far from being finalized at this stage. Adding the Wrangler pickup could also allow Chrysler to rethink its pickup portfolio. The midsize, body-on-frame Wrangler truck could cater to consumers who love the current formula of the (Dodge) Ram Dakota, while simultaneously allowing the Ram brand to explore new territory when developing a successor for its aging model. Executives hinted to us back in 2008 that a Dakota replacement could move to a unibody design, but Joe Veltri, Chrysler's vice president of product planning, told Automotive News earlier this year that the company isn't currently planning a pickup built upon a unibody platform. That said, Veltri noted Chrysler was looking at a pickup that will "separate itself from the full-size [Ram] more than what happens today, in terms of capability, price and size." A compact pickup for the Ram brand is almost certainly in the cards -- but whether it'll resemble the 2006 Rampage concept is anyone's guess. What say you -- is a Wrangler Pickup something Chrysler should have offered years ago, or is it simply catering to a niche? Send us (and Chrysler) your wishes by sounding off in our comments section below. Sources: WSJ, PickupTrucks.com, Automotive News

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