Like the Porsche 911 or the Ford Mustang, change doesn't come easily to the Jeep Wrangler. So fans might find the latest news about the next-generation model a tad upsetting.

In an effort to save weight, the next Wrangler--due in 2016--may ditch its solid axles, Jeep brand boss Mike Manley told Automotive News (sub. required).

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Manley did not say that the solid axle would definitely be nixed, but according to Automotive News, Chrysler's advertisements for next-gen Wrangler engineers point to a lighter vehicle with more electronic features.

Stricter fuel-economy standards are putting pressure on Jeep engineers to lighten the Wrangler, and an independent suspension setup would do just that.

However, it might test the loyalty of Jeep buyers.

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The Wrangler's uncompromising design makes it one of the most capable off-road vehicles in showrooms today. Its old school suspension also makes the Wrangler easy to customize, which is why you'll probably see many Wranglers with massive tires towering over the crowds at the 2013 SEMA show.

Those buyers like the Wrangler just the way it is; through September, sales were up 11 percent. Not bad for an SUV that hasn't been redesigned since 2006.

In addition to keeping that sales momentum up, Jeep may have to deal with criticism from its hardcore fans, many of whom were already put off by the radically-new 2014 Cherokee.

With a large base of existing customers on one side, and stricter regulations on the other, it looks like the next Wrangler will be a balancing act for Jeep.


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