Getting A Glimpse Of 2018 At The FCA “What’s New” Event

Earlier this year, FCA flew me up to its Chelsea Proving Grounds in Chelsea, Michigan so we could attend its annual “What’s New” event, which gave me a peek at the automaker’s 2018 lineup. We made a beeline for the SUVs and trucks at the head of the Renegade/Lyman Trail. We knew they were all going to be familiar sights because the 2018 model year is largely a carryover year for FCA’s off-road vehicle portfolio. It isn’t completely devoid of changes to Jeeps and Rams, though.

Jeep is bringing a couple new additions to the 2018 lineup, including the Jeep JL which was not at the event.

The 2018 versions of Ram’s 1500, 2500, and 3500 models get upgrades such as 8.4-inch touchscreen radio units loaded with features that include 4G LTE connectivity, Android Auto, Apple CarPlay, pinch-to-zoom functionality, and better resolution. The Sirius Guardian suite includes SOS Call, Roadside Assistance, and Vehicle Finder.

Even as a full-size truck the Ram can conquer the trail!

A backup camera is now standard on all Ram pickups. The cargo boxes have a switch that controls the LED bed lights. The Rebel can now be outfitted with a leather interior. Taking luxury several steps further, the cabins of the Limited Tungsten Editions of the 1500, 2500, and 3500 are trimmed with a Light Greystone suede headliner, “Natura Plus” Frost and Indigo-colored leather, real wood accents, and unique badges. The most notable powertrain change is the 3500’s 6.7-liter Cummins turbodiesel being tuned to produce a stratospheric 930 lb-ft of torque.

Over at Jeep, the Renegade benefits from a standard backup camera, increased interior storage capacity, and the Uconnect 4 system with a seven-inch display, Apple CarPlay, and Android Auto becoming standard for certain trim lines.

The Compass Limited is available with two-wheel drive. Latitude is now the base trim for the Cherokee. The Latitude Plus version of the Cherokee is a well-equipped new addition. More safety features are now standard on the Cherokee Trailhawk and Cherokee Limited.

Inside the Jeeps, there are plenty of buttons to push which will bring out your inner child.

The 2018 Grand Cherokee Sterling Edition celebrates the 25th anniversary of the Grand Cherokee with special badges and exterior elements in Platinum Chrome. The Grand Cherokee High Altitude Edition returns for 2018 with Low Gloss Granite Crystal badges and other touches, and perforated Black Nappa leather seats and Anodized Gun Metal interior trim. The improved Uconnect 8.4-inch touchscreen radio system with Apple CarPlay and Android Auto is standard on all Grand Cherokees.

Though it was not the JL, the 2018 Rubicon JK still had some minor tirm upgrades.

Special editions are the biggest changes to the 2018 Wrangler lineup. The military-themed Freedom Edition is back and includes Oscar Mike fender badges and decals, body-color fender flares, steel off-road bumpers, rock rails, tail lamp guards, and a black soft top. Designers gave the outside of the Altitude Edition High Gloss Black accents and black tail lamp guards. A power bulge hood conceals the Pentastar V6 while a body-color hard top covers the passenger compartment.

Traction no matter which vehicle you picked.

The 18-inch wheels are surrounded by Bridgestone Dueler tires. The Golden Eagle version of the Wrangler is decorated with a tan soft top; (optional) tan half doors; special hood decals; and Low Gloss Bronze trim elements. Rock rails, tail lamp guards, BF Goodrich KO2 tires, and steel bumpers help the Golden Eagle safely fly over trails.

One thing that wasn’t new at FCA’s “What’s New” event? The fun of getting Jeeps and Rams dirty.

About the author

Derek Shiekhi

Derek Shiekhi is a native Texan who grew up loving cars because of his father, who took Derek with him to buy early Mustang convertibles and Post-WWII pickups from GM. Throughout high school and college, he dreamed about cars, and returned to college to earn a second degree in journalism. After writing for the Austin-American Statesman newspaper, Derek joined the Texas Auto Writers Association, and is a member of the organization's board of directors.
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