New Jeep Wrangler adds perks, stays true to WWII-era design

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Tim Fleischer reports from the New York International Auto Show on the redesigned Jeep Wrangler

Fiat Chrysler Automobiles (FCA) has unveiled the newly redesigned Jeep Wrangler ahead of the New York International Auto Show, and Eyewitness News was invited to the rare launch.

The popular vehicle is nowhere near what it started out to be 76 years ago, but it still retains much of its World War II-era design.

"A purpose-built vehicle that was to bring capability and utility to the troops to fight World War II has now evolved into what is a world-class brand," Jeep brand manager Scott Tallon said.

And for the first time in 11 years, the Wrangler has been redesigned with a new look and new technology to attract both loyal and new drivers.

"If we look at the volume and the customer base here in this New York Metropolitan area, this is the number one market on the planet," Tallon said.

So the first glimpse of the new Rubicon, the four-door Sahara and the Jeep Cherokee, was in the Big Apple.

"I've got to put enough out there for them to drop their current vehicle and come get a new one," said Mark Allen, head of Jeep design for FCA North America. "Now we have three different tops. Of course the doors still come off. We made it easier to fold down the windshield. We put a lot of technology in the car."

The much larger Sahara also sees many changes.

"The grill, to start, very vertical and laid back," Allen said. "A little detail here where the headlight invades in that outer grill slot..it's historical detail."

They like to say it's easy to make the Wrangler work off-road, but now they are focused on the other use of the vehicle.

"It's been the on-road and day-to-day living with the vehicle," Allen said. "That is where we needed to put a lot of effort, and I think we did on this vehicle."

Jeep enthusiasts are also loyal to the brand.

"We share a certain level of passion with our owners," Tallon said. "Obviously we are very passionate about the product, but we also have the largest social media following of any other motive brand."

The new Cherokee is in its fifth year of production.

"We've improved the utility part of it," Tallon said. "We've improved the technology, connectivity and more standard features than we have ever offered on the Cherokee."

It's in the middle of the entire Jeep lineup, with three models.

"A nice smart update to it," Allen said. "It blends in with the premium side of the Jeep family."

You can see the new Jeeps at the New York International Auto Show at the Javits Center March 30 through April 8th.

WATCH "IN THE FAST LANE" SATURDAY AT 7:00 P.M. ON CHANNEL 7 AND ABC7NY.COM

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