Just before opening day of the Tokyo and Los Angeles shows, Chrysler announced the new Jeep Wrangler Willys Wheeler Edition. Until now, it was overlooked in the flurry of auto show press releases and imagery. It couldn’t be ignored for long.

Billed as “A Jeep purist’s dream,” the Wrangler Willys Wheeler Edition is a modern salute to the iconic and much-loved civilian Jeeps of the post-war era – namely the CJ series in the 2A and 3A models. To make that tribute, the Jeep Wrangler underwent a slight transformation to take itself back to those roots and shed some of the over-modern aesthetics that have been added since.

2014 Jeep Wrangler Willys Wheeler Edition

Entering showrooms next year, the Jeep Wrangler Willys Wheeler Edition is basically a Wrangler Sport that’s been stripped of some plastics and outfitted with upgraded off-road items to stiffen its go-anywhere credibility.

Updates include:

  • Dana 44 rear axle with Trac-Lok limited-slip rear differential at 3.73
  • BF Goodrich KM Mud Terrain LT255/75R17 tires
  • Rock rails
  • Jeep Trail Rated Kit (D-ring, tow strap, gloves)
  • Command-Trac 4×4 part-time, two-speed transfer case (2.72:1 low-range ratio)

Not too shabby. Jeep aficionados will also notice that the exterior sees a few minor design changes to give it a more rugged look, matching the old CJs. These include a gloss black grille, blackened Jeep badging to appear embossed, gloss black front and rear bumpers to appear like the old metal bumps back in the day, and unique high-gloss black 17-inch wheels. The Willys Wheeler Edition has a Sunrider soft top and deep-tint sunscreen rear windows as standard. Premium Sunrider soft or black-splatter Freedom Top are available as options.

Under the hood is the proven 3.6-liter Pentastar V6 (285 hp, 260 lb-ft) coupled to a standard six-speed manual or optional five-speed automatic transmission.

MSRP for the Jeep Wrangler Willys Wheeler Edition starts at $25,795 in the two-door and $29,595 in the four-door. They are built in Toledo, Ohio and will be available early next year.

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An automotive enthusiast for most of his adult life, Aaron has worked in and around the industry in many ways. He is an accredited member of the Rocky Mountain Automotive Press (RMAP) and freelances as a writer and journalist around the Web and in print. You can find his portfolio at AaronOnAutos.com.

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