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Jeep Wrangler ute spied testing

The new ute is expected to revive the Scrambler nameplate, but Jeep is yet to confirm this. (image credit: Automedia.com)

Jeep continues to tantalise us with camouflaged Wrangler ute development mules, with these examples spotted in the US this week.

While the prototype pictured here in Michigan is wearing an identical disguise to the example spied in May last year, the example shown parked gives us our closest look yet at the new pickup’s tailgate design.

The lack of exposed hinges suggests it will use a conventional - for a ute - bottom-hinged design, unlike the visible side-hinges used by all other Wranglers, along with all other body hinges.

It's likely that the tailgate will abandon the SUV's original swing-open design. (image credit: Automedia.com) It's likely that the tailgate will abandon the SUV's original swing-open design. (image credit: Automedia.com)

Those looking to use the trayback Wrangler for carrying longer loads will be thankful, hinting at genuine utility rather than just a trendy new Wrangler bodystyle.

The new ute is expected to revive the Scrambler nameplate, but Jeep is yet to officially confirm this.

Speaking with CarsGuide today, Jeep Australia spokesperson David Harding confirmed that the ute version is destined for Australia, but could not clarify local timing. We’d be surprised if a production wasn’t revealed by the end of the year, but its local arrival is highly likely to be some months after the late-2018 launch of regular versions of the new JL Wrangler.

It is clear that the ute version will ride on a longer wheelbase than the four-door Unlimited, with the rear wheels placed well behind the back doors.

Australian engine options are expected to include a revised version of the 3.6-litre petrol V6 and an all-new 2.2-litre turbodiesel.

The Wrangler ute will form a niche option in the booming dual cab ute segment that is currently ruled by the Toyota HiLux and Ford Ranger, but will also likely represent an alternative to the new Land Rover Defender due to appear at around the same time.

Would you prefer a Wrangler ute over the standard range of dual-cab offerings? Tell us what you think in the comments below.