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Jeep has just released images of its 2011 Wrangler, which will receive something of a makeover for the new model year – particularly to its interior. The rugged Wrangler, last fully redesigned in 2007, boasts a completely new interior, designed to be considerably more upscale than interiors in previous Wranglers.

Gone is Jeep's old four-spoke steering wheel borrowed from the Chrysler PT Cruiser, replaced instead by a simple three-spoke design with available steering wheel audio controls from Jeep's all-new Grand Cherokee. Old rotary climate control dials have been upgraded to newer, more stylish units, and the entire center console has been redesigned to provide a look that's less utility and more style, with some curves added to the once-linear design. Interior door panels were also reshaped to provide more supportive armrests and a more elegant look to the cabin.

Jeep fans will note that the brand's "love-'em-or-hate-'em" console-mounted window switches remain positioned between the air-conditioning vents on the Wrangler's dash. Also unchanged are the four-wheel drive selector, and the gear selector, both still positioned in the center console.

On the exterior, the Wrangler's biggest update for 2011 comes in the form of a body-colored hardtop – but only for the upscale Sahara models. Previously, the Wrangler's hardtop had been dark gray plastic, which remains the top's color on lower-end models. Other changes to the Wrangler are minor and include five new colors: Detonator Yellow, Deep Cherry Red, Sahara Tan, Cosmos Blue, and Bright White.

A major engine change that was expected didn't happen: many Jeep enthusiasts were hoping the automaker would choose 2011 to put Chrysler's new 3.6-liter V6 under the Wrangler's hood – an engine designed by Jeep to do more with less. However, the Wrangler's engine offerings – a 202-horsepower 3.8-liter V6 for regular-length models and a 205-horsepower version of the same engine for the four-door Wrangler Unlimited – will instead carry over from 2010.

The 2011 Wrangler should begin appearing in dealer showrooms soon, as production for the updated model began last week at Chrysler's Toledo, Ohio assembly plant.

author photo

Doug DeMuro is a Denver native who now resides in Atlanta. He was featured in Automobile Magazine for his "car spotting" hobby – hunting and photographing exotic cars in the wild. DeMuro is an Emory University alumni with wide-ranging industry experience including Porsche Cars North America, Enterprise Rent-A-Car, and a Ferrari dealership.

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