New 2018 Jeep Wrangler Unlimited

The Jeep® Wrangler. Off-Road Icon, On-Road Legend.

From driving to the beach with the top and doors removed, to off-roading through challenging mountain trails, the Jeep® Wrangler serves as an iconic American vehicle suited to deliver the perfect balance between rugged durability and a unique driving experience few other vehicles can replicate. With the advent of the 2018 Wrangler® JL, many buyers find themselves confused by the trim levels, seemingly random letter combinations and a dizzying number of options. With a 2018 model of both the Wrangler® JK and the new Wrangler® JL, it's easy to become disoriented while shopping for a new Jeep® Wrangler. However, don't let the façade of complexity dissuade you from considering a Jeep® Wrangler, as deciphering the difference is far easier than it seems.

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The Wrangler JK Versus The Wrangler JL--Deciphering the Difference

While both Wranglers are fully capable vehicles, the new 2018 Wrangler® JL marks the newest generation of Wranglers, set to fully replace the Wrangler® JK within the next few years. Generally, the Wrangler® JK offers a more rugged, stripped back, stiffer-riding vehicle whereas the Wrangler® JL employs the latest in mechanical engineering and software technologies to deliver a vehicle with equally, if not more capable off-road capabilities, and superior on-road comfort. While Jeep® undoubtedly sought to improve the Wrangler series in every regard, ultimately, the Wrangler® JL has not withstood the decade of trials the Wrangler® JK has.

With a seemingly unending quantity of aftermarket modification options, the Wrangler® JK has proven itself capable of tackling the toughest trails across the country, and the world. Tried-and-true, the Wrangler® JK features a massive number of fanatical owners across the country--resulting in a community of knowledgeable owners and experienced mechanics fully equipped to troubleshoot and fix any potential problems that might arise with your Wrangler® JK. However, while yet unproven, the changes made to the Wrangler® JL all indicate a concerted effort by Jeep® to deliver the most capable Wrangler yet. Featuring improvements over the Wrangler® JK by addressing issues experienced by the community, the Wrangler® JL will uphold the Jeep® legacy of off-road superiority in due time.

What Differences Does the Wrangler® JL Have From the Wrangler® JK?

While both Wrangler® models feature the 3.6-liter Pentastar engine and electronic differential lockers on the Rubicon® models, there are notable differences in the construction and design with the new Jeep® Wrangler JK and Jeep® Wrangler JL:

Jeep® Wrangler JK
  • Dana® 44 axles provide strong support for large tires and off-road application, and feature large ring and pinion gears for added strength, but less clearance than the Next Generation Dana® axles
  • Steel doors--strong, but heavy and more difficult to remove than the lightweight aluminum featured on the Wrangler® JL
  • A heavy-duty construction that withstands hard driving, but delivers a stiff ride. Some mechanical features are prone to wear over time with off-road usage
  • Ten optional trim levels
  • 95.4-inch wheelbase
  • Uconnect® voice command with Bluetooth® compatible
  • More extensive aftermarket support
  • More affordable
Jeep® Wrangler JL
  • Next Generation Dana® axles feature larger tubes and large, aluminum knuckles, but smaller ring and pinion gears that deliver more clearance, but are yet to be proven as equal in durability to previous axles
  • Aluminum doors (18 pounds lighter on the front, 15 pounds on the rear than the Wrangler® JK)
  • Lighter yet stronger mechanical and structural construction (resulting in a two hundred-pound lighter curb weight than the Wrangler® JK), and a strengthened/optimized undercarriage for less wear
  • Four optional trim levels
  • 118.4-inch wheelbase
  • Optional Uconnect® 4C NAV and other Uconnect® systems

Ultimately, the Jeep® Wrangler JK provides a vehicle outfitted with a vast array of amenities and options, but due to the limitations of older engineering and construction, the Wrangler® JK suffers a stiffer ride, less fuel efficiency, and some mechanical weak links for the avid off-roader. However, due to the extensive aftermarket support and proven durability and capability of the Wrangler® JK, it certainly doesn't stand as inferior to the newer Wrangler® JL--especially since the Wrangler® JK features a significantly lower price tag.

Jeep® trim levels remain consistent across models, ranging from the base trim Sport®, to the luxurious Altitude®, or the off-road optimized Rubicon®. Trims such as the Sahara® offer additional options and some heavier-duty components, bridging the gap between the extreme off-road features within the Rubicon® and the affordable yet fully-functional Sport® and Sport S® trims. With the Wrangler® JK's ten available trim levels, including special editions, acquiring the Jeep® Wrangler tailored to suit your particular balance between off-road capabilities, on-road comfort, and technologic implementation is slightly easier than the four trim levels available for the Wrangler® JL. However, with the optimized application of modern technology and engineering, the Wrangler® JL's execution proves more cohesive.


Jeep® Wrangler JL 4-Door Versus the Toyota 4Runner

Frequently, Jeep® Wranglers are met with a formidable opponent both on off-road trails, and at dealerships: the Toyota® 4Runner. Both designed as body-on-frame off-road sport utility vehicles, buyers looking for a vehicle capable of performing daily tasks in addition to delivering off-road capabilities frequently compare the two and often struggle to determine which might better suit their needs. However, the Jeep® Wrangler JL 4-Door features key elements the 4Runner® does not, such as:

  • Front and rear electronically locking differentials (on the Rubicon®)
  • A longer wheelbase (118.4-inches to the 4Runner®'s 109.8-inches)
  • An optional 8-speed transmission (compared to the 4Runner®'s 5-speed)
  • Uconnect® 4C NAV (versus Toyota®'s Entune™ system)
  • A lighter curb weight (4,200 pounds with the automatic transmission, compared to the 4Runner®'s 4,675 pounds)
  • Removable doors
  • More extensive aftermarket support
  • Superior ground clearance and breakover/departure angles
While merely scratching the surface of the differences between these two iconic vehicles, the Jeep® Wrangler ultimately garners its massive following and retains its status as the icon of off-roading worldwide for a very good reason. While the 4Runner® does offer additional passenger seating (up to seven passengers) and cargo space (over 88 cubic feet), the Jeep® Wrangler's versatility and rugged capability ultimately sets it apart from all competition, and truly in a self-defined league of its own.

Rydell Chrysler Dodge Jeep Ram--Your Location for Jeep® Vehicles

At Rydell Chrysler Dodge Jeep Ram, we proudly stock the latest in Jeep® vehicles, providing extensive inventory and exemplary customer service. Visit our dealership today to speak with a sales representative regarding the new 2018 Jeep Wrangler JL, or 2018 Jeep Wrangler JK, or to schedule a test drive!

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