Jeep Wrangler Generation Names Explained

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TJs, JKs, YJs, and LJs - they're all Wranglers but each is very different from the other. If you're new to aftermarket Jeep accessories, or have just bought your first Wrangler, all of these acronyms can be really confusing. 

In this article, we will cover the evolutionary generations of the Wrangler, identify the generational name, and review the defining features of each generation. 

So moving in reverse chronological order:

2018 Wrangler JL & JT

prototype of Jeep Wrangler JL

(Image courtesy of www.fourwheeler.com) 

Until it's reveal in the 2017 LA Auto Show - we can only speculate on all the details of the newest Wrangler generation. However, there's a few thing the internet has already confirmed:

  • Updated body style = JL generation.
  • Around 2020- Jeep will introduce a pickup version of the Wrangler (dubbed JT for Jeep Truck). Similar to the aftermarket kits (such as AEV's Brute conversion kit), this model will have a short pickup bed and may be available in 2- and 4-door options (maybe..). 
  • This generation will be lighter - parts of the body will be made from aluminum rather than steel, unlike the outgoing JK. 
  • It will be more aerodynamic and the windshield will have a longer slope. 
  • There's speculation that Jeep will offer a 4-cylinder turbocharged engine and a diesel option in addition to the existing Pentastar 6-cylinder.
  • Standard LED headlights

2007-2017 Wrangler JK & JKU 

Stock JK Wrangler Sportstock JK Wrangler Unlimited

 

The best-selling Wrangler generation yet introduced the 4-door Wrangler in 2007 along with an updated body style and engine. Although there was backlash from the 2-door purists, the Unlimited (JKU) has outsold it's shorter 2-door brother. Significant changes in this generation include:

  • New Body Style (JK) and Unlimited 4 Door Models (JKU)
  • New Engine (3.8L from 2007-2011, and 3.6L Pentastar from 2012-2017)
  • Optional LED Headlights (2017)
  • Standard rear Dana 44 axle starting in 2008
  • Updated interior (2007-2010 then again in 2011-2017)

1997-2006 Wrangler TJ & LJ

stock Jeep Wrangler TJ sportstock Wrangler TJ unlimited

Jeep first attempt to make the Wrangler appealing for a larger market. The Jeep TJ launched with optional luxuries such as air conditioning and cruise control that weren't found on previous generations. Significant features include:

  • New body style
  • Introduction of the Sahara Edition
  • Launch of the Rubicon model in 2002 (1in higher ride, locking front and rear differentials and rock rails standard)
  • First Unlimited model in 2004 (LJ = Long Jeep) that included a 10in longer wheelbase
  • Return of the 7in Headlights
  • Coil spring suspension

1987-1995 Wrangler YJ

stock Jeep Wrangler YJ

The most polarizing generation of the Wrangler, the YJ was introduced in 1987 with 5x7 rectangular headlights instead of the iconic 7in round headlights found on all the previous generations. Major features included:

  • New body style and interior
  • Islander Edition from 1988-1993
  • Renegade Edition from 1990-1994
  • 2.5L and 4.2L Engine Options until 1991
  • Introduction of the 4.0L in 1991
  • Rollcage extension to accommodate rear seat belts in 1992

1944- 1986 Jeep CJ

stock 1946 CJ2

 Before there was the Wrangler, there was the CJ. This model has gone through many generations (all numbered in sequential order from the CJ1 in WW2 to CJ8). These models were the foundation to modern Jeep Wranglers, which carry on the iconic 7-slot grille and round headlights. 

Summary

There you have it! Next time you're browsing aftermarket sites for parts, or reading threads on JeepForum.com, you'll know which generation the acronym is describing!


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