The Ultimate Jeep Wrangler Page

The Jeep Wrangler is one of the most popular off-road/four-wheel-drive vehicles on the market. The Jeep brand got its start during World War II, with a vehicle made by Willys-Overland Motors that the U.S. military officially called the "truck, ¼-ton, 4X4, general purpose." American troops at the time shortened that name to "Jeep," a moniker that may have come from "GP," for "general purpose," or from a character in the popular Popeye comics of the time. Over the years, the vehicle was adapted for civilian use, first as "CJ" models that were almost ubiquitous on the back roads and trails of America. The CJ series was discontinued in 1986 and replaced by the Wrangler in 1987. The two main varieties of the Wrangler today, the Wrangler and the Wrangler Unlimited, are classed as a compact SUV and a mid-size SUV, respectively.

  • Willys-Overland Motors: Willys-Overland Motors built the Willys MB, also known as the Jeep, which were used during World War II. This page includes a timeline of the company's creation of the Jeep.
  • About Willys-Overland: Learn the early history of the Willys-Overland Motor Company, which dates back to when corporate scion John North Willys purchased the Overland Automotive Division of the Standard Wheel Company in 1908.

Many Makers

Willys made Jeeps for many years, first as Willys-Overland and later as Kaiser-Jeep. The American Motors Corporation bought out Kaiser-Jeep in 1970, and they introduced the Wrangler in 1986, also called the YJ. The Chrysler Corp. bought AMC in 1987, and Jeeps have remained under Chrysler's purview to this day, first as Chrysler Corp., then DaimlerChrysler, then Chrysler LLC, then Chrysler Group LLC, and finally Fiat Chrysler after the company was purchased by Fiat in 2014. Arab American Vehicles produces the Jeep Wrangler for sale in the Middle East.

The Introduction of the Jeep Wrangler

The early Jeep Wrangler, first introduced at the Chicago Auto Show in 1986, very closely resembled the Jeep CJ7. However, while it was similar in appearance, the design parameters used were completely new. At the unveiling, AMC Vice President of Product Engineering François Castaing explained that the design philosophy behind the two vehicles was completely different.

The Jeep Wrangler YJ (1987-95)

The Jeep Wrangler YJ was introduced for the 1987 model year as a replacement for the Jeep CJ7 because sales of the CJ models were starting to flatten out. Design and engineering work for it were given the green light as early as 1982, with Chuck Mashigan being put in charge of the project. The original design was approved in 1983, with early concepts being built in late 1983 using the CJ7 chassis. AMC designed the YJ to offer a more refined ride on the road while still retaining its off-road capabilities in an attempt to lure more daily drivers into becoming owners. Spring of 1984 saw the first prototypes of the test body. Final approval was received later that year, and the conversion from a concept/test vehicle to a full production vehicle began. The first 1987 Jeep Wrangler was ready to show off to the media in February of 1986, and full production began two months later. Sales of the Jeep Wrangler YJ commenced on May 13, 1986.

Production of the Wrangler started out in Brampton, Ontario, Canada, until that plant's closure in 1992, when production was transferred to Toledo, Ohio, using the same plant where most of the famed Willys Jeeps were built during World War II. A total of 632, 231 YJs were built before production was halted in 1996.

Two engines were available for the Wrangler at this time, a four-cylinder, 2.5-liter model and the venerable inline six-cylinder four-liter. The four-cylinder engine produced a fairly respectable 121 horsepower at 5,300 rpm and generated 139 pound-feet of torque at 2,900 rpm. The six-cylinder engine produced 184 hp at 4,750 rpm and generated 214 pound-feet of torque at 3,950 rpm. Both engines ran on gasoline, used a multi-point fuel injection system, and were backed by a five-speed manual transmission.

Wranglers at this time were 152.75 inches long and 66.14 inches wide and had a wheelbase of 93.3 inches. Models equipped with a four-cylinder engine had an overall height of 72.04 inches and an unladen weight of 2,954.19 pounds. Six-cylinder models rode a little lower, due mostly to the extra weight of the bigger engine, at 69.69 inches. The six-cylinder engine also increased the empty weight to 3,370.86 pounds.

The Second Generation: The Jeep Wrangler TJ (1996-2006)

In 1996, the YJ was replaced by the Wrangler TJ. Major changes between the YJ and the TJ included the switch from leaf springs to a coil-spring suspension and the return to the CJ's iconic round headlamps. Early TJs were only available with a four-liter L6 engine that produced 1,776 hp at 4,600 rpm and 225 pound-feet of torque at 2,700 rpm, but in 2003, TJ models could also be ordered with the new Neon 4 engine, a double-overhead-cam four-cylinder that produced 143 hp at 5,200 rpm and 159 pound-feet of torque at 4,000 rpm. The 1999 model year saw a larger fuel tank introduced, while 2000 saw the introduction of a new console and steering wheel.

Both four-cylinder and six-cylinder versions of the Wrangler TJ were 154.1 inches long, 68.5 inches wide, and 69.5 inches tall, with a wheelbase of 93.5 inches. Four-cylinder models were slightly lighter than the six-cylinder versions, at 3,318.5 pounds versus 3,461.8 pounds. A five-speed manual transmission backed up both engines.

Wrangler Unlimited (TJ-L) (2004-06)

The Wrangler Unlimited was unveiled at the New York Auto Show in April 2004. It was the only 4X4 convertible in existence at the time. It kept the four-liter engine and five-speed manual of the other Wranglers of its day. The overall dimensions were 155.4 inches long, 66.7 inches wide, 68.4 inches tall, and a wheelbase of 103.4 inches. It had a curb weight of 3,724.2 pounds empty.

What set the Unlimited apart were standard features such as electronic stability control, side airbags, and remote keyless entry. It was also equipped with a navigation system and satellite radio, both of which were part of the MyGig entertainment system, which also had a hard drive.

The Third Generation: The Jeep Wrangler JK (2007-Present)

The 2007 model year Wrangler underwent a complete redesign from earlier editions to become the Wrangler JK. A four-door model was introduced, broadening the wheelbase, which did not sit well with off-roaders who said that it made it harder to control on difficult terrain. The two-door versions were available in three trim levels: X, Sahara, and Rubicon. A number of JKs were also made for the U.S. Postal Service with right-hand drive, which is easier and safer for letter carriers to use.

The JK saw the introduction of two all-new gas engines as well as two different diesel engines. The two six-cylinder gas engines were the 284-hp 3.6-liter and the 200-hp 3.8-liter. Both diesel engines displaced 2.8 liters, with the CRD 5AT engine producing 200 hp and the CRD 6MT getting 177 hp. Both gas engines were available coupled with either a six-speed manual or a five-speed automatic transmission. The 5AT diesel was backed up by a five-speed automatic transmission, while the 6MT had a six-speed manual.

JKs equipped with the 3.8-liter engine had a width of 73.7 inches, while the others were all 73.62 inches wide. All JK models had a height of 70.86 inches and a wheelbase of 95.27 inches. Models with the 6MT engine weighed in at 3924.2 pounds, 5AT models weighed 4,575 pounds, 3.6-liter vehicles had a curb weight of 3,758.9 pounds, and those with the 3.8-liter engine tipped the scales at 3,093 pounds.

Second-Generation Wrangler Unlimited (2007-Present)

The current generation of the Wrangler Unlimited is most noted for its four-door design. To accommodate this change, the length was increased to 187 inches and the width went up to 74.01 inches, while the overall height stayed the same at 70.86 inches. The big change was in the wheelbase, 116.14 inches, an increase of almost 20 inches from the regular Wrangler. The curb weight is the same for the 3.6-liter and the 6MT diesel engines, at 4,254.9 pounds. The 5AT diesel-equipped version weigh in at 4,967 pounds, while the 3.8-liter weighs a trim 4,078.5 pounds.

Today's Wranglers

Buyers of the current models of Jeep Wrangler have their choice of five different engines. These are a 3.6-liter PentaStar V6 that gets 285 hp, two different 3.8-liter V6 engines that get 198 and 199 hp, and the 5AT and 6MT 2.8-liter CRD diesel engines that generate 200 hp. All three gas engines are backed up by a four-speed automatic transmission, while the 5AT diesel has a five-speed automatic and the 6MT diesel is backed up by a six-speed manual. Big changes are on the horizon, though, as an expected redesign, dubbed the Wrangler JL, is slated for 2018. But no matter what Jeep has in store, these vehicles are sure to be popular for years to come.

A History in Pictures

Check out these links to see photos of the past, present, and future of the Jeep Wrangler:

The Jeep Community

Jeep owners can be a unique bunch. Sometimes they fit in with owners of other FCA/Chrysler vehicles, and sometimes, they don't. The one place they're sure to fit in perfectly is in a Jeep club. There are many local, regional, and national clubs to choose from, and owners can also get together online with like-minded Wrangler owners.


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