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The History Of JEEP Wrangler







TJ Jeep Wrangler

1992 Jeep YJ

TJ Jeep Wrangler X

Jeep Wrangler

Jeep Wrangler

Jeep Wrangler

2007 Jeep Wrangler X 2-door soft-top

Jeep Wrangler

Jeep Wrangler

Jeep Wrangler

Jeep Wrangler

The Wrangler (also known as the YJ, TJ, and JK, as explained below) is an SUV produced by American automaker Chrysler under its Jeep marque. It is a successor to the famous World War II 'Jeep' vehicle by way of the Willys civilian Jeep (CJ) in the 1950s, later produced by Kaiser-Jeep and by American Motors (AMC). The Wrangler debuted in 1987, was updated in 1997 and again in 2007, and is still popular today.

From 1987 until 1992 the Wrangler/YJ was built in Brampton, Ontario, Canada. It was then built in the Toledo South Assembly plant until mid-2006, after which the plant was slowly torn down. The Wrangler is currently produced at Jeep's Toledo North Assembly plant in Toledo, Ohio.

The Wrangler name was not used in Canada, as it was a trim level of Chevrolet pickup in that market. Instead, 1987 to 1995 models were sold as YJ, and 1997 to 2006 models were sold as TJ. The model designations of YJ and TJ are used throughout the world in the Jeep enthusiast community to differentiate which model is being spoken of instead of using the more ambiguous term "Wrangler".

The Jeep YJ, sold as the Wrangler, replaced the much-loved but slower-selling Jeep CJ in 1987 and was built in Brampton, Ontario, Canada until the plant closed on April 23, 1992. It was a new design with a wider wheelbase, slightly less ground clearance, a galvanized body and more comfort. The YJ also had a leaf spring suspension similar to that of the CJ, however, the springs were wider, and the YJs sported trackbars and swaybars for added handling. YJs are easily identifiable by their rectangular headlights, which were a source of controversy when introduced. Despite the new grill, the body is very similar to the CJ7's, and it is interchangeable with some minor modifications. The YJ also was given a larger windshield over the CJ. 632,231 YJs were built through model year 1995, though YJs were still produced into mid '96 bringing the total production number to 685,071 units.

The YJ used a 2.5L AMC 150 I4 or optional 4.2L AMC 258 I6 until 1991. That year, a fuel injected 180hp (134kW) 4.0L AMC 242 variant replaced the 112hp (84kW) 4.2L 258CID straight-6. The NP207 transfer case was used only in 1987 and replaced by the NP231

The roll cage was extended in 1992 to allow for rear shoulder belts, and anti-lock brakes were added as an option the next year. An automatic transmission option for 4-cylinder Wranglers came in 1994 along with a center high-mounted stop light.

In 1994, the slave cylinder on manual transmissions was moved outside of the transmission's bellhousing to allow for easier replacement, and in 1995 larger U-joints were used [front axle U-joints(297x) and rear pinion U-joint(1330)]. For the 1992 model year, the YJ switched over to an electronic speedometer outmoding the cable speedos on older YJs. 1995 was the only year to have a fully galvanized frame and body.

YJs produced in early 1996 were sold as 1995 model years, but featured a few new parts not seen on any earlier YJ. This included: the new TJ bumpstops on the hood (rubber boots vs the traditional U-bars), reinforced tailgate hinges, and it has been said that some even had rear TJ bumpers. Some lucky ones also got the newly tuned I6 that was tuned to run quieter in preparation for the TJ.

YJ Wrangler Renegade

From 1991 until 1994, Jeep produced an options package on the YJ Wrangler listed as the "Renegade Decor Group". Initially, all Renegades were White, Black or Red. In 1992, Blue was added, in 1993, Bronze. The Renegade Decor Group was a $4,266.00 option over a base Wrangler in 1991 and included special alloy wheels, exclusive body flares, along with many other features.

Contents of the Renegade Decor Package

  • 4.0 Litre (242CID) I-6 Engine
  • 29x9.5R15 LT OWL Wrangler A/T Tires
  • 5-Hole Aluminum Wheels, 8 inch wide.
  • Full size spare tire.
  • Highback seats with Trailcloth Fabric
  • Off-Road Gas Shocks
  • Power Steering
  • Fog Lamps (integrated into the front fenders)
  • Leather wrapped steering wheel
  • Renegade striping (door letters)
  • Floor carpeting (full width, and on insides of body tub)
  • Floor mats, front
  • Extra capacity fuel tank (20 USgal.)
  • Color Keyed Fender Flares with integrated bodyside steps
  • Front and rear bumperettes (plastic)
  • Center console with cup holders
  • Courtesy and engine compartment lights
  • Interval Wipers
  • Glove box lock

Additionally, hardtops received a mandatory rear window defroster at a $164.00 premium. Hardtops themselves were a $923.00 option.

All Renegades typically had the Tilt Steering wheel ($130.00) and an AM/FM/Cassette Stereo Radio ($264.00).

A column shift automatic was also an available option (this option was rare).

While a base Wrangler with the inline 6 went for $12,356.00, the Renegade package pushed that price up to $18,588.00 in 1991. Dealer mark-up moved the price to $19,273.00.

These vehicles were sent as optioned Wranglers to Auto Style Cars in Detroit, where the Renegade Decor Package was installed, then shipped back to Jeep for delivery to dealers. Renegades all have a small sticker on the driver's side door, right above the latch denoting the visit to ASC.

At the price premium over a standard Wrangler, sales were fairly limited, so finding one today is a semi-rare occurrence. The price, plus what hardcore Jeepers felt were "funny looking plastic fenders" limited the sales. Although having nearly identical off-road capabilities, these Jeep were typically used as "beach cruisers" because of both their price and rarity, as well as the fact that their over sized flares and body cladding were not designed for the abuse that tree branches and over sized tires can deal out.

Trim Levels

North American YJ/Wrangler were available in the following standard trims.

  • Base (also referred to as "S" & "SE" at different points in the model run; first few years the back seat and rear bumperettes were optional, some years the 6cyl engine was an option, other years only the 4cyl was available in the "Base" model)
  • Laredo (Chrome grille, bumpers, and trim, hard top and hard full doors, tinted windows, faux leather interior, body color fender flares and alloy wheels)
  • Islander (which included "Sunset" Islander graphics and body colored wheel flares)
  • Sport (which featured "sport" graphics and, beginning in 1991, a 4.0L 242CID inline-6 cylinder engine)
  • Sahara (which came standard with most available options, including body color fender flares and alloy wheels)
  • Renegade (which ran until 1994, and featured a similar option package as Sahara, but added premium wheels, deluxe interior group as well as oversized "Renegade" wheel flares and body cladding)
  • Rio Grande (Available in champagne gold, moss green and white, with a Pueblo themed interior trim package, this trim was only available in 1995 and was added to spice up the base model Wrangler 'S' hence this trim was only available with the 4-cylinder models)


The YJ gave way to the TJ for the 1997 model year (note that there was no 1996 model year; the 1997 TJ was released in Spring 1996). This updated Wrangler featured a coil-spring suspension (based on that of the Jeep Grand Cherokee) for better ride and handling, and a return to the CJ's iconic round headlamps. The engine is the same 4.0L AMC 242 Straight-6 used in the Cherokee and Grand Cherokee. A 2.5L AMC 150 Inline-4 motor was available on entry-level models until 2003 when the 2.4L DOHC Neon 4-cylinder engine replaced it.

A right hand drive version of the TJ was available for export markets, and was also offered for sale to US rural route postal carriers. The version offered to US postal carriers was only available with an automatic transmission.

Other changes included the 1999 additions of a larger standard fuel tank, child seat tethers and sound system improvements in 2000, and a new console, steering wheel, and a revised dashboard for 2001. 2002 saw other minor changes including new colors, along with available wheel styles.

TJ Wrangler Rubicon

The Wrangler Rubicon (named for the famed Rubicon Trail in the Sierra Nevada Mountains) was introduced in 2003. It featured front and rear Dana 44 axles with built-in air-actuated locking differentials, 4:1 low-range NV241OR transfer case, 4.10:1 differential gears, 16 in alloy wheels, and Goodyear MTR P245/75-R16 tires. 2003 to 2004 featured a standard NV3500 five-speed manual transmission, which changed in 2005 to the NSG370, a Mercedes-sourced six-speed. The optional 42RLE four-speed automatic transmission was available from 2003 to 2006.

A limited run of 1,001 Wrangler Rubicon "Tomb Raider" models were produced in 2003 to promote the Tomb Raider sequel, Lara Croft Tomb Raider: The Cradle of Life. Along with the standard Rubicon fare, it also included exterior features such as 16 inch Alcoa forged aluminum wheels, Tomb Raider badging, and Mopar accessories including a light bar, riveted fender flares, tubular grille guard, diamond-plated bumper guard, etc. Interior features included Dark Slate fabric seats with red accent stitching down the center, silver surround instrument panel bezel, red seatbelts and a Tomb Raider badge with serial number. To match the vehicle in the film, it was offered in Bright Silver.

TJ / LJ Wrangler Unlimited

In 2004, Jeep introduced the Wrangler Unlimited with a 10inch (~25.4cm) longer wheelbase (LWB), a Dana 44 rear axle with a 3:73 gear ratio and the Command-Trac 231 transfer case; this model is also known by its unofficial designation of LJ. In 2005, Jeep released the Rubicon Unlimited, which has the wheelbase of the Unlimited and the off-road features of the Rubicon such as front and rear Dana 44 axles with locking differentials, diamond plate rocker guards, an NVG241OR transfer case with a 4.0:1 low range, 245/75R16 Goodyear MT/R tires, a six-speed manual transmission and other comfort and convenience options not offered on other Wranglers. This model of the Jeep Wrangler has nearly double the towing capacity than its shorter wheelbase sibling due to increased wheelbase.

TJ Trim Levels

  • Base - also referred to as "SE" TJ that was standard with a four-cylinder engine
  • X - available after 2002, it was the equivalent to earlier standard optioned 'Sport' models
  • Sport - which came standard with the 4.0-liter (242CID) inline six-cylinder engine
  • Sahara - the premium model until 2005, which came standard with most available options, including the 4.0-liter engine, alloy wheels, fog lights and the premium interior group
  • Rubicon - beginning in 2003, the premium "off-road" model, which came standard with most of the available off-road options and included the "Rubicon appearance package", which included 16" alloy wheels (other trims were 15"), fog lights, and lower bodyside "diamond" plating. Rubicon models also received front and rear air lockers, Dana 44 center differentials front and rear, as well as a 4:1 transfer case with fixed rear output dubbed the NV241OR.
  • Unlimited - beginning in 2004, Unlimited offered more interior room (increased legroom for rear passengers, and improved storage space behind the rear seat), greater towing capacity, 3,500 pounds (1600 kg), and was available in a standard or Rubicon trim. The AMC designed and Chrysler refined 4.0L along with Jeep alloy wheels were standard on all models. On soft tops, the "Sunrider" flip-back sunroof feature is standard as well. Its unofficial model designation was "LJ" instead of "TJ" as that was used for traditional sized Wranglers.


The 2007 model year brought the complete redesign of the Jeep Wrangler, in both two and four-door models. The TJ platform was replaced by a new JK platform. This next-generation Wrangler was significantly larger than the existing model, with a 2inch (50.8mm) longer wheelbase and 3.4inch (86.4mm) wider track, though the two door model is actually 2.5inches shorter in the overall length than the TJ, allowing for better approach and departure angles. With a larger available standard tire size of 32in, breakover angle is unchanged.

JK was introduced at the 2006 North American International Auto Show with past Chrysler group CEO Tom LaSorda driving one up some steps and through a plate glass window, just as Robert Lutz had done at the show in 1992 with the Jeep Grand Cherokee. The JK was first available for purchase with the 2007 model year.

The JK Wrangler is offered in two versions:

  • A short-wheelbase 2-door, in X, Sahara and Rubicon trim levels.
  • A long-wheelbase Unlimited 4-door, also in X, Sahara and Rubicon trim levels.

The Wrangler X is available with factory installed right-hand drive. This model is targeted at mail carriers. Rural mail boxes in the United States are on the right-hand side of the road, and are serviced with the carrier behind the wheel. This may also be useful for carriers who wish to get out of their vehicle without the risk of getting hit by traffic. For the 2007 and 2008 model years, the short-wheelbase Wrangler was the right-hand drive Jeep. For the 2009 model year, the right-hand drive Wrangler will be replaced by the right-hand drive Wrangler Unlimited.

A 3.8L EGH V6 with a displacement of 230.5 cubic inches (3778cc), producing 205hp (153kW) and 240ft·lbf (325N·m) is the base engine, replacing the venerable AMC 242 straight-6. The 2.8L VM Motori turbodiesel straight-4 used in the Liberty is offered as options outside of U.S, as it does not satisfy U.S. emission control standards for 2007.

A six-speed manual transmission is standard, with a four-speed automatic transmission offered as an option. The lower two levels have the Jeep Command-Trac NV241 part-time two-speed transfer case with an optional Trac-Loc limited-slip differential, while the Rubicon uses a Rock-Trac version of the NV241 with a 4:1 low range. Electronic locking front- and rear-axles called Tru-loc are also standard on Rubicon models. (rear locker optional on X models)

Stability control is a new safety feature for the JK Wrangler. All versions offer off-road tuned Anti-lock braking system and traction control system with electronic limited slip differential. Standard on the Rubicon trim is a new electronic sway bar disconnect system.

The JK runs almost all vehicle functions other than steering under computer software control. Engine, transmission, and to some extent braking are computer controlled, as are lights and auxiliary systems. This is a first for the Wrangler. As of mid-2007, there have been three safety recalls for software fixes.

A Sunrider convertible soft top is standard equipment. Also available on the JK model is an optional 3-piece modular hardtop. Although the doors can still be removed in traditional Wrangler fashion, power windows and remote power door locks will be offered for the first time in a Wrangler. Another first is an available navigation system. This is the first generation of the Jeep Wrangler to have a change in the tail lamps.

The 2009 model added standard Hill Start Assist (HSA) to prevent rollback on graded surfaces. Trailer Sway Control (TSC) also is available to monitor vehicle movement relative to the intended path and activates the Electronic Stability Program (ESP) if the trailer begins to sway outside set parameters. Additionally, ULEV II emissions replace LEV II emissions on manual transmission equipped vehicles.

JK Trim Levels

Both Standard and Unlimited Wranglers are available in three trim packages. Each package can be ordered with either hard or soft top, full or half doors(08 unlimited only).

The X model is the "bare bones" wrangler that can be customized to a buyers specifications adding such options as air conditioning, power windows and locks soft or hard top, fog lights, 32" tires, rear LSD or locker, electronic swaybar disconnect, and other accessories.

The Sahara model is the "luxury" model offering accessories such as body colored fenders, built in navigation, "Yes Essentials" seats, power windows and locks, a 7 speaker infinity sound system with subwoofer, among others.

The Rubicon package is the dedicated "Offroad" package. Standard components of the rubicon package include Front and rear Dana 44 axles, front and rear electronic lockers, rock rails, Electronic sway bar disconnect, 32 spline axles, 4:1 Rock-Trac transfer case, 4.10 axle gearing,"Yes Essentials" seats, 7 speaker infinity sound system, and any other available option can be added.

JK Wrangler Unlimited

The JK series 2007 Wrangler Unlimited was unveiled at the New York Auto Show on April 12, 2006. It is stretched even more than the TJ model, with four doors and 20.6inches (523mm) added to the JK Wrangler's 95.4inch (2423mm) wheelbase. It is priced near $21,000.

Unlimited has the same engine and transmission choices as a short-wheelbase JK. X and Sahara trims offer an option of 2x4 rear wheel drive. It is the only four door convertible available in the U.S., since the Hummer H1 with optional rag-top is no longer sold as a civilian vehicle.

The Unlimited offers more options and equipment than any previous Wrangler model, including standard electronic stability program and optional seat-mounted side airbags, remote keyless entry, navigation system, and Sirius satellite radio. The navigation and satellite systems are a part of the MyGig Entertainment system that also has a hard drive allowing for the storage of MP3 music files and pictures.

On September 13, 2007, at the Defence Systems & Equipment International trade show, Chrysler LLC unveiled a Wrangler Unlimited version designed for military use dubbed the J8. The unarmored Jeep J8 is equipped with larger brakes, axles and suspension components than the civilian version and has a payload capacity of 1,339kg (2,952lb). The J8 also differs from the civilian model by utilizing heavy-duty rear leaf springs for carrying heavier payloads. The Jeep J8 is powered by a 2.8-litre four-cylinder turbo-diesel engine that produces 118kW (158hp) and 400N·m (295lbf·ft) of torque, providing towing capability of up to 3,500kg (7,700lb). The engine is mated to a five-speed automatic transmission. The J8 also features a unique air-intake system with special filtration and a hood-mounted snorkel that enables the J8 to wade in water up to 762mm (30in) deep and tackle sandstorm conditions for up to five hours. Available as a two-door with an extended pickup bed for personnel or equipment transport, or a four-door multipurpose vehicle, it may be produced with numerous vehicle-body and seating configurations in either right-hand- or left-hand-drive. Targeted for use by the militaries in overseas markets, the J8 is not available in the United States because it will not meet U.S. emissions requirements. The J8 will be produced in Egypt.

The 2009 model added standard Hill Start Assist (HSA) to prevent rollback on graded surfaces. Trailer Sway Control (TSC) also is available to monitor vehicle movement relative to the intended path and activates the Electronic Stability Program (ESP) if the trailer begins to sway outside set parameters. Additionally, ULEV II emissions replace LEV II emissions on manual transmission equipped vehicles.


The Jeep Wrangler received the "Models to Best Hold Its Value" recognition by Kelley Blue Book in 1998, 1999, and 2003.

The 2008 edition of Forbes Autos lists the four-wheel-drive convertible Jeep Wrangler at number four among the top ten vehicles with the highest resale value.

Further information: Envi (automobile)

In September 2008, Chrysler Vice Chairman Tom LaSorda unveiled a range-extended electric 4-door Wrangler along with similarly engineered Town and Country minivan and a purely electric sports car. The Wrangler would have a 40-mile (64km) range before a gas engine starts and begins supplying additional electricity.




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