I saw my brother-in-law, who is planning on getting back into the Jeep Life, for Christmas this year. He is debating whether to get a JK or JL and asked my opinion.
This got me to thinking that the JK was the best Jeep ever made. Specifically the 2013 – 2018 JK Wrangler Unlimited 4-door. I also believe that the 2013 – 2018 JK Unlimited is the overall best Jeep that there ever will be.
The JL Wrangler is a great Jeep, however, it cannot overall be better than the JK. The JL is an unfortunate victim of regulation that is affecting all new motor vehicles primarily due to emissions regulations. I will list my reasoning further within this post.
My rationale for making these very controversial statements is based on having a 1990 YJ, and my current Jeep, a 2014 Unlimted Sport. I also base my statements considering that a Jeep is first and foremost a primary means of individual transportation, and not solely an off-road vehicle.
The 2013 – 2018 JK model variants were also the best that there will ever be. Overall, The Best Jeep JK is the Rubicon Recon, with front/rear steel bumpers, boat-side rock rails, and a thick tube front Dana 44 axle.
The 2007 – 2012 JK is a good Jeep, however the underpowered 3.8L, and the low mounted center console armrest and cheap interior keep it from being the best Jeep ever made.
Considering that most Jeeps are the primary motor vehicle transportation for their owners, the JK Wrangler Unlimited provides the most space and seating capacity of any Jeep produced, while still maintaining real off-road capability. I know, the Commander was available with 7-passenger seating, however, it was built on the Grand Cherokee platform, with IFS, and is just too big for tighter trails.
With 4-doors, the JK Wrangler Unlimited is practical for a Jeeper with kids, as well as adult passengers, such as business clients.
The JK Wrangler Unlimited wheelbase provides for a live-able ride on road, vs. the JK Wrangler, which rides a lot more like the original Jeep. The cargo space behind the rear seat in the JK Wrangler Unlimited is also useable for regular life.
The 3.6L Pentastar V6 provides good power and good fuel economy for a vehicle shaped like a brick weighing over 5,000 pounds. The 3.6L overall is a solid and reliable motor, as it has been the workhorse V6 of the entire Chrysler vehicle line for trucks, as well as the LX/LA Platforms.
The JK does not appear to suffer from rust issues inherent with the TJ and YJ Wranglers, which makes them a good long-term vehicle.
Getting back to why I believe the JL cannot eclipse the JK as the best Jeep ever…
While the JL is an improvement over many aspects of the JK, it is a victim of the automotive industry’s push towards better fuel economy. The use of aluminum for the hung sheet metal, doors, hood, and tailgate is not a real issue, however, the auto stop/start, and myriad of engine options are not a good thing in my opinion.
Regardless of what all of the “fanboys” say about the 2.0L turbo, a turbo does not belong in a Jeep. A simple, appropriate displacement, naturally aspirated engine is all that a Jeep needs. The e-Torque option that comes with some of the 2.0L turbos is a disaster waiting to happen after a few years and miles down the road. I have posted my opinion about the 2.0L turbo Wrangler previously.
I have also read the e-Torque system will be making its way to the 3.6L as well. Again, a maintenance issue waiting to happen.
While I was excited about Jeep finally adding a diesel option, it came in the form of better fuel economy with a reduced towing capacity!
And the 4xe Wrangler, what REAL Jeeper is that worried about getting 25 miles of all-electric propulsion? The 4xe Wrangler is a joke!
Add the mysterious steering issues that plague the JL, and the JT, which I believe are due to front end components being “light-weighted” for fuel economy reasons, it’s clear that the 2013 – 2018 JK Wrangler Unlimted is the best Jeep that there ever was, and will be!