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The Jeep Wrangler Evolution

Updated on July 21, 2015

The Jeep Wrangler is one of the most popular off-roading and sport utility vehicles out there, with a very strong popularity and fan base. The urban lore is that the modern day Wrangler is a direct descendent of the World War II Willys MB or Willys CJ civilian Jeeps but that is actually a common misconception! The Wranglers of today actually greatly resemble the Jeep CJ-7 but has several new designs. The Jeep CJ can be thought of as the inspiration behind the Jeep Wrangler and help shape off-roading to what it is today. So how has the Wrangler evolved from its introduction all the way up to the present?

The first generation is the Jeep Wrangler YJ from 1987 to 1995. This model is designed to have somewhat of a comfortable ride on-road as to encourage people to purchase them for a multi-purpose use. The body is actually very similar to the vintage CJ7 and can actually be modified so that they are both interchangeable. YJ models are actually extremely easy to identify due to the rectangular headlights and how the windshield wipers rest on the windshield.

The YJ had the options and capabilities that are catered to the off-road community, with soft half-doors that are the iconic zipper windows that could be completely removed. The hard top version had the option of full-frame doors and glass windows as well, depending on the usage and the purpose that the driver was going to use for the Jeep Wrangler. The YJ also had large side mirrors with arms that mounted the mirrors further away from the door.

Next up in line is the Wrangler TJ from 1997-2006 that had a coil spring suspension for superior ride and handling. The headlamps were throwback-style headlamps that paid homage to the vintage CJ. A somewhat notable change was the side door mirrors that changed from black metal frame to plastic molded. The interior also experienced some changes, from a rounder cabin to a more distinct and separated back end. The TJ had the option of a 4-door variant in which the owner could now customize the car based on personal specifications.

The current model, Wrangler JK, is a completely redesigned model that comes with a 2-door or a 4-door version. Drivers can determine which model is more suitable for their daily on or off road use to accommodate their needs. There's also a special version X that is used as mail carriers for rural addresses that need these types of vehicles to traverse through unmarked terrain and rarely-traveled trails. These door-less Wranglers are more convenient more mail carriers since the drivers do not need to exit the vehicle to deliver mail and risk being in a pedestrian/traffic accident.

The JK trim levels vary among Sport, Sahara, and Rubicon which are different variations that are catered to the modern driver. The Sport model is the bare, no-frills version that can be customized with air-conditioning or other accessories. The higher-end Sport S models have standard air-conditioning, matching spare tire, a premium sound system and power equipment. The Sahara is considered the luxury model that offers higher end accessories with quality seating, infinity sound system and matching fender flares. Off-roaders also have the option of purchasing the Rubicon model that specially designed to traverse unpaved terrain with an aggressive tire tread and huge alloy wheels. The Rubicon models have removable doors and a folded-down windshield, as well as other available options for the off-road fan.

For many Wrangler owners, the available factory options are pretty bountiful, but the aftermarket add-ons are practically limitless. For example, the lighting apparatus is extremely important both on and off the road. If inadequate lighting is an issue, it's actually very easy to install a set of LED headlights on the Wrangler for a brighter and long lasting xenon white output. Sometimes, driving on uncharted terrain is difficult enough, much less trying to navigate in rocky terrain without enough light. These LED headlamps are extremely easy to install as they are direct fit with a plug-and-play installation. All that's required is some simple adapter connection that is very easy, even for car mod novices.

There is no doubt that the Jeep Wrangler has been a staple in American culture and will continue to play a big role in the way Americans come together with similar hobbies and interests. The Jeep Wrangler has seen sales go up ever since its inception, proving that more and more people are choosing the Wrangler to be a personal car as well as a fun off-road vehicle as well.


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