There exists numerous types of Jeep Wranglers that often leave us in confusion while trying to make sense. A certain model of Wrangler may exist in different generations with unique features, and it overall is a conundrum for new-comers who want to have a deeper understanding of this line of cars.
While some may argue the previous generations did better in terms of sales, the latest JL series proved them completely wrong with a 70 percent increase in sales from the previous generation (between March 2017 and March 2018).
The numbers are as impressive as the performance, as the Wrangler Unlimited sets a Guinness World Record by climbing the world’s highest volcano. With such class and prestige, the Wrangler models demand a proper understanding of their highly esteemed vehicles, and this article gives you precisely that in a matter of minutes.
Jeep Wrangler Models Explained By Experts
Jeep has launched their iconic Wrangler models from the 80s in four distinct generations. Having a proper understanding of these generations will give you a structural insight into the Wrangler models that came into being with their special features.
The YJ Wrangler came into being replacing the original Jeep CJ series that lasted between 1945-1986. Taking the same concept to a next level, the YJ line of production has produced the most iconic models such as the Sahara, Renegade or Rubicon that we know today in their most modern forms.
TJ Wranglers ruled the Jeep market in the 90s after taking the production line over from the YJ series. The designs shifted from edgy, sharp to a more rounded, relaxed shape and the suspension system saw an upgrade from leaf-spring to coil-spring. Wrangler Unlimited is the prime production of this series of models.
JK Wrangler saw a solid shift in design trends from TJ Wranglers as the third generation of this line of Jeep experimented with a lot of features. The JK Unlimited is one of those success stories that cranked up their sales with a stock four door model that supports 4WD and this sales success has changed the history of the following Wrangler productions.
The latest generation of Wranglers is the JL which embodies all the latest technologies and advanced features. In the era of turbo-hybrid engines, JL has aligned the Jeep production with the latest demands and has produced the most convenient and iconic vehicles such as the JL Sahara, Moab and so on. These models of cars have been available on the market since 2018 and been the most popular choices for off-road enthusiasts.
Difference Between Jeep Wrangler Models: A Unique Take
It might be quite challenging to comprehend the wide array of Jeep Wrangler models at one glance as it spans across quite a few decades. To help you grasp the major differences in styles, performance & features, we’ve picked 10 popular Wrangler models & trims from all the prominent generations as their representatives.
Going through these will give you an overall idea of these of the umbrella series along with an in-depth understanding of the most revered Wrangler vehicles of all time!
Among the most prominent types of Jeep Wranglers, The Sahara model of Jeep Wranglers landed first in the market with the classic 1992 YJ Wrangler as a solid addition to this series. Contemporary models of Sahara have been equipped with tons of advanced features that Jeep enthusiasts will surely fall in love with.
Sahara’s interior has always been iconic because of the embroidered seats that adds to the aesthetics of the vehicle. Unlike most other Jeeps, the Sahara features an 18-inch steering wheel that automatically renders it the king of the road. While the deep tinted windows offer you privacy without compromising any visibility, the power heated mirrors keep you warm even in the coldest of winter days. Windy trails are not a problem anymore for you!
From the outside, the Sahara has always been a pleasure to look at. The uniformity in design and coordination in color in the fender flares and grilles, anyone who looks at your Wrangler Sahara will automatically compliment your taste. The car top can match your preference, as on one hand you’ll be able to get Sunrider Soft Top for a sunny day, and on the other you can opt for solid, hard tops for more durability.
Although the older versions of Sahara would feature some of the classic engines, the ones starting from JK 2012 and onwards contain a standard 3.6L Pentastar V6 engine. With a six-speed manual transmission system and Command-Trac 4WD capability, you’ll be able to go off-road with your friends effortlessly. More space means more room for people and better chances of an enjoyable off-road venture!
The Hill Start Assist feature by Jeep is included in the Sahara model which makes climbing difficult inclines much easier and safer. Also, your journey will be made more enjoyable with a built-in 8-speaker sound system to boost the party mode through your roofs! All things considered including the price-point, the Jeep Wrangler Sahara is one of the most convenient choices for all-round performance with a larger seat capacity.
The Rubicon model for Jeep Wrangler has been a relatively new model compared to the classic ones. Developed with the aim of catering to certain needs, this model had been made available to the consumers since the 2003 TJ Wrangler. With a special ability for off-roading expeditions, the Rubicon model is one of the most ultimate Wranglers you’ll ever run into.
The Interior of the Rubicon is somewhat similar to the Sahara model, with the embroidered seats, sound system and heating mechanism. The main difference lies within the off-road capability where Rubicon is more catered towards such performances. Hill Start Assist, low gear range and 4LO drive system makes it one of the ideal choices if you want more ground clearance with additional ride height.
Over the years, the exterior design of the Rubicon model has changed due to increasing the diversity of users. While some of the models include a two door system, the rest feature a more traditional four door design. Apart from the door number, there does exist a major difference, and it’s the Power Convenience Group which is featured only with the four door Rubicon.
Like all the standard and contemporary Jeep Wrangler models, the Rubicon too contains a powerful 3.6L Pentastar V6 engine with a six-speed manual transmission system. However, if you prefer to have an automatic transmission, you can make an aftermarket purchase for a five-speed automatic gearbox with additional cost. What separates the Rubicon from Sahara is the superior 4WD system. Rubicon features a Rock-Trac 4×4 drive which performs significantly well in bumpy, difficult track conditions.
Off-roading is further facilitated in the Rubicon model with the introduction of Tru-Lok locking differentials and you can electronically disconnect the front sway bar while progressing over an upward incline. The suspension system is very sturdy in the Rubicon with a state of the art Performance suspension system that includes high-pressure monotube shocks. It can withstand any degree of bumps you throw at your car and manage to maintain a steady progress comfortably.
Jeep Wrangler Moab is not a core model of Wranglers, rather a higher trim level of Sahara which came out with 2018 Jeep Wrangler JL. Despite being a Sahara variant, it has made it to our classification because it enhances the Sahara in so many ways that it can almost be claimed as a unique model so to say. If Sahara was only made for driving off the road and focused on the relevant features only, then we’d probably end up with a Moab which seeks to do exactly that.
Like all the modern day Wranglers, the Moab too contains a 3.6L Pentastar V6 engine that can produce 260 lb-ft of torque with 285 horsepower. The off-roading capabilities are enhanced with a 2.72:1 Selec-Trac 4×4 axle system providing more strength while pushing through tough & bumpy terrains. The transmission system is an 8-speed automatic one with heavy-duty gas-shocked suspensions.
The Moab comes with a 4-door variant only, making it a perfect choice for a family Jeep. Your adventure’s diversity will leave this vehicle unscathed since it contains floor mats that are able to withstand any weather condition. Heating system is incorporated within the vehicle for colder weather, and paired with the Tru-Lok front and rear axles makes this vehicle a perfect choice for venturing into the unknown.
The 17-inch Moab wheel rims with 32-inch tires will support you on any given surface and the mindblowing Alpine 9-speaker audio system will keep your company in long and difficult drives. Overall, spending a little extra than the Sahara model should land you the perfect, large Jeep that is begging to be tested in harsh conditions!
Jeep’s Renegade series of vehicles had seen a surge of admiration in the consumers due to its compact design and ‘cute’ aesthetic feelings. Although the first edition of Renegade came to be with 1991 Jeep Wrangler and regarded as a badass off-road vehicle we’d see in prominent movies, the contemporary versions however have taken a different approach. A hybrid SUV with enhanced features for going off the regular road, this is a highly affordable Jeep that can easily melt your heart.
Jeep Renegade has a concise interior with a minimal design. There is a toy-like feel to every detail and orientation of the paddings and equipment which allures a lot of the consumers. The seats can bend 180 degrees backwards, so you can use it as a bunk bed when you’re traveling off-roads. It contains a larger 8.4-inch touchscreen display that’ll help your navigation better than the other models. One downside is that, due to the compact size it lacks sufficient storage pockets like a cup-holder or similar. But you’ll forget about it once you get cozy with the unique interior environment and start hitting the roads.
Renegade models come with Sport, Latitude, Altitude and similar packages, among which the Altitude package contains glossy black elements on the outside. The grille has been redesigned to align with its unique style and the ride contains 18-inch wheels suitable for following a trail. The rethought rear and front bumpers enhance the looks even more with the new LED headlights guiding your way through the darkest of hours.
The former editions of Renegade models utilized 2.5-liter four-cylinder engines but the latest editions shifted towards the turbocharged era with a standard 1.3-liter four-cylinder powerful engine. The 2022 Wrangler Renegade contains a nine-speed automatic transmission system. It has the capacity of 2W or 4W, but the 2W uses the front wheels as the power-source. In 4WD, Renegade can pull up to 2000 pounds of weight effortlessly with its raw power & performance.
Despite being such a tiny vehicle, this is one of those types of Jeep Wranglers that lives up to the old-school Jeep potentials. The Trailhawk model allows Renegade into the wilderness and the most adverse situations without any difficulty. The mileage count is excellent in this vehicle, in city it has 24 mpg and in off-roads it increases up to 32 mpg. Overall, considering its price-point and performance, you’ll gladly agree to the fact that “good things DO come in small packages”.
Sport and Sport S
The Jeep Wrangler Sport is one of the most basic forms of Wranglers while the Sport S includes some upgraded features that were felt necessary by Jeep. If you are a fan of old-school vehicles with a minimalist approach, the Sport package should be your top choice. Made to stay mostly on the tarmac, the Sport series surely has a lot of impressive features up its sleeves.
These Jeep SUV hybrids are built with the standard 3.6L V6 engine with an ESS upgrade I. The standard package most certainly comes with a 6-speed manual transmission system. If you want however, you can upgrade to an 8-speed automatic transmission with extra cost. The suspensions are normal duty, gas-pressured versions that suit well with regular road conditions.
If you plan on taking it off the roads, the Command-Trac HD part time 4WD system should come in handy, although not as effective as the Rubicon or Renegade. The installed electronic roll mitigation and stability control will help to some extent, but as we’ve mentioned, this is a Jeep Wrangler of the most basic form, so you wouldn’t benefit as much as you’d with the superior trim levels.
On the inside, you get cloth seats and a standard 8-speaker sound system. The display is a 5-inch Uconnect 3 enabled device that’ll give you all the necessary information. There are both 2-door and 4-door versions available for this model. The 2-door version is shorter in length and quite sporty due to its compact size. You’ll find the ride to be very enjoyable on a sunny day circling your way up a hilly road. The 4-door version will offer you additional seating area and it would be better for bigger groups or families.
Both the Sport and Sport S come with a few amenities such as an in-built heater that keeps you warm, fuel tank skid plate shield that protects it from the harshness of the environment. They come with 17-inch wheels with a black accent. The S version however has an automatic remote-start system included as a feature that can help you out in unique situations. In short, the Sport and Sport S Wranglers will give you the most authentic Jeep experience with a minimum cost, and all the authentic facilities that you dread to have.
The Jeep Wrangler Unlimited is one of the most popular choices of their line of vehicles as it is a rendition of the classic Jeep back in the 1940s. The modern variants of the Unlimited are a fusion between the old and the new – advanced features infused with technology with a reflection of the vintage Jeep. Due to such nature and unmatched performance, the Wrangler Unlimited has made a permanent impact in the hearts of Jeep-lovers.
There are two versions of the Wrangler Unlimited, one is a 2-door variant and the other a 4-door. The former was introduced to the market with the Wrangler 2004 and the latter with the Wrangler 2006. Each of them are able to occupy 4-5 people, which makes it an ideal choice for a larger group of people. And despite the prime focus of Wranglers on off-road actions, the Unlimited has taken measures for improved experience during on-road driving as well.
The chassis of the car is highly-customizable, as you can remove the roof and even the doors to make your Unlimited like the vintage Jeep from back in the days! The standard version comes as a 4WD set by factory defaults. The longer wheelbase will give you an easier rear-seat access, and overall a spacious feeling. You’ll be able to fit tons of people and stuff inside your Wrangler yet your space won’t run out!
The Unlimited features a 285-HP 3.6 liter V-6 engine since the Wrangler 2013, but you can also opt for a 6.4 liter V-8 traditional engine. The former engine is a turbo-hybrid system, one of the most recent developments that can be paired up with a four-cylinder electric motor that’ll help your Jeep push on the lower end of power. Following the trail, climbing a rough incline or pulling a heavy load will never be a problem for such a magnificent beast!
The transmission system is a standard 6-speed manual or an 8-speed automatic available as an aftermarket purchase. The 4xe powertrain is a new plug-in hybrid model that sets Unlimited apart from the rest of the pack. It offers a faster pick-up than Rubicon due to its lighter weight. Overall, the Jeep Wrangler Unlimited is a solid vehicle for both on and off road movements with advanced technology & tasteful design.
Jeep Wrangler’s Laredo model has been a HUGE success back in the 1980s and 1990s with the most solidly-built vehicle with supreme drivability off the road. It was first introduced with the Wrangler YJ series between 1987 to 1996. It has, however, seen a resurrection in the Cherokee series as Laredo X, that pays tribute to the very original and rare item in the current market.
The Laredo has its engine manufactured by AMC 258 I6 which was a classic spark-ignition 4-stroke engine. Although it might not be as convenient as modern day turbo-powered engines, it still manages to perform fantastically in muddy or sticky conditions. It consumes petrol through a carburetor system generating 83.5 kW power. In its prime it has been mainly used as a compact SUV for off-road purposes.
The body type facilitated the extreme capabilities with a sport-utility design and a soft-top that could easily be removed if desired. It only consisted of a 2-door model like the classic Jeep. The traction control on this vehicle is a 4×4 part time system, with a Command-Trac NP207. The rear engagement is permanent, but for the front axle you’ll have to manually engage while going off the road in order to shift into 4WD.
In the interior, the Laredo has gone through some changes over the years. Initially it contained the base Wrangler’s faux leather seat cover, but the 1988 model replaced it with cloth covers. There exists a rear speaker sound bar for your AM/FM radio and a cassette player that you can easily replace with modern digital audio players. The removable bench seat at the back can accommodate more storage space if need be, and air conditioning has always been a standard part for the Laredo package.
Overall, if you’re into collecting vintage Wranglers, going off the road from time to time and receiving admiration for your taste & affordability, then the Laredo is your key to achieving all that. Maybe it won’t contain all the latest features right after purchase, but you can easily customize it while maintaining the vintage aspects and drop everyone’s jaws in astonishment.
If you’re into collecting some of the rarest rides not only in the Jeep line, but also across any vehicle of the world, then Wrangler’s Rio Grande is one of those antique items that can enhance the pride of your collection. This model has only been made available with Wrangler YJ 1995 which makes the number of production very limited. Most of the models have already been obscured by collectors, and some are still available for you to be picked up and flaunted in front of the admiring crowd.
The vintage Rio Grande is one of those types of Jeep Wranglers that are powered by a 2.5-liter inline-four engine able to generate 123-HP and 139 lb-ft of torque, which is significantly impressive in a 1995 off-road vehicle! The transmission system is a standard 5-speed manual one and a dual-range transfer case transmits the power from the engine to the tires. Speaking of which, the stock wheels are five-spoke 15-inch that can be mounted with Sailun Terramax A/T 4S tires.
This ride contains a soft, black top that you can remove easily, a Pioneer head, black fender flares complimenting the color accent. If you’re able to obtain these beauties, there’s tons of potential customization that you can do, like adding side steps, a front tow bar for pulling and a ball hitch in the rear. There is a bench seat at the back that you can remove if the occasion calls for it.
The braking system is quite generic considering the time this vehicle came into being. The front brakes are disc brakes while the rears include drum brakes. The engine power and top speed can be halted easily with such braking technology, but an engine upgrade should also be matched with improved brake discs as well. The inside seats are high-back bucket ones and the steering wheel contains three spokes that should give you a classy feeling while driving it on the turmac.
The dashboard shows a speedometer and a tachometer as well as center-placed auxiliary gauges and a mechanical odometer. In short, this vehicle will not only give you a vintage feeling when you drive it around the neighborhood, but also claim you the throne of Jeep collectors because of the rarity of this Wrangler. And when you’re collecting for pride, we prefer you don’t look at the price tag, because its class is beyond any measurable unit.
The Wrangler Islander is one of the most popular upgrade packages that radiate a festive vibe and the performance that’ll make you groove as long as your ride lasts. A special edition modeled on the “Sport Base” that first got introduced in 1988, this model got a revamp in 2021 as an Islander special over the Wrangler Renegade. The color scheme, design, performance comes so perfectly together that you’ll never get tired of it regardless of your driving location.
The interior decor of this vehicle is made with premium materials. Black cloth seats have their sides stitched with a sky-blue color and the middle portion has an embroidery of the Islander logo. The roof design you’ll get with this model is impeccably beautiful and modern, with the dual-pane panoramic sunroof that gives you freedom of having open air whenever you desire. Let the festivity go through the roof when you’re driving on the coastline with your closest friends on the vacation!
The engine featured with this model is a standard Wrangler 3.6-liter V-6 eTorque UPG system that runs in gas and can achieve a horsepower of 285 at 6400 rpm. The gearbox is the same as usual with a 6-speed manual transmission system. The Islander runs in 4WD with the flexibility of shifting to 4Hi or 4Lo depending on the track condition. The low-rev power along with the powerline, the Active Drive full-time 4×4 system makes it a top choice for your off-road adventures.
The exterior of the Islander contains 19-inch wheels lined with silver alloy and fitted with all-season tires, making it convenient to drive on uneven terrains. The Renegade Islander comes in a few color options such as different shades of orange and blue – completely enhancing the idea of a festive beach-party. The alpine-white colored roof and a tiki bob decal planted on the hood will make anyone wonder if you’re going to the Rio carnival!
If you plan on getting this package over a Renegade, it won’t cost you any significant amount of sum! Also, there’s plenty of customization options that you can pick from the available aftermarket resources. This in general makes for a great investment to reflect your inner party-vibes and the Uconnect 4 system, 7-inch touchscreen and the built-in sound system will allow you to do just that in the most stylish manner!
The last Wrangler in our list is the High Tide trim – and the name itself suggests its concentration of features and design. Yes! It’s here to rock the sandy shores with vibrant colors and awesome features that’ll serve you right on sandy surfaces that offer you less grip and generate more inertia. The High Tide is based on the Sport S Wrangler which explains the performance level, and the additional “Xtreme Recon Package” will see some significant upgrades to the factory set instruments.
Starting off with the exterior, the High Tide features a High Velocity Yellow color that automatically grabs the attention of the viewers. Be that on a sea-beach or inside your city streets, this color will surely be mesmerizing and appreciated greatly. And you still prefer a separate color, the 2021 High Tide has a few alternative offerings such as: Hydro Blue, StingGray, Bright White, and Black. The theme is reflected in the hood decals as well, along with the beadlock-capable wheels and additional Gorilla Glass windshield for extra protection.
The tire package included with this trim model is the 35-inch BF Goodrich KO2 variant on a 17-inch wheel base. The rear axle ratio is a stunning 4.56, making it highly capable of driving on adverse surfaces. The vehicle gains enough clearance space with an 1.5-inch suspension lift that comes pre-installed from the factory and specialized shocks that compliment this lift over bumpy terrains.
You’ll realize a vehicle model is made with delicate care when you look at small details apart from the big features, and you’ll find utmost satisfaction & comfort when such details come together in your aid. For example, since the High Tide is a specialized Wrangler made to drive on sea-beach coasts, the car floor is covered with sand-mats that catches all the sand particles and makes cleaning significantly easier. Such attention to details make a vehicle one of the prime choices for consumers, and thus High Tide has won over the off-road market for regular use.
This marks the end of the journey through the types of Jeep Wranglers. Our article has taken a unique perspective of explaining the models to you, through which you’ve also gotten a significant insight into the Wrangler generations and what the initials actually mean.
We hope our information will help you in your path of being a Wrangler enthusiast, and create a foundation of knowledge which you can compare in the future if you opt for purchasing a Wrangler for yourself. And if you do so, you can always come back to us for further learning into different Wrangler related issues and tips to guide your way towards a brighter day.