Jeep has become a well-known brand in the automotive industry, known for its tough and capable off-road vehicles. The Jeep Wrangler has evolved over the years, and two prominent generations, the JK and JL, have captured the hearts of off-road enthusiasts.
What distinguishes the Jeep JK vs. JL? To begin with, the JL is the most recent Jeep model introduced in 2017 to be a model for 2018. The JK, on the other hand, has existed since 2007 and has continued to exist until 2018. The JL has undergone several changes, including a new engine, increased fuel efficiency, and a switch from a 6-speed to an 8-speed transmission.
We will further compare the two jeep’s exterior design, interior features, performance capabilities, pricing options, and more.
Jeep Wrangler JK Vs JL: Comparison Overview
Before breaking down the features of both Jeep Wrangler JK and JL, let’s have a quick overview of both generations with their features.
|Comparing Aspects||Jeep Wrangler JK||Jeep Wrangler JL|
|Engine comparison||3.6-liter Pentastar V6 Engine||2.0-liter Turbocharged Inline-4 Engine|
|3.6-liter Pentastar V6 Engine|
|Transmission differences||6-speed transmission||8-speed transmission|
|Exterior design||Thumb operated doors||Pull out a mechanism to open the doors|
|No fender vent||Presence of a fender vent|
|Signal lights are below the headlights||Signal lights are on the front flare face|
|A traditional 7 slot grille with a Jeep logo||A slightly kinked grille with no logo|
|Interior design||Normal Jeep space||Increased space|
|Key start||Push button start|
|Standard infotainment system||Upgraded UConnect multimedia system with a screen|
|Weight||Weighs up to 4,406 lbs||Weighs up to 5,300 lbs|
|Suspension differences||Offers a 10.2 ground clearance||Offers a 10.8 ground clearance|
|Safety add ons||Basic safety features such as airbags and stability control||Advanced driver-assistance systems (ADAS)|
|Blind-spot monitoring and rearview camera|
|Pricing||$5,500 – $29,040||$26,995 – $40,495|
Jeep JK Vs JL: Side-By-Side Comparison
The Jeep JK vs JL represents distinct eras of the Jeep Wrangler. They denote separate generations rather than mere trim levels such as Sport, Unlimited, or X. The Jeep Wrangler (JK) is the third generation of the Wrangler, while the JL is the fourth generation and an improvement of the last made Jeep JK.
The differences between these two generations are discussed below.
The JL Wrangler has also upgraded in terms of performance and differs from the JK Jeep in the following ways:
- JK’s 3.6-liter Pentastar V6 Engine: The 3.6-liter Pentastar V6 engine is standard on the JK model. With 285 horsepower and 260 pound-feet of torque, this engine provides dependable power. It offers a good mix of performance and fuel efficiency.
- JL’s 2.0-liter Turbocharged Inline-4 Engine: The JL model introduced an additional engine option, the 2.0-liter “Hurricane” turbocharged inline-4 engine.
Despite its smaller displacement, this engine produces impressive power, producing 270 horsepower and 295 lb-ft of torque. The turbocharged technology improves low-end torque and provides a more responsive driving experience.
- JL’s 3.6-liter Pentastar V6 Engine: The JL model shares the 3.6-liter Pentastar V6 engine with the JK model, but it has been refined to improve overall performance and efficiency.
The JL model incorporates advanced engine calibration and other enhancements, such as an electric start-stop feature. This aids in minimizing fuel emissions and increasing fuel economy by increasing mileage per gallon.
- JK Transmission: The JK model comes standard with a 5-speed manual transmission. In the newer versions of the JK model, i.e., the 2018 model, it is equipped with a 6-speed transmission.
- JL Transmission: In contrast, the JL model comes standard with an 8-speed automatic transmission.
The 8-speed automatic transmission provides smoother shifting, increased efficiency, and improved performance. The additional gears improve power delivery and fuel economy.
Exterior Design and Styling
When comparing the Jeep JK and JL models, it’s critical to understand the evolution of the Jeep Wrangler design and the key differences that distinguish them.
- Grille and Headlights:
The front grille has been a distinguishing feature of the Jeep Wrangler’s design. Both Jeeps have the same box-like aesthetic. However, there are some slight differences if you look closely. Check 2013 Jeep Wrangler problems
The JK model has the traditional seven-slot grille, which is smooth from top to bottom, and the “Jeep” logo on top of the grille. On the other hand, the JL model has an interrupting bump on the grille and has no logo.
Also, the headlights in the JL model encroach on the grille, while in the JL model, the headlights are separate from the grill.
- Front Fender Indicator Lights:
The latest model of the Wrangler JL introduced a noteworthy change: the signal lights are now located on the front flare face. Positioning the lights on the front flare face improves visibility and the jeep’s aesthetic.
In the JK model, the signal lights are positioned below the headlights. This alteration provides a straightforward means of knowing whether your Jeep is a JK or a JL.
In terms of door handles, the JL model uses a pull-out mechanism to operate the doors. To open the door on the JK model, you must press a button. These two mechanisms apply to both the side doors and the rear cabin doors.
Also, the JL Wrangler has longer doors than the JK model. It is four inches longer than the JK model in the four-door JL and two inches longer in the two-door JL.
- Rear Taillights and License Plate Placement:
The JL model features rectangular rear lights with the reverse light in the center. However, the rectangle design is not fully rectangular as it has rounded corners, unlike the JK rear lights, which have a fully rectangular shape. Also, on the JK model, the reverse light is on the bottom.
In addition to this, the JL Wrangler’s license plate is attached to the bumper while the JK’s is directly beneath the tail lights.
- Fender Vent:
The JL Wrangler adds a small vent behind the front fender flares for the driver and passenger. This vent was introduced to solve the concerns of limited airflow in the previous JK model.
The vent improves airflow from the hood area, thereby helping to maintain a slightly cooler engine temperature. This is another feature that makes it easy to distinguish between the two Wrangler models.
- Foldable Windshield:
Another notable exterior feature that distinguishes the Jeep JK and JL models is the windshield design. While the JK model had fold-down windshield components, it required disassembling the exterior of the A-pillar.
You were also supposed to disconnect the roll bar attachment points near the windshield visors. This made folding the windshield in the JK model difficult and time-consuming.
The JL Wrangler, on the other hand, improved on this design by extending the roll bar to include A-pillar tubes. This streamlined process saves time and improves aerodynamics for those looking for an open-air driving experience.
In terms of weight, the JL model is heavier than the JK model. This is only different in the JL Rubicon which weighs 200 lbs lighter than the JK Rubicon which weighs about 4,406 lbs. However, for all other trim levels, the JL model is heavier. For example, the recent JL models can weigh up to 5,300 lbs while the 2018 JK weighs about 4,106 lbs to 4,406 lbs.
When it comes to the interior of a vehicle, comfort, convenience, and functionality are key considerations. Let’s discuss the differences between both models.
- Increased Space:
Recognizing the need for ample storage in an adventure vehicle, the JL model provides enhanced storage solutions. It stands out from the JK thanks to the retro-inspired flat dash.
The JL’s interior is also waterproof, making cleaning a breeze. The center console has also been redesigned to accommodate more personal items.
- Advanced Technology Features:
The JL model incorporates advanced technology features to improve the driving experience. It has FCA’s user-friendly UConnect multimedia system, with a 5.0″ or 8.4″ touchscreen, depending on the trim level.
The JK model has a standard infotainment system with no smartphone integration.
- Push Button:
Unlike the JK model, which requires a key to start, the JL model allows for simple ignition with the press of a button. This modern convenience eliminates the need to fumble with keys.
The push button also adds a touch of sophistication and keeps up with other vehicles in the same price range.
The JL model features upgraded suspension systems, including available adaptive dampers. Both the JK and JL models use a 4” suspension system. However, in the JL jeep, the suspension has been tweaked to have up to 15.5” total travel while the JK has a total travel of 8”.
In terms of ground clearance, the JK offers a 10.2 ground clearance and the JL model offers up to 10.8 ground clearance. The enhanced suspension setup in the JL allows for better articulation and stability, making it easier to conquer challenging terrains.
- Axle and Tire Options:
Both the JK and the JL models offer the standard Dana axles. However, in the JL model, the axles are modified to be heavy-duty Dana 44 axles. These axles are wider, studier, and bigger.
Furthermore, the JL model has 33″ tires as opposed to the 32″ tires on the JK tires. This is to accommodate the increased space in the JL Wrangler.
In the JK Wrangler, the mpg is rated at 16 city/19 highway/18 combined. The JL model has a 23 city/25 highway/24 combined mpg. This means that the JL Wrangler is more fuel-efficient than the JK.
- Safety Upgrades
The JL model introduced several safety enhancements compared to the JK model, offering a higher level of protection.
- Advanced Driver-Assistance Systems (ADAS):
The JL model includes advanced driver-assistance systems that use sensors and cameras to assist drivers in a variety of situations, such as forward collision warning, automatic emergency braking, adaptive cruise control, and lane departure warning.
- Blind-Spot Monitoring and Rearview Camera:
The JL model is equipped with blind-spot monitoring to improve visibility and awareness. This feature employs sensors to detect vehicles in the driver’s blind spots.
It also provides visual or audible alerts to help avoid potential collisions during lane changes. Furthermore, a rearview camera improves visibility when reversing.
Pricing and Trim Levels
The Jeep JK model, being an earlier model, generally has a lower base price compared to the JL model. The JK prices range from $5,500 – $18,920(2007 model) to $29,040 (2018 model).
When compared to the JK Wrangler, the price of the JL increases by an additional $2,000 to as much as $3,500. Here are the trim levels of JL models and their base prices:
|Trim Level||2018 Wrangler JL Prices (2-door)||2018 Wrangler JL Unlimited Prices (4-door)|
Several Wrangler models have been introduced over the years, making it difficult to identify the specific variation you own. However, if you know where to look and what distinguishing features to look for, you can easily identify the differences between the two Wrangler models.
So, which of the JK and JL Wranglers is better? This is entirely dependent on your preferences. JK Wranglers are inexpensive and have been around for a long time as dependable vehicles. The JL model, on the other hand, provides more space, comfort, and performance but is more expensive.