If you’ve owned a Jeep for some time, I’m sure you’ve heard or even shared your own complaints about the new incarnation, the Jeep Wrangler JK. I’m an avid Wrangler enthusiast and have owned all the base models, including a 1947 CJ2 that’s almost rock-crawler state. Yes, I have had the CJ5, CJ7, YJ, TJ and the new JK. I speak from experience when I say that I was reluctant to buy the newer model. It was too … clean. It had 4 doors. My Jeep friends said it was the equivalent of a fake school bus or minivan.
After rescuing one of those friends on the Rubicon Trail, my complaints and doubts vanished. If you hate the JK, you’ve likely spent a lot of money on your TJ and perhaps too much time listening to stubborn members of the Jeep forums.
Get behind the wheel before you judge, and I’m not talking about a drive through the mall. The capability of the new Jeep Wrangler is staggering. It’s more capable off-road, more comfortable overall, and it’s actually a bit cheaper than previous models. Having driven my JK down the Rubicon Trail, I know exactly what these things are capable of. Also, if you compare a JK with a 3.5 “lift to a 3.5” raised YJ or TJ, you will see that the JK has a higher break angle and clearance with the same amount of lift.
Still not convinced? Now I will debunk some of the common misconceptions of the JK.
I often hear from fellow Jeepers that it is too big. The reality is that the JK is 5 inches wider than the TJ, but that only adds 2 1/2 inches on each side. I have not been on a trail where this rise stops you. If it gets tight, just fold up the mirrors and let the detachable flex fenders soak up part of the way. If there are narrow trails in your future, get the two-door, but if you want to comfortably take your friends and family on tough trails, get the four-door. In that regard, people don’t like how cheap the new plastic front fenders are. For those who run a mall tracker, I see the point, but when you make some serious moves you’ll be glad they’re there. They are MUCH cheaper to repair than the TJ’s painted steel fenders, as well as allowing the breakout to cause little to no collateral damage to the grille, bathtub, and internal structure such as TJ fenders caused during the wheels. heavy. Interestingly, the JK is the first Jeep introduced where the aftermarket was taken into account. To lower the price of the vehicle, less expensive components were used in non-essential areas that they knew would be upgraded anyway. The bumpers are a perfect example of this. My friend complained that plastic bumpers are stupid and weak, but so are TJ’s. How many TJs are still out there with the factory bumpers? That’s the joy of the Jeep: Aftermarket bumpers are the norm.
I was told that using the 3.8L V6 minivan was a poor choice, and I fell prey to this misconception. My recent research has shown some statistics that might surprise you: The new V6 produces its power at slightly higher speeds than the 4.0L recalled online. Typically, you will find that you will drive the V6 about 700rpm higher than the inline one when on the road. The 4.0L is a great engine, but it even has issues, like cracked exhaust manifolds, plus it runs lean with the throttle wide open. The V6 will still start in low range first gear and idle uphill, while the inline engine will not. Also, the 4: 1 gearing in the Rubicon transfer case works better with the 3.8 V6 than it does with the 4.0 inline. In sand and mud, the higher-revving V6 seems to have the upper hand as well. However, these arguments are moot with the addition of the 2012 3.6 Penstar delivering an additional 85 HP, better MPG, and higher torque. Enough talk.
Some people feel that the new electric lockers are rubbish. In my personal and highly tested opinion I have never had a problem with them and according to official specs the JK axle housings, shafts and gears are stronger than TJs. When unplugged, the JK Rubicon rear locker is open, while the TJ has a limited-slip locker, but if I had the option, I would prefer the strength and durability to limited-slip.
In conclusion, the Jeep Wrangler and Wrangler Unlimited JK have added some features that make it, overall, a better buy than previous models. The push button sway bar disconnect on the Rubicon is amazing. Helps provide greater suspension articulation and a smoother off-road ride. Jeep should have thought of this before. The fact that the front and rear lockers, plus an anti-roll bar disconnect, are standard on some models makes driving that much more enjoyable. Plus, the new rocker arm guards are hands down the best Jeep ever built (Rubicon only). I didn’t even change mine. I added an aftermarket solder kit to extend the protection.
Please do not get me wrong. I love my older Jeeps, especially for their looks. They just look tough. But don’t think for a second that the JK is anything less than a serious off-road beast, because there may be a day when a JK will rescue you on the road.