Jeep Wrangler JK vs. JL: Part 1 - Looks

The year 2018 brought many exciting new things, such as Fortnight, AirPods, and “The Floss.” Best of all, it brought us a new Jeep Wrangler — the fourth-generation JL.

With so much anticipation surrounding its arrival, the fourth-generation JL Wrangler has lived up to the expectations among Jeep owners so far. In fact, it’s blown past expectations, as many were concerned about what to expect with this new body style arriving in 2018.

Many Jeep enthusiasts were worried that Jeep could potentially cut corners or stray away from the traditional Wrangler aesthetic that so many people have come to know and love. Instead, Jeep maintained its classic Jeep vibe with the new JL while loading it with many modern improvements. It’s clear that Jeep is striving to maintain its Wrangler roots while still finding ways to make each model better than the last with new features.

While the release of the 2018 JL Wrangler was certainly exciting, it does make the decision of which Jeep Wrangler model to buy much more difficult than in previous years. That’s why here at Altitude Jeep, we want to outline some of the major updates to these models, as well as the pros and cons of each to help you make the best decision of which best fits your needs.

No matter which Wrangler model you choose, just remember that you’re already a winner because you’re joining the Jeep family and the incredible community of adventure-seekers that are a part of it! When you join the Jeep family, be sure to visit our online store for the best aftermarket Jeep parts and accessories to help you fine-tune your ride into an off-roading beast.

Before we dive in, it’s important to note that we will be discussing the newer models of Jeep Wranglers for those looking to go to the dealership for purchasing their new ride. Click here if you’d like to learn our take on the pros and cons of new Jeeps vs. old Jeep Wranglers.



Jeep Wrangler JK vs JL: Exterior

When looking at the 2018 JL Wrangler, the first thing you will likely notice is the exterior of the vehicle. While it may look similar to the JK Wrangler at first glance, there are several unique characteristics that help distinguish the JL Wrangler from the JK. If you’re a Jeep lover, then you probably already know that Jeep Wranglers can usually be identified by their iconic seven-slot grill designs.


New Grill, Who Dis?

While the new JL Wrangler still implements this iconic seven-slot grill, it received a design upgrade that makes it easier to differentiate from the JK models. The new grill has slightly kinked, wavy slots with headlights that cut into the outer slots.

The new design for the front end of the JL Wrangler includes LED daytime running lights and turn signals that are embedded into the front fenders. There are also now vents included behind each front fender for improved air circulation and less wind noise in the cabin. The hood of the JL Wrangler is a power bulge hood reminiscent of the TJ Wrangler generation. Along with these updates, the new Wrangler JL exterior features new door handles, door hinges, mirrors, and a body line that runs down the side of the Jeep.

How’s It Look From The Back?

The rear of the JL Wrangler features more of today’s technology with a new reverse camera located on the spare tire mount, along with a blind spot monitoring system. As far as design goes, the only major changes were in the location of the license plate, a new adjustable third brake light, and a more lightweight spring gate for easier loading and unloading of cargo. Overall, the 2018 JL Wrangler body is more lightweight but just as heavy duty as the JK Wrangler models we have become accustomed to in recent years.

Let’s Talk Tops

One of the most exciting new upgrades to accompany the 2018 JL Wrangler was the three additional top options that offer more flexibility and are much easier to remove and install than their predecessors.

The first option is a traditional hardtop that comes in either body color or black, but the new hardtop features panels that can be removed individually rather than having to remove the entire hardtop at once. You can also opt to remove the side panels while keeping the center panel intact for added airflow while keeping some overhead protection.

The second top option is a soft top convertible for the JL Wrangler that easily peels off without worrying about zippers. Simply flip up the bottom part, peel off the sides, and slide the back window out to go topless in just seconds. It even offers the same option as the hardtop to remove the side windows in the same fashion.

For the most exciting (and most expensive) top option, there is the new sky powertop. While it does cost extra, it is well worth it if you are after a truly hassle-free Jeep top. The powertop works like an electric sunroof, where the top slides into painted rails on top of the Wrangler in order to retract. While this option does not allow you to go completely topless like with the convertible top, it does give you more airflow at the push of a button — even at speeds of up to 60 mph! You can also still remove the back windows and doors for more breeze with the JL Wrangler as you can with the JK and other models.

Jeep Wrangler JK vs. JL: Exterior

The JL Wrangler also comes with its fair share of interior upgrades compared to the JL and other Wrangler models:

  • Tailgate label outlining off-roading limits and specifications
  • Updated instrument panel and infotainment center with fourth-generation UConnect technology
  • Optional nine speaker stereo system with a waterproof subwoofer
  • Auxiliary switches for easy connection of aftermarket Jeep lights (Rubicon model)

The last of these updates might be the biggest deciding factor among avid off-roaders considering the JL Wrangler, as with the JK Wrangler and previous models, you would have to install switches separately which required drilling and mounting. The pre-installed auxiliary switches make it easy to connect aftermarket Jeep lights, air compressors, and any other gadgets you may need while out on the trails.

It’s also worth noting for the avid off-roaders that the JL Wrangler implements more rubber in the interior — the infotainment system, cupholders, and side panels — making it safe and easy to spray down the JL Wrangler when — not if — it gets dirty.

We hope that this blog helps you to get a better grip on the new JL Wrangler and what sets it apart from the JK Wrangler models. If you’re still not sure which makes the most sense for your first (or next) Jeep, stay tuned for part two where we will dive into the performance of these two models and a whole lot more!

When you’re ready to start customizing your Jeep with the best aftermarket Jeep parts — whether it’s for a JL or JK Wrangler,  we hope you will come to us at Altitude Jeep. We offer a variety of aftermarket Jeep headlights, grills, hoods, doors, accessories, and more to help you elevate your ride.

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