Wrangler JL: Is it Really That Much Better Than the JK?

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Reviewers will tell you that the JL Wrangler is far superior in many ways, but that doesn’t mean the JK isn’t worth owning, either.

It’s often easy to succumb to the idea that a new, shiny object is far superior to an old, somewhat similar object that’s been in your possession for a while. That is, unless you’re a hardcore auto enthusiast. In this hobby, we often sneer at new models and wax poetic about old ones. But a funny thing happened when the long running Jeep JK Wrangler was finally replaced by the all-new JL. All anyone is talking about is how much better it is than the outgoing legend.

So we’re left to wonder – is this just journalist speak, or is there some truth to it? While most reviews rely on what the reviewer remembers about the older model, this video comparison from The Fast Lane Truck actually pits the JK versus JL Wrangler against each other, heads up. But even though TFLT has actually owned the JK used in this test for a few years now, there’s obviously no sentimental value at play here.

Jeep JL Wrangler

“The JL is, just, there’s no other way to put it. It’s just a world better,” says our elder host. “Not only is the interior nicer, not only have they made this much more refined and much more well, just driveable. It’s no longer as hardcore a Jeep as the JK. But perhaps most importantly, they’ve given it an 8-speed automatic transmission. That pays dividends both on and off-road.”

The JL Wrangler might look a lot like the JK, but the devil’s in the details. Things like the new hood latches and the windshield folding mechanism make a big difference. Still, our younger host makes a case for the JK. “The interior isn’t as nice, but it’s still incredible off-road. The ride is much better than a TJ or a YJ on the road. It’s still pretty refined. It’ll still do 90 percent of what the JL will do off the road. And now you can start getting these used pretty affordably.”

Jeep JK Wrangler

So the JL Wrangler is obviously a superior ride, but it’s also much more expensive than buying a used JK. And it doesn’t enjoy quite as large an aftermarket – for now. But that’s great news for Jeep fans of all types. No matter which model you choose, you’re can’t really go wrong.

Join the JK-Forums now!

Brett Foote has been covering the automotive industry for over five years and is a longtime contributor to Internet Brands’ Auto Group sites, including Chevrolet Forum, Rennlist, and Ford Truck Enthusiasts, among other popular sites.

He has been an automotive enthusiast since the day he came into this world and rode home from the hospital in a first-gen Mustang, and he's been wrenching on them nearly as long.

In addition to his expertise writing about cars, trucks, motorcycles, and every other type of automobile, Brett had spent several years running parts for local auto dealerships.

You can follow along with his builds and various automotive shenanigans on Instagram: @bfoote.

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