Wrangler JK or JL?

Got an education on Jeep Wranglers and Gladiators this week.

We were getting confused looking through part catalogs, which kept referring to JK, JL, and JT models of Jeep. Unlike other car manufacturers who label their models by generation - like 3rd Gen Tacoma, or 13th Gen F-150, Jeep uses just two letters - at least in the modern era.

So, what's the difference?

Let's start with the Jeep Wrangler JK (2006 - 2016) vs. Wrangler JL (2016 - 2022)

1. At the front, the 7-slot grill is iconic and of course on both versions - however there are slight differences. The JL headlights actually bleed over into the 7 slot grill on each side. Also, the JK has a Jeep emblem on the grill which is not present on the JL.

2. Lights were added directly to the front fenders of the JL to help improve visibility. There are aftermarket fender kits for JK's but only the later JL comes direct from the factory with square LED lights embedded directly into the fender.

3. Door handles were swapped from the familiar (and much loved) push-button handles in the JK to pull handles in the JK.

4. Jeep also changed the way the taillights look on the JL. The JK had a fairly simple design when it comes to taillights. Essentially just two rectangular lights. However, the lights on the JL have a unique design where the lights curve in towards the center of the lights. 

5. Fender vents were added to the JL models to help control airflow in the engine bay. These are located just behind the front fenders on the newer models but are completely absent in the older JK models.

6. Moving inside, the JL has had some serious updates. The Dash and displays have been modernized and upgraded. Better controls on the steering wheel, push-button start, easier-to-understand locker controls, and improved ergonomics of the shift levers just to name a few. Not to mention the drastically improved digital displays.

Other differences include

  • Design: The JL has a more modern, refined look compared to the JK's more rugged and boxy appearance.

  • Suspension: The JL has a new suspension design that improves ride comfort and handling and increases ground clearance.

  • Interior: The JL has a more upscale, modern interior with more features and better materials than the JK.

  • Powertrain: The JL is available with a more powerful and efficient turbocharged four-cylinder engine, in addition to the traditional V6 engine.

  • Technology: The JL has a more advanced infotainment system, a larger touchscreen display, and more connectivity features than the JK.

Overall, the Jeep Wrangler JL is a more refined and modern vehicle than the JK, but the JK is still a capable off-road vehicle.

Finally, what is the Jeep JT model? Well, the T stands for truck - ie: the Jeep Gladiator pickup.

So, when looking for parts for your beloved Jeep Wrangler, take a second to figure out if you have a JK or JL model before ordering. If in doubt, drop us a note and we'll help you identify your model and point you to the correct part.