wrangler jk vs jl

Jeep JK vs JL

In the market for a new Jeep Wrangler? You now need to ask yourself: Jeep JK vs JL. There are a lot of trims and variants to choose from and often times this can be difficult to do.

Among the other types of wranglers there is JK and JL and this article will compare the two so that you get a better picture of the differences and similarities. Without wasting any more time, lets dive in.

In short, The Jeep JL and the JK have minor differences in their outward and interior styling with the main differences being on the grill, position of the signaling lights as well more modern interior. You also get a bit more tech in the JL while the Rubicon comes ready to upgrade to larger tyres at stock.

The Jeep JL took over from the JL in 2018. For a fair comparison, we will compare the 2018 JK to the 2018 JL models. 2018 was when Jeep released the first version of the JL and the last version of the JL.


Difference between Jeep JK vs JL


To the untrained eye, the two vehicles are difficult to tell apart. They, more or less, look the same from the outside. Upon closer inspection, you will notice some distinct differences.

The first thing is that the grills are a bit different. The grill of the JL has indents that accommodate the head lamps which are slightly bigger than those of the JK.

You will also notice that the signalling lights are placed on different positions as well. On the JL, they are positioned on the fender flare which is also wider than on the JK.

This allows it to accommodate much wider tyres without any additional mods. The JL doesn’t include the Jeep logo on top of the grill like on the JK.

The position of the fog lights is also different. On the JL, they are more to the sides of the bumper while on the JK, they are positioned a bit more centrally. The JL also included a heat vent on the hood.

This was to deal with the problem of excess heat build up which was an issue in the JK. Jeep also changed the position of the license plate where you have it now positioned on the rear bumper as opposed to just above the bumper on the JK.

The JL also has a reverse camera which is located on the middle part of the spare wheel tyre holder. The position of the tyre is also slightly lower allowing for better visibility.

One of the most noticeable things on the JL as well is that the body has a lot more angles and contours to it when compared to the JK. This was to make it a lot more aero dynamic and get more miles per gallon.

The fuel consumption issue was also addressed in the material used on some parts of the body like the doors. This made the overall weight of the vehicle much lighter and greatly improved the economy of the JL.


Jeep JK vs JL Interior

The most noticeable thing about the interior is the overall styling. The JL has a lot more modern look and feel to it. The tech in the JL was also greatly improved.

The JL only has 2 analogue gauges while everything else of the dash is digital. It comes with a host of other features such as miles till empty, decline and incline angles as well as other useful information that you won’t get on a JK.

There is also a touch screen centre panel with controls for a host of features as well as cell phone connectivity option for Android and iPhone.

It also comes with auto on and off button which switches the engine on and off when you stopped in traffic. They were really going for economy with the JL. This feature can be turned on and off according to your preferences.


Engine Capacity and Transmission

As far as engine capacity is concerned, the 2018 JL has a re-designed 3.6 litre penistar which is a modified, more efficient version of the earlier penistar.

It comes with a 6 speed manual transmission or 8 speed automatic transmission. The 2018 JK has a 3.6 litre V6 penistar engine. It has 5 speed manual transmission and a 6 speed automatic transmission.


Jeep JK vs JL off-road

When it comes to off-road performance, there are some slight differences between the two models. Though this is not a direct performance metric, the Jeep JL comes ready to support larger tyres whereas in the JK you needed to make some modifications before you could do so.

The handling of the JL is much more responsive especially at slow speeds. This is because the steering mechanism is electric instead of hydraulic.

This further improve the fuel economy of the vehicle because the hydraulic system depends on pressure build up from the engine to perform optimally.

The entry level JL does not come with locking differentials but they are included on the Rubicon. This is a huge advantage if you are off-roading. To get this feature on the JK, you’ll have to spend a lot of money on aftermarket add ons.



One of the differences between the two models is that the JL also has extra cab space. It’s a bit roomier than the JK and also comes with a little more storage space.


Jeep JK vs JL Prices

Naturally, you would expect to pay more for the newer model than for the older one. The difference in pricing between the two models is about a $4,000 to $5,000 difference.

If you were to add some aftermarket mods to the JK to bring at par to the JL, you still won’t get the economy that the JL offers as well as the overall more rounded look.

Some would argue that the Jeep Wrangler JK has a better appeal due to its box shape, this may only apply to the diehard Jeep fanatics. For the rest of the public, they enjoy the added level of comfort and convenience that the JL brings to the table.

The JK is the Jeep that initially bridged this gap between Jeep enthusiasts and the general public due to its styling and less rugged interior. It is the reason that the phrase “mall crawling” was coined. I guess you could say that the JL is carrying on with this tradition.


Conclusion on Jeep JK vs JL

Whether you eventually settle for the JK or the JL, they are both really good Jeeps. The major differences you are going to have between the two are:

  • Better, more aerodynamic design
  • Better looking, more comfortable interior
  • More electronics
  • Improved fuel economy

The JK still offers a great Jeep experience but at a lower price. Which one you eventually go with, just remember that you are getting the ultimate experience from a true American legend designed to tame the great trails of America and the world.