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2011-2018 Jeep Wrangler JK and Wrangler Unlimited JKU

CJ series1975-76 Jeeps1997-2006 Wrangler2007-10 Wrangler2018+ Wrangler JL

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The Jeep Wrangler was unique in North America in many ways, from its strong off-road capabilities to its removable doors, fold-down front window, and removable top (cloth or fiberglass). The 2011-17 SUVs went from a "minivan" 3.8 engine to a brand new 3.6 Pentastar V6, along the way swapping out its four-speed automatic for a five-speed. It also had subtle and apparently minor aerodynamic improvements. The new engine also required, for manual transmissions, a new clutch housing, flywheel, and damper clutch.

Powertrain changes

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With the NSG-370 manual transmission (the first manual to be connected to the Pentastar V6, and a carryover from the 4.0 and 3.8), the Jeep Wrangler could do 0-60 in under 7 seconds, not so long ago sports-car territory. That's a far cry from the old "Universals."

Fitting in the longer five-speed transmission resulted in around 800 part changes; but the new automatic has a wider gear range and greater efficiency. One cost is an odd exhaust loop, which equalizes the length of the exhaust for each bank of cylinders, and may be an issue when driving over particularly difficult terrain (or may preclude use of some aftermarket skid plates).

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The Pentastar engine weighed 90 lb less than the 3.8, and dropped accessories brackets and the separate exhaust manifold. It was also 94 mm shorter than the 3.8, so the alternator could be moved up. The intake system, throttle body, and oil pan were unique to the Wrangler, to help water crossing and lubrication while at sharp angles. [2011+ Jeep Wrangler specifications]

Other changes

The 2012 Rubicon's approach and departure angles were slightly improved; the 2012 Wrangler was available with 3.21, 3.73, or 4.10 final drive axle ratios, depending on model. The Command-Trac NV241 was standard, with an optional limited slip differential is optional. The Rubicon had standard electric front and rear locking differentials, disconnecting front sway bar, and 32 inch tires.

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The 2011 Jeep Wrangler had an updated instrument panel and new storage areas, with upgraded materials; a lockable console and upgraded door armrests had more comfortable touch points, and the center stack was easier to reach and operate. Heated, power mirrors became available, while larger rear windows increased visibility. Jeep designed more ergonomic armrests, door pulls, and locks.

Hill Descent Control became standard on all Wranglers; starting with the 2012 Wrangler, stability control worked both through the brakes and by adjusting engine torque.

Steering-wheel controls were added for the radio, cruise control, hands-free phone, and other functions, and a new USB interface connected thumb drives and most MP3 players to the radio, with streaming Bluetooth audio as well. More 12V outlets were added, with an optional 115-volt outlet (150 watts).

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The center stack was streamlined, with a storage area on top, and a bin under the rear carpet. A new center console was placed at a better height, and had a dual stage lid tray and lock. Numerous little Jeep logos were placed throughout the cabin, along with hex-head bolts.

Other changes included more sound insulation and body-color hard tops for the Sahara. The 2011 Jeep Wrangler colors were Detonator Yellow, Deep Cherry Red, Sahara Tan, Cosmos Blue and Bright White, with Mango Tango available in Canada and possibly the US after launch.

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Production of the 2011 Jeep Wrangler and Wrangler Unlimited began in August at the Toledo Assembly Complex in Toledo, Ohio.

Criterion Hummer


2012 Rubicon
2012 Unlimited
Sport (min tire)
Running ground clearance 10"9 - 9.6"10"10.2n/a8.79.4"
Approach angle (degrees) 4230-3344.344.644.440.637
Departure angle (degrees) 372640.440.640.737.431.5
Breakover angle (degrees) 25?25.525.520.917.822
Gas mileage (EPA, 4WD) 16/2017/2217/1917/2116/2117/2118/22

The prices went up; with destination charges, the Sport started at $22,845, Sahara at $28,770, and Rubicon at $30,795; Unlimited added around $3,500.

Why is the engine "North-South" instead of "East-West"?
Bob Sheaves wrote: "... There needs to be room for the tires when turned to the full lock position. A V-type engine, being wider, pushes the tires out to a wider track width to obtain a tight enough turning circle, which places critical loads on the kingpin inclination axis and the steering knuckle, which almost requires an independent front suspension, increasing the demands on all suspension parts to avoid "losing control" of the ground contact patch to maintain proper traction in all possible suspension locations." (2012 Wrangler has a turning radius of 34.9 feet; Wrangler Unlimited, 41.2 feet).

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For 2011, Rubicon got the "Rock-Trac®" 4x4, using an electronic sway bar disconnect, Tru-Lok locking differentials (front and rear), and NV2410R transfer case with 4:1 gear ratio, fiving the Wrangler a 73:1 gear ratio. [Thanks to Justin Trevor for his clarification.]

Standard Wrangler 4x4s got Command-Trac I®, with shift-on-the-fly 4WD (at speeds under 60 mph), low gear, and neutral setting for towing without uncoupling the driveshafts. In low gear, for 2011 models, torque was multiplied by 2.72:1 (a 3.73 was also made available starting in 2012, and Rubicons have higher ratios). The front axle is a Dana 30, the rear axle is a Dana 44; a Trac-Lok differential is available.

Towing of up to 3,500 was allowed in 2012 models by the five-speed transmission, which also included electronic range select on all 2012 and newer Jeep Wranglers. 2012 model maximum trailer weight on all models is, however, 2,000 lb unless specially equipped. Payload is 1,000 lb on Sport, 880 lb on Sahara, and 892 lb on Rubicon.

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The gauges were in the same places as in 2010 Wranglers, but were less "bold," with bright, rounded chrome trim replacing swaths of dull silver plastic. The separation of digital displays has been removed. The doors were smoother and not "chunky."

The 2011 Jeep Wrangler was otherwise similar, under the skin, to the 2010 models.

The Jeep Wrangler

Descending from the original Army MA/MB Jeeps of World War II, the Wrangler remains the Jeep that all others derive their reputation from. Each new redesign is controversial.

Low-pressure twin-tube shock absorbers were tuned for better balance between jounce and rebound. Jeep Wrangler Sahara and Rubicon models had standard high-pressure monotube shocks, with Low Speed Tunable (LST) valve technology. The recirculating-ball steering had a cross-car steering linkage system for stiffness and precision.

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The Jeep Wrangler was available in Europe with a 2.8 liter VM Motori diesel engine, upgraded for the 2011 model year. All Wranglers for North America and Europe were built at Chrysler's Toledo Assembly Plant in Toledo, Ohio.

Jeep Wrangler Oscar Mike for military buyers

200 Jeep Wrangler Oscar Mikes were sold to the overseas military community with special pricing. The name does not refer to the movie award, but to the military phonetic alphabet -- Oscar and Mike stands for O and M. The phrase "Oscar Mike" means either "On the Move" or "On Mission."

The Oscar Mikes were sold in black, green, and Sahara Tan; the hard top was standard with some Dual Tops made. The exterior included black tail-lamp guards, painted fender flares, 17" Rubicon wheels, tubular side steps, 32 inch tires, and mineral-gray bumper appliqués. Inside, it had grab handles, anodized bezels, dark saddle/light frost French-stitched vinyl armrest and console lid covers, slush mats, and logo patches in military-style canvas.

2011-17 Jeep Wrangler Axles

Bob Sheaves wrote:

The Dana (Spicer) axles are live axles in 44 size and, in the J8, a 60 size in the rear.

The need for weight reduction versus strength causes a conflict of requirements. Where the TJ used a front 30 and 35C rear, the Rubicon used a 44 front and rear with electronically controlled locking differentials. The Rubicon actually used the same tubes as the 30 tubes in front and 35 C tubes in the rear to keep suspension attachments the same and to keep the weight down. The Dana series are the small-block Chevy of axles. You can mix and match nearly anything, from an OEM standpoint.
AutoTechnician added:

There's a lot to an axle. The JK Wrangler's Dana 44 has around a 1.625" diameter pinion shaft, an 8.9" ring gear and 1.41" diameter axle shafts. The Dana 35, in comparison, has a 7.5" ring gear and 1.09" axle shaft diameters. The size of shafts doesn't necessarily indicate their strength, but, generally, the bigger the ring gear and axle shafts in an axle, the stronger they are. There are many exceptions to this.

While the tubes might be the same size, the Dana 44 offers a stronger pinion and ring gear, a stronger differential, stronger axle shafts, and larger wheel bearings.

Dana offers a lot of customization. For example, the Isuzu Rodeos and Amigos came from the factory with Dana 44s, but used a much, much larger pinion shaft that had Dana 60 bearings and yokes. You can also see this customization in all the various independent-front-suspension flavors of Dana differentials that use the same core, but with wildly varying housing shapes and designs.
Jeep Wrangler changes by year


Norm Layton wrote that, because the Call of Duty MW3 special editions, which has American Expedition Vehicles (AEV) bumpers, all 2012 Wranglers built after November 2011 have AEV bumper mounting bolts pre-drilled from the factory. This makes installation of an AEV bumper easier.

2013 Jeep Wrangler

  • Tenth Anniversary Rubicon
  • Revised seat comfort; auto-dimming rearview mirror with LED map light; better tire pressure monitoring; LED courtesy lights; and new wheels for Sahara and Rubicon

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  • Dual windshield wiper nozzles, premium soft top, optional Alpine 7-speaker stereo and 368-watt head unit, better soft top for Wrangler Unlimited, with a "rear spring lift assist."
  • Dual note horn standard except on right-hand-drive exports; footwell and cupholder lighting; trailer sway dampening. Katzkin leather optional, late.
  • 17 x 7.5 polished gray wheels replace Painted Satin Carbon on Rubicon, and Painted Satin Carbon replaced Aluminum Painted Silver on Sahara.
  • Paint colors were black, bright white, Crush, deep cherry red pearl, Dozer, Geccko, True Blue Pearl, Billet Metallic, Commando Green Pearl, Dune, Rock Lobster, and Rugged Brown.

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Following the release of the Jeep Grand Cherokee Trailhawk, a more-off-road capable Grand Cherokee, Jeep released a new Wrangler Moab using the same new Kevlar-reinforced Goodyear Silent Armor tires.

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The Jeep Wrangler Moab, based on the Sahara, had Rubicon alloy wheels painted gloss black, with 245/75R17 tires, an anti-spin rear differential, optional electronic rear locking differential, winch-ready steel bumpers, and rock rails. It used the "power dome" hood, black fuel filler door, and tail lamp guards.

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Interior modifications included black or saddle leather seats, slush mats, and gray trim on the vent rings, grab handles and steering wheel spokes. The Jeep Wrangler Moab was sold in Crush, Dozer, Rock Lobster, Gecko, Black and Bright White paint.

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2014 Jeep Wrangler Changes

Minor options changes particularly affected the Sport; parking/turn signal lamps got clear lenses and amber bulbs instead of the other way 'round, and paint colors changed to Anvil, Granite Crystal, Copperhead, and Amp'd replace True Blue, Rugged Brown, Rock Lobster, Command, and Deep Cherry Red Crystal Pearl.

The Jeep Wrangler Rubicon X had a winch-capable bumper, wider rock rails, and more goodies. Based on the Rubicon, it added Goodrich KM 255/75R17 tires, black/polished wheels, black steel off-road bumpers with removable front caps, and a dual-intake Power Dome hood.

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It also had rock rails, a black fuel filler door, red-silhouette decals, Premium Sunrider soft top, heated black leather seats up front, X-styled gauge cluster, trip computer, slush mats, and unique axle locker and sway-bar disconnect switches.

The Jeep Wrangler Freedom III was the Sport S with graphics and a built in $250 donation to the United Service Organizations (USO). It had sparkle silver 17-inch wheels, gray grille and bumper inserts, body-color wheel arches, rock rails, tail lamp guards, and a Sunrider soft top with a tinted rear window. Inside, black fabric seats had embroidered logos.

New paints include Amp'd, Anvil, Copperhead, Flame Red, Granite Crystal and Hydro Blue (Freedom III only). Billet Silver, Bright White, Black and Dune continue on for 2014.


Buyers get a standard eight-speaker audio system with a new sound bar, and an optional 552-watt Premium Alpine Audio Package with a subwoofer under the cargo floor. Finally, Jeep included a toolkit with T-30, T-35, T-40 and T-50 torx heads and a ratchet for taking off the doors, roof, and bumper caps (on Wrangler Rubicon Hard Rock Edition). Sport got an optional black steel and 31-inch Dueler tire package.

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Karl noted the Austrian "Jeep Wrangler Fiskal LKW," which replaced the rear seats and rear windows with sheet metal to avoid the country's 20% value-added tax.

  • The Jeep Wrangler Rubicon Hard Rock was the prior 2014 Rubicon X with the new Alpine Premium Audio and a new low-gloss black grille with high-gloss black inserts.
  • The Willys Wheeler and Freedom Edition returned; Jeep donated $250 for each Wrangler Freedom Edition to the United Service Organization (USO).
  • New paints were Baja Yellow, Copper Brown, Firecracker Red, Sunset Orange and Tank. Anvil, Billet Silver, Black, Bright White and Hydro Blue continue.

The Black Bear Edition had rock rails and other additions to the Sport S. 2016 Sahara updates covered wheels, a body-color bumper, and an Olive Green interior option; and Rubicon Hard Rock, Freedom Edition, and Willys Wheeler all returned. Midyear, a single Salute concept was built, with a manual transmission, and military tires, steel wheels, wood bumpers, and numerous custom touches; the doors and rollbar were taken out.

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2017 Jeep Wrangler

The most exciting 2017 Jeep Wrangler news is the LED headlights and fog lamps, standard on Wrangler Sahara and Rubicon, and optional on Sport and Sport S. These are the first use of LED headlights on any Chrysler, Dodge, or Jeep.

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The company is also adding a cold weather group option to Sport S and Rubicon, including 17-inch BF Goodrich KO2 tires, an engine block heater, slush mats, power convenience group, heated seats, and remote start - just the thing for upper Wisconsin and most of Canada.

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New colors are Chief, Acid Yellow, Gobi, and Xtreme Purple - the last of which became available on any Wrangler rather than special models.

[See 2011+ Jeep Wrangler specifications]

The 2018 Jeep Wrangler JL: suspension aluminum vs steelopen or fixed roof pickup
body engineering
weight, strength, and safetytransmissionsengines

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