DanW

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After owning 3 Wranglers over a span of nearly 30 years, including 3 years and 41k miles with the JL, my humble opinion is that it is. And the others I've owned have been great, so that's saying something. I've put all 3, including a YJ, JK, and JL, through plenty of off-road adventures, and took everything I've thrown at them. The JL just does it with the most ease and confidence.

So why this thread? Honestly, I'm sick of seeing the silly thread "Is the JL the Worst Jeep Ever?" blasting away everyday on a Jeep JL forum. So, I saw this article and it sheds some light on just how ruggedly built the JL is, especially compared to the JK. (No knock on the JK. I still own my 2008 JKUR and LOVE it.) Best Jeep ever is a grandiose statement and honestly, until another wins a world war, I think the Willys MB has the title. But as civilian Jeeps go, its fair game.

Anyway, check out this cool article by someone who rents out a fleet of Jeeps. She is uniquely qualified to chime in on the durability of the JL, as her Jeeps face serious rental abuse. For the record, my JK has never broken an axle housing or any other suspension or drivetrain part, for that matter. I credit that to maxing out at 33" tires and not hanging a bunch of weight on it. Enjoy!


JL Article From Motor Trend:

Editorial: An in-depth look at the Jeep JL Wrangler from a person who has owned 41 of them.

January 15, 2021

Editor's note: Nena Barlow has owned 41 Jeep JL Wranglers between her two Jeep rental companies, Barlow Adventures Moab in Moab, Utah, and Sedona Jeep Rentals in Sedona, Arizona. She has 25 Jeep JL Wranglers in rotation at a given time. This story is based on her experiences with the vehicle.

As we come to the three-year mark with the Jeep JL Wrangler, we have learned a lot of their particular behaviors, differences over previous models, and quirks.

Let me start by saying that the huge drama we expected with a major model update never happened when we switched from the Jeep JK Wrangler to the Jeep JL Wrangler in 2018. When we had switched from the Jeep TJ Wrangler to the Jeep JK Wrangler in 2007, there was drama. Without dragging out all of the dirty laundry, suffice to say that we had the kind of drama that included the words "I broke the Jeep in half," or "I went through water and the Jeep won't start," and some that involved the fire department.

Mechanically Tough
Mechanically, the toughness of the Jeep JL Wrangler has astounded us. We have not snapped a single axlehousing. We have not had a single sway bar disconnect failure. We have not had a single guest stranded on a trail with a mechanical failure (though there have been some dead batteries—more on that in a moment). When someone asks for my advice on buying a Jeep to build, I can honestly say that it takes far less to armor up a Jeep JL Wrangler for hard trail use than it does a Jeep JK Wrangler.

Things To Like
Some of the things we are grateful for in the Jeep JL Wrangler are the quicker drivetrains, better fuel efficiency, and cool gadget accessories. The gadgets range from the heated steering wheel, which you can program to come on automatically when the outside temperature is below 40 degrees F, to Apple car play, which enables you to mirror many of your favorite phone apps right onto the screen of your Jeep—my current favorite is Gaia GPS. We also like the built-in auxiliary switches that make hooking up things like off-road lights faster than you can order an LED multi-colored light bar on Amazon Prime. And now, the 2021 Jeep JL Wrangler Rubicon models even come with the coveted Off-Road Plus and Select Speed Control buttons. One of my favorite options is what I call "magic door handles," which means you only need to have the key fob somewhere in the vicinity of your body, and the doors lock or unlock with a touch of your hand; no more fishing the key out and finding the correct tiny button on the fob.

JL Wrangler And JK Wrangler Differences
If you had a Jeep JK Wrangler or older Wrangler, it will take you a while to get used to some of the differences in a Jeep JL Wrangler. There are things like a transfer case shifter that is just enough different from a Jeep JK Wrangler to really throw you off, the gas-saving stop-start feature that makes you think you stalled the first 100 times it happens, and the auto-park feature that doesn't let you move when your doors are open. And you think you know how to jumpstart a dead battery? The stop-start battery runs the show, and you have to address that through one of the terminals on the side of the fuse box, not the positive terminal on the visible 12V battery on top.

High Tire Pressure From Factory
If you haven't owned a Jeep Wrangler at all before, there can be some questionable issues. The number one thing that seems to befuddle new owners is that the vehicle doesn't, and never will, handle like an Audi. But to complicate the issue, we have noticed that many of our new Jeep JL Wranglers came from the factory with 45 psi in the tires—that's more than 20 percent higher tire pressure than recommended on the factory placard, and it makes the Jeep handle like you are trying to balance on a beach ball. With the tire pressure lowered to 37 psi, it's a whole new Jeep.

Wind Noise
Then there is wind noise. In spite of a windshield slanted 7 degrees more than the previous generation, the Jeep JL Wrangler is still less aerodynamic than a cow. Welcome to Jeep life!

The Jeep That Communicates
Love it or hate it, one thing that the Jeep JL Wrangler is very good at is communication. It will display a myriad of messages in the center dashboard to inform you of everything from low tire pressure to proper shifting sequence to sensing hundreds of different possible issues. My personal Jeep JL Wrangler even sends me an email when she would like an oil change. Of course, this only works if someone is reading the messages.

In The Dirt
And now we get to the dirt. Though much as has been improved on the Jeep Wrangler JL, there are a few new oddities we have found, too. With the optional rear ParkSense feature paired with the plastic bumpers, the sensors are picky about the offset of the spare tire. We found that a wheel with a backspacing of 5.2 inches, like the AEV Savagre, made these Jeeps happy, while the most common 4.75-inch backspacing makes them beep incessantly whenever you are in reverse.

Cold Weather Steering Surprise
Then there is the cold weather steering surprise. The colder the weather is, the more reluctant the left turns are when the Jeep JL Wrangler has its first start-up on a chilly morning. We have learned to combat that with a little warmup time, and then wiggle the steering wheel back and forth before you hop right out in traffic. As with many things, this was worse on earlier Jeep JL Wranglers, and a dealership software update seemed to soften the issue.

2019 ETorque Heat Stroke
As of this writing, the only operating difficulty we have encountered is limited to only the 2019 Jeep JL Wranglers equipped with the 2.0L turbo eTorque engine. These will start to lose voltage in extreme heat—I mean extreme—like 105 degrees F while crawling along up-and-down rocks in 4-Lo all day long in the sun. If you are driving and you notice the voltage drop, you simply park and turn it off for a few minutes, and open and close the door. Seriously, the "turn it off and turn it back on" trick. The Jeep resets and will carry on. If you don't notice it and wait until the Jeep dies on the trail, you may need to wait about 20-30 minutes, but then it will start right back up again. This seems to be a programming safeguard only found on the 2019 2.0L turbo eTorque when the MGU (basically, the alternator) gets really hot. It's inconvenient, but not a big problem, and nothing you will encounter on 2018s, 2020s, or any other.

Choices Galore
Finally, the last thing I expected to complain about was having too many choices, but I have to say that it is exhausting when someone brings up the topic of which engine to buy. "Well, are you looking at a 2018-2020 3.6L V-6, or a 2021 3.6L V-6 eTorque? Or are you talking a 2018-2019 2.0L turbo eTorque or 2020 2.0L turbo? Or the 2020 diesel? Or the 2021 4xe?" Coming from a decade of only one choice of engine, it's like gorging in the candy store. Although I love having choices and am a huge proponent of both diesel and electric options, it's difficult to keep up, especially with the aftermarket parts we need, like extra belly armor. One size does not fit all.

I guess if "too many choices" is my biggest complaint, I am actually a pretty happy girl. And, yes, the Jeep JL Wrangler is, no questions in my book, by far still the best Jeep Wrangler ever made.





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DanW

DanW

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I love my JL, but I still argue the TJ is, hands down, the best Wrangler Jeep ever made.
I could see that argument, but struggle with the frame rust. The JK frames hold up MUCH better. My Yj frame also did better. (1993 model year. Some YJ years were terrible for this.) Maybe the later TJ years are better, but every used TJ I've seen either has the issue or the issue has been repaired. I did ask a big TJ fan and local Jeep mod shop owner who is a fellow member of a Jeep club which year to look for and he said they all have the issue. He makes more money fixing frames than he does on any mods. Maybe down in the sun belt they do better?

But the TJ is the father of the JK and JL and was a real ground breaker with its4 link coil spring suspension. It took Jeeps to a whole new level, for sure!
 

cOtter

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Not even close!!!!!

best Jeep ever..... what started it all. If not for this, there would be no discussion in my opinion.
My $0.02
81C55F05-CA5F-4D97-B5FF-FA750C60396A.jpeg
 

AMKRubicon610

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this makes me happy to hear, thanks for posting this. I've always had RAM's, just ordered a JLUR Rubicon and will be trading in my 2019 Rebel. Love the truck, but i think the jeep will be a lot better for me plus im excited to be driving a manual again.

I'm new to jeeps, so excited to be in something that you guys feel is refined enough to be a solid daily while still having that jeep character! Looking forward to talking with you all
 

CT_LFC

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It depends how you look at it. When it first came out everyone was so complimentary. When the Bronco came out it suddenly became an unreliable POS, more or less.
 

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I love the TJ for sentimental reasons. I don't think there has ever been a better looking Jeep than a TJ Rubi on 35's.

That being said, I loved my JKR and my wife's current JLUR. Her Jeep is crazy comfortable and capable with all the niceties that I always wished my JKR had.
 

cOtter

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With the post above..... I will add.

I have always wanted a wrangler. I picked up my ‘20 JL in early September of 2019. It is by far the most enjoyable vehicle that I have ever owned.
 

Zandcwhite

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It's the same debate across all automotive forums. Some guys love the faded memory of past vehicles, usually choked full of inaccuracies. The 4.0 was bulletproof, and made decent torque. The horsepower was absent, the trannies weren't geared low enough so even a Rubicon on 35's couldn't get out of it's own way on the street or maintain speed on mountain grades. Sure you could gear them to 4.88's, but don't plan on ever driving 65+. Tire openings were tiny so you had to put 4" of lift on to run 35's. The control arms were so short that handling was sketchy, especially after a lift. Once you modded everything from the factory from gears to long arms to bumpers and tire carriers you'd have a great off roader that was marginal on the road. Take a new jl rubicon with any of the engine options and it's a sports car compared to the tj. Handles better, soaks up bumps better, accelerates harder, stops better. In virtually every measurable way it's better on the road. Factor in the factory 33's with room for 35's, the much deeper 1st gear, the much improved suspension geometry, the factory steel bumpers, the factory reinforced tailgate option, etc and it destroys the tj off road in stock form and even on the same level of build. To get a tj to the capability of our jl you'd need a 6" mid to long arm lift and trimming to clear the 37's, new axles, geared at least 5.38 to try and hang off the line, a new means to hold the oversized spare, and you'd still be slower, have no chance of cruising out to moab at 85mph on the freeway, less comfortable, louder and so on. Our JLUR needed a spacer lift and shocks to accomplish all of those things. 37's clear no problem, the factory gears and axles have held up fine, the spare hangs on the factory tailgate, accelerates better than any stock tj let alone one on 37's. Pulls mountain grades with ease. Is more comfortable, quieter, handles great, rides smoother, etc. Of the 10 jeeps we've owned and dozens I've driven the JL is hands down the best jeep ever made.
 

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When i think "Jeep" my reaction is to think TJ but maybe it's because they came out when i was 18 and were my first Jeep experience as an adult. The CJ's are freaking awesome though, and i would own one someday in addition to the JL.

I do think he JL is a vast improvement from the JK who is made look from the 3rd world by the JL, especially inside.
 

four low

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I agree that the JL is the "best" Wrangler for me ; 2018 base Sport 2 Dr, only options 2.0T, A/C, hard top, LSD. Its fun, fast, frugal on fuel, great handling, capabilities, comfort.
I've owned everything from MBs up, and until the JL, had another vehicle for those qualities listed above.
My JL is the first Wrangler that can be the " only" vehicle, don't need another to fill in for any reason. So many little things, like the full length rain gutters on the hard top, stronger exoskeleton, standard side air bags, that glorious 8 spd auto, and the Fast and Furious Turbo, outboard rear shocks, evic that tells you everything about fluid temps, pressures, rear camera, so many pluses.. Every 10 years we are treated to a Sequel that does not disappoint...
Wranglers make the Future a happy anticipation..
 

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It’s good to see this thread I’ll be watching to see how it progresses.
I am still up in the air on building another TJ this time an Unlimited or just biting the bullet and dropping 47K on a new JL.
 
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It’s good to see this thread I’ll be watching to see how it progresses.
I am still up in the air on building another TJ this time an Unlimited or just biting the bullet and dropping 47K on a new JL.
Love your avatar, btw. God help me if I were to stumble across a WWII Jeep for the right price. That might cost me some doghouse time if I showed up at home with one. But they are just soooo great. I met a guy in Italy on a Jeep forum that explores all of his country in a 1944 or 45 and just loves it. Drives it every day.
 

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