In case you aren’t aware about the different types of used Jeep Wrangler generations floating around on the market, I’ll fill you in. There are multiple generations defined by a pair of numbers: CJ, YJ, TJ/LJ, and JK. What are they based on? They’re all chassis codes for the different generations. Two of the most popular Wrangler generations to buy used are TJ and JK, JK being the most recent (and current) generation produced by Jeep. Therefore, you’re most likely privy to the debate happening online right now over which Wrangler generation is better.
The common verdict is that the JK generation is the better one to buy for off-roading. But, why? Here’s the real reason.
The JK Experienced Revolutionary Changes
The JK Wrangler generation experienced revolutionary changes. Perhaps the biggest change is the size increase. While there is some debate over whether the JK Wrangler is a full-size SUV, the increase in size is definitely noticeable. It also marks the first time a Jeep Wrangler has been offered as both a two- or four-door model; the four-door dubbed the Wrangler Unlimited.
With the size increase of the JK models, the axles also increased, making them beefier and stronger. Don’t worry, the JK Wrangler still has the same 30/35 Dana axles. They’re just wider than the narrower axles found on the TJs. While the suspension between the two remains relatively the same, that’s not the case for some other parts of the Jeep.
It’s not just the axle that had to change in order to effectively get the JK Jeeps through off-road trails. The smaller TJ might have been perfectly fine powered by a standard four-cylinder engine (or optional inline-six), but the larger JK model needs a standard V6. Not only did this engine improve power output for off-roading, but it also helped the Wrangler’s fuel-efficiency and on-road performance.
The TJ Wrangler Deserves Some Credit Though
The TJ Wrangler came before the JK Wrangler, and ended up replacing the YJ generation. The main reason the TJ generation was such a big step for the Jeep Wrangler lineup is because it was the first coil spring Wrangler ever produced. It handled better on the road, had a smoother ride, and improved articulation. This was all thanks to the coil springs, and is why the TJ and JK Wranglers are the two most popular types of used Wranglers to buy today. Therefore, the TJ deserves some credit. After all, it did – and still does – represent a huge turning point in Jeep’s history.
Two or four-door body-style options, larger axles, and a stronger and more fuel-efficient engine. All of these updates were made for one simple reason: because of the overall size increase of the JK Wrangler — which is the revolutionary change it experienced, making all-terrain adventures all the more fun and easier to approach. Any Wrangler from the JK generation can take on highways or off-road trails better than any of the previous generations. Granted, this type of Wrangler might cost you a bit more than a TJ model, but it’s well worth it.