The third generation of the Jeep Wrangler (affectionately referred to as the ‘JK’) will soon be hitting its tenth birthday. Over the past decade, the vehicle has taken its place among the most popular compact SUVs in the industry. Sales have been consistent, with the brand routinely selling at least 100,000 units annually since 2011.
As a result of its popularity, Wranglers are beginning to flood dealership’s lots. But, this isn’t a bad thing, as Jeep’s compact SUV offers all of the capabilities and amenities that a driver could possibly want from a vehicle. Plus, since these vehicles are used, potential customers can secure the ride without breaking the bank.
However, since there are now eight years of used JK Wranglers to choose from, it may be a bit overwhelming for customers to zero in on one particular model year. We’ve outlined the changes that accompanied each of the model years, providing you with some clarity as to which version may be best for you…
Planning for the third-generation Jeep Wrangler started all the way back in 2001, when DaimlerChrysler looked to succeed their ‘TJ’ with the new ‘JK.’ By 2003, the brand had a sketch in hand via its design competition winner Dan Zimmerman, and concept production started in 2004.
The public received several looks at the new Jeep Wrangler over the next three years. The 2005 Detroit Auto Show saw the debut of the 2005 Jeep Gladiator, a vehicle that ended up offering many of the same amenities as the Wrangler JK. The actual nameplate made its official debut at the 2006 North American International Auto Show, with CEO Tom LaSorda literally driving the vehicle onto the stage.
Sure, the third-generation Jeep Wrangler certainly resembled its predecessors; nevertheless, the SUV was completely revamped for the 2007 model year. The width was increased while the wheelbase’s length was decreased – although these changes barely influenced how the vehicle operates. The ‘Unlimited’ model provided increased exterior dimensions, while the ‘X’ model was a bit smaller.
The vehicle included a host of new features, especially in regards to safety. The new stability control allows for maximum control and drivability, as drivers will never experience excessive swaying. An anti-lock braking system and traction control system allowed for an optimal grip on the road, thus making the Wrangler a logical off-roading choice.
The vehicle was equipped with the 3.8-liter EGH engine, and that system was accompanied by the four-speed 42RLE automatic transmission or the six-speed NSG370 manual transmission. Drivers can generally expect around 202 horsepower and 237 pounds-feet of torque from the 2007 model.
After rolling out a similar Wrangler in 2008, the brand unveiled a slight update to the nameplate for the 2009 model year. These changes mostly applied to safety, as Jeep included several new preventative technologies.
The Hill Start Assist was among the most notable inclusions. The technology manipulates the brakes when the vehicle is traveling uphill or downhill. When traversing an incline, the system will keep your Wrangler from rolling backward. When negotiating a decline, the brakes will prevent the Wrangler from generating excessive speed.
Meanwhile, the Trailer Sway Control allows drivers to better monitor their hauled cargo, and the accompanying Electronic Stability Program will alert the driver if their trailer is starting to stray from the intended path.
The 2010 model improved the driving experience. Engineers recognized that it can be relatively difficult removing the Wrangler’s soft-top roof, so they revised the system to be easier to fold and open. Meanwhile, new sun visors provided more protection from those bright, warm rays.
The 2010 model also saw the UConnect system come standard on all Wrangler’s equipped with the now-defunct MyGig radio.
The model saw several changes the following year, with the revisions mostly taking place in the interior. The trim and upholstery options were composed of more luxurious materials, and a new steering wheel paired perfectly with the sportiness of the ride.
A new USB system allowed drivers to keep their smartphones juiced, and the accompanying Bluetooth audio streaming service made it possible for them to enjoy all of their favorite tunes via the vehicle’s sound system. The biggest technological inclusion was the automatic temperature control, which automatically adjusts the air conditioner or heater to provide occupants with maximum comfort.
The brand was also intent on improving the vehicle’s interior noise, thus explaining the inclusion of the larger rear windows. The improvement in size also played a significant role in the driver’s rear visibility.
A new engine is big news, which is why there was so much fanfare surrounding the release of the 2012 Wrangler. The vehicle was equipped with a 3.6-liter Pentastar V6 engine, which pumped out an incredible 285 horsepower and 260 pounds-feet of torque. The system was also relatively fuel efficient, delivering a 17 city/21 highway mile per gallon fuel efficiency.
For those seeking a used 2012 Jeep Wrangler, you won’t have any issues finding the necessary corresponding parts. Mopar ultimately produced over 250 Wrangler-centric parts for the 2012 model.
The changes to this particular model were, like many others, purely aesthetic. The Wrangler offered new contour seats and a new interior trim, and drivers could fold the rear seats with greater ease, thanks to the inclusion of a one-handed lever (as opposed to the previous two-handed system).
Ambient cabin lighting helped set the mood in the interior. Finally, one of the most significant additions was the return of the second windshield washer nozzle, and we all know the benefit of that extra squirt of water and soap.
The brand made the Jeep Wrangler even more capable of handling the harsh conditions. A new Trail Kit (highlighted by a pair of D-rings), park lamps, and a new turn signal indicator allows for maximum safety and optimal drivability. To put it over the top, Jeep also offered six new body colors, including Amp’d, Anvil, Copperhead, Flame Red, Granite Crystal, and Hydro Blue.
New paint colors (like Firecracker Red and Sunset Orange) represented another premier update for the vehicle, but engineers also slightly improved the technology offerings. A new eight-speaker sound system came standard, though customers could opt for the nine-speaker unit featuring a powerful subwoofer.
You should now have an understanding of what these individual Jeep Wranglers have to offer. While there may be some uncertainty surrounding the proper model year, there’s no denying that buyers will be happy regardless of the version.