It's a common misconception that the Jeep Wrangler descended directly from those civilian jeeps, such as the Willys MB or the Willys, that were used during World War II. Instead, the Jeep Wrangler is classified as a sport utility vehicle (SUV) that has the
capability to go off-road, increasing its flexibility greatly. Available as both a compact and mid-sized model, the Jeep Wrangler is in its third generation as of 2016.
The First Generation -- 1986 to 1995
The introduction of the Jeep Wrangler in 1986 served as a replacement for the manufacturer's CJ model. Though it had a strong and loyal fan base, sales of the CJ were rather sluggish. Originally, the Wranglers were built at a Jeep plant in Brampton,
Ontario, Canada. With the closure of that facility in 1992, however, production of the Wrangler was moved to Toledo, Ohio. This was the same plant that built World War II's much-loved Willys Jeeps.
In order to increase its appeal and to attract buyers, the American Motor Company (AMC) designed the Wrangler to offer a more comfortable ride on the road. This brand new design sported a wide track and a slightly reduced ground clearance to improve the comfort level and to make it more appealing for daily drivers. While the Wrangler still featured a leaf spring suspension that was similar to that of the CJ's, wider springs, as well as swaybars and trackbars, improved the driver's ability to handle the vehicle. Other features that make the look of the Wrangler distinct from the CJ include a larger windshield, new grille, rectangular headlights and wiper blades that come to rest on the windshield.
Until 1991, Wranglers were built using the AMC 150 I4, 2.5L engine or, as a 4.2L option, with the AMC 258 I6 engine. After 1991, a 4.0L AMC variant engine with 180 fuel-injected horsepower replaced the 4.2L AMC engine. In order to accommodate rear seatbelts, a roll cage was extended within the Wrangler in 1992. Also in 1992, Wranglers were outfitted with an electronic speedometer. The dawn of 1993 saw the option of adding anti-lock brakes to the vehicle. Four-cylinder engines were able to be paired with an optional automatic transmission in 1994. The only year that Wranglers had a body and frame that was fully
galvanized was 1995.
The tops are one of Wranglers most distinctive features and the manufacturer offered many options. These include soft tops with half doors with plastic zippered windows that were also soft and were able to be fully removed. As an option on some soft top Jeep Wrangler models, glass windows set within a conventional full frame door were available. While hard tops with a defroster and rear wiper were considered to be optional features, these came standard when full framed doors were purchased. Models with half doors featured large mirrors that had arms that could be manually adjusted while doors that were full framed featured smaller mirrors that were adjustable on their fixed arms.
This generation of Wranglers came in a number of different packages including the Sahara, Sport, Rio Grande and Laredo.Options available with three of the more popular packages -- the Islander, Laredo and Renegade -- are noted below.
- Wrangler Islander Package
Offered between 1988 and 1993, the Wrangler Islander package included options for both size engines noted above as well as a choice of colors, including Sunset Yellow, Pacific Blue and Teal. Other features included floor carpeting, a choice of either half or full doors, gray interior and highback seats and sunset graphics on hood and lower body.
- Wrangler Renegade Package
Wrangler offered an options package called the Renegade from late 1990 until 1994. While the Renegade colors were first limited to white, black or red, blue and bronze were added in later years. Some other features of the Renegade package include alloy wheels, body flares, full-size spare tire, fog lamps that were integrated into the front fenders, interval wipers and many more.
The Laredo package featured hard full doors as well as a hard top, chrome grille, rear speaker sound bar, faux leather interior,tinted windows and high-backed bucket seats made of cloth.
The Second Generation -- 1996 to 2006
This second generation Wrangler featured a number of upgrades including coil-spring suspension much like the Jeep Cherokee and round headlights. A Sport standard trim offered consumers a Dana 35 rear axle as well as a 4.0L engine, cloth seats and an AM/FM stereo radio with a cassette player. For the Sahara package, Jeep added a wider stance to the body, full steel doors, bodycolored rocker sills and exclusive decals.
This generation of Jeep Wrangler came in 15 available packages. While some of these packages, such as the 2006's Golden Eagle, offered standard options such as a 30 inch tire and wheel group, a 4.0 liter engine, interior trim, an exclusive hood and more, others provided a bit of a different experience. The Tomb Raider Edition, for example, was offered during 2003 and was limited to around 1,000 vehicles. Released as a way to promote the newest Tomb Raider movie, Lara Croft Tomb Raider: Cradle of Life, it offered Mopar accessories such as riveted fender flares, a light bar, diamond-plated bumper guard, red seatbelts, red accent stitching on the Dark Slate fabric seats and a serial number emblazoned on a Tomb Raider badge -- to name just a few. Because of these unique accessories, as well as the classic style, this Jeep Wrangler package has become one of the most soughtafter collectible Jeeps in the model's history.
The Third Generation -- 2007 to present day
For the third-generation of Jeep Wranglers, a four-door option was introduced. It also had a wider and longer wheelbase, though its overall length did not increase by much -- and in some models, it decreased. This generation also signaled the beginning of
Jeep using computer software to control nearly all of the vehicle's functions, with the notable exception of its steering. The Jeep Wrangler Unlimited is currently the only convertible designed with four doors available in the United States. This package also
provides access to a long list of other features such as a navigation system, remote keyless entry, Sirius satellite radio, an electronic stability program and more.
Numerous packages and editions were available for this third generation Jeep Wrangler. The Mountain Edition, for example, was released in 2010 and featured a black grid, black tail light protectors and a black tubular sidestep. In 2012, a version of the Jeep
Wrangler that was inspired by the video game, Call of Duty, was released. It featured 32-inch off-road tires, rear cargo mat,dashboard grab handle emblazoned with a label and accent stitching highlighting the model-specific seats. In addition to special editions and packages, the Jeep Wrangler undergoes nearly yearly model updates and refreshes.
This generation of Jeep Wranglers has also been the recipient of numerous awards. These are often grounded in the vehicle's resale value which Forbes Auto ranked the four-wheel drive convertible model as having the fourth highest resale value in 2008.Kelly Blue Book provided Jeep Wrangler with the Best Resale Value in sport utility vehicles.Kelly Blue Book also provided the vehicle with the same award in the compact sports utility vehicle category in 2012 and 2013.