Going With Your Gut: Making the Jump Into a New Jeep Wrangler

Updated on Jan 10, 2024

Especially with the Wrangler JL’s upcoming facelift for the 2024 model year, it might be time to hang up your aging Jeep YJ, TJ, or JK’s keys for the new model; but how can you be sure? Are you willing to trade history for amenities, character for convenience, and the raw Jeep experience for a cushy daily driver? 

In this article, we’re weighing the pros and cons of ditching the beloved Jeep in your driveway for a brand new JL replacement, including the mass amounts of technology, smooth and efficient powertrains, luxurious convenience features, plush ride quality, and the overall driving experience. If you’re on the verge of upgrading, stay tuned to see what you could miss out on! 

Why Buy a Jeep in the First Place?

It’s important to understand just what Jeep ownership signifies; to put things simply, why do millions of drivers on the road opt for a Jeep Wrangler in the first place?


Jeep has a rich and decorated history, most notably in its military service. Beginning with the Willys MB in WWII-era Europe, when the title “Jeep” was nothing more than slang rather than a trademarked brand name, Jeeps carried Allied soldiers across the western front, transporting high-ranking officials and reconnaissance crews from city to city, camp to camp, and battlefield to battlefield. 

From that point on, Jeeps became synonymous with valor, glory, and Americana, as made evident by the instant success of the first civilian model, the CJ-2A, and every other model that followed suit.  

Driving Experience

One of the most endearing features of every Jeep, especially CJs and pre-JL Wrangler generations, is the model’s driving experience. No early Wrangler (or any model pre-2018, for that matter) feels necessarily polished–in a good way. No self-respecting Jeeper expects Range-Rover-esque amenities from a Jeep Wrangler, and why would you? 

When you’re blasting through backroads or maneuvering through low-speed obstacles on a dirt trail, you anticipate doing so with the wide-open sky above your head. Yeah, leaves, dirt, and the occasional bug may hitch a ride in the passenger seat, but that’s part of the charm! 

Jeeps are built to drive, and faintly supportive seats, minimalistic interior, practically non-existent sound deadening, and the familiar noises and scents of a raucous inline 6-cylinder powerplant are so effortlessly pure; it’s almost a shame to add heated leather seats, massive infotainment displays, and an insulated hard top.

Off-Road Capabilities

Jeeps aren’t just an American icon but an off-road icon as well! You’ll be hard-pressed to find a single trail in the U.S. without a Wrangler, CJ, or even an XJ dominating the terrain. Jeep's popularity on the trail is for a few reasons, namely Jeep’s compact size, off-road centric suspension, solid front and rear axles, and 4wd capabilities, and that’s just the factory equipment! 

Jeeps have a substantial aftermarket presence that’s geared almost exclusively for off-road performance, including lift kits, wheels and tires, locking differentials, and more! 

How Does the Jeep Wrangler JL Stack Up?

Now that we understand the significant takeaways of Jeep Wrangler ownership, how does the newest generation Wrangler compare? In this section, we’ll look at some pros and cons of 2018+ Wrangler ownership, contrasting the modern Wrangler’s features and characteristics with that of its predecessors.


Arguably the most significant differences between Wrangler generations are the features and comfort; after all, we’ve come a long way from the sheet metal dashes, analog gauges, and low-back buckets of early Jeep CJs! 

The Jeep Wrangler JL is an entirely new experience. As soon as you sit behind the wheel, you’ll note the comfort and bolstering of the JL’s bucket seats, with 2024 models offering 12-way power adjustability for the first time in the Wrangler’s 35+ years of production! 

A massive infotainment display, digital gauge cluster, heated seats and steering wheel, and a front-facing off-road camera are some of the numerous available features–a far cry from your CJ, YJ, TJ, or even JK’s interior! Enhanced sound deadening and premium sound systems help to drown out road and engine noise, making for a quiet and luxurious experience.


There’s no debate; the Jeep Wrangler JL offers a significantly heightened sense of luxury with its numerous amenities and unmatched comfort, but is that really what you’re looking for from a Jeep Wrangler? Depending on which side of the aisle you sit on, these features can be a benefit or a downside. Whereas Jeep purists may despise the countless creature comforts, modern Jeepers and those planning to daily drive their Wrangler will likely revel in the added luxury.


Under the hood of a new Jeep JL, you’ll find one of several modern, fuel-injected powertrains, including the 3.6L Pentastar V6, 2.0L Hurricane I4 turbo (MHEV and PHEV), or 6.4L HEMI V8. These familiar powertrains can be found across MOPAR’s entire vehicle lineup, resulting in smooth, passenger-car-like power delivery and efficiency from every option; once again, a far cry from the AMC inline 6-cylinders that treated early Wrangler generations to brash, noisy, and somewhat unrefined power.


Once again, the Wrangler JL is far more polished than its predecessors in the powertrain department. With Chrysler’s acquisition of the Jeep brand, each generation has grown considerably more refined, but is that what the average Jeeper wants from a Wrangler? While a smooth and efficient power plant is excellent for daily drivers and cruisers, there’s something so natural about a shaky, noisy, torquey I6 stuffed into a Wrangler’s engine bay, especially when paired with a manual gearbox. 

If you’re a lover of vintage Jeeps, you’ll undoubtedly scoff at the modern hearts found in the Wrangler JL’s engine bay; however, for a new Jeep owner or a daily driver candidate, the JL’s added power and refinement are appreciated.


Another major difference between the early Jeep Wrangler generations and the JL is the suspension. While there isn’t a single Wrangler that can’t hold its own off-road, CJ and YJ models suffer from their leaf-sprung suspension compared to the multi-link, coil-sprung axles of the TJ, JK, and JL. From a driveability and off-road performance perspective, the multi-link suspension is simply superior!


From a driveability standpoint, the Wrangler JL is an entirely new beast compared to previous generations, especially CJs and YJs. This is a factor where not even Jeep purists can complain or argue, unless you’re a glutton for punishment, backaches, and feeling every pebble, bump, and dip in the road!


Finally, let’s touch on aesthetics. For the most part, every parent company–Willys, Kaiser, AMC, and Chrysler, included–have done a phenomenal job with the Wrangler’s aesthetics, aside from AMC’s rectangular headlight fiasco from 1987–1995…but one flaw in decades of production isn’t too shabby!  

The Wrangler JL is no exception, featuring Jeep’s iconic square tub, flat fenders, protruding square tail lights, iconic 7-slot grille, and rounded headlights.


If you’re looking to upgrade to a Wrangler JL, aesthetics likely aren't a concern. Though everyone is entitled to their opinion, the Wrangler JL’s design is a modern reimagining of classic Jeep styling cues. It’s a linear progression from the JK that’s neither too similar nor too drastically different, resulting in a design that appeases nearly every Jeeper, critics and fans alike!

Should You Upgrade Your Garage with a Wrangler JL?

And now, for the culmination of our efforts, should you trade in your YJ, TJ, or JK for a Wrangler JL? Ultimately, it’s up to preference. 

Comparing a Wrangler JL to an early Jeep is a bit like comparing apples to oranges; sure they’re both fruits, but you won’t reach for the keys to an apple when you really want to drive an orange…or something like that. The truth is, while early Jeep generations and Wrangler JLs have their place in the Jeep world, they don’t necessarily overlap, and that’s alright! 

Would we replace a beloved CJ or TJ Unlimited with a brand-new Wrangler JL? Definitely not; however, would we park one in our garage next to a vintage Jeep? Without a doubt!

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