Jeep Wrangler TJ Overview

Updated on Jan 11, 2024

Over the years, the Jeep Wrangler TJ has stood out among previous and later generations. As the platform that kicked off factory multi-link, solid-axle suspension front and rear, the off-road inspired Rubicon package, and the last model to feature the venerable and beloved 4.0L inline six-cylinder, the Jeep Wrangler TJ is a thing of legend. 

In this article, we’re taking a deep dive into the illustrious Jeep Wrangler TJ, covering everything from its humble beginnings to the parts that made, and continue to make, the generation such a popular and successful off-road chassis.


Before the TJ came the YJ, and before that was a long line of CJs (Civilian Jeeps) that kicked off the modern 4x4 revolution. The CJ platform, most notably beginning with the hyper-popular CJ-2A and moving to the well-known CJ-5, CJ-6, CJ-7, and CJ-8, laid the blueprint for generations to come. While the YJ sported an updated interior and characteristic square headlights, the same leaf-sprung front and rear suspension technology persisted. It wasn’t until 1997 that Jeep debuted the Wrangler’s much-needed redesign in the form of the next-generation TJ. 

Don’t let the round headlights and trademark 7-slot grille fool you; the Jeep Wrangler TJ was the most significant redesign in that brand’s history, besides maybe the transition from the Willys Quad to the MB. The new model featured an 80-percent redesign, including the powerful 4.0L fuel-injected inline 6-cylinder from the Jeep Cherokee and an innovative quadralink suspension consisting of solid front and rear axles with a multi-link setup. The immense success of the TJ led the generation through 9 years of service with few major revisions; however, the later years did see the addition of the Rubicon edition and extended-wheelbase Wrangler Unlimited. 

MOPAR officially halted production of the TJ in 2007 with the release of the hyper-popular Wrangler JK and JKU; however, the TJ still holds a special place in the hearts of Jeep enthusiasts and is often viewed as the quintessential Wrangler.

Jeep Wrangler TJ Specification Rundown

Model Year




  • 4.0L AMC Inline 6

  • 2.5L AMC Inline 4

  • 4.0L AMC Inline 6

  • 2.4L PowerTech


  • AX-5 5-Speed Manual

  • NV3550 5-Speed Manual

  • 30RH 3-Speed Automatic

  • 32RH 3-Speed Automatic

  • NV1500 5-Speed Manual

  • NV3550 5-Speed Manual

  • 42RLE 4-Speed Automatic


  • 181 hp at 4,600 RPM

  • 120 hp at 5,400 RPM

  • 181 hp at 4,600 RPM

  • 141 hp at 5,200 RPM


  • 222 lb/ft at 3,500 RPM

  • 140 lb/ft at 2,800 RPM

  • 222 lb/ft at 3,500 RPM

  • 158 lb/ft at 4,000 RPM

Transfer Case

  • NV231 Command-Trac

  • NV231 Command-Trac

  • NV241 Rock-Trac (Rubicon)

Axle (Front)

Dana 30

  • Dana 30

  • Dana 44 (Rubicon)

Axle (Rear)

Dana 35

  • Dana 35

  • Dana 44 (Rubicon)

Why is the Model so Popular?

With some history and specs out of the way, let’s get into the fun part of the article: what makes the Jeep TJ so popular anyways?

Off-Road Prowess

There's nothing quite like a Jeep TJ for the dedicated wheeler, especially in Rubicon trimmings. The TJ is the first model in the Wrangler lineup to ditch the harsh and bouncy leaf spring suspension; instead, the model features a coil-sprung, 4-link setup both front and rear for impressive road manors and even better handling in the dirt! 

Even in base trimmings, the TJ’s Dana 30 front and Dana 35 rear solid axles hold up to moderate abuse and wheeling. The TJ also introduces the Rubicon, which sports 31-inch mud terrain tires from the factory and ditches the smaller, weaker axles for beefy Dana 44s with limited slip. As a result, you could easily take your TJ Rubicon to some of the most challenging terrain and have bystanders watch in awe as the stock Wrangler dominates the trail!


As the Wrangler TJ’s primary powerplant, Jeep carried over the powerful and reliable 4.0L inline 6-cylinder from the YJ. The beefy engine is known to last 200,000+ miles without any major repairs, all while providing your Wrangler with the much-needed torque to spin oversized off-road tires. 

The TJ utilized two other powerplants during the model's 9-year span, including the carryover AMC 2.5L inline 4-cylinder and MOPAR’s 2.4L PowerTech, a motor plucked from the PT cruiser and neon chassis. While both are relatively underpowered, the 4-cylinders have a reputation for lasting just as long as the 4.0L with proper maintenance! 

The simplistic design of the surrounding chassis meant few areas to go wrong, and in turn, solid reliability, aside from a couple of leaks and sensor faults–standard stuff for a 20-year-old vehicle.

Aftermarket Support

Like nearly all Jeep Wrangler platforms, a key component of the TJ’s initial and continued success is its sprawling aftermarket support. With Jeep-dedicated sites and retailers, you can find practically any repair or upgrade component in a matter of seconds online! 

No matter the caliber of your build or the upgrades you’re looking to make, odds are that it’s been done before, and someone makes a kit for it.

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