History of the Jeep Wrangler

The next Jeep Wrangler redesign is rumored to debut sometime in the next year, and anticipation is mounting. Between rumors of a Wrangler-based pickup truck and speculation about what the redesign will entail, Jeep enthusiasts are waiting with bated breath. While information about the Wrangler redesign is limited, there's still plenty to learn about one of the most recognizable SUVs of all time. Check out our brief history of the Jeep Wrangler and learn a little but more about the model's past as we all await our next peek into its future.


Wrangler Precursors (1940s-80s): Long before the first Wrangler hit the road, Jeep vehicles featured designs that would eventually be put to use on this modern model. As far back as the early 1940s, Jeep has produced SUVs with the boxy body style, two-door design, and removable cloth top that today's Wranglers still employ. Many of the manufacturer's original vehicles also featured instantly recognizable front fascias with round headlamps and a tall, seven-slot grille. Among modern Jeeps, the Wrangler is designed with the clearest nod to this iconic front style, still sporting round headlights and a retro take on Jeep's signature grille. Perhaps the closest visual cousins to the modern Wrangler are the CJ-5 and CJ-7 models of the 1970s and 80s. These models were produced through 1986, the year before the first Wrangler was released.

Fun Fact: While most people associate the popular television show The Dukes of Hazzard with the iconic 1969 Dodge Charger driven by the two main characters, the show also popularized the Jeep CJ-7 Golden Eagle, which was driven by the character Daisy Duke.

The First Wrangler (1987): The first Jeep Wrangler was introduced in 1987, the year after the CJ series of SUVs were discontinued. The Wrangler featured very similar design to the CJ, but aimed to bridge the gap between the recreational CJ and other more road-friendly Jeeps. With a more refined interior and several available trim levels, the Wrangler was meant to be a viable daily driver, and more appealing to a wider customer base.

Fun Fact: Although one of the hallmarks of modern Wranglers is the iconic round head lights featured on many original Jeep vehicles, the first Wranglers swapped these for rectangular ones. The round head lamps didn't return to the Wrangler's front fascia until the 1997 redesign.

Modern Off-Road Capability: In the late 90s and the 2000s, the Wrangler received many mechanism upgrades that offered more modern capabilities. A coil-spring suspension was introduced 1997, and in 2002 the Wrangler ditched its old three-speed automatic transmission for a four-speed with overdrive. In these years, the Wrangler continued to improve upon its off-road utility, making a slight return to its ancestors, the sporty CJ series.

The Wrangler JK: The most recent Wrangler redesign was introduced in 2007, and replaced the Wrangler TJ with the modern Wrangler JK. An undeniable icon of adventure and fun, the modern Wrangler is offered in bright colors and a variety of body styles, and with ample opportunities for customization. One of the biggest changes that came along with the JK redesign was the introduction of the Wrangler Unlimited, the model's four-door counterpart. Other improvements included a switch from the old AMC straight-six engine to the Chrysler V6, a slanted grille, and advanced interior features and technology.

Fun Fact: Information on a 2018 Wrangler without any significant changes is already available on the Jeep website, but it is notably identified as the "2018 Jeep Wrangler JK." Since the previous year's model is simply listed as the "2017 Jeep Wrangler," the sudden addition of "JK" in the title seems to suggest that another 2018 Wrangler will be released as well. For enthusiasts, this only adds to the hype for an upcoming redesign.

Since 1987, the Jeep Wrangler has been an iconic symbol of off-road adventure, and one of the most recognizable SUVs ever to be made. Based on what we know about the history of the Wrangler and the awesome features added on at each redesign, we can't wait to see what's coming up next for this model!

Make an Inquiry

By submitting your contact information, you consent to be contacted by telephone about purchasing a vehicle or obtaining vehicle financing. Clicking on the Submit button above is your electronic signature.

; ;