The Jeep Wrangler is a compact four-wheel drive sport utility vehicle (SUV) and an off-road vehicle manufactured by American automaker Chrysler, under its Jeep marque – and now in its fourth generation. It is a successor to the famous World War II 'Jeep' vehicle by way of the Willys civilian Jeep (CJ) in the 1950s, later produced by Kaiser-Jeep and by American Motors (AMC). The Wrangler debuted in 1987, was revised in 1997 and again in 2007. Wranglers continue to use live axles both front and rear as with their predecessor, the CJ.
Each Wrangler model has received a designation in addition to the nameplate Wrangler corresponding to their generation: YJ (1987–1995), TJ (1997–2006), LJ's (2004–2006 Unlimited models) and JK (2007–present). Military versions of the Wrangler have carried the J8 designation.
YJ models were manufactured between 1987 and 1992 at AMC Brampton Assembly Plant, and subsequently at the Toledo South Assembly Plant plant. In 2006, Wrangler production was moved to Toledo Supplier Park.
1 YJ (1987-1995)
The Jeep YJ, sold as the Wrangler, replaced the much-loved but slower-selling Jeep CJ in 1987 and was built in Brampton, Ontario, Canada, until the plant closed on April 23, 1992. Production was then moved to Toledo, Ohio, using the same plant that produced the Willys Jeeps back in WWII. The American Motors Corporation (AMC) had designed the new jeep to be more comfortable on-road in an attempt to attract more daily drivers. It was a new design with a wider track, slightly less ground clearance, and more comfort. The YJ also had a leaf spring suspension similar to that of the CJ; however, the springs were wider, and the YJs sported trackbars and swaybars for improved handling. Despite the new grill, the body is very similar to the CJ7's, and it is interchangeable with some minor modifications. The YJ also was given a larger windshield over the CJ. The YJs are easily identifiable due to the rectangular headlights, disliked by some Jeep aficionados, and the fact that the wiper blades rest on the windshield giving this version a distinctive look. The blades rested on the windshield due to the now wider arc of the blades to clean the larger windshield. These two changes were later removed when the TJ changes came about in 1996. 632,231 YJs were built through model year 1995, although YJs were still produced into mid-1996, bringing the total production number to 685,071 units.
The YJ used a 2.5 L AMC 150 I4 or optional 4.2 L AMC 258 I6 until 1991. That year, a fuel-injected 180 hp (134 kW) 4.0 L AMC 242 variant replaced the 112 hp (84 kW) 4.2 L 258 CID straight-6. The NP207 transfer case was used only in 1987 and replaced by the NP231.
The roll cage was extended in 1992 to allow for rear shoulder belts, and anti-lock brakes were added as an option the next year. An automatic transmission option for 4-cylinder Wranglers came in 1994, along with a center high-mounted stop lamp.
In 1994, the slave cylinder on manual transmissions was moved outside of the transmission's bellhousing to allow for easier replacement, and in 1995 the Dana 30 larger U-joints were used [front axle U-joints (297x) and rear pinion U-joint (1330)]. For the 1992 model year, the YJ switched over to an electronic speedometer outmoding the cable speedos on older YJs. 1995 was the only year to have a fully galvanized frame and body.
There were no 1996 model year Jeep Wranglers. YJs produced in early 1996 were sold as 1995 model years, but featured a few new parts not seen on any earlier YJ. This included the new TJ bumpstops on the hood (rubber boots vs the traditional U-bars), reinforced tailgate hinges, and some even had rear TJ bumpers. Some also got the newly tuned I6 that was designed to run quieter in preparation for the TJ.
Top options for YJ were the same as those offered on TJ. A Soft top with "half doors", featuring soft plastic zipper windows came standard (windows could be removed completely from these doors). Full frames doors with conventional glass windows were optional on soft-top models. Hard tops with rear wiper and defroster were optional, but came standard with full framed doors. YJ featured large mirrors with manually adjustable arms on half door models, while full framed doors received smaller adjustable mirrors with fixed arms (which were mounted further away from the door corner, compared to the larger style mirrors). Depending on year and interior color, Jeeps could be had with the top colors in black, white, tan and gray. Roll bar padding normally matched top color, with the exception of white tops.
YJ Wrangler Islander
From 1988 until 1993, Jeep produced an options package known as the "Islander". Several colors were offered, such as Bright Red, Sunset Yellow, Teal, and White, and both engines were offered. Features of the package are as follows:
- Body color wheel flares and side steps
- Sunset graphics on lower body and hood
- Islander logo on front fenders and spare tire cover
- 20 gallon fuel tank
- Gray interior and highback leather seats
- Optional 5-spoke Alloy Wheels
- Floor carpeting
- Center console with cupholders
- Full or half doors
YJ Wrangler Renegade
From 1991 until 1994, Jeep produced an options package on the YJ Wrangler listed as the "Renegade Decor Group". Initially, all Renegades were White, Black or Red. In 1992, Blue was added, in 1993, Bronze. The Renegade Decor Group was a $4,266.00 option over a base Wrangler in 1991 and included special alloy wheels, exclusive body flares, along with many other features.
Contents of the Renegade Decor Package
- 4.0 Liter (242 CID) I-6 Engine
- 30x9.5R15 LT OWL Wrangler A/T Tires
- Exclusive 5-hole aluminum wheels, 8 inches wide
- Full size spare tire
- Highback seats with Trailcloth Fabric
- Off-Road Gas Shocks
- Power steering
- Fog lamps (integrated into the front fenders)
- Leather-wrapped steering wheel
- Renegade striping (door letters)
- Floor carpeting (full width, and on insides of body tub)
- Floor mats, front
- Extra capacity fuel tank (20 US gal.)
- Color keyed fender flares with integrated bodyside steps
- Front and rear bumperettes (plastic)
- Center console with cup holders
- Courtesy and engine compartment lights
- Interval wipers
- Glove box lock
A hardtop was a $923.00 option and came with a mandatory rear window defroster at a $164.00 premium. Although soft-top models came standard with "half doors", full framed doors with glass windows were an option. Renegades typically had the tilt steering wheel ($130.00) and an AM/FM/cassette stereo radio ($264.00). A column shift automatic was also an available option, but it was not popular. While a base Wrangler with the inline-6 went for $12,356.00, the Renegade package pushed that price up to $18,588.00 in 1991.
These vehicles were sent as optioned Wranglers to Auto Style Cars in Detroit, where the Renegade Decor Package was installed, then shipped back to Jeep for delivery to dealers. Renegades all have a small sticker on the driver's side door, right above the latch denoting the visit to ASC.
At the price premium over a standard Wrangler, sales were fairly limited, so finding one today is a semi-rare occurrence. The price, plus what hardcore Jeepers felt were "funny looking plastic fenders" limited the sales. Although having nearly identical off-road capabilities, these Jeeps were typically used as "beach cruisers" due to their premium price and rarity, as well as because their over sized flares and body cladding were not necessarily designed for the abuse that tree branches and over-sized tires can often cause.