Some black trim additions brought a very subtle new look to this Sahara-based Wrangler.
The Jeep Wrangler Altitude Edition is a variant featuring some subtle aesthetic changes that was launched in 2012. Starting with a production run of 4,500 models, it followed the release of Grand Cherokee, Compass, and Patriot Altitude models. Based on the Unlimited Sahara, the run of the Wrangler Altitude Edition ended in 2018 as the JK Wrangler was replaced by the JL. However, in mid-2019, Jeep re-launched a different Altitude Edition for the JL Wrangler, a special edition that has continued on for the 2020 model year. It is similar (though not identical) in nature to the previous iteration.
Jeep touted the success that they had with the Call of Duty: MW3 and Arctic Editions of the Wranglers, and were keen to add another mildly collectible edition to entice buyers. The Altitude Edition is one of the most subdued special editions to come out of the JK generation and looks virtually the same as the Sahara unless you're able to get a closer inspection.
The JK Altitude Edition ran from 2012-2015, taking a two-year hiatus before its final run in 2018. For just about $2,000 more than a comparably-equipped 4-door Sahara, you could get some distinctive additions to your JK Wrangler.
As we'll see below, there are some interesting pricing differences for the JL Altitude Edition, including a sneaky trick for those looking to get a loaded 2019 Sahara Wrangler.
Exterior of the Jeep Wrangler JK Altitude Edition
The Power Bulge hood helped create a unique profile for the 2018 model.
The Wrangler Altitude Edition launched in 2012 was only available in four colors: Black, Bright White, Bright Silver Metallic, and Deep Cherry Red, none of which were exclusive to the special edition. The Freedom Top 3-piece hard top, optional on the Sahara from which this model is derived, is included standard as the sole roof on the Altitude Edition. All 2012 Altitudes were of a four-door Unlimited variety, though two-doors were able to be purchased in 2018.
The 18" black alloy wheels were designed to give drivers a popular aftermarket look, right from the factory.
Upgrades that were exclusive included the 18” five-spoke alloy wheels with black-painted spokes and silver pocket accents, as well as a Mopar black fuel fill door, a matte black Jeep grille badge, and a black hood graphic. There was also a reworked hood that was sometimes used in other special editions as well, and alternately called the “Power Bulge” or “Power Dome” hood.
The 2018 Altitude did not receive the option of getting any of the chrome group packages, as that would essentially defeat the purpose of having the black trim. The body color grille was accented in black, instead of chrome as the Sahara was.
Interior and Technology of the Jeep Wrangler JK Altitude Edition
The interior black accents for early Altitudes were subtle, and the cabin of the 2018 model was nearly identical to the Sahara's.
For older models, the black accents are continued inside the cabin, with vent trim, door pulls, steering wheel spokes and the passenger grab handle all done in piano black. In 2018 though, the cabin was identical to that of the Sahara, save for some Liquid Titanium accents that are virtually indistinguishable without a close inspection.
Unfortunately, the 2018 Altitude could not be had with Amaretto leather, which the Sahara offers as an option. Unlike the older Altitudes which offered black seats with red contrast stitching, for 2018 you got the normal options of black cloth with “Diesel Gray” accents, or leather in black, olive, or saddle.
Jeep Wrangler JK Altitude Edition Engine and Off-Road Performance
The JK Wrangler Altitude Edition was available with the tried and true Pentastar 3.6 liter V6 engine and could be had with an automatic or manual transmission. There were no powertrain upgrades or changes for this edition, meaning that it was equally as capable in high altitude mountains as any other Wrangler. A turbocharger would have lent some mountain-climbing credibility but was never available on this special model.
Since it was based on the Sahara, the Altitude was more focused on street-comfort and daily driving than its Rubicon cousin. With that said, it’s still a Trail-Rated Jeep that’s ready to tackle harsher terrain than most vehicles could even dream of.
The minimal changes made to create the Altitude Edition Wrangler mean that the collectibility is limited at best, and if you saw one on the road you might not notice the difference at all.
But as with any of these Jeep special editions, you’re still getting a top-notch 4x4 underneath the shiny exterior. If that’s what you’re looking for, the Altitude Edition could make a great addition to your garage.
The Altitude Edition didn't include any performance enhancements, but was just as trail-ready as the Sahara.
2019 and 2020 Jeep Wrangler JL Altitude Edition
In a relatively quiet announcement, Jeep has brought back the Altitude Edition package, now available on Sport and Sahara JL Unlimited Wranglers. This is the second special edition for the JL, the first being the off-road-oriented Moab Edition. The 2019 Wrangler Altitude Edition is once again a cosmetic-only upgrade package, and is known by the code designation “Customer Preferred Package 24L.” The package was also carried over for 2020.
Very similarly to the JK Altitude Edition, the JL Altitude Edition Wranglers adds visual modifications to the corresponding regular models, with the theme generally being sleek, subtle, and stealthy; none of the changes will really jump out at you right away. There are gloss black grille throats and headlamp inserts, plus low-gloss black fender badges (just the regular Jeep badging, no special emblems that denote the Altitude package). You also get unique, gloss black versions of the normally gray 18-inch Sahara wheels. There are also some black interior accents, such as the vent, gauge, and steering wheel trim. The stitching is all black instead of being a contrasting gray, and there’s even a “Wizard Black” dashboard mid-panel. It all adds up to a much stealthier-feeling cabin.
The Sport Altitude Edition uses black fender flares and a black Freedom Top hardtop, while the Sahara maintains its all-body color cladding. With hardtops come with the sound-deadening headliner. Despite being called the Wrangler Sport Altitude, this model is closer in line to the Sport S trim, because it features power windows, power locks, deep-tint windows, and aluminum wheels.
With this new launch, we wouldn’t be surprised to see a Jeep Gladiator Altitude Edition by the end of the year. Though given the immense popularity of the Jeep pickup, it certainly doesn’t need a special appearance package to drum up excitement!
The JL Wrangler Altitude Edition Sport starts at an MSRP of $36,440, which is a $1,695 premium over the regular Sport S’s $34,745 base price. However, when comparably equipped, the Sport Altitude Edition ends up being just $500 more than the Sport S, including the options and destination charges.
The Sahara Altitude Edition has a more noticeable premium, being $3,295 more than the regular Sahara’s $38,395. This sounds like a jarring difference, but it’s important to remember that the Altitude Edition comes with many features that are already optional on the regular models (such as the body-color 3-piece hardtop and headliner). In fact, according to some eagle-eyed shoppers, it’s actually possible to get a nearly identical Sahara Altitude for less than the regular Sahara! This seems accurate at the current time; we’ve done the math and the Sahara Altitude’s net price comes in at a cool $920 cheaper! This is a great bargain if you’re looking for a Sahara JL Wrangler, but there are a couple of small concessions that you’ll have to make.
Some limiting factors when it comes to the Altitude Edition might dissuade some buyers, depending on what they want their Wrangler to look like. The interior only comes in black, with no Heritage Tan option. The dashboard panel in the Altitude is plastic, unlike the leather-trimmed one that comes in the regular Sahara when you opt for leather seats.
For the exterior, it is only available in the following colors, which are some of the more subtle ones in the line-up (though Mojito! is shown in the configurator, it is not shown on the Altitude Edition webpage):
- Granite Crystal Metallic
- Billet Silver Metallic
- Firecracker Red
- Bright White
Image Credit: Jeep