Jeep Wrangler Body Styles

Jeep Wrangler Body Styles

Last Updated July 21, 2021 | Andrew Boyle
Wrangler Names Explained

The Jeep Wrangler, America's quintessential off-roader, has gone through several models since its inception. After the rise in popularity of the post-war Jeep CJ, the Wrangler was introduced to America and has not left since. From YJ to JL, the Wrangler has remained a rugged vehicle to its core.

Each model of Jeep comes with its own two-letter identification code. While these are arbitrary and intended for identification more than for marketing, these names have stuck around as the main identifying factor for each Wrangler body style. Even though these two-letter codes don't have any intentional meaning, we have gathered a few popular nicknames. Here are the various Jeep models and a quick summary of their changes in the order of their release

1987-1995 Jeep YJ Wrangler: 1st Generation

The Jeep YJ Wrangler is the Wrangler model that started it all. Introduced in 1986, the 1987 Jeep YJ Wrangler resembled the Jeep CJ series but brought some added comfort and a change in appearance. Most notably, the YJ Wrangler moved away from the round headlights found in previous Jeep Wrangler models and featured new square headlights. As the case with other previous Jeep body styles, the YJ Wrangler was only available as a 2-door model but did have the option of having a hardtop or soft top.

First Generation Jeep Wrangler YJ

What Does YJ Stand For On a Wrangler?

The YJ is a Wrangler that has quite a few well-known nicknames. Because of the square headlights, and its focus on being a better vehicle for road driving, many hardcore Wrangler fans see this model as being the black Jeep of the family, an interloper who is responsible for softening the Wrangler line. Regardless, the YJ remains just as capable of a Wrangler when compared to others. Here are some of the suggested explanations for the YJ.

YJ Wrangler

YJ fans have their own theories. First off, one of their suggestions for the meaning of YJ is You’re Jealous, a name which casts shade on the haters for their inability to accept that a YJ can perform just like JL Rubicon (given the right mods).

Finally, because of this being the first Wrangler sold under the Wrangler name, YJ can be understood as meaning Yesterday’s Jeep. Similarly, the YJ could be called a Young Jeep as it hadn’t fully matured into a TJ or a JK yet.

1997-2006 Jeep TJ Wrangler: 2nd Generation

Introduced in 1996, the 1997 Jeep TJ Wrangler was the next type of Wrangler to become available. The TJ Wrangler was similar in appearance to the Jeep YJ Wrangler but swapped out the square headlights for the typical round headlights found in prior Jeep body styles. An upgraded suspension from switching to coil springs from leaf springs improved ride quality, handling, and off-road capability. In 2003, the Jeep Wrangler Rubicon model was introduced as a submodel of the Jeep TJ Wrangler. The second-generation Wrangler TJ was in production for nine years until the Jeep JK Wrangler was unveiled in 2007 as its successor.

Second Generation Jeep Wrangler TJ

What Does TJ Stand For On a Wrangler?

The TJ Wrangler is one of the more adored Wrangler models out there. For that reason, many Jeep aficionados will scramble to tell you how TJ stands for something like True Jeep, Top Jeep, or even Tough Jeep. Imagine any positive adjective that begins with a T, and then add a Jeep to that and there you go, you've crafted your own theory for what TJ stands for. These theories are quite common and vary quite a bit, but all they really do is show how attached people are to their TJ Wranglers.

TJ Wrangler

Because of the iconic status of the Jeep TJ, Wrangler fans are especially interesting in understanding the name of this Wrangler. That all being said, because of its revered status, maybe the TJ should just be known as The Jeep?

While not official like the meaning of CJ, the TJ Unlimited, sometimes known as the LJ, has a clear theory for its name. Given the long wheelbase of this Wrangler, calling an LJ a Long Jeep is too perfect to ignore. There are plenty of other things that can fit the letters LJ, but they won't be nearly as apt as Long Jeep is for this lengthy Wrangler.

2007-2018 Jeep JK Wrangler: 3rd Generation

Replacing the TJ Wrangler, the rollout of the Jeep JK Wrangler was the first time the Wrangler became available in a 4-door body style, dubbed “Unlimited”, as well as the original 2-door model. Due to its larger stature compared to its predecessors, the JK Wrangler has more passenger room and provides a more comfortable ride. In comparison to the previous Jeep Wrangler body styles, the JK Wrangler has an easier-to-remove top and a slightly curved windshield that lets air escape easier. While it was originally thought that production of the JK Wrangler would stop in 2017, it looks like Jeep will be producing a 2018 Jeep Wrangler JK as well as the next-generation Wrangler, the 2018 Jeep Wrangler JL.

Third Generation Jeep Wrangler JK

What Does JK Stand For On a Wrangler?

Let’s go ahead and get this out of the way. Just Kidding. Thankfully, the JK is a well-liked Wrangler. Otherwise, it would be the recipient of too many jokes. Even though the J is useful for signifying Jeep, it’s hard to deny that TK would have made it a little easier to think of something other than just kidding when referring to this specific type of Wrangler.

JK Wrangler

That being said, there are some alternative ways to parse the meaning of JK. For fans of this particular Wrangler, JK could mean Jeep King, as it is one of the more successful and commonly spotted Wranglers out on the road today. If your JK is purely an off-roading rig that rarely drives on any pavement, then the JK could stand for Just Krawlin’.

Maybe, if you've outfitted your JK Wrangler with every type of protection imaginable, from skid plates, to rock rails, then JK could stand for Jeep Knight (although each Wrangler can wear as much armor as any other).

2018 Jeep JL Wrangler: 4th Generation

For over ten years, the JK Wrangler reigned as one of the best off-roading vehicles. When Jeep finally decided to put the JK Wrangler generation to an end, many enthusiasts were unsure what that meant for the Wrangler. Was Jeep going to stick with the same Wrangler appearance that so many know and love, or were they going to take a new direction? Well, the JL Wrangler was finally revealed in late fall of 2017, and fans were not disappointed. Jeep managed to make the fourth-generation better than ever, with several different engine options available, as well as upgraded manual and automatic transmissions. Improved crawl ratios and approach angles make the JL Wrangler even more capable for off-roading. When it comes to appearance, the JL Wrangler is definitely unmistakable. A new grille design, LED daytime running lights embedded into the front fenders, and vents located behind each front fender are just a few of the changes from the JL Wrangler. Check out our article on the JK vs JL Wrangler for a more in-depth look at the differences and similarities between the two! I think it’s safe to say that Jeep outdid itself with the fourth-generation Wrangler and created an even better off-roading vehicle.

Fourth Generation Jeep Wrangler JL

What Does JL Stand For On a Wrangler?

The JL Wrangler: The Jeep for those who are Just Looking to live the Jeep Life, Just Like a Jeep Lord. While not all of these serve as good explanations for the meaning of the JL Wrangler, they are fun regardless.

JL Wrangler

Again, while JL could mean Justice League or Jude Law, more Jeep-centric interpretations of JL like Jeep Love or the aforementioned Jeep Life seem to have some sticking power. All in all, the JL is one of the more difficult Wranglers to pin a name to.

Back To Top

Newsletter Sign-Up

Andrew Author Photo

About the Author

Andrew is a Jeep TJ owner and car industry aficionado with over 150 articles under his belt. Read full bio →

Image Credit: Michel Curi - Flickr | Wikimedia |

Jeep Wrangler Body Styles

What is the difference between a Jeep JK Wrangler and a Jeep TJ Wrangler, and furthermore, what do those letters even mean? Since the inception of the original Jeep Wrangler in 1986, there have been several variations of the well-loved off-roading vehicle. From the first-generation YJ Wrangler to the fourth-generation JL Wrangler, here is a breakdown of every Jeep Wrangler model to date!