Looking at the line-up of tops available on the Jeep Wrangler JL, enthusiasts have a tough choice to make when it comes to the roof of their vehicle. Each has pros and cons, but no matter which one you choose, you’re getting a design that lets drivers get the most out of enjoying the great outdoors. In this guide, we look at how each type operates and what the main benefits and drawbacks are. Plus, we take a look at some of the popular aftermarket options available when you want to customize your Jeep Wrangler's top.
Jeep Wrangler JL Soft Top - Sunrider
The Sunrider soft top is standard, and offers flexibility in how your enjoy the open air, with few trade-offs.
The soft-top is the standard for the JL Wrangler. It was redesigned from the JK’s format to be vastly easier to use, and it doesn’t get much simpler. All you have to do to operate the JL Wrangler’s soft top is lower your sun visors and unlatch the retaining levers on both sides of the roof. From there, it’s a one-person job to fold the top back to its first open position.
The fabric rear windscreen and rear windows behind the C-pillar are also very easy to pop out. From there, you can then unlatch the last clip of the soft top, and then lower the roof to its second, furthest back position. This will give you a true open-air driving experience!
Did you know that Bestop actually makes the factory soft tops for the Wrangler? That certainly goes to show the quality that they put into their products! The soft top is a fantastic option for off-road enthusiasts and those that live in warmer climates. There’s even a Premium Sunrider soft top that features an upgraded appearance and quieter sound levels. However, it’s still a different ball game than a traditional vehicle roof and there are naturally some drawbacks to consider. If you want a little bit more noise and temperature insulation, a hard top might be more up your alley. Plus, soft tops will generally be more difficult to clean than their counterparts.
Jeep Wrangler JL Hard Top - Freedom Top
The three panels of the Freedom Top hard top give you options and better insulation, but the heavy rear section can be cumbersome.
The Freedom Top was also revised for easier operation in the JL Wrangler. You’ll get more sound insulation, temperature insulation, and more security than the soft top. This hardtop configuration has three different panels, two in the front and one in the back. Those front panels above the driver and passenger seats detach with a lever on each corner. From there, most folks should be able to remove them with little issue. The heavier rear panel is almost certainly going to be a two-person job, however, unless you have a hoist. It will also require a large area to stow it, making spontaneous decisions to go fully topless a bit more difficult.
If you’re often just going to be driving with two people and don’t have to worry about rear occupants enjoying the wind in their hair, the ease of removing just those front panels can be an attractive option. Plus, you can also add sound-deadening insulation, either from Jeep or with an aftermarket provider. The current prices for a Freedom Top options on the JL Wrangler are $1,195 for black and $2,195 for body-color.
If you truly want the best of both worlds, you can combine the Freedom Top and Premium Sunrider soft top with the Dual Top Group, an option package that retails for $2,295.
Check out the video below for a step-by-step look at Wrangler JL hardtop removal.
Jeep Wrangler JL Soft Top - Sky One-Touch Power Top
Though it's the most expensive option, the Sky one-touch power top grants ease of use and great configurability.
Sitting above the Freedom Top in terms of price is the Wrangler JL’s new, premier option: The Sky One-Touch Power Top. Available only on 4-door models, this soft top will cost an additional $3,995, which is a considerable sum for almost any Jeep shopper. But the advantages are undeniable. With the push of a button, the top will effortlessly slide back towards the position of your choosing, including all the way to the very rear of the vehicle.
This soft top comes with “hard” (non-fabric) rear windscreen and rear quarter windows, the latter being removable. Overall, this might be the dream choice for JL enthusiasts, but the price is going to be a sticking point, especially if you’re already adding lots of extras.
It's up to you to decide if it's worth breaking out the piggy bank for the power top. The fact that the top is virtually infinite in terms of adjustability, operates with the press of a button in seconds, and comes with hard-sided frame and windows means that this is a premium option that has certainly been called the favorite option, should price not be a factor. It's easy to see why drivers would like this top-level choice, but there are plenty of reasons to stick with the more affordable roof options instead.
Jeep Wrangler JL Bikini Top and Other Aftermarket Roof Options
There are tons of aftermarket Wrangler JL roof options, but one of the most popular is the bikini top. These tops are typically mesh, which allows for an open-air experience while still protecting occupants from the sun and other elements. These are an easy-to-add and affordable part that allows for great driving during warm weather.
If you got the hard top from the factory but now want the option of using the soft top instead, you can purchase a Bestop or Mopar Sunrider soft top kit that’s just like OEM. It’s easy to enjoy the summer months while still having the option to use the hard top when things get cold again. If you're often rolling with no top and want some added peace of mind when inclement weather strikes, you can also look at adding a protective cab cover. No matter how or where you like to drive, one thing is certain: It's tough to beat the flexibility and freedom that Jeep's latest Wrangler offers.
Image Credit: Jeep