Jeep Wrangler vs Wrangler Unlimited

Jeep Wrangler vs Wrangler Unlimited

Last Updated December 30, 2021 | Alison Smith

For over 30 years, the Jeep Wrangler has been a staple of off-roading enthusiasts, typically found crawling over rocks or racing out in the desert. When the first Jeep Wrangler debuted for the 1987 model year, it was only available in a two-door model. As the demand for more cargo space increased, Jeep decided to add a four-door model to the lineup with the release of the third-generation JK Wrangler in 2007. Dubbed the Wrangler Unlimited, this four-door Jeep model was geared more toward families and people who might need a little more space than the typical two-door version.

While the four-door model is often referred to as the JKU, for JK Unlimited, there’s another four-door model on the streets since Jeep revealed the fourth-generation JL Wrangler in late 2017. This means that the Jeep Wrangler Unlimited, which used to only be used in reference to the JK generation, is now included in the JL Wrangler lineup as well. Some Jeep enthusiasts will argue that a Wrangler is meant to be two doors with a short wheelbase, but the four-door Wrangler is gaining popularity. In fact, new four-door Jeep Wranglers outsell the two-door version as they are more practical than their two-door counterparts. While some may prefer the classic two-door Wrangler, many others would rather have a four-door Wrangler as it’s more feasible. Let’s compare the similarities and differences between the two-door vs four-door Wrangler.

Wrangler vs Wrangler Unlimited: Similarities

  • Overall width and height: Both the four-door and two-door Jeep Wrangler have the same overall height and width.
  • Engine and transmission options: Whether you have a pre-2012 JK Wrangler model with the older 3.8-liter V6 engine or a newer JK with the 3.6L Pentastar V6 engine, the same engine and transmission options are found in both the Jeep Wrangler and Wrangler Unlimited.
  • Removable top, doors, and windshield: Would a Wrangler even be a real Jeep if the top and door aren't removable? Both the two-door Wrangler and the four-door Wrangler Unlimited feature removable doors, hardtops or soft tops, and windshields.
  • Front-end appearance: As expected, both the Wrangler and Wrangler Unlimited look different from the side due to the size disparities. However, both the two-door and four-door Wranglers look fairly identical when it comes to the front end. If they were driving down the highway next to each other, they’d be difficult to distinguish if you’re looking straight at them. They both have that iconic seven-slot grille that makes the Jeep Wrangler instantly recognizable.

2017 JK Wrangler Rubicon with top off near river

Wrangler vs Wrangler Unlimited: Differences

  • Wheelbase and overall length: The Jeep Wrangler Unlimited has a longer wheelbase and more length overall, which makes sense as it has two additional doors. The two-door Wrangler has a short wheelbase.
  • Total weight: The Jeep Wrangler Unlimited is quite a bit heavier in comparison to the two-door Wrangler. Of course, automatic transmission Jeeps will naturally weigh a bit more than Wranglers with a manual transmission, regardless of the door count.
  • Seating and cargo capacity: As with most four-door vehicles, the Wrangler Unlimited has much more space than the two-door Wrangler. With over twice as much cargo capacity with the seats upright, the four-door Wrangler can also seat five people rather than just four.
  • Pricing: Of course, the Wrangler Unlimited is more expensive in comparison to the two-door Wrangler. For instance, the pricing for a 2018 JK Wrangler Sport is $3,900 less than the Unlimited version. That’s quite a bit of change, especially if cost is an important factor in your buying decision.

2017 JK Wrangler with four doors and no top

Wrangler vs Wrangler Unlimited: Specs

While the JK Wrangler Unlimited used to be the only four-door Wrangler, Jeep released a four-door model with the JL generation as well. Check out the charts below to see the differences between the JK Wrangler vs JKU as well as the JL Wrangler vs JL Wrangler Unlimited.

JK Wrangler vs JK Wrangler Unlimited: Specs
Specs 2018 JK Wrangler Sport 2018 JK Wrangler Sport Unlimited
MSRP $23,995 $27,895
Doors 2 4
Seating Capacity 4 5
Wheelbase 95.4 inches 116 inches
Overall Length 164.3 inches 184.9 inches
Overall Width 73.7 inches 73.7 inches
Cargo Capacity Behind First-Row Seats
(Seats Folded)
56.5 cubic feet 70.6 cubic feet
Cargo Capacity Behind Second-Row Seats
(Seats Upright)
12.8 cubic feet 31.5 cubic feet
Fuel Tank 18.6 gallons 22.5 gallons
Towing Capacity 2,000 lbs. 3,500 lbs.

2018 JL Wrangler Rubicon and JL Wrangler Unlimited Rubicon

JL Wrangler vs JL Wrangler Unlimited: Specs
Specs 2018 JL Wrangler Sport 2018 JL Wrangler Sport Unlimited
MSRP $26,995 $30,495
Doors 2 4
Seating Capacity 4 5
Wheelbase 96.8 inches 118.4 inches
Overall Length 166.8 inches 188.4 inches
Overall Width 73.8 inches 73.8 inches
Cargo Capacity Behind First-Row Seats
(Seats Folded)
46.9 cubic feet 72.4 cubic feet
Cargo Capacity Behind Second-Row Seats
(Seats Upright)
12.9 cubic feet 31.7 cubic feet
Fuel Tank 18.5 gallons 21.5 gallons
Towing Capacity 2,000 lbs. 3,500 lbs.

Which Is Better For Off-Road?

JL Wrangler two and four door models on mountain

When it comes to off-roading, both two-door and four-door Jeeps are going to outscore any competition. Wranglers were built for the great outdoors! Just as the original military Jeeps were only two doors, the first two generations of Wranglers were also available as two-door models only. When the first Jeep Wrangler Unlimited was released with the JK generation, it was met with mixed reviews. While some people appreciate the addition of cargo space and passenger capacity, true purists say that a real Jeep only has two doors. Regardless of where you stand in the Jeep Wrangler 2 door vs 4 door debate, there are both advantages and disadvantages for both models.

With a short wheelbase, or an SWB, the two-door Wrangler has much more maneuverability and a better breakover angle than a four-door Wrangler. A tight turning radius allows the two-door Wrangler to navigate in between trees, rocks, and other off-roading obstacles with much more ease than its four-door counterpart. In comparison to the two-door Wrangler, the Unlimited has a long wheelbase, or an LWB. With the LWB and the additional weight, the Unlimited Wrangler is much more stable than a two-door Jeep. While the two-door Wrangler may excel at those tight turns and traversing over rocky terrain, the increased stability allows the four-door Wrangler to climb those long, steep hills almost effortlessly.

If you plan on taking your Jeep Wrangler to do some serious off-roading, you may want to consider investing in body armor. While this is especially important for either the two-door or four-door Wrangler, the Unlimited is more likely to drag because of the long wheelbase, which could cause you to scrape over rocks or other obstacles on the trail. Both Jeep Wranglers come with factory skid plates, but aftermarket body armor is much more durable and provides better protection than stock components. Along with skid plates, aftermarket fender flares, bumpers, and rocker guards can offer an extra layer of security for your Wrangler or Wrangler Unlimited when you’re out on the trail. Be sure to check out CJ Pony Parts for the best aftermarket parts for both your two-door and four-door Jeep Wrangler!

2018 JL Wrangler Unlimited Rubicon

Which Wrangler Is Right For You?

If you’re having a difficult time debating between a two-door vs four-door Wrangler, it all comes down to personal preference. If you have a family or are looking to start a family in the near future and need a vehicle that can comfortably fit four to five passengers, then the Jeep Wrangler Unlimited is probably your best bet. However, if you don’t need to carry passengers on a frequent basis and are planning on using your Jeep mainly to go off-roading, then a two-door Wrangler might suit your needs perfectly. For those of you on a budget, then the two-door Wrangler is significantly more affordable than the Unlimited. There are several factors to consider when weighing the options, but whether you opt for a two-door or four-door Jeep, you’re guaranteed to have a blast driving it!

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About the Author

Alison is the author of over 100 articles on CJ’s resource center. She’s used her inquisitive nature to help millions of readers learn more about their favorite vehicles. Read full bio →

Sources: 2018 Jeep Wrangler JL Revealed: Get All the Details about America's New Favorite Off-Roader, Autoweek | 2021 Jeep Wrangler Performance, U.S. News | Wrangler Specs, Jeep | Image Credit: Jeep

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Jeep Wrangler vs Wrangler Unlimited

While the first Jeep Wrangler model was released for the 1987 model year, the first Jeep Wrangler Unlimited model wasn’t released until 20 years later in 2007 with the debut of the JK Wrangler generation. Although the two models are very similar, the Jeep Wrangler Unlimited is the four-door model of the Jeep Wrangler, which only has two doors. Many of the same features can be found in both the Wrangler and Wrangler Unlimited but check out this article from CJ’s for a detailed comparison!