What Is a Jeep Wrangler JK?

What Is a Jeep Wrangler JK?

Last Updated August 8, 2023 | Alison Smith

Regardless of whether you are a Jeep enthusiast or a new Jeep lover, everyone has heard of the Jeep Wrangler. But what exactly is the Jeep Wrangler JK? Succeeding the TJ Wrangler, the JK Wrangler began manufacturing in 2007 and lasted for over 11 years until being replaced by the fourth-generation JL Wrangler in 2018. The JK Wrangler has been one of the most successful Jeep models and a favorite of off-road enthusiasts.

So, you’re probably wondering what does JK mean for Jeep? Unlike the Jeep CJ model, the precursor to the Wrangler, where “CJ” stood for Civilian Jeep, “JK” doesn’t stand for anything specific and is just engineering code to distinguish the different Wrangler generations. All of the Jeep Wrangler generations — the YJ, TJ, JK, and JL — have two-letter codes that help differentiate the different body styles but don’t stand for anything in particular.

Freedom Wrangler Unlimited

JK Wrangler Features

Besides the addition of power door locks and windows, what sets the JK Wrangler apart from the rest of the Jeep Wrangler body styles is the introduction of the four-door model, also known as the “Unlimited” version. Since the original debut in 2007, there have been several additions and refreshes to the JK Wrangler. When the Wrangler JK first came out in 2007, it was equipped with a 3.8L V6 engine that was originally used in Chrysler’s minivans. Even though this was considered an improvement to the previous AMC 4.0L six-cylinder engine found in the TJ Wrangler, Jeep replaced that with an even better engine in 2012 — the Pentastar.

The 3.6L Pentastar V6 engine puts out 285 horsepower and 260 lb.-ft. of torque, a major improvement from the 202 horsepower and 237 lb.-ft. of torque found in the pre-2012 Wrangler JK models. With the new engine in 2012, the Jeep Wrangler JK also received an automatic transmission upgrade. Jeep switched out the old 42RLE transmission for the WA580, a five-speed automatic transmission that added more power and better off-road capability. For the manual transmission, the NSG370 is standard for all JK Wranglers.

While there have been many changes over the course of the JK generation, the 2018 JK Wrangler is the end of the line for the beloved model. After over a decade worth of improvements, the final version of the JK Wrangler features:

  • Iconic seven-slot grille and round headlights
  • 3.6L Pentastar V6 engine
  • 6-speed manual or 5-speed automatic transmission
  • Removable top and doors
  • Two-door and four-door versions
  • Several special-edition models
  • Optional heavy-duty axles
  • Two different four-wheel-drive systems
  • Power steering
  • Normal duty, heavy-duty, and performance suspension options
  • Traction control

Smoky Mountain Wrangler Unlimited

While the JK Wrangler era has ended to make way for the JL Wrangler, it will continue to be popular long after the final models roll off the assembly line. Now going down in Wrangler history with the YJ and TJ, the end of the JK Wrangler only represents the beginning of another generation that is more off-road capable than ever before. Whether you prefer the older Wrangler models, the ever-popular JK, or the redesigned JL, there’s nothing like owning a Jeep!

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Image Credit: automobilesreview.com | jeep.com

This article was researched, written, edited, and reviewed following the steps outlined in our editorial process. Learn more about CJ's editorial standards and guidelines.