About a year ago, Jeep unveiled a new JL Wrangler to an anxious audience waiting in anticipation to see whether they had held true to the Wrangler heritage or messed it up as some Jeep purists feared.
There was much speculation as to the changes that would be made and how they would affect the Wrangler as a Jeep; would it be turned into a mall crawler as some called useful vehicles improved right out of their initial purposes.
Well, the new Jeep JL Wrangler was indeed a surprise for many, a good surprise as it turned out to be.
After 11 years, the new JL Wrangler was essentially the old Wrangler, much to the surprise and approval of many.
Jeep Took A Gamble that Paid Off
In the world of automotive design, most carmakers advance by making considerable changes to their vehicles every so often to reflect design trends, newer technology, safety features, and more.
The Wrangler has always been sort of sacred in its design, which has been nearly the same since its inception decades ago.
Sure, it has undergone some appearance upgrades and looks a little more polished and modern than it did before; however, it’s essentially the same Wrangler today as it was in the mid-1980’s when it was introduced.
After keeping the Wrangler the same for so long, the big question was whether to continue on or change it in the new model.
Based on its extreme popularity with so many audiences as well as the devout following in the off-road community, Jeep opted to go against automaker tradition and keep the Wrangler nearly as it’s been.
It was a gamble, but one that the paid off in the long run.
The Popularity of the Classic Jeep Wrangler
The Jeep Wrangler has been a popular seller since its inception in 1985 when it was introduced as an off-road vehicle that anyone could own and have fun with.
Since then, even the most unsuspecting of owners have bought Wranglers and used them for everything from extreme off-roading to driving to church on Sunday.
It was its versatility and the ease with which it could be modified with things like steel bumpers that made it such a great seller and quickly built its enthusiastic following among off-road enthusiasts.
Jeep faced a big challenge when they began losing buyers to families needing vehicles to carry the kids and dog around.
Wranglers were increasingly becoming third vehicles for those that could afford only one.
They introduced the 4-door Wrangler, which immediately picked up sales again where the 2-door Wrangler had begun to drop off.
Other than modifying the Wrangler to add rear doors, not much else had been changed; it could still be modded with steel bumpers and go off-road as easily as it could go to the grocery store.
Jeep lovers everywhere cheered, kept buying them, and kept taking them off-road; another gamble that paid off.
The Importance of Jeep Heritage in the Wrangler
As of last year, the Jeep Wrangler was the #1 most wanted car in the U.S.
Even though it has made sales records in spite of many other SUVs that have been rated higher, the designers at Jeep did know one thing after decades of selling the Wrangler and noting the feedback from its owners - the Wrangler is more than just an SUV to those who buy it.
Based on its development, which began with the first army Jeeps and continued to what became the Willys and then eventually the Wrangler, it is the embodiment of what the name Jeep stands for.
Changing the Wrangler too much, even though it might seem like the right thing to do according to normal car design progression, could damage the Wrangler brand and heritage enough to make it undesirable.
Essentially, the makers at Jeep realized that the Wrangler was Jeep, in spite of it being only one vehicle in a whole line of offerings from the manufacturer.
It’s what most people think of when someone mentions Jeep, a piece of history that hasn’t changed much since the early Jeeps of yesteryear.
Changing the Wrangler to the point where people would call it watered-down version that had lost its characteristics, would certainly mean a loss of its appeal.
It would also affect the huge following that Jeep has built with the Wrangler as a fun pleasure vehicle used for off-roading, one easily modified to do amazing things.
Considering the addition of the 4-door Wrangler that now has won over more families than ever before Wrangler history, this would definitely be counter-productive.
Jeep JL - What Wrangler Lovers Hoped For and Nothing More
In the end, Jeep surprised us all by modifying the Jeep JL Wrangler in the ways it needed to be modified and not in ways it didn’t.
Rather than starting to morph the Wrangler into something more generic to compete with the SUVs made by other brands, Jeep decided to remain true to the Wrangler heritage and Jeep enthusiasts continue to praise the Wrangler today.
The performance and design upgrades that were made were done in a way that the true look and design of the Wrangler remained true.
According to most of the Wrangler lovers out there, the lack of change was probably the best change that Jeep could have made to their beloved Wrangler.
Catering mainly to the wishes of the enthusiasts who are the biggest market for the Wrangler, Jeep took another gamble that has once again proven to be the right choice!