Jeep Wrangler JK Production Ends Friday; Model Will Cheerfully and Capably Dig Its Own Grave

Steph Willems
by Steph Willems

Amid all the hoopla surrounding the new 2018 Jeep Wrangler JL, you’d be forgiven for not realizing there are still versions of the old model rolling off Jeep’s Toledo assembly line. But not for long.

Assembly of the Wrangler JK, introduced for the 2007 model year, carried on alongside its updated near-twin after the JL entered production last November, but that line grinds to a halt on Friday, April 27th. The model isn’t wanted anymore, and there’s an awfully lucrative vehicle that needs the space.

If you’re interested in reading a condensed history of the third-generation Wrangler — a model born at a troubled time, but one which turned the Wrangler into a respected resident of upper middle class neighborhoods across North America — Automotive News‘ Larry Vellequette penned a good one earlier today.

The Wrangler JK, especially in four-door Unlimited guise, helped more than any other vehicle in making Jeep FCA’s most valuable brand. Even the Chinese can’t wrestle it away from CEO Sergio Marchionne’s grasp. After adding a family-friendly four-door to the mix, Wrangler sales instantly soared — from roughly 65,000-80,000 annual units in the years preceding the JK’s launch to 119,243 in 2007. The JK crested the 200,000 mark in 2015.

Over the course of production, the Unlimited model overtook the two-door in sales, with its current volume now double that of its shorter-wheelbase sibling. With so many families getting into Wranglers — families who undoubtedly have a unibody car or crossover as a second vehicle — as much driving refinement and interior modernization as possible went into the JK’s successor. Improvements in curb weight, aerodynamic drag, and fuel economy were also top of mind.

Once the JK clears out of Toledo, Jeep will embark on a months-long retooling effort. Replacing the old model is one which will surely carry the largest price tag of any Wrangler: the Wrangler pickup, aka the Scrambler. The four-door model rides atop a stretched Unlimited frame and starts production late this year. As far as we know, customers will be able to choose an optional diesel V6 engine and soft top, making this model both capable and fun. It’ll be a hit at cupcake shops shoppes in gentrifying neighborhoods everywhere.

Availability starts in 2019.

[Images: Fiat Chrysler Automobiles]

Steph Willems
Steph Willems

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  • Jackson the cairn Jackson the cairn on Apr 24, 2018

    "The model isn’t wanted anymore, and there’s an awfully lucrative vehicle that needs the space." Even with +$2500 MSRP pricing, it seems likely the per-unit margin on the JK is greater at the moment, while the development costs for JL are amortized. Why else would OEMs continue to produce the previous model for a year or so?

  • Gtem Gtem on Apr 25, 2018

    I honestly sort of expected (and genuinely hoped) that they'd continue selling the JK for a while yet as a "Classic/Heritage" or specifically as a "JK" alongside the new one, at a reduced cost obviously. But I suppose that would eat into JL sales in a very big way.

  • 1995 SC On the plus side, I found a sedan I want to buy
  • Teddyc73 As I asked earlier under another article, when did "segment" or "class" become "space"? Does using that term make one feel more sophisticated? If GM's products in other segments...I mean "space" is more profitable then sedans then why shouldn't they discontinue it.
  • Robert Absolutely!!! I hate SUV's , I like the better gas milage and better ride and better handling!! Can't take a SUV 55mph into a highway exit ramp! I can in my Malibu and there's more than enough room for 5 and trunk is plenty big enough for me!
  • Teddyc73 Since when did automakers or car companies become "OEM". Probably about the same time "segment" or "class" became "space". I wish there were more sedans. I would like an American sedan. However, as others have stated, if they don't sell in large enough quantities to be profitable the automakers...I mean, "OEMs" aren't going to build them. It's simple business.
  • Varezhka I have still yet to see a Malibu on the road that didn't have a rental sticker. So yeah, GM probably lost money on every one they sold but kept it to boost their CAFE numbers.I'm personally happy that I no longer have to dread being "upgraded" to a Maxima or a Malibu anymore. And thankfully Altima is also on its way out.
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