By on April 24, 2018

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.

2017 Jeep Wrangler Sport

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]

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18 Comments on “Jeep Wrangler JK Production Ends Friday; Model Will Cheerfully and Capably Dig Its Own Grave...”


  • avatar
    PrincipalDan

    Here’s to Toledo!

    Even out here in the Southwest where finding difficult terrain is astoundingly easy, I’m amazed how many Wranglers never leave the pavement.

    • 0 avatar
      indi500fan

      Image trumps everything else, apparently. These things seem to be most often used like a junior Suburban than an actual off-roader. And it’s not like anybody buys one because the local FCA dealer is particularly exceptional.

    • 0 avatar
      TwoBelugas

      Out there where nice curvy roads are a dime a dozen, I am amazed that every person I know who has a Porsche or an Italian sports car garages them 99.9999% of the time, and when not drive them to the country clubor cruise through downtown traveling below the speed limit.

  • avatar
    conundrum

    Perhaps TTAC missed the fact, but Wrangler JLs are already in showrooms.

    “Production of the Wrangler 4-door began in November of 2017, while two-door Wrangler production will commence in early 2018. The upcoming Wrangler-based Jeep Scrambler will be built on the line that assembles the Wrangler JK.”

    The retooling is already mostly done. Remember Marchionne tried to get other cities to give him free land and hundreds of millions for a new factory? When that didn’t happen, they retooled Toledo, leading to the FCA claim that lower Wrangler JK sales in 2017 was due to lack of vehicles because of the retooling effort for the JL. At least, that’s what I believe I read

    • 0 avatar
      Big Al from Oz

      conundrum,
      I hope the Scrambler makes it’s way to Australia with the 2.8 VM diesel. I also hope it comes in cab chassis form.

      The only issue I have with Jeep Wranglers is the price and the quality of the vehicles. The new Jeeps will hopefully have a better interior, not just prettier, but not so plasticky and Tupperware like.

      • 0 avatar
        Kyree S. Williams

        They definitely do.

        • 0 avatar
          Big Al from Oz

          Kyree,
          I saw some pictures of the new JL Wrangler’s interior and it looked a little better. But it’s a photo and doesn’t give an indication of the quality.

          I know there was talk of the 3 litre V6 VM going into the Wrangler, but to me the much cheaper 4 cylinder VM would suffice.

      • 0 avatar
        sgeffe

        There was an Unlimited Rubicon, IIRC, at the Toledo Auto Show this year, and to me, the interior is a step up. This isn’t my cup of tea, but it’ll continue to do well.

    • 0 avatar
      here4aSammich

      Perhaps you didn’t know that the retooling isn’t done. The Cherokee was moved out of Toledo so the JL line could be built and JK production maintained. Now that the JL is up and running, the old JK line is being retooled to build the truck.

      • 0 avatar
        danio3834

        There are 2 Toledo plants. Toledo North which used to build the Liberty, Nitro and Cherokee, which now builds the JL Wrangler.

        Toledo Supplier Park was a new plant put up to build the JK Wrangler and builds them until this week. After this week it will retool for the JT.

        • 0 avatar
          sgeffe

          Thought there were two lines at TNAP, and Dana had a new plant in the Supplier Park (where the old Overland smokestack is from the original plant on the southeast side of I-75).

          I’ve lived in the Toledo area almost 34 years, and I can’t keep the Jeep stuff straight, so I may be wrong!

  • avatar
    Kyree S. Williams

    My best friend and his husband bought a new Wrangler JL Sahara in orange, and very well-equipped. Said best friend would not have considered the JK because it was rough and outdated for most of its existence, but the JL brings the model into the purchasing purview of people who expect luxury for their $40K-$50K outlay. I honestly couldn’t think of a better way to spend that kind of money, especially in terms of resale value.

    Still, I gotta give the JK props. Like you said, it was a big step, especially the “Unlimited” four-door version.

    • 0 avatar
      Big Al from Oz

      Kyree,
      Did they comment about the JL’s onroad driving dynamics compared to the older JK Wrangler?

      • 0 avatar
        Kyree S. Williams

        Having driven Sahara versions of both back-to-back, the JL is considerably more composed. It’s also a lot quieter.

        I haven’t tested the Rubicon versions; there may be more or less of a delta there.

  • avatar
    Jackson the cairn

    “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?

  • avatar
    gtem

    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.


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