What Do The Initials In Jeep Models Stand For?

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If you’re new to the Jeep, you might have a hard time getting around some of the most commonly used terms and abbreviations; JK and JL. However, these terms are almost synonymous and can also be tough for some gurus.

The JL came in 2018, therefore, we have both the JK and JL models of the Jeep Wrangler in that model year. For later models (2019), we only had the JL model. However, if you saw two 2018 Jeep trucks on the road, how would you tell which one is a JK or JL? Let’s find out.


What Do JK And JL Stand For In Jeep?

Jeep enthusiasts have made it a culture to name their model cars with abbreviations that stand for different models for different model years. Each jeep model is labeled with a two or sometimes 3 character abbreviation. Here is a list of the abbreviations and what they stand for.

Abbreviation Stands for
JKJeep Wrangler 2007 – 2018
JLJeep Wrangler 2018 – Present
KLJeep Cherokee 2014 – Present
LJJeep Wrangler Unlimited 2003 – 2006
TJJeep Wrangler 1997 – 2006
YJJeep Wrangler 1987 – 1995
XJJeep Wagoneer/Cherokee (Unibody only) 1984 – 2001
WKJeep Grand Cherokee 2005 – 2010
WK2Jeep Grand Cherokee 2010 – Present
WJJeep Grand Cherokee 1999 – 2004
CJJeep Civilian Jeep 1955 – 1986
ZJJeep Grand Cherokee 1993 – 1998
KJJeep Liberty 2002 – 2007
KKJeep Liberty 2008 – 2012
MKJeep Patriot 2007 – Present
MJJeep Comanche 1986 – 1993
XKJeep Commander 2006 – 2010
VJWillys Jeepster 1948 – 1950
FCJeep Forward Control 1956 – 1964
DJDispatcher/Delivery Jeep 1955 – 1985
SJJeep Full-Size 1974 – 1983
C104Jeep Commando 1971 – 1973
C101Jeep Commando 1966 – 1971

Bonus: Jeep Grand Cherokee Towing Capacity [2000-2021]

JK Vs. JL: What Are The Differences?

Even when the appearance of both the JK and JL might be almost identical, there are few differences that can help you tell the two apart, even from the outside. Here’s a cover-up of some of the most obvious.

Front Grill

Jeep’s slot grill is among the most iconic grills in the automotive industry. Both the JK and JL come with this grill but there are some notable differences. One, the JL headlights bleed onto the slot from each side while they don’t on the JK. 

Again, the JK comes with a Jeep emblem on the upper side of the grill while the JL doesn’t have such.

Front Fender Lights

Jeep included some lights on JL’s front fenders to improve visibility. These come as a factory inclusion on the JL only, but there are aftermarket options for the same on the JK. That should tell you that if you meet a Jeep truck with lights embedded on the front fenders, it is most probably a JL.


Door Handles

The handles on the JK and JL are different. You can only notice this when you’re close to the truck. JK’s door handles aren’t that much different from what we’ve seen in the recent past, but JL’s handles have seen a little bit of style change.

The JL’s handles simply pull the door open while JK’s have a button on one side that you push to get the door open.

Tail Lights

The taillights on both Jeep models come with a number of differences. The newer JL has seemingly improved lights than the JK. The JK came simply on their tail lights with two simple rectangular lights. However, on the JL, we’re seeing the lights curve inwards towards the center, giving it a more-upgraded and sleeker look. We can say their design is a little bit futuristic.

Again, you will note that JK’s reverse light is at the bottom of the tail light while that of the JL is at its center.

Fender Vents

The new JL has included vents on the sides of the fenders which help regulate airflow into the engine area. This is a feature that you won’t see in the JK, and you should be able to notice that real quick when you pull up beside one.

Windshield Slope

Another notable change between the JK and JL is the windshield slope. JL has come up with a more-sloped windshield to improve fuel economy. However, the change has triggered a lot of controversy among die-hard Jeep fans as the aerodynamic design has taken away the iconic Jeep look.

Interior Design

It is almost a custom that car makers completely change the interior design of new car models – Jeep is not an exception. The Jeep JL’s interior is nothing close to what the JK looks like. Every element in the interior is completely redesigned for the better.

The Jeep always lagged behind most other similar-class SUVs in terms of interior ergonomics and flow, but the JL has come with pretty competitive interior design options. One of the most significant improvements in JL’s dash is the push-to-start button which is not available on the JK.

Overall, the JL has better controls than the JK, there’s rarely a thing you’d love more in the JK than in JK’s interior.

Full comparison of Jeep Wrangler JL and JK – ExtremeTerrain.com

How Do I Know If My Jeep Is A JK Or JL?

One of the most straightforward ways to know your Jeep model is through the model year. If your Jeep is a 2019 and later model, then you have a JL. If otherwise, then you might have either of the models. You, therefore, need to check out the above distinguishing characteristics to know which model your Jeep Wrangler is.

Is The JL Better Than The JK? 

To some extent, you might want to conclude that the Jeep Wrangler JL is a better model than the JK. The JL is a more modern model than the latter, making it a step ahead in terms of overall design and ergonomics, and operability. Again, it has a set of pretty attractive features that give it a competitive edge among other SUVs of the same class as the Wrangler. It also showcases better capabilities when it comes to offroading and other sports activities.

Read more: Jeep Wrangler 3.6L Vs. 3.8L Vs. 4.0L: Which One Is The Best?


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