Why Wrangler remains the king of the aftermarket

Wrangler consistently wins SEMA awards

Wrangler remains the king of the aftermarket for several reasons, consistently winning SEMA awards as vendors praise the ease of making extra parts—both the poorly thought out, simplistic lift kits that don’t take suspension geometry into account; and factory-quality parts that truly increase performance or add things the company did not make available (like camper attachments).

Jeep Wrangler

Wrangler’s unique solid axles make it easier to customize

One of the key factors that sets Wrangler apart is its solid axles. These robust axles provide superior off-road capability by increasing suspension travel over most independent suspensions. More important for the aftermarket, it’s relatively easy to lift the Wrangler from its axles, making room for oversized wheels or just pushing it further from rocks and water. Changing the suspension doesn’t radically change the suspension geometry, as it does with independent suspensions; if you install a one-inch lift (or a lowering kit) on a car with an independent suspension, you run the risk of throwing everything else out of kilter.

Jeep D-Coder Concept by JPP

That’s not to say there aren’t risks involved with changing a Wrangler suspension, but it does make it easier for the aftermarket to make parts that will let you do it, without having to replace just about everything on the SUV’s suspension.

It isn’t all roses

The Wrangler’s exceptional performance and durability have earned it recognition and praise for many years, but the iconic Jeep isn’t without problems. It excels in off-road performance straight “out of the box,” without modifications, and without having to get the “Trail Rated” version—all Wranglers are Trail Rated. However, some owners have reported issues with on-road comfort, particularly in ride quality and noise level. Insufficiently beefed up parts can cause “death wobble” at a relatively early age, even without “mods” (which tend to make matters worse unless steering is also modified). Jeep enthusiasts have reported that the wobble seems to vary uncomfortably between similar new vehicles, being totally absent from some and clear from others.

Jeep Gladiator with Gorilla Glass Windshield

“Death wobble” does have aftermarket solutions—beefier steering parts.

Wrangler’s overall performance, off-road capabilities, and aftermarket support have contributed to its enduring popularity (despite steadily rising prices and, now, a good deal of competition); while its solid axles are likely one secret of its frequently winning SEMA awards. Whether the Wrangler stays the king of customization in the upcoming years is up for grabs; but its high sales, commonality with Gladiator, and solid axles will likely win it at least a few more SEMA awards.


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