Alright, so I’m sure you are well aware that there are many different generations of Jeep Wrangler. CJ, YJ, TJ/LJ, JK are all chassis codes for different generations of the Wrangler. But with how expensive ridiculously expensive Wranglers are brand new, a lot of people have to get a used one. Thats where the YJ vs TJ debate starts.
As you may have guessed, or figured out by now, the YJ came before the TJ. Jeep launched the YJ generation in 1986, and sold it as the Wrangler in the US, which replaced the much loved, Jeep CJ7. The YJ was supposed to be a better daily driver than the CJ. This would attract much more buyer and increase sales by a huge amount.
They made it more street friendly by increasing the axle width, adding a track bar (pan hard bar), and sway bars. They also reduced ground clearance slightly, all of this combined made the YJ much more street friendly than the CJ.
The YJ came standard with the 2.5L AMC engine, and the 4.2L AMC engine was optional. In 1991 the 4.2L was replaced with the fuel injected 4.0L, which was mostly the same other than the fuel injection system and smaller displacement.
One of the most disputed and hated thing about the YJ was its square headlights. All Jeeps and Willys of the past had round headlights, and Jeep took a big risk making the square. But, with the launch of the TJ, the brought back to round head lights.
Also Read: TJ vs JK: Which One is Better and Why?
The biggest and most obvious difference between the YJ and the TJ is the suspension. While the YJ had a leaf spring design, Jeep gave the TJ a coil spring suspension design that was based on the Grand Cherokee’s suspension. If you look at the XJ front suspension, ZJ front suspension, and the TJ front suspension, you’ll notice that they’re almost all completely identical.
Much like the YJ the TJ came standard with the 2.5L, and the optional 4.0L. But, horse power for the 4.0L was bumped up slightly from 180hp, to 192hp.
The TJ also introduced the Rubicon model. The Rubicon was designed for hardcore off-roaders, and was loaded up as such. It featured all new, stronger Dana 44’s front and rear. As well as factory air actuated lockers front and rear. It also featured an all new 4:1 ratio transfer case for better rocking crawling
YJ vs TJ: Price
So this is where the YJ vs TJ debate really starts. People are looking for a used Wrangler since the brand new ones are ridiculously overpriced. A stock, good condition goes for about $8k or more. Occasionally a good deal will come up and you’ll find a lifted TJ for $6-7k. But generally speaking stock ones go for $8k and lifted ones go for $10-12k.
On the other hand, stock good condition YJ’s go for about $4-5k, and lifted ones go for about $6-7k. Thats a huge difference in price, and considering its a Jeep, the chances of you modifying after purchase is pretty high. With that extra money you saved picking a YJ you could install a really nice lift. Or if you know how to fabricate you could even do a coil suspension swap.
Also Read: Why are Jeeps so Ridiculously Expensive?
So, for the price of a TJ, you could coil swap and lightly build a YJ. Or, you could buy a TJ and you’ll be in it a few thousand more than a YJ.
YJ vs TJ: Suspension
Suspension is where the TJ has the obvious advantage. Its not really a secret that leaf springs don’t provide much articulation, which is vital for hardcore off roading. You can do some leaf spring swaps, shackle relocations, and stretch the wheelbase, but a YJ will likely never get close to the articulation that a TJ has.
The coil suspension on the TJ also provides much better ride quality on and off road. Thats one of the great advantages to coil springs. Increases ride quality and articulation. The factory coil spring setup also means that you can bolt on a long arm system for extreme off roading.
So, the TJ wrangler and the YJ wrangler are actually very similar other than the suspension set up. Thats basically that you are paying for when it comes to the TJ wrangler. Yes a TJ is likely to be in better condition and have lower miles due to the age.
But, if you ask me, a YJ is a better option as it gives you much more room in your budget for modifications. However, if you don’t know how to fabricate I would suggest picking up a TJ wrangler as they’re already coil suspension.
As a side note, I think an XJ Cherokee is a better option than both of them.