It’s pretty obvious to anyone, including Jeep fans, that the 2018 Jeep Wrangler looks a lot like the 2017 Jeep Wrangler. This is normally not unusual — vehicles don’t typically change much from year to year — except that the 2018 Jeep Wrangler is a totally new vehicle compared to the 2017 model. New tech, new stuff underneath, new powertrains, new interior, new features … same basic styling.
The styling is so similar, in fact, that I’ve had several people text or tweet me pictures of a Wrangler telling me they liked how the new 2018 model looked, only to be disappointed when I told them that, actually, they were looking at a 2017 Wrangler. I can’t ever recall a “redesigned” car looking so similar to its predecessor.
And so, I’ve decided to help out those of you interested in telling apart the new Wrangler from the old one, with one handy hint that allows you to distinguish between the two models in a split second. And that would be: the grille.
If you aren’t into Jeeps, you probably think the grille from the 2017 Wrangler and the grille from the 2018 Wrangler looks largely identical — same basic shame, same number of vertical slats, same circular headlights. But that isn’t true. There’s one big difference between the two grilles, and that’s the headlights. If you look at an outgoing Wrangler, the “JK” model, you’ll see that the headlights and grille are totally separate from one another. In the new Wrangler, the JL, the headlights actually intrude into the grille slats on the edge — and they do so fairly noticeably, with the curve of the headlight easily making its way into the normally straight line of the grille.
As a result, if you see a shiny-looking Wrangler and you’re unsure whether it’s a new 2018 model or an outgoing 2017 version, just look at it from the front. One glance at the headlights, and you’ll know for sure. Find a Jeep Wrangler for sale
Doug DeMuro is an automotive journalist who has written for many online and magazine publications. He once owned a Nissan Cube and a Ferrari 360 Modena. At the same time.