Jeep has a long and proud history of releasing excellent off-road vehicles that many people decide would be just as suitable as an everyday driver – and more power to them! Jeeps are fantastic so it is no surprise that an (almost) cult-like following has evolved around them. Jeepers are well known for going to battle on behalf of their favorite Jeeps.
Two such Jeeps that often come up in conversation are the Jeep LJ vs TJ. Now, usually, an article like this does a little head-to-head weighing of the pros and cons of each side and then you the reader can make an informed decision. This post will work much the same but we are going to give you the results right at the beginning – The LJ is better. Now it’s time to explain why.
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A Summary Of The Jeep TJ
The Jeep Wrangler TJ is the second-gen wrangler that we had all been waiting for and it rolled right off the production line and into the limelight in 1996 – 1997 and is one of the quintessential Jeeps even today.
Whether you love them or merely like them you most likely do like them. Available as either a two-door convertible or SUV the TJ came with either a 2.5-liter engine or a 4-liter if you felt like you needed the extra power. The TJ progressively raised its ride height marginally from 1996 until 2006 (when it was phased out of production) and over the years saw a transition from 3-speed automatic transmission to 6-speed manual transmission. Quite a leap.
A Summary Of The Jeep LJ
While the second-gen Wrangler (TJ) had its production halted in 2006 the third-gen Jeep Wrangler LJ hit the streets (or off-road track) in 2004 and the two ran in parallel production for a couple of years (about 18 months in reality) but it was enough to spark a very one-sided war.
The LJ is actually based on the YJ and in Egypt the LJ even came with an extended wheelbase two-door design. The Jeep LJ had a 4.0-liter six-cylinder engine and 6-speed manual transmission as well as a slightly longer wheelbase with better clearance.
Which Is Better For Off-roading – Jeep LJ vs TJ?
Off-roading requires a few things. A powerful engine, good traction, and balanced power distribution. While both vehicles are excellent at off-roading you will find that the LJ does it slightly better for one very simple reason. Ignoring the fact that the LJ has a better, newer, engine and a more reliable limited slip differential transmission the LJ has a slightly longer wheelbase and higher clearance.
This means the LJ will be able to get you over higher objects without risking beaching your Jeep on a boulder or some other such obstacle. It also makes the LJ slightly more suitable for amphibious crossings. Here is the catch though, you need to lift your LJ if you want it to have greater clearance than the TJ. It isn’t super expensive and doesn’t take long to perform, but without it, you will find that the TJ may do slightly better in some regards when off-roading.
If you are camping as well as off-roading you will find that the extra space provided by the LJ makes a world of difference whether it means you are comfortably transporting more people in the back seats or you can bring more beer for around the campfire.
Which Is Better Value For Money – Jeep LJ vs TJ?
The Jeep LJ is obviously the more recent of the two models so it is likely to be a little more expensive. Or, a lot more expensive if you are comparing the newest LJ to the oldest TJ. That being said, if you were to stack them up side by side and spec by spec you will undoubtedly decide that the LJ is better and we think that despite the increased price tag the LJ is still better value for money.
However, to give the Jeep TJ credit where credit is due it makes an excellent choice for a slightly smaller budget. You also might want to consider the cost of raising the LJ as well as making some small alterations to the look of the vehicle if you see fit. Some people like to add side panels for extra storage which is possible on both the LJ and TJ but is only really necessary on the TJ.
Regardless of how you try to cut it the difference in price between a lifted LJ and a basic TJ of around similar ages with similar engines (both of them being the 4-liter versions), there will only ever be a couple of thousand dollars difference in it. Unless you are looking at a huge mileage discrepancy between the two vehicles.
Which Is Better Overall – Jeep LJ vs TJ?
As we said at the beginning of the article instead of giving you the facts and then letting you decide which is better, we would share what is the general consensus among Jeepers and other Jeep enthusiasts regarding the Jeep LJ vs TJ battle that has soldiered on for so many years.
Whether you agree that the LJ is better than the TJ is up for you to decide, of course, but the information is there to make it clear that the LJ thrives far better than the TJ in the environment they were both designed for. It probably comes down to money and if that is the case then you will likely find that you can find an LJ with more miles on it for the same price as a TJ with less if that’s the route you want to go.
Price isn’t everything but in today’s economy, it can be most of the equation for many of us. If you value space, power, and better off-roading prowess then the LJ is the clear winner. If you want to take an extra few thousand dollars and turn it into some cool off-roading experiences or trips away then you may well feel that the TJ is the better choice and it would be completely within your right to feel that way.