This is the second season I have installed the new Wrangler  JL tops so with over a dozen installs now I thought it would be a good idea to provide some feedback.

From the late 2018 model soft tops to the late 2019 models they have already begun to make some minor adjustments to the top.  One of those adjustments being the plastic tab on the side windows which runs further back towards the rear window now and wider tabs on the sides of the rear windows.  Although the design is completely new, the install for those who are somewhat familiar with the JK should go fairly smooth, just watch out for the spring setup which mounts the top to the rear bracket.  The first time I removed one it took a good amount of skin off my hand after the spring snapped back on my hand and I had to rip it out.

I am thankful that the dealers have been upgrading the JL’s with the premium soft top material.  Every JL that has come in with a factory soft top had the premium material.  The only exception was one I sold to a customer as their Wrangler did not come with one from the factory.  If your Wrangler did not come with a soft top and you decide to purchase one, I strongly encourage you to spend the extra money for the premium material.  The install of the sailcloth top (not premium material) was much more challenging.  We had to blast the heat in the Jeep for 15 minutes just to loosen up the material in order to get the back window on.  With the JK’s I didn’t feel the premium was worth the upgrade but that is definitely not the case with the JL.

The overall design is excellent.  It is much more user friendly for the average person to use than previous models and can easy be dropped or put back up with a single person.  FCA did an excellent job engineering the front clamps for the soft top as you now can simply push the clamp forward to link onto the hook and then clamp back…. however when the top is new it can be difficult to unlatch as it gets caught on the hook and is difficult to loosen off.  I assume once the top stretches out this will correct itself. 

One complaint I have is that with 2 of the approximately 12+ JL’s I have worked on so far the rear soft top hinge locks have already seemed to break.  If you do not apply pressure to the top downward as you slide the locks down and up it seems they can malfunction.  It almost as if the internal portion of the lock has overextended past a gear and can no longer lock anymore.  I have not found a fix for this yet, and have not attempted to take a unit apart.  If anyone has a fix for this or experienced something similar please let me know!

Summary

Pros:

  • Easy top for one person to install or remove, the top uses a slide system which makes it much easier to put up than the JK models even after the spring assist
  • Excellent engineering on front clamps, easier to use than JK model
  • No zippers….time will tell if this is in fact a pro based on durability
  • It looks very sharp fully installed, with the windows removed it looks even cooler and the tops come with nice dark tint
  • The top comes in a box rather than pre-installed, this is a great benefit for those buying a Jeep in the fall/winter or for those who simply do not want the soft top as they no longer have to remove the hardtop to get the soft top out like they did with the JK’s

Cons:

  • Rear window holds side windows in so its kind of an all or nothing when it comes to installing the windows, you cannot roll up the back window and keep the side windows in
  • My gut tells me that pulling out the rear window on a regular basis to get items in the trunk is going to wear the window plastic tabs quickly…but this is my initial impression
  • Malfunctioning rear bracket locks
  • Front clamps get caught on the hook when the top is new making it difficult to remove (first one comes off fine, second does not since the pressure is now resting on single hinge)
  • Soft top box comes in a massive box with excessive packaging…

I consider the new JL to be an upgrade from the JK style soft top.  For those who are unsure or disagree, Best Top does offer a more traditional style top for the JL.

Thanks

Peter Tamminga

Hardtop Drop

 

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