One of the best characteristics of Jeep Wranglers is the option to remove the roof. This creates a wonderful, open-air driving experience. Given that many Wrangler designs involve completely removing the roof (as opposed to it simply folding back into the rear of the vehicle), some people wonder whether the different tops are interchangeable.
Can You Swap Between Hard and Soft Top?
Some generations of Jeep Wrangler tops are interchangeable. In particular, the earlier generations (YJ and TJ) could generally switch between having a hard and soft top relatively easily. Although part way through the TJ generation, there was a small update to the fit of the roof. Some aftermarket tops are apparently interchangeable between years, but this needs to be evaluated on a case-by-case basis.
On later generations, the official tops are not as easily interchangeable. In particular, the way the roof is retracted/removed on the JL (current) generation is different between options. However, some aftermarket tops can be swapped for the official roofs. This can give owners a lot of flexibility.
Keep in mind that the roofs will need to be designed for the correct number of doors and the wheelbase. The Unlimited long-wheelbase version of the Wrangler cannot accept a roof from the two-door version.
Can You Swap Between Jeep Generations?
For the most part, tops cannot be switched between generations of Wrangler. This is because the shape of the vehicle changes slightly including modifications to how the body and roof connect. During the middle of the JK generation, a minor update changed how the roofs fit.
That being said, there are a few roofs that can swap between the YJ and TJ generations because they are so similar. However, this is not official support. So, it is advisable to check carefully before investing in any roof not designed for your model of Wrangler.
How Should You Choose a Roof?
The best hardtop for Jeep Wrangler is one that is designed for your model year and wheelbase. Fortunately, there are plenty of options available. Of course, you can stick with Jeep’s first-party roofs. However, there are also plenty of aftermarket options with extra features. For example, you can get hardtop roofs with removable panels for extra flexibility.
If you are trying to decide between a hard and soft top, the hard roof will typically offer a little more insulation and protection from the elements. In cold environments, this can be a major advantage. It also helps with noise on the road.
Soft tops can be folded down more easily. So, if you want to take the roof off on the trail, you won’t have to worry about where to put it. Ultimately, the choice comes down to the environment you will be in and how often you expect to take the roof off.
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