The Jeep Wrangler has been around since 1987, and its roots span all the way back to before World War II. That’s over 80 years of heritage, and yet, at no point in that span has Jeep ever offered power seats. Even when competitors like the Toyota FJ Cruiser, Toyota 4Runner, Hummer H3, Nissan Xterra, and Ford Bronco gave their front passengers a way to adjust seats via electric motors, Jeep refused to budge. But now, for the first time ever, the 2024 Jeep Wrangler is getting power seats. Here’s why it took so long, according to Jeep.
The answer, according to Jeep, has to do with water fording. According to the company, its engineers wanted to make sure the power seats could handle the JL Rubicon’s substantial water fording rating of 34-inches (that essentially completely submerges the seats) in addition to the moisture those seats might see if someone were to leave their JL’s top off in the rain. Here’s my friend Brandon explaining it all:
Now, I agree that making sure those seats can handle deep water seems challenging; after all, check out all these connectors that Jeep had to waterproof:
But I think this is just a part of the reasoning behind the delay. I’m sure developing the seats was challenging, but the Wrangler offers a power top, heated seats, and a big infotainment screen these days; it’s far from the military/farm Jeep that it started out as in the 1940s; surely electrically-adjustable seats aren’t that hard to develop to where it’d take 80 years.
I think it’s probably worth remembering that, even though the CJ and Wrangler have been around for over eight decades, the first two of those decades were before power seats really entered into mainstream, non-luxury/sports cars. And thereafter, the Wrangler was a niche off-road vehicle whose buyers yearned for simplicity. Only in 2006 (for the 2007 model year) did the Wrangler really become a family vehicle with the launch of the four-door “Unlimited” model, and gradually in the past 17 years, it morphed into a high-dollar off-road toy whose owners will tick every option box Jeep wants to offer.
So I think, really, in earnest, the Wrangler is only about 10 years late to the power seat game. I’m not surprised that the 2007 Unlimited didn’t launch with them, and I’m not surprised that it wasn’t until a few years later that Jeep even thought the demand for the feature would be significant enough to warrant offering it. But by about 2012, the Wrangler Unlimited had cemented itself as a platform into which lots of people throw loads of their hard-earned cash
I don’t know the average purchase price of a four-door Wrangler is, but if I had to guess, it’s probably north of $40,000, with plenty of folks dropping over $50 G’s and more than you’d think putting $100,000 into them after tapping into the off-road aftermarket. Suffice it to say: People have been wanting to enjoy the comfort of power seats in their Wranglers for years, they just haven’t had the option. I’m surprised Jeep didn’t offer them a decade ago, though I’m unsurprised Jeep didn’t offer them before.
I’m sure there’s some kind of financial consideration that played a role in addition to engineering development time. Maybe an assembly/complexity-related reason that I can’t think of at the moment. Maybe there’s some planned obsolescence involved — basically holding out in order to make sure the newest model is the best one so folks go out and buy it. And maybe there just wasn’t as much incentive as I think there should have been; Jeep Wranglers have been flying off dealership floors for years with almost no competition. Only recently did the Bronco step up to the plate. Toyota only just started offering power seats on its Toyota Tacoma, a relatively expensive vehicle that has also dominated its segment, though has also seen increased competition, of late. Maybe Toyota and Jeep just didn’t feel any sense of urgency since their vehicles were selling so well?
In any case, the Wrangler’s power seats are finally here, at long last. And they’re ready to go scuba-diving in your nearest mudpit.
Have we started the countdown timer for four-wheel independent suspension? I admire Jeep for being (one of the?) last holdout(s), but feels like after the familification, of the Unlimited, further nerfing is only a matter of time.
I have never seen a YJ with those lights on the front if the fenders and on the side if the cowl before, what market were they sold in that requires those type of lights?
That’s an european mareket version, those were required in european markets.The tailights are also different with amber lights and the licence plate is under the spare tire.
I absolutely don’t get why people want power seats. The only use case for them I can think of is a car that is regularly driven by a small number of drivers, and the seat memory function knows where each of these drivers wants the seats to be.
In all other use cases, the power seat equipment is just dead weight that you carry around for no good reason whatsoever.
I’d venture the guess that most cars are driven by one person. That one person adjusts the seat once and leave it in this position until they sell the car.
But even for a rental, every new driver adjusts the seats exactly once. I am perfectly happy to do that with manual controls.
I’d guess average 4 door is 50k, I just bought a 2 door rubi, and I was hard pressed not to put it there with just a few options.
I doubt a lot of people who are speccing power seats in a Wrangler will be fording 34 inches of water… most people who buy Wrangler Unlimiteds are just cruising them around town. The hardcore off-roaders will continue speccing manual everything and 2 doors.
I do not understand the obsession with power everything. Windows/locks, yeah pretty convenient, but seats? Once I get them where I want, I never move them again. Multiple drivers? I find power seats even harder to get back into the “right” position than manual seats. How often are people adjusting seats? After I took my 2020 Rubicon Diesel in mud/water up the the fording depth, it became pretty obvious there is a lot of expensive electrical stuff that I would not feel great about submersing on a regular basis. I had the doors on, so it mostly kept the interior dry, but there is ton of exhaust aftertreatment stuff on the underside. I’ve since sold it and do my mud work in a simpler/cheaper rig. Sadly, modern Jeeps are best suited for the well dressed mall crowd. I’d love a late TJ if there were any left where I live that weren’t critically rusted. My ’70 Jeepster is a bit too old to use as a real car but it is closer to the level of “electronics” I want/need.
I agree. If I were to design the ultimate car seat for me, I would want really good ergonomics/comfort, simplicity, lightness, thinness (for interior space), and enough strength to pass regulations. I’ve never owned a car with power seats myself, but using my parent’s cars for example, I’ve never felt that an adjustment being power was a better experience than manual. The opposite actually. So, it’s more money for what I consider a worse feature, and also another thing to break.
We have become super fans of power driver seats WITH MEMORY function (including outside mirrors). That’s ideal for multiple drivers.
Being a superannuated flatus – and one who had a lot of injuries as a yute – I find it helpful to be able to fine-tune the seating according to what might be hurting on a given day.
So you showed the picture of all the connectors they had to waterproof.
Did they waterproof them? Nothing there looked much different than any other power seat. I’d still hesitate to dip that in a pond.
Anyone got a clue when the 2024 Wrangler Configurer will drop?
Also DT: Have you done an article on why the Wrangler has a stupid grill where they had to make the outermost grill slats too close to the lights or the lights too close to the outermost grill slats resulting in said slats looking smushed?
That’s a lot of accords for an article not about Honda. 😉
Is there any competitor that offered comparable water-fording AND removable doors prior to the Bronco coming on the scene? I would expect the combination of the two is the real issue…..no competition until the DT’s of the world started to blasphemize the holiest of Jeep weekends with ponies….
This was my exact thought. They didn’t spend money they didn’t have to. With no competition and a faithful and rabid market, they had no motivation. Now that the Bronco is here, there’s… something else… technically… Seems like not a very attractive alternative once it gets off paper and onto pavement, but it’s competition. Personally, I don’t think power seats make a ton of sense on a Wrangler. It’s not like it’s all that difficult to adjust the seat, and it’s not like you adjust it very often. One more thing to not break.
Side note, as someone with a short spouse, I actually prefer manual seats, which I can move instantly vs waiting for 45 seconds to slide back a power seat just to be able to get in.
Well, I’m gonna hold out for ventilated seats. Might be a few more decades before I buy a Wrangler.
Hell, my CJ5 doesn’t even have adjustable seats. They are bolted in one place. Super uncomfortable if you are anything over Torch height.
Honestly why more automakers don’t male thin mesh seats astounds me. You don’t need electric fans to have ventilated seats, just proper seat and material design for passive ventilation.
Interesting point. My desk chair is all mesh, both because it’s extremely comfortable and because it breathes. I’m betting they don’t do a similar thing in cars because it wouldn’t hold up to crash testing.
I bet there is a way for it to hold up in crash testing. I haven’t ever really heard of seats failing crash testing before, just the rest of the car.
I would buy the hell out of a mesh seat in a car. And a Wrangler would be a perfect one for it. Water runs through, great in hot weather, really gets the air flow when the top is off…You should market mesh Jeep seats!
Less material, but with better airflow! I bet they’d be cheaper than regular seats too!
I can market them all day, not so sure about making them though.
They might be cheaper for them, but Jeep is business-focused and would charge you extra. They just started offering vynil seats as an option tot he standard cloth… and charge for them the same price as they do for the leather upgrade!
Also, I should admit I just bought a used Wrangler for a fortune – best (if unaffordable) car to learn to work on for me as there’s ton of space and it’s basically the mr. potato of cars
The industry is going to thinner seats it seems. I guess it helps with interior space. Why not go maximum thin? I honestly think it would be more comfortable than the thin foam seats they’re cranking out now.
Of course I cannot edit my reply…
If a mod could change “male” to ‘make’ I’d greatly appreciate it.
I understand it. You’re right that really, nobody trimmed out the wrangler for comfort until the 4-door unlimited was introduced. The Wrangler’s purpose has changed since then, and now much of the customer base uses them as commuters and family vehicles, for better or worse.
While I prefer the precise ability to adjust seats through power seats (especially the ability to adjust the the pitch of the seat cushion, which I haven’t seen in a non-powered seat since the 2002 Hyundai Elantra GT) for a vehicle like this I would pass.
I’m kind of surprised the Sahara didn’t offer them sooner. I could see not putting them in the other trims though.
What, no massaging seat cushions, too?
Real reason: the Bronco. Direct competition.
+1 this is probably it
This is the one and only reason. Before the new Broncos, Jeep didn’t even have to try. Where else in the US would you find manual windows and optional air conditioning on a $40K plus vehicle or any new vehicle for that matter? Now, Jeep has to get in the game and play ball.
The bean counters must have lost their minds. Lol
I can take em or leave em. Afterall i set my seat preference in 2002 and just left it there
Hopefully they have memory seats too.
Power seats are kind of silly without memory….if you’re the only driver, you adjust the seat once and leave it. If you have to share with a spouse of a different height, having more controls on the seat is just more ways for them to screw up your comfort (and vice versa I suppose).
Agreed, my fiancees Tiguan has power seats with no memory. She’s significantly shorter than me and I hate driving her car because it means shes gotta reset everything whenever I do. Meanwhile my Acura has a button for each of us.
My wife’s Honda has 2 memory settings, yet I still manage to bash my knees into the steering wheel all the time because it defaults to her setting whenever the car is powered down. Even when I do remember to hit the #2 button before getting in, it gets old waiting for the seat to go back to the alternate setting, especially if I was running a quick errand and the car had only been turned off for a minute. #1stworldproblems
To be fair it’s your wife’s Honda, it should default to her setting because it is her car.
Oh I get the logic. I think what annoys me as much as anything is that it does not reset right away. It waits until the next time I go the the car and open the driver door. So while everyone else is getting in the car I get to stand there and watch it go from my setting, to her setting, back to my setting. If it reset as soon as the car locks from the last drive I do not think it would bother me.
Doesn’t Honda literally label the keys “Driver 1” and “Driver 2”? I know I’ve seen it on a few Honda/Acura keys. Then, like most modern cars w memory, it whirs into the respective memory position when you unlock it. My 2003 VW does this, but doesn’t have the labeled keys :/
Most non-power seats don’t include adjustments for lumbar and seat cushion pitch, and power seats allow for more precise adjustment. If those functions are offered in a non-power seat though I’d take the non-power.
My wife and I aren’t tremendously different in size so we usually try not to adjust each other’s seats, but I understand why having power seats with memory is necessary for some. We have friends (a couple), he’s 6′-7″ and she’s 5′-2″. They got an Outback in premium trim, so a power driver’s seat, but no memory. He can barely get into the car when it’s adjusted for her, and after he does, it takes forever for him to move it into a comfortable position.
Real answer on why they waited… because it would cost Jeep more and people don’t spend ridiculous money on wranglers because they are comfortable. Their ride on the road sucks and people don’t care, so long as owners can dream about tackling the rubicon one day. Clearly they aren’t hurting for sales.
No urgency. I think that’s the answer.
The “now I need a new one” feeling is just a bonus for them.
We don’t want to rush into these things. And don’t call me Shirley. 🙂
(@DT – that second statement is a pop culture reference from a movie called ‘Airplane!’. You can watch the relevant scene here: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=ixljWVyPby0 )
You know, somehow I’ve actually seen Airplane!
Ausgezeichnet! We can skip that part of your training. 🙂
Up next: ‘O Brother, Where Art Thou?’, a Coen brothers comedy that causes me occasionally to read obstacle as OB-stack-ull.
Hope you have a good week at the Safari and that you can get some rest at some point.
I AM A MANNNNN OF CONSTANT SORROW
Hot damn! It’s the Soggy Bottom Boy! 😀
Which in a roundabout way brings us back to the topic at hand: sufficient waterproofing of Jeep seat mechanisms to allow the reliable use of power adjusters in the Wrangler, even while fording at the max depth of 34 inches.
Sweet summer rain, like God’s own mercy.
Best. Movie. Ever.
It really is great.
I wonder if Homer would recognize his own story in it.
Not to worry, fellow geezer. Millennials and Zoomers have been properly acculturated thanks to meme GIFs and Netflix. It’s not like they’re the common clay of the new West.
In gratitude for that statement, I would like to extend to you a laurel and hearty handshake.
you know, morons.
TxJeepGuy Johnson is right!