Despite singing a very different tune, Jeep’s actions in recent months are a clear indication that it’s rather worried about the forthcoming 2021 Ford Bronco. First, the automaker revealed the Jeep Wrangler 392 Concept on the same day the Bronco was unveiled. Then, it released a doors-off mirror kit that relocates the side mirrors to the body of the vehicle, just like the Bronco. Then, it sent out a memo to dealers trying to reassure them that the Jeep Wrangler can compete with the Ford Bronco, and that they had nothing to worry about.
Now, it appears the Jeep is moving forward with yet another feature intended to counter the Ford Bronco – half doors. The 2021 Bronco comes equipped with pillarless doors from the factory, which aid the open-air experience when the top is removed.
However, the JL Wrangler comes equipped with doors that have pillars. Fans have been asking for half-doors for some time now, and yet, the automaker has remained hesitant to make them, despite offering them on the previous-gen JK Wrangler.
In recent years, Jeep has teased a few different half-door designs, including when the JL Wrangler was revealed back at the 2017 L.A. Auto Show. It also said at that time that half-doors would be available as an option beginning in the 2019 model year.
Then, it revealed the Jeepster Concept, which was wearing half doors, at the 2018 Easter Jeep Safari. And most recently, the 392 Concept was also sporting a set of half doors. And yet, Jeep has yet to offer them as an option for Wrangler buyers.
Now, we’ve spied a Jeep Wrangler Rubicon Unlimited out testing while wearing yet another set of concept half-doors. It’s entirely possible that the timing is a coincidence since Jeep has been batting this idea around for a few years now, but it sure seems like the automaker might be speeding up the process since its forthcoming rival is applying some pressure to do so.
These new half-doors feature fabric windows with front quarter windows and a large opening in the center. They’re very similar to what we saw on the 392 Concept, and perhaps more notable, it’s the first time we’ve seen half-doors on a production model JL Wrangler.
But even though looks are subjective, we can’t help but think that these are a step back in the looks department for the JL. They just look cheap and somewhat of an afterthought, compared to the nicely integrated appearance of the Bronco’s doors. But as is always the case, buyers will ultimately decide which design they like the most and vote with their wallets.