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An Inside Look into the Wrangler’s Navigation and Audio Systems

An Inside Look into the Wrangler’s Navigation and Audio Systems

To some, technology is a virtue as much as it is a sin. But it’s not hard to see why many people crave the latest gadgets for their Jeeps. One of the top-selling aftermarket upgrades we see is installing a new audio system as well as new infotainment or integrated navigation systems. These centralized and often hands-free devices provide drivers with all of the creature comforts they need for off-roading, taking long-distance trips, and even backing up properly. Find out how you can upgrade from a portable GPS system to an in-dash navigation system as well as aftermarket options for audio systems.

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Your speakers and head unit aren't usually the first mod you daydream about when considering what to do with your new Jeep. However, after the lift kit and bigger wheels and tires, treating yourself to a better sound system could be in order. Especially if you have an older rig with an outdated system.

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How is the Navigation Head Unit Different than a GPS?

The first true head unit to be introduced to Wrangler was the Uconnect 430N for JK models starting in 2007. This soon became a standard feature in all Wrangler models, as did the Alpine audio system in all Unlimited Wrangler editions. Some features of the Uconnect head unit included:

  • Bluetooth
  • Media player
  • Radio 
  • WiFi

The new 2018 Wrangler JL has since improved upon that design, offering the infotainment system, Uconnect 420N with AM/FM tuner, Aux hookup, Bluetooth, GPS, and all of the bells and gadgets of any advanced 2018 vehicle.

Head units and infotainment systems differ greatly from portable GPS systems that are designed solely to provide navigation. Unlike a portable GPS player, head units are designed to centralize all media related activity in your Jeep, whether it’s music, GPS, Bluetooth, etc. Ultimately, the pros of such a system come down to comfort, simplicity, and familiarity.

Upgrading to a Navigation System

Upgrading to an infotainment or head unit navigation system offers you a number of features that may not be available with your factory audio or navigation system. Common features of newer infotainment systems include:

  • Bluetooth
  • Call Display
  • FM/AM Radio Tuner
  • Touchscreen Display
  • Aux, CD, MicroSD, and MicroUSB Input
  • GPS Navigation
  • Onboard Diagnostics

Additional features on more advanced aftermarket systems may include WiFi, microphones, and even 360 degree cameras. While not a necessary upgrade, sometimes it’s good to treat yourself. Best of all, most infotainment systems are compatible with JK Wranglers.

To install a new head unit, we recommend going to a mechanic, although it can be accomplished by yourself. First, you must peel back the trim and remove the screws of your existing stereo or head unit. Next, remove any excess brackets that are still there.

You need to see how the wiring matches up with your infotainment system. If a harness adapter does not exist, you will need to crimp the wires and then solder them to the wires that connect to the fuse behind the factory stereo system.

If your new head unit does not match up with the existing collars, you may need to purchase a new universal mounting collar to line up your system and get it working. Follow additional manufacturer’s instructions to be safe.

Standard Audio Systems in Your Wrangler

Year Number of Speakers Front Speaker Size Tweeters
2015-2018 8 Speakers, 2 Soundbar Tweeters 6-3/4", 4-ohm Soundbar
2007-2015 6 Speakers, AM/FM/CD/MP3 Receiver 6-3/4", 4-ohm 3-3-ohm
1997-2006 6 Speakers 6x4" -
1987-1995 6 Speakers 6x4" -

Up until the JK models, the factory speaker system came with a set of six speakers and the ability to navigate between CD and FM/AM radio inputs. The 2015 Wrangler model introduced a new factory standard infotainment Uconnect system complete with Bluetooth, aux inputs, and AM/FM radio tuners.

Now with the new JL model, you get a full entertainment system equipped with Jeep’s newest and brightest head unit infotainment system. Of course, there’s always aftermarket upgrades you can make to add a little more bass and a richer sound to your vehicle.

Aftermarket Options for Speakers

There are plenty of aftermarket options for your oversized factory Wrangler speakers. You can upgrade for better and thicker speakers in each door of your Wrangler, the two dash speakers, and the rear speakers.

Try to pick speakers that match for both the front and rear doors of your Wrangler. You can always upgrade to component speakers later during the installation. For an optimal aftermarket sound system, consider adding the following elements:

  • Amplifier in the trunk or beneath rear seats
  • Subwoofers
  • Dedicated amp for subwoofers 

Generally, your biggest issue will be replacing your front dashboard speakers. Fortunately, there are plenty of speakers that will plug directly into factory wiring. To install your front dashboard speakers you will only need to disassemble the dash by removing the 7mm bolts. That’s it!

Fitment includes: 1987, 1988, 1989, 1990, 1991, 1992, 1993, 1994, 1995, 1996, 1997, 1998, 1999, 2000, 2001, 2002, 2003, 2004, 2005, 2006, 2007, 2008, 2009, 2010, 2011, 2012, 2013, 2014, 2015, 2016, 2017, 2018, 2019, JL, JK, TJ, YJ, Laredo, Sport, Islander, S, Sahara, Renegade, SE, X, Rubicon, Unlimited, Sport-S