While the YJ generation may be the most controversial of Jeep Wrangler's history, it still represented a major improvement over its predecessor. Even the ‘87 Wrangler with its 2.5L AMC 150 I4 engine and horrid NP207 T-case had better handling, heating, and interior space than older, unreliable CJ models. Of course, the NP207 T-case was dropped the next year, and for six-cylinder owners, the 4.2 L AMC 258 with its carb setup was replaced by the 4.0L 242 with a fuel-injected CID setup.
Even if you did own the ‘basic 87 model, Laredo, or Sport, you still had the option to swap out the standard engine for the CJ’s 4.2L six-cylinder, 2-barrel carburetor. The Wrangler also added door locks to its steel half doors by ‘88 and provided better seals for its soft rooftops.
Many people from this generation complain about the endless length of vacuum that came with early Wrangler computer systems. This was also fortunately replaced by ‘91 when it finally introduced a standard 4.0L CID engine for all its models.
Though the Wrangler YJ generation was built for passive drivers, it still had many capabilities for off-roading. With a suspension lift, you could increase your off-roading angles and enjoy the power to get through harsh terrain with a 4.0L engine.
Toward the end of the YJ generation, we saw both six and four-cylinder engines enjoy a vastly improved NP231 T-case. Even the Wrangler winches and towing capabilities were far improved from the days of the dinky old CJ model, which was no prince itself.