One of our spy photographers just caught this test car running around snowy Michigan streets. It’s a Wrangler Unlimited Rubicon with a hardtop and the fabric or acrylic windows we’d expect to see with a potential half door design. Jeep hasn’t really tried to keep us from knowing what it’s testing with massive door shrouds or other camouflage. They’re obviously half doors, even if they aren’t a totally finished and polished product quite yet.
The idea of half doors on the JL Wrangler has bounced around for a couple years now. It was reported in 2018 that Jeep wasn’t going to pursue them, leaving it to the aftermarket instead. Most recently, though, the Wrangler Rubicon 392 Concept featured a new half door design. This only stoked the flames a little higher. Now we know that the 470-horsepower Wrangler 392 is real, and the doors look like they’ll be following closely behind.
So, what’s the advantage to half doors? For one, they offer a much more airy and open feeling to the Wrangler than simply rolling the windows down. This allows you to totally remove the windows but keep the doors on, if retaining doors is something important to your use case. Of course, removing the doors for a totally open experience isn’t too difficult to do in a Wrangler. It could be the happy medium of open-air freedom and practicality/safety of doors you want. Plus it looks cool with the windows removed — not so much with them on.
The disadvantage is a potential for more wind noise to enter the cabin. You may consider that an impossibility for the Wrangler, but it will change the directionality and general experience of wind noise. Putting the window down will also be a slightly more arduous and lengthy task than just hitting a button. We’re not yet sure how Jeep will design these windows, but a zipper to zip them on and off is a likely scenario. If that’s a compromise you’re willing to make to enjoy the days with good weather, then these doors might be right for you.
Considering that the introduction of these doors isn’t a huge deal, there’s a chance that we see them as a late 2021 model year option. Otherwise, we’re looking at 2022 Wranglers.