Bestop has been making soft tops for decades and it is no surprise they didn’t waste much time to turn their focus to the new JL Wrangler Unlimited (JLU). Following the pattern of previous models of the Wrangler, the JLU is available from the factory with either a hardtop or a soft top.
In many regions around the United States, hardtop models are the most common. Resilience to extreme weather and better sound dampening characteristics tend to take precedence for buyers.
Hardtops are great for keeping heated or cooled air in and rain out. Though with summer here begging for outdoor adventures, the large fiberglass barrier is less than ideal for open-air driving. The All-new Trektop Soft Top by Bestop is here to answer the call.
The Trektop is the first complete soft top on the market for the JLU. Bestop has had great success with the previous model Wrangler and knew the new Wrangler would need a top with the same attention to detail and quality.
The new soft top is loaded with features and comes with all the parts needed for installation. The all-season top uses a hybrid zipper/zipperless technology for easy removal of window panels and zippers on the rear panel provide security and easy changes in configuration.
From the front seats with one hand, the driver or passenger can flip open the built-in Sunrider feature for instant sunshine. Each top includes overhead map pockets and a sleek fastback design.
The JLU Trektop is available in two fabrics, Black Diamond and Black Twill. Black Diamond is a good basic material. Easy to clean and maintain while also being the lesser expensive option. Black Twill is the premium choice.
“The Twill fabric is a thicker, more premium fabric with thicker windows.” Explained Cassie Hughes, Marketing Specialist for Bestop. “I always tell customers that if they can swing the price difference, Twill is the way to go, hands down.”
Thicker materials mean less noise and heat passing through. The Twill material is also more durable in the long run, though Bestop offers a Limited Lifetime Warranty on Trektop on the Black Twill, while they offer a five-year warranty on the Black Diamond.
Brian Havins, LSX Magazine Editor, recently installed a Twill Trektop on his 2018 JL Wrangler Unlimited. “We test drove a JL with a soft top before buying the hardtop,” Brian said. “It had horrible wind noise and just seemed cheap. I was a little nervous when we decided to put the Bestop soft top on the 2018 Jeep.” His concerns did not last long, thankfully.
The install starts with removing the hard top. The Freedom Panels unlatch by hand and are easy to lift off. The rest of the top is a little more difficult because of its weight. Torx bolts secure it to the Jeep, after removing those, it is a matter of lifting the roughly 100-pound top off the vehicle. Having at least one other person assist you is a requirement.
The assembly of the top on the Jeep is relatively simple and straightforward and is a true bolt-on design that requires no drilling. Bestop notes the installation time is four hours, which Brian found to be nearly on point. Provided with the top are detailed instructions for every step of the process, including what tools will be needed.
The hard top has door surrounds built in and when removed, leaves nothing for the doors to close against. To solve the issue, the kit includes new door surrounds for the fabric to attach to and the doors to close on, making a weather-tight seal.
Brackets are installed on the rear corners of the body tub to give the new tailgate bar a place to hook to. With the tailgate bar on the bottom of the rear window, the tailgate has a solid surface to close against.
Assembling the frame system takes time and patience, but is not difficult. Making sure the many small bolts, washers, nuts, and spacers go in their correct location speeds up the install. Follow the instructions closely. Once the assembly is put together, it attaches to the Jeep rather quickly.
Adding the fabric to the assembly is the last major step. A mesh panel is provided that adds a light sunblock for the rear seat and is bolted in before adding the main skin. When ready, the main skin is laid out and attached to the header channel over the top of the windshield. It then gets attached in several other points to make sure it is secure to the Jeep.
One of the coolest features of the Trektop is the Sunrider. With one hand, the front header channel latches can be disengaged, and the front of the top can be folded back, all while still sitting in the seat. No more need to get out of the vehicle just to get a little sun.
The other major benefit is having fully removable rear windows. With the rear windows out, occupants can enjoy the open air Jeep experience without having to fully remove the soft top. The new hybrid zipper/zipperless attachment system makes converting modes very simple and only takes minutes to do.
A full soft top is only valuable if it can seal up the vehicle. “After we got it installed and took it on a test drive,” Explained Brian. “I couldn’t notice any more wind noise than the hardtop even at 80+ mph. It was nothing like the factory Mopar top that we test drove.”
Brian’s initial concerns over having a soft top were gone. To top it off, Texas weather surprised him on his test drive with a rainstorm. “The top sealed off and kept water out of the interior of the Jeep,” Brain said. “It continued to rain all night, and the carpet and seats stayed bone dry.”
At the end of the day, Brian’s Jeep is now more versatile and ready for summer adventures. Get more information on the Bestop Trektop be sure to visit their website. As a special thank you to our Country’s armed forces men and women, Bestop is now offering a special discount for active U.S. Military, Reservists and Veterans.