2004-2006 Jeep Wrangler Unlimited
2004 • 2005 • 2006
Charlie Pastorfield writes about car audio for Crutchfield. Raised in Connecticut and the U.S. Virgin Islands, he graduated from the University of Virginia, but was having way too much fun to leave Charlottesville. After a long, beautiful career touring the East Coast from Boston to Atlanta as a professional guitarist (Skip Castro Band, The Believers), he married Emilie, had two daughters (Morgan and Emma), and got his first full-time job at Crutchfield. Still an extremely active musician, he's now a member of The Gladstones, a 4-piece group that plays just about anything, and Alligator, an 8-piece band that plays late 60's Grateful Dead.
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2005 Jeep Wrangler Unlimited Sport (Crutchfield Research Photo)
You don't usually talk about great sound systems and Jeep Wranglers in the same breath, but this particular Wrangler Unlimited actually gives you some pretty cool options for audio upgrades. You'll find enough room in the dash and sound bar for a wide variety of replacement speakers, and some interesting options for bass, ranging from replacing the sub in the center console to amplified subs that fit behind the rear seat. With a little bit of work, you can fit any DIN (2" tall) radio in the dash. That's really good news compared to Wranglers and CJ Series Jeeps of the past, which were definitely not built with audio excellence in mind.
This Jeep Wrangler came with an AM/FM/CD receiver and offered two speaker options:
4-speaker system: two 4" 2-way speakers in the dash and two 5-1/4" speakers in the roll bar;
7-speaker system: two 4" speakers with accompanying tweeters in the dash, two 5-1/4" speakers in the roll bar, and a 6-3/4" sub in the center console.
Jeep factory radio (Crutchfield Research Photo)
Replacing the factory radio
There's only about 6" of space behind the dash, but you can unbolt and remove the factory radio's rear support without too much trouble, giving you plenty of room for any DIN-size radio. You'll need a mounting kit to trim out the new radio, a wiring harness that lets you connect your new radio without having to cut the factory wiring, and an adapter that connects the Jeep antenna to your new radio. These installation parts are available at a steep discount with your Crutchfield order, and our step-by-step MasterSheet™ instructions are included free.
Tools needed: Phillips screwdriver, a flat blade screwdriver, a 10mm socket wrench, and a panel
A closeup of the Wrangler's radio (Crutchfield Research Photo)
Steering wheel audio controls
It's relatively easy to retain the steering wheel audio controls when you install a new stereo in your Wrangler. When you enter your vehicle information, our database will choose the adapter you need to make your factory steering wheel controls work with your new receiver.
Replacing the factory speakers
The Wrangler's factory speakers are reasonably easy to reach and replace, so this is great DIY project.
This Jeep will accept 4" speakers in the dash, and 5-1/4" speakers in the sound bar. Both locations offer plenty of room for replacement speakers, so you'll have plenty of options. Your Wrangler may not have speakers in the dash, in which case you'll have to go to your Jeep dealer for speaker grilles and brackets. Many Wrangler owners who drive with their top off choose marine-certified speakers that won't be bothered by an occasional shower or condensation.
It's a good idea to get speaker harnesses along with your new speakers. They'll allow you to attach the new speakers to the plugs that connect to the Jeep factory speakers, and they make it easier to reinstall the factory speakers if you ever sell your Jeep. These wiring harnesses are available at a deep discount with your Crutchfield speaker order.
The factory front speakers in the Wrangler's 7-speaker system (Crutchfield Research Photo)
Front speakers: Each of the front dash openings houses a 4" speaker and a tweeter, and you can access the location by removing two small screws. The easiest upgrade is to install 4" coaxial speakers and remove the factory tweeters. If you're willing to do a little work, you can put a nice set of 4" components up front, but you'll have to fashion mounting plates for aftermarket tweeters.
The soundbar speakers are easy to work with (Crutchfield Research Photo)
Sound bar speakers: You only have to remove a few screws to replace these speakers, and you have enough room for almost any 5-1/4" speakers.
Tools needed: Phillips screwdriver
Custom speaker installations
Since it's such a popular vehicle, the Wrangler Unlimited offers several options if you want to add speakers in other locations. These options also let you use larger 6-1/2" speakers, rather than being limited to 4" or 5-1/4" sizes.
A Q-Forms Kick Panel Pod (Q-Forms photo)
Q-Forms: Q-Logic builds Q-Forms for the Jeep Wrangler, unloaded enclosures that install down in the Jeep's kick panels, housing 6-1/2" components.
Mod-Pods: Select Increments offers the Mod-Pods for the Wrangler, unloaded enclosures that hold 5-1/4" speakers just below the Jeep's doors.
Quad-Pods: Select Increments also builds Quad-Pods for the Wrangler, unloaded enclosures that hold 6-1/2" speakers and 8" subs in the Jeep's back corners (pictured here in the standard Wrangler).
Bass in your Wrangler
An aftermarket subwoofer will really add punch to your Wrangler's sound system.
You won't find many bass enclosures made specifically for the Wrangler Unlimited, but lots of people install an amp and sub enclosure in the larger-than-usual area behind the seats.
If you like to get a lot of mud on your Wrangler, it's a good idea to splice connectors into the power and speaker wires so you can quickly remove your sub before you head out on the trail. You'll also appreciate the quick disconnect if you're headed to a risky area and don't want someone walking off with your gear.
The Unlimited's extra length gives you a little more space for a bass system (Crutchfield Research Photo)
If you're into building your own enclosure, here are measurements for the available space:
- Width (side to side) = 34"
- Height = 14"
- Depth (front to rear) = 23" at top, 25" at bottom.
A wide range of subs are available. Select Increments makes the Stealth-Pod, an enclosure that bolts onto the back door and holds a 10" sub of your choice.
You'll have to remove the center console to replace the factory subwoofer, not a difficult job, but it'll take some time. Here are the dimensions for this factory sub location:
- Mounting depth: 2.789 inches
- Magnet diameter: 4.178 inches
- Mounting height: 0.712 inches
The factory sub is in the console (Crutchfield Research Photo)
You may have to re-drill screw holes, but you should be able to find a small 6-1/2" or 6-3/4" sub that's within these dimensions. And, as long as you're going to drop an upgraded sub in the console, you might as well put a small amp under the seat to give it some decent power. If you're keeping the factory amp, you'll want to replace the factory dual 2-ohm voice coil sub with another DVC sub so you don't lose power.
Factory sub removed from the console (Crutchfield Research Photo)
Tools needed: Phillips screwdriver, panel tool, 10mm socket wrench (with ratchet and extension), T20 and T30 Torx drivers, needle nose pliers
Here are a couple of other ideas for making your Wrangler just a little bit better.
The factory amps are okay, but they're just not as powerful as aftermarket amplifiers. In a boxy, noisy vehicle like the Wrangler, you need clean power going to your speakers and sub. A new amplifier will give you the "headroom" you need to get the sound you want at highway speeds.
If you're using your Wrangler as intended, it's probably going to get dirty every now and then. Keeping it in great shape really helps retain resale value, so protect your carpets (and your investment) with a set of custom-fit WeatherTech floor liners. For the rest of your Jeep, use WeatherTech® TechCare™ cleaning products to get everything clean and shiny after a day on the trail.
Installing a security system in your Wrangler isn't easy (security systems rarely are), but it's definitely a good idea. Our Crutchfield Advisors can help figure out what you need to get the job done, but we usually recommend taking your car and new gear to a professional installer.
I'm OK with the power of the Jeep system, but I'm constantly turning up the bass control to get more punch. What should I do?
You might try adding a powered sub first. Cranking up the bass control puts a huge strain on your Jeep's radio, and the extra bass produced by a sub allows you to turn the bass control back down so you get more usable power from your radio. The extra bass will also make your factory speakers sound better when you're driving with the top off.
My Jeep's system sounds cool in the driveway but it's useless at 55 mph with all the road noise. What should I replace first?
Whatever you replace, you should definitely buy an amplifier because clean power is what you need. The amplifiers that are built into car stereos are relatively low-powered — an outboard amp will give you more headroom so your system can coast along instead of straining to create the level you need on the highway.
My music doesn't sound that great, but I really don't want to put a new radio in my Jeep. Will new speakers help?
Absolutely. If you're going to keep your factory radio, look for speakers that are efficient (sensitivity rating over 90 dB). Spend a little more money on the 5-1/4" speakers that are going over your head — a good tweeter will bring out all the details in your music without taking your head off.