Searching for a new Jeep Wrangler but not sure whether to go with an automatic or manual transmission? With Jeep Wranglers available with both auto and manual gearboxes, it can be a tough choice deciding which is better suited for your needs.
In short – Jeep Wranglers can be purchased with either an automatic or manual transmission, across all models and engine options.
This in-depth guide will cover everything you need to know about Wrangler transmissions. We’ll compare automatic vs manual Jeeps to highlight the pros and cons of each. You’ll also learn which specific models offer auto and manual, get tips for choosing, and find out which transmission is ultimately best for your driving style and needs.
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Overview of Transmission Options in Jeep Wranglers
The rugged Jeep Wrangler is known for its off-roading capabilities and open-air freedom. Part of what makes this iconic 4×4 so versatile is the available transmission options. Drivers can choose between automatic or manual gearboxes depending on their preferences.
Automatic transmissions offer added convenience, especially for daily driving. With no clutch pedal to worry about, autos simplify driving in stop-and-go traffic or difficult off-road conditions. Modern automatics also provide smooth, seamless shifting. Many drivers appreciate the ease of an automatic Wrangler for commuting, running errands, or adventuring with family and friends.
Manual transmissions give drivers more precise control and engagement with their Jeep. The clutch and shifter offer direct interaction with the drivetrain. Manuals empower drivers to better control the vehicle’s powerband, torque, and acceleration – especially helpful for off-roading, rock crawling, and performance driving situations. Those who enjoy total involvement in the driving experience often prefer rowing their own gears.
Below we’ll take a deeper look at which Jeep Wrangler models offer auto vs manual transmissions, the pros and cons of each, and tips for choosing the best option for your needs.
Which Jeep Wrangler Models Are Available With an Automatic Transmission?
The great news is that automatic transmissions are available across the entire mainstream Jeep Wrangler lineup. No matter which model or engine you choose, you’ll have the option to add an auto gearbox from the factory.
Here are the key details on Wrangler models that offer automatic transmissions:
- Jeep Wrangler Sport – The affordable, core Wrangler model provides endless customization options. Go for the popular Sport Altitude edition to add more styling and technology. The Sport can be configured with the 3.6L V6 or 2.0L Turbo 4-cylinder, both available with the TorqueFlite 8-speed automatic.
- Jeep Wrangler Sahara – This mid-level trim adds more comfort, tech, and luxury appointments while retaining rugged capability. The Sahara’s well-rounded mix of on-road refinement and off-road talent make it a popular choice. It also offers the 3.6L or 2.0L engines paired with the smooth 8-speed auto.
- Jeep Wrangler Rubicon – The most off-road ready Wrangler gains upgraded axles, suspensions, skid plates, and more. Choose the strong 3.6L or 2.0L paired with the 8-speed auto to conquer the toughest terrain in complete comfort.
- Jeep Wrangler Willys – Recall the military Jeeps of the past with the new Willys edition. This value-packed model focuses on enhanced off-road prowess. The Willys can also be equipped with the 8-speed automatic when you get it with the 3.6L V6 or 2.0L turbocharged engine.
- Jeep Wrangler Freedom Edition – This special edition Wrangler celebrates military service members. Along with unique styling details, it offers the automatic transmission paired with either the 3.6L Pentastar V6 or the 2.0L turbo-four.
- Jeep Wrangler Altitude – The Altitude adds unique blacked-out accents and wheels for a more stylish look. Choose the V6 or Turbo 4 with the 8-speed auto for excellent performance on and off the road.
As you can see, drivers who want an automatic Wrangler have their choice of models and engine options to select from right at the factory. Now let’s look at the key pros and cons of choosing an auto transmission in your Jeep.
Pros of Choosing an Automatic Transmission Wrangler
There are several good reasons to consider choosing an automatic transmission when buying your Jeep Wrangler:
- Easier driving experience – Without a manual clutch and shifter, automatic models simplify stop-and-go driving. This makes an auto great for heavy traffic commuting or running daily errands. Auto models also require less driver workload off-road, especially in challenging conditions.
- Better fuel efficiency – Today’s 8-speed automatics offer excellent efficiency thanks to optimized gearing and torque conversion. Automatic Wranglers with the 2.0L Turbo engine are rated for up to 24 mpg highway. Even the V6 auto rates 21 highway mpg.
- Strong off-road performance – Modern automatic transmissions are very capable when taken off-road. They distribute torque well at low speeds while allowing complete focus on steering and lines. The auto’s smooth gear changes help maintain momentum in the dirt.
- More relaxing drive – Auto models provide effortless shifting so you can simply enjoy the ride. Passengers also appreciate the smoothness compared to manual transmissions. This makes an automatic ideal for family adventures and road trips.
- Resale value – Wranglers with automatic transmissions tend to hold their value very well in the used market. The combo of auto convenience and legendary capability keeps demand high.
Potential Downsides of Choosing an Automatic Wrangler
Automatic transmissions also come with a few disadvantages compared to the manual alternative:
- Less driver control – With automatic shifting, experienced drivers give up the ability to manually control gears and the powerband for optimized acceleration or low-speed control.
- Slightly slower acceleration – In some cases, manual transmission Wranglers can post faster 0-60 times thanks to optimized gear control. But modern 8-speed autos have closed the gap significantly.
- Usually added cost – The automatic transmission option typically adds $2000 or more to the purchase price over the manual equivalent. However, improved auto fuel efficiency can help offset this over time.
- Potentially more maintenance – Auto transmissions require fluid changes and have more internal complexity. But modern autos are very durable, so upkeep costs are still reasonable.
Overall, the pros of choosing an automatic transmission in your Wrangler will outweigh the cons for most daily drivers and off-roading enthusiasts. Only drivers who prioritize maximum control and acceleration may still prefer the traditional manual.
What Jeep Wrangler Models Offer a Manual Transmission?
While automatic transmissions provide ease and convenience, Jeep still caters to enthusiasts who love the engagement and control of a manual gearbox.
Nearly every mainstream Wrangler model can be configured with a standard 6-speed manual transmission.
Here are the key Jeep models available from the factory with manual transmissions:
- Jeep Wrangler Sport – The affordable Sport trim opens the door to customization. Opt for the standard 6-speed manual paired with the 3.6L V6 or 2.0L turbo-four.
- Jeep Wrangler Willys – The Willys edition focuses on off-road performance. It offers the new 6-speed manual for optimal low-speed control when equipped with the V6 or 2.0L turbo.
- Jeep Wrangler Freedom Edition – This patriotic special edition can be ordered with the smooth-shifting 6-speed manual transmission along with your choice of engine.
- Jeep Wrangler Sahara – Increase comfort without sacrificing capability. Choose the manual paired with the 3.6L for one of the most well-rounded Wranglers.
- Jeep Wrangler Rubicon – Take the most rugged Wrangler to the next level with the 6-speed manual mated to the strong 3.6L V6 or 2.0L turbo-four.
- Jeep Wrangler Islander – This new beach-themed edition offers the manual transmission for enthusiasts seeking fun in the sun.
As you can see, lovers of manual transmissions have many Wrangler models to choose from. And you aren’t limited on engine options either – both the V6 and Turbo 4 can be paired with the smooth-shifting 6-speed manual.
Pros of Choosing a Manual Transmission Wrangler
There are some good reasons why shoppers still seek out manual transmission Jeep Wranglers:
- Improved driver control – The manual clutch and shifter give you total command over gear changes, engine revs, torque, and acceleration. This level of control is a major asset off-road or when rock crawling.
- Enhanced torque and acceleration – Carefully timed downshifts can keep the engine in its peak powerband. First gear torque is also improved with the crawler gear ratio on manual models.
- More fun & engagement – Many driving enthusiasts still find joy in commanding each shift. Manuals allow you to better connect with the Jeep and the terrain.
- Potentially better fuel economy – Some manual Wranglers match or exceed the mpg of automatic models, especially with the 2.0L turbo-four. Efficient shifting helps maximize mileage.
- Lower purchase cost – The manual transmission option typically saves $2000 – $3000 compared to buying the automatic. And manuals generally don’t cost more to maintain either.
Potential Downsides of Choosing a Manual Wrangler
There are also a few reasons why the manual transmission may not be ideal for all Wrangler buyers:
- Less convenient for daily driving – Constant clutching in traffic or off-road can lead to driver fatigue. Automatic models are simpler for daily commuting and running errands.
- Tougher for novice drivers – Those lacking experience with manual transmissions face a steeper learning curve. New drivers may find an auto Wrangler less intimidating.
- Not ideal for shared use – If the Jeep will have multiple drivers, choosing an automatic simplifies things compared to teaching everyone to drive manual.
- Worse fuel efficiency possible – Just as manuals can provide better mileage in some models, inefficient shifting habits can also lower mpg in manual Wranglers.
While manuals still hold advantages for driving purists, most daily-driven Jeep Wranglers are now sold with automatic transmissions. But manuals remain a great choice for off-road enthusiasts seeking maximum control.
Tips for Deciding Between Manual and Automatic
When trying to choose between the automatic transmission or 6-speed manual for your new Jeep Wrangler, keep these tips in mind:
- Take both for a test drive – Driving each transmission style back-to-back can help you determine your preference based on how they perform in real driving situations.
- Consider your primary usage – Will this be a daily driver, a weekend off-roader, or both? Frequent off-roading favors the manual while daily commuting leans automatic.
- Compare fuel efficiency – Check the EPA mpg ratings for city and highway driving in your preferred models. The difference may help decide.
- Evaluate pricing and availability – Some desired model and color combos can be harder to find with the manual. And the auto costs more.
- Check prospective resale values – Manual Wranglers often command higher resale prices. But well-equipped autos hold value very well too.
- Weigh the pros and cons – Make a list of your must-have transmission features. Will convenience or control be more important?
Taking time to carefully weigh all the automatic vs manual considerations will ensure you pick the best transmission for your needs.
Which Transmission is Right For You?
When it comes to deciding between manual vs automatic transmissions in the Jeep Wrangler, there are great options either way.
Drivers who value convenience and effortless shifting will likely appreciate an automatic transmission. The latest 8-speed auto provides smooth, efficient operation on and off the road. Automatic models open up the Wrangler to more drivers thanks to simpler operation.
Enthusiasts seeking maximum driver engagement and control will still gravitate to the 6-speed manual. The manual transmission allows you to optimize each gear shift while providing excellent low-speed control. The joy of driving manual will never get old for some.
At the end of the day, assess your priorities and be honest about how you plan to drive. For most, the automatic transmission provides the best blend of flexible performance and convenience in a Jeep Wrangler. But the satisfying manual gearbox still has its place for Wrangler traditionalists.
Whichever you choose, a new Jeep Wrangler promises miles of open-air adventure and fun – now available with both automatic and manual transmissions to match your driving style.
Whether you ultimately decide on an automatic or manual transmission, the iconic Jeep Wrangler delivers unmatched fun, freedom, and off-road excitement. With a wide range of models offering both auto and manuals across engine options, you’re sure to find the perfect drivetrain combo to match your needs.
By carefully weighing factors like performance, daily driving needs, cost, fuel economy and availability, choosing manual vs automatic becomes much easier. Take advantage of test drives to experience each transmission for yourself. In the end you really can’t go wrong – every Wrangler is built to provide a lifetime of adventure.