Buying a Jeep Wrangler? Here’s What You Need to Know

buying a jeep wrangler

So you’re thinking about buying a Jeep Wrangler? Join the club! As an iconic off-road SUV, the Wrangler has a huge and devoted following. And for good reason – this is a tremendously fun, customizable vehicle ready for adventures.

But before you start building your dream Wrangler, there’s a lot you need to know. What models are available? How much will it cost? What engine options are there? How’s the gas mileage? And what capabilities does the Wrangler really have?

In this comprehensive guide, we’ll cover everything you need to know before buying a Jeep Wrangler, including:

  • An overview of the different Wrangler models and trim levels
  • Pricing for both new and used Wranglers
  • Available engine options and fuel economy
  • The Wrangler’s impressive off-road capabilities
  • Key questions to ask when purchasing a used Wrangler
  • And much more to set you up for Wrangler ownership!

Whether you’re about to buy your first Jeep or your fifth, let’s explore America’s off-road icon and make sure you get the perfect Wrangler for your needs. Read on to become a certified Wrangler expert!

What Jeep Wrangler Models Are Available?

The first decision you’ll need to make when buying a Wrangler is choosing which model you want. Jeep offers several different Wrangler models and trim levels to suit different budgets and needs.

Here are the main options available:

Jeep Wrangler Sport

The Wrangler Sport is the most affordable model in the lineup. Priced from around $28,000, this entry-level Wrangler still comes nicely equipped. Standard features include:

  • 3.6L V6 engine
  • 5-speed manual transmission (automatic optional)
  • Dana 30 front and Dana 44 rear axles
  • Command-Trac 4×4 system
  • AC and heat
  • Tilt steering wheel
  • Tow hooks and skid plates

The no-frills Sport trim is perfect for Wrangler traditionalists focused on off-road capability. You still get the iconic Wrangler styling and function, just without all the expensive upgrades.

Jeep Wrangler Sahara

Step up to the Sahara trim and you enter mid-level territory with more comfort and technology. The Sahara adds:

  • Body-color fender flares
  • 18-inch alloy wheels
  • Automatic temperature control
  • Touchscreen infotainment with Bluetooth
  • Leather-wrapped steering wheel
  • Upgraded cloth seats

Pricing starts around $32,000 for the Sahara. It splits the difference nicely between the basic Sport and luxurious higher trims. You get a well-equipped Wrangler with some extra style and comfort.

Jeep Wrangler Rubicon

The off-road purist’s choice, the Wrangler Rubicon takes off-road capability to the next level. Upgrades include:

  • Beefed up Dana 44 heavy duty axles
  • 4:1 Rock-Trac transfer case with 4LO
  • Electronically locking differentials
  • Off-road focused suspension lift
  • 33-inch mud terrain tires
  • Rock rails and heavy duty skid plates

Pricing for the Rubicon starts around $36,000. If you really plan to challenge the Wrangler off-road, the Rubicon’s specialized components are worth the extra cost. This is the most trail-ready model right from the factory.

Jeep Wrangler Unlimited

Prefer a little more passenger and cargo room? The Wrangler Unlimited adds 2 doors and around 10 inches of wheelbase versus the standard 2-door Wrangler. With seating for 5 and more storage behind the rear seats, the Unlimited combines Wrangler fun with everyday practicality.

The Unlimited is available in Sport, Sahara, and Rubicon trims at a small premium over their 2-door counterparts. Expect to pay $2,000 – $3,000 more for the extra versatility.

How Much Does a Jeep Wrangler Cost?

From around $28,000 for a base Wrangler Sport up to $50,000+ for a fully loaded Rubicon, Wranglers offer broad pricing to match budgets and needs. Here’s a quick pricing overview:

  • Wrangler Sport – Starts around $28,000 for a 2-door with manual transmission. An Unlimited Sport with automatic will run closer to $35,000. Lots of room for optional upgrades.
  • Wrangler Sahara – Starts from $32,000 for the 2-door. Figure around $38,000 for a common Unlimited Sahara build. The Sahara opens up even more luxury add-ons.
  • Wrangler Rubicon – Starts around $36,000 for the 2-door or $39,000 for an Unlimited Rubicon. Loaded Rubicons can easily clear $50,000. The off-road gear doesn’t come cheap!
  • Used Wranglers – Expect to pay a premium! Even 10 year old Wranglers with 100k+ miles often run $15,000+. Wranglers hold value exceptionally well. Shop carefully for used.

When setting your Wrangler budget, leave room for upgrades like winches, lift kits, off-road bumpers, larger tires and wheels, and tuning upgrades down the road. Wrangler owners love to customize!

What Engine Options Are Available?

Wrangler shoppers have three engines options to consider:

3.6L Pentastar V6

The 3.6L Pentastar V6 comes standard on all Wrangler models. Rated at 285 horsepower and 260 lb-ft of torque, it provides smooth, strong acceleration even when loaded down off-road.

This engine can be paired with either a 6-speed manual gearbox or 8-speed automatic transmission. Fuel economy checks in at 17 mpg city and 23 highway. For many Wrangler owners, the responsive V6 hits the sweet spot between power and efficiency.

2.0L Turbo 4-Cylinder

New for 2018, a 2.0L turbocharged 4-cylinder offers increased efficiency while maintaining competitive torque. Output sits at 270 horsepower and 295 lb-ft of torque, edging out the V6.

The turbo engine comes exclusively with the 8-speed automatic. Fuel economy sees a healthy jump to 22 mpg city and 24 mpg highway. The turbo 4-cylinder is a great option if gas mileage is a priority.

3.0L EcoDiesel V6

Also new for 2018, the available 3.0L EcoDiesel V6 transforms the Wrangler into an off-roading fuel miser. Diesel motors are known for robust low-end torque, and this one churns out 260 hp and a massive 442 lb-ft of torque.

Expect fuel economy of 22 mpg city and 29 mpg highway. The diesel can be paired to the 8-speed auto or 6-speed manual. The diesel option costs a few thousand extra but pays off over time in fuel savings, especially if you rack up the off-road miles.

What is the Jeep Wrangler’s Fuel Economy?

Fuel economy depends on your choice of engine:

  • 3.6L V6 – 17 mpg city / 23 mpg highway
  • 2.0L Turbo – 22 mpg city / 24 mpg highway
  • 3.0L Diesel – 22 mpg city / 29 mpg highway

Keep in mind these EPA estimates are for 2-door models. The heavier Unlimited typically sees 1-2 mpg lower.

Compared to other 4×4 SUVs, the Wrangler’s fuel economy is about average. Expect to pay a little more at the pump thanks to its brick-like aerodynamics and solid rear axle. But most Wrangler owners happily accept this compromise for the off-road payoff.

If fuel costs are a big concern, the new 2.0L turbo and diesel options offer real-world efficiency in the low-mid 20s. Going easy on the gas pedal helps too – these engines have plentiful torque down low.

What Off-Road Capabilities Does the Wrangler Have?

While its highway manners may be mediocre, the Wrangler absolutely excels off the beaten path. Here are some of the stand-out off-road capabilities:

High Ground Clearance

All Wrangler models offer over 10 inches of ground clearance from the factory. Head off-road and those massive bumpers and underside protection allow you to traverse rocks, deep ruts, and other obstacles without banging up the underbody.

Heavy Duty Dana Axles

Wranglers feature old-school solid Dana axles front and rear. These heavy duty units are built to take abuse and feature large gear reduction for superior torque when crawling slowly over obstacles.

The Rubicon’s beefed up Dana 44 axles with electronic locking differentials take strength and traction to the next level.

Disconnectable Sway Bars

An innovative coil suspension design allows the Wrangler’s front sway bar to disconnect electronically when in 4WD low range. This allows the front wheels to articulate independently for improved wheel travel over uneven terrain.

4:1 Transfer Case w/ 4LO

In addition to 4WD high range, Wranglers have a seriously low 4LO range for their transfer case. Combined with short gearing on those Dana axles, this allows the Jeep to idle slowly along at 1-2 mph with maximum control and torque for picking lines through challenges.

Tow Hooks and Skid Plates

Factory installed tow hooks help you or a buddy drag the Wrangler out of trouble. Beefy skid plates shield vital components like the engine, transmission, and gas tank from bashes and debris underneath.

With its robust hardware and carefully engineered 4WD systems, the Wrangler eats up rough country. Properly equipped, it will amaze you with the terrain it can traverse right off the showroom floor.

What Questions Should I Ask When Buying a Used Wrangler?

While the Wrangler is built tough for off-road duty, you still need to carefully inspect any used model to avoid expensive issues down the road. Here are key questions to ask:

Has the Wrangler been modified? Heavily modified Wranglers can be ticking time bombs if the work was done poorly. Look for signs of lift kits, oversized tires, chopped fenders, aftermarket gearing or engine tuning, etc. Stock is best when buying used.

Does it have any accident history or damage? Even minor front end collisions can cause alignment issues and wear on suspension and steering parts. Look for signs of body work and make sure panels line up evenly.

What maintenance has been done and were repairs done properly? Given their frequent off-road use, Wranglers need regular fluid changes and suspension bushings and joints replaced. Ask to see if major services were done on time.

Does it have service records? Maintenance records are a huge bonus showing the vehicle was cared for. Gaps in the records could mean issues were ignored.

Has it spent a lot of time off-roading or been used hard? Signs of heavy off-road use like dents, scratches, worn interior pieces indicate the Wrangler was put through its paces. Additional wear is likely.

A pre-purchase inspection by an independent mechanic is strongly advised when buying a used Wrangler. Paying a few hundred bucks upfront can save you from a far more expensive mistake.

Key Takeaways – Buying a Jeep Wrangler

In the market for an iconic off-road machine? The Jeep Wrangler delivers timeless 4×4 capability and appeal. Keep these takeaways in mind while shopping:

  • Research Wrangler models and trims to find the right blend of price, styling, and equipment for your needs
  • Test drive different engine options to feel the torquey acceleration and manual or automatic shifting
  • For used Wranglers, take your time inspecting condition and service history before buying
  • While not the most fuel efficient SUV, upgraded engines help with mpg
  • Factor in customization costs – lifts, bumpers, armor, tires, tune-ups and more
  • Appreciate the history but also safety and tech upgrades in modern Wranglers
  • Wave to your fellow Jeep owners out on the trails!

Whether new or used, stock or customized, the Wrangler is guaranteed to deliver smiles every time you get behind the wheel. By following this guide, you can shop smart and bring home the perfect match. Here’s to many more years of Jeep adventure!

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