Is Buying a Jeep Wrangler A Good Idea?

The Jeep Wrangler is far from the world’s most advanced or efficient vehicle; buying a Wrangler may not seem like the most logical choice. And many Wrangler owners choose this SUV for more emotional reasons. That said, there are several situations in which buying a Jeep Wrangler is a smart choice.

Does a Jeep Wrangler have good resale value?

Jeep’s flagship SUV has an excellent resale value. Wranglers hold their value better than Toyota Tacomas, Porsche 911s, and any other vehicle on the road.

Gray Jeep Wrangler JK "Rubicon" parked in the midst of a rocky 4x4 trail.
Jeep Wrangler | Cody Lannom via Unsplash

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A recent study by the iSeeCars website concluded that Jeep Wranglers and Wrangler Unlimiteds depreciate less over five years than any other vehicle. While the average motor vehicle loses 40.1% of its value in its first five years, the Jeep Wrangler Unlimited loses just 10.5% of its value in five years and the regular Wrangler loses just 9.2%.

iSeeCars Executive Analyst Karl Brauer has a theory as to why Wrangler’s hold their value. He says the following:

“Jeep Wranglers are known for retaining their value due to their enthusiastic fanbase, as well as their durability and performance across all terrains, especially off-road…Jeep Wranglers also have maintained their iconic design, so even older models don’t appear dated.”

Karl Brauer, iSeeCars Executive Analyst

As important as the high resale value of used Jeep Wranglers is the fact that even older models are still in high demand. Therefore, if you choose to sell your Jeep Wrangler you should be able to do so fairly easily.

Are Jeep Wranglers good vehicles for bad roads?

Jeep Wranglers are one of many 4×4 SUVs that are capable off road or on marginal roads. But because of the overbuilt nature of the Jeep Wrangler, it is also a relatively durable vehicle–even for those who live on a rural road fulltime.

Man standing next to a Jeep Wrangler on a deserted road with the sun setting above a range of mountains in the background.
Jeep Wrangler | Matthias Koch via Unsplash

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One of the reasons Jeep Wranglers are so durable is because of the way they are built. Modern Jeep Wranglers feature a solid front axle and sturdy, body-on-frame construction. This layout dates back to the Wrangler’s World War II origins.

Many modern SUVs, by contrast, feature a combined body/frame unit called a “unibody.” They also have independent front suspension instead of a solid front axle. This results in a lighter, nimbler vehicle than a Wrangler. But in many cases, a less durable vehicle.

So folks who need a vehicle able to withstand the punishment of living on a rural road fulltime only have several, realistic options. They can buy a full size or midsize pickup truck, or one of just a few full-frame SUVs.

Does the Jeep Wrangler make a good weekend car?

While the Jeep Wrangler might not be the most efficient daily commuter, it makes for an excellent second car. If you are going for a wandering drive with no particular destination, a Wrangler turns your journey into an experience. In 4WD, a Wrangler opens up whole roads your commuter might not be able to tackle. And with the top down and doors off, driving a Wrangler is like nothing else.

White four-door Jeep Wrangler JL Sahara parked in a field, beneath a tree.
Jeep Wrangler | Amber Kipp via Unsplash

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If you have a long highway commute, a Jeep Wrangler is not the most efficient choice for your only vehicle. One of the most fuel efficient Jeep Wranglers available is the two-door variation outfitted with a turbocharged four-cylinder. This SUV gets 22 city/24 highway mpg (23 combined). Its not a bad rating for an SUV, but not as high as most any coupe with a four-cylinder engine. The more common four-door Wrangler with a Pentastar V6 only gets 18 city/23 highway mpg (20 combined).

Is fuel efficiency a dealbreaker? You can splurge for a diesel-powered Wrangler which will net you 22 city/29 highway mpg (25 combined). Or you can spring for the plug-in hybrid Jeep 4xe for 20 mpg combined or a 49 mpg equivalent when traveling on all electric power. But for the Wrangler 4xe’s $52,530 MSRP, you could also buy yourself an efficient commuter and a trail-ready used Wrangler for weekend adventures.

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