Jeep Killed the Last $30k Wrangler

The Jeep Wrangler was once a bare-bones SUV. But no longer. The Jeep brand has been pushing its most iconic 4×4 upmarket with trims such as the hybrid 4xe, the luxurious High Altitude, and the powerful Rubicon 392. And for the 2023 model year, it has bumped the price of even the entry-level two-door Wrangler Sport to over $30k.

How much does a 2023 Jeep Wrangler cost?

The absolute cheapest Jeep Wrangler is the two-door configuration of the Sport trim. In 2022, Jeep advertised the starting MSRP of this Wrangler at $29,995. But the 2023 version will set you back $30,945 before fees such as destination charges.

Gray entry-level Jeep Wrangler 4xe parked in the middle of a rocky off-road trail.
2023 Jeep Wrangler Willys | Stellantis

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The top trim Jeep Wrangler is the HEMI V8-powered Rubicon 392. The Rubicon 392 is only available with a four-door “Unlimited” body and its cost starts at $80,595. When you load it up with the Xtreme Recon 1.5-inch lift kit and 35-inch tires, premium paint, and a second set of half doors for when you drop the top, its cost climbs to over $90k.

The cost of the plug-in hybrid Jeep Wrangler 4xe seems downright cheap by comparison. Jeep now offers this top-of-the-line powertrain on the Willys trim, starting at just $53,995.

How much did the first Jeep cost?

Willy was one of two companies to build 4×4 Jeeps to transport Allied troops in WWII. After the war, the company began marketing an open-top 4×4 Civilian Jeep (CJ). The first widely available model was the 1945 CJ-2A with an MSRP of $1,090.

Tan Willys Civlian Jeep CJ-2A 4x4 parked on a dirt road at sunset for a promo picture.
1945 Willys CJ-2A | Stellantis

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A $1,090 Jeep may sound like a fantastic deal. But the dollar has inflated at an average rate of 3.70% a year, so $1,090 in 1945 would be the equivalent of $17,935.80 today.

For this price, you got a vehicle with no roof, no A/C, an absolute top speed of 60 mph, and a comfortable cruising speed of just 47 mph. To be honest, Jeep would not be allowed to sell a Willys today for $17k, or at any price point. It simply wouldn’t be allowed on the roads.

That said, the CJ-2A featured a PTO and was advertised to farmers and others as an outdoor workhorse. And as an off-road 4×4 side-by-side, the Willys would be relatively competitive at $17k.

What SUVs can you get for $30k in 2023?

In 2023, $30k will not get you into any of the Jeep Wrangler’s full-frame competitors–such as the Ford Bronco or Toyota 4Runner. According to TrueCar, this price range will limit you to a crossover such as a Suburu, RAV4, or CR-V. Other options include the Mitsubishi Outlander or Ford Escape–but not the Explorer.

A costly Jeep Grand Cherokee towing a vintage Jeep on a flat trailer.
2022 Jeep Grand Cherokee and 1976 Jeep DJ-5E | Stellantis

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The Jeep Wrangler’s closest competitor might be the full-frame Ford Bronco. The 2023 Bronco SUV starts at $32,295. The unibody Bronco Sport comes in at $29,215.

If you are more of a General Motors fan, GMC offers the 2023 Terrain crossover starting at $29,900. If you want a full-frame 2023 Toyota 4Runner SUV, you will shell out at least $38,805.

Next, see the cheapest used Wrangler model years or see the entry-level Wrangler reviewed in the video below:

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