I have owned several Jeep Wranglers since 1997, and currently have two of them in my garage. But why? In response to a question about some of the major pros and cons of owning one of the more recent Jeep Wranglers, here are the pros and cons as I see them.
Noisy. You can mitigate this by getting a model with a removable hardtop, but it’s still gonna be noisy. When you put on the inevitable larger tires with offroad tread it’ll get worse.
Harsh and bumpy ride. This is a truck, not a crossover, and it has a particularly heavy suspension and drive train, and solid axles (no independent suspension).
Bare bones. You can now buy Wranglers with leather upholstery and heated seats, as well as other creature comforts. But the option sheet will still pale in comparison with crossover SUV offerings.
Fuel economy. It isn’t just the added weight, it’s the unfavorable aerodynamics that ensure you’ll spend more than you’d like on gasoline.
Windshields. If you buy used, your windshield will be speckled with sand pits and pockmarks. If you buy new, it soon will be. Jeep windshields are more upright than typical passenger vehicles and take damage more readily.
In summary, if you’re sitting behind the wheel of a Jeep in a test drive and find yourself thinking: “My neighbor’s [Toyota Highlander / Honda Pilot / Subaru Forester / etc.] is so much more comfortable than this,” then you should return to the dealership and move on.
Your question asks specifically about the more recent vehicles (five or six years). Unless you’re a real Jeep traditionalist in the making, you’ve homed in on the optimum years. (I’m excluding the current production of 2018 Wrangler JL models because I have no experience with them.)
Jeeps of this overall generation (2007 to 2017) are much wider than the preceding generation of Wranglers, giving them a great deal more stability.
As noted, the 3.6 liter engine of the past five or six years is said by many to be superior to the earlier 3.8 liter engine. It generates more power and may be more reliable. (I happen to have the 3.8 and it’s performed well, but YMMV.)
Newer top options, especially soft tops, are available from this time frame that provide more flexibility. You can drive with your Jeep completely or partially open.
The above mentioned options, such as leather and heated seats, are available during this time frame.
However, please note that *all* of the cons I’ve noted above will be reduced with a Jeep from 2012 to 2017, but they will still be present — especially if you compare the Wrangler of any era to a modern crossover.
Now to the pros of owning one.
If within the first five minutes of driving you find yourself grinning like an idiot, you may become a fully-qualified Jeep owner. If so, your life is about to get so much better.