The all-new 2018 Jeep Wrangler is no doubt an impressive piece of machinery. Known by fans as the “JL” Wrangler, based on Jeep’s engineering code, it’s naturally more capable than the “JK” Wrangler that it’s replacing. The new Wrangler also delivers higher levels of modern-day technology. This includes features such as Android Auto/Apple CarPlay smartphone integration, a blind-spot system and a light-hybrid powertrain.
Yet there are plenty of good reasons for buying a Wrangler from the previous generation instead. And there are plenty of examples available, too. Although it received many upgrades over the years, the JK Wrangler was first introduced as a 2007 model. Jeep has sold about 1.5 million of them since then. Now, to be clear, both the JK Wrangler and the JL Wrangler were on sale together as 2018 models earlier this year.
We’re going to focus on the benefits of pre-owned JK Wranglers today, since they have a built-in advantage when it comes to cost.
Like most used vehicles, a key benefit for a pre-owned JK Jeep Wrangler is pricing. Right off the bat, you’ll generally pay thousands less for the exact same version of any vehicle if you buy it used instead of new. Of course, the JK and JL Wrangler aren’t exactly the same. The JL model is priced to reflect not only new content, but overall upgrades to its foundation. Looking at their similarly equipped 2018 entry-level trims, the JK Wrangler starts at $23,995, and the JL version has an MSRP of $26,995.
That means when you’re shopping for a pre-owned JK Wrangler, the depreciation discount versus a new one is only the starting point.
Wrangler Off-road Capability
Sure, the new JL Wrangler may have some performance advantages over the JK model, but the JK itself is more capable than almost any other SUV on the market, used or new. The Rubicon trim level sets the pace for those JK Wranglers, and models from 2014 forward are particularly well-suited for off-road use. It was the 2014 Jeep Wrangler Rubicon X that introduced removable front-bumper end caps to the lineup. Removing the caps makes it easier to avoid damage during extreme rock crawling.
The JK Rubicon models also provide their share of robust off-road hardware. Among the highlights are heavy-duty axles, a two-speed transfer case and a disconnecting front sway bar. That gives the Wrangler Rubicon’s front suspension the ability to better tackle uneven ground.
A pre-owned JK Jeep Wrangler can be a surprising alternative to a typical convertible. In fact, the Wrangler showcases one of the most wide-open driving experiences you can get. Both the standard soft top and the available hard-top system can be removed completely, and that’s true for the two-door Wrangler and four-door Wrangler Unlimited body styles alike. No other mainstream SUV offers a convertible top. Meanwhile, convertible cars can’t provide nearly as much cargo space, capability or room for passengers. You also can take off the doors and lower the windshield in the JK Wrangler to really enjoy the elements. (Helping matters, a special toolkit for the top and doors became standard for the 2015 Jeep Wrangler.)
As for that just-mentioned cargo space, you may be surprised at how much the JK Jeep Wrangler can carry. The two-door model is limited to 12.8 cubic feet of storage behind its two rear seats. But if you fold those seats, capacity jumps to 56.5 cubic feet. The maximum cargo space in the slightly longer 2018 Toyota C-HR SUV is 36.4 cubic feet.
Moving to the four-door JK Wrangler Unlimited, with room for three in the second row, also increases cargo space. That body style offers 31.5 cubic feet behind the back seats and 70.6 with the seats folded. The 2018 Chevrolet Equinox, from the same size class, compares with 29.9 and 63.5 cubic feet in the same configurations.
The dimensions for the JK Wrangler stayed essentially the same throughout its production run.
The JK Jeep Wrangler’s basic design essentially has stayed the same over the years. However, this doesn’t mean all models look alike. By continuing to launch special editions during that time, Jeep made sure the Wrangler’s appearance stayed fresh. Today, more than 10 years’ worth of special-edition JK Wranglers are on the market, each with their own distinctive style packages.
They include popular models such as the 2012 Call of Duty: Modern Warfare 3 Special Edition. This model supported the launch of the video game of the same name with graphics, a unique hood design, 32-inch tires and more. More recently, the 2016 Jeep Wrangler 75th Anniversary Edition helped celebrate the original Jeep’s military debut in 1941.
Our final reason for buying a JK Jeep Wrangler is related to the previous one. Beyond all those special models, individual Wranglers can stand out further with an extensive range of aftermarket accessories. How extensive? The JK Wrangler has been voted the “Hottest 4X4 SUV” of the year for eight consecutive years at the annual SEMA (Specialty Equipment Market Association) show. With that in mind, you’ve got two great options. You can shop for one of the many JK Wranglers that’s been modified by someone else. Or, if you plan on doing the work yourself, you can be confident that both the official Mopar team and third-party companies will be building JK accessories for years to come.