Jeep Wranglers are not known for excellent fuel efficiency, crisp steering, or creature comforts. Its on-road manners are bad, It has less cargo space than conventional SUVs, and they’re not particularly fast either. What makes their popularity even harder to understand is, they aren’t particularly reliable, nor do they rate well for safety. So why are they so popular and what makes them so expensive?
Jeep Wranglers are expensive because they have a good resale value, are one of the cheapest SUVs to insure, are fully customizable, practical, and reasonable to maintain.
The Jeep Wrangler brand has made a name for itself for being unrelentingly capable off-road, rugged, and for inspiring a sense of adventure. It’s also an extension of one’s personality, so if you are an outdoors-type person who loves adventure, then the wrangler is a natural fit.
Even if you’re not the adventurous type, the Jeep Wrangler still offers something for everyone who wants to enjoy the Jeep Wrangler image and its sense of comradery, which is very strong both on and offline.
To get a better understanding, let’s now look at each category in more detail to get a deeper sense of the Wrangler’s value and what makes it so darn expensive.
Table of Contents
Why Jeep Wranglers Are So Expensive
Well for one, if you do a quick online search and read a few Wrangler reviews, you’ll get quite a few interesting responses. Even with all its Steering issues, transmission woes, and electrical gremlins, the 2020 and 2019 Wrangler seem to be doing just great with a 7.8/10 customer rating according to Edmunds.
What do customers think?
According to Edmunds.com, what customers loved the most was the Jeep Wrangler’s off-road capabilities, ruggedness, and extensive customization options the most. They listed delayed steering, intrusive on-road noise inside the cabin at highway speeds, and a lack of usable cargo space as the main cons.
We know a certain batch of 2018-19 Wranglers were plagued with transmission woes. You can read more about that here: 2018-19 Wrangler transmission problems (Manual & Automatic Transmission). This didn’t seem to have a huge impact on the Jeep Wrangler’s reputation.
LIKES AND DISLIKES
- Fantastic off-road capabilities
- Rough & Ready Jeep character
- Wide-ranging customization options
- Lethargic & delayed Steering response
- Vague handling abilities
- Poor ride comfort
- Intrusive wind and tire noise
- Lack of cargo space
The older model TJ Wranglers were, and still are, extremely popular for their simplicity and off-road superiority. The TJ Wrangler is exempt from any high-tech complexities and bloated electronics more commonly found on the JK and JL models today. Things were much more simple in the ’90s.
Unfortunately, manufacturers are forced to move with the times, and as technology, safety, and the constant pressure to produce greener vehicles increases, the simplicity and basic design of the Jeep had to evolve accordingly. Manufacturers are forced to remain compliant or seize production of non-compliant models.
It’s not necessarily a bad thing, since these features are all designed to improve the overall driver’s experience and improve your off-road and on-road safety, as well as, preserve the environment.
Modern Wranglers are packed with feathers such as:
- Anti-Roll mitigation
- Traction Aids
- Digital temperature control
- HVAC Climate Control
- UConnect Systems
- Remote Start
- Hi-Tech computer systems
- 4WD Auto functionality
- Monitoring sensors
- Sound deadening
- Plush interiors
- And much more…
The cost of insurance on a Wrangler makes it an even more appealing purchase option. It’s been rated as one of the least expensive in the SUV segment. The insurance costs are affected by many variables though, and dependent on where you live. A Wrangler can cost under $1,000/Annam to insure in one state, and more than double that in another.
Obviously, the older the model, the more affordable the insurance costs, and the market value can be almost 40% higher on newer models compared to a couple of years ago.
Average Cost of Jeep Wrangler Insurance
|Wrangler Year Model||Purchase Price||Average Annual Car Insurance Cost|
|2018 Jeep Wrangler||$26,797||$2,700|
|2017 Jeep Wrangler||$25,841||$2,415|
|2016 Jeep Wrangler||$24,308||$2,476|
|2015 Jeep Wrangler||$22,902||$2,519|
|2014 Jeep Wrangler||$21,406||$2,111|
|2013 Jeep Wrangler||$19,566||$2,030|
|2012 Jeep Wrangler||$17,929||$1,962|
Good Resale Value
Probably one of the biggest factors when deciding on purchasing a vehicle is its resale value. Jeep Wranglers are well known to be really strong in this department. What exactly is it about the Wranglers that helps it retain its value so well?
Well, if you consider all factors, the new Wrangler actually seems to be under-priced, if you compare apples with apples, against other similar SUVs in its segment. Even so, the Wrangler might appear to be a bare-bones and basic vehicle, however, it’s a very over-engineered vehicle if you look under the skin. Its factors such as its off-road prowess, which is superior to almost anything else in its segment are one of its main drawcards. When it comes to leaving the highway, almost nothing else compares.
This fact alone is what you pay for since you’re getting a vehicle equipped with the best Dana axles, robust gear, chain-driven transfer cases, class-leading ground clearance, integrated roll bars, safety monitoring software, a fully customizable body, and a convertible roof.
That is where the value lies in this vehicle. That is why the Wrangler depreciates slower than most Japanese Luxury SUVs which are well-known for reliability. We won’t mention any brands, you know who they are.
Visit any shopping mall, dare I say around the world, and chances are high you’ll see a fully kitted out, customized Jeep Wrangler or two, or three. These vehicles have developed cult-like status, and have a very strong following. They’ve become more of a status symbol now than ever before, with most owners hardly ever seeing any dirt roads.
What also makes them so popular is that Jeep has made them more affordable by producing them in 2WD (Non-4WD) spec, for those who never intend on using them for their intended purpose, going off-road, but want to affordably buy into the Wrangler image.
There are dedicated Jeep custom shops that will kit out your rig from head to toe with every accessory imaginable. The simple design and square shape of the Wrangler lend themselves to almost unlimited customization options. Your Imagination is the limit. There are also dedicated Jeep Wrangler accessories websites where you can purchase accessories online at affordable prices.
Even Jeep allows you to purchase your new Wrangler in the exact customized specification you desire with a host of factory accessories available off the floor. Amazing!
Even though Jeep makes a killing on the Wranglers, their purchase prices still increase annually. Once you have your hands on one, they are quite affordable to run with many options available for replacement parts and accessories around the US. The older model TJ’s are very basic in design and easy to work on yourself, with basic tools. If you want an affordable, low-maintenance off-road-ready beast, the TJ Wrangler has no competition.
Newer models like the JK and JL’s parts are more expensive. They are also more sophisticated, comfortable, and technologically advanced, which requires an OBDII Diagnostic & Fault Code Reader to troubleshoot accurately.
Factory Standard Equipment
If you’re buying a Jeep Wrangler for off-road use, then the factory standard package is a very capable option. Most cars would require thousands of dollars of modifications to do what a Jeep can do right off the showroom floor. You can literally purchase a stock Wrangler with a few factory add-ons, and drive it off-road without any major modifications. The standard functionality and capabilities of the Jeeps make them a really appealing package.
Unlike other brands, which require tire suspension and protection upgrades costing thousands before they can even think of taking them off-road, the Jeep Wrangler is off-road ready from the get-go.
When you think about worth, it’s a very subjective and emotional word. The worth varies from person to person and the value of an item is the maximum price a buyer is willing to pay and a seller is willing to accept. So the buyer determines the value, not the seller, and Jeep owners know the value of these vehicles. That is exactly why they are prepared to pay a premium price for what others wouldn’t even consider.
Then we have huge Hollywood blockbuster films glamorizing these vehicles, making them even more desirable to the public. Movies and series such as Back to the Future, Jurassic Park, MacGyver, and Tropical Heat are all prime examples where Jeep Wranglers were used to portray a cool, adventurous image. And that it did!
Are Jeep Wranglers Reliable?
Asking if a Jeep is reliable is like asking how long a piece of string is. The answer is, it depends. It depends on how it was treated by the previous owner if you’re buying used. It depends if it was serviced regularly. Was it heavily modified? Which year model are you referring to? Do you live near the coast? All these factors can determine if your Jeep will remain reliable and the kind of reliability you can expect.
In general, the TJ models or pre-2007 are the more reliable versions, purely because of their simplicity. Once the JK rolled around they lost some of that reliability making the (97-06) the most sought-after models for a host of reasons such as:
- Customization options
- Low running costs
- Affordable used purchase price
- Ease of maintenance
Being the older spec models, the drawback of the TJ Wrangler is they are only available in 2-Door, making them rather small in size compared to the 4-Door JK and JL’s and now the even bigger, Gladiator.
When all is said and done, the Jeep Wrangler range offers one thing that very few other vehicles offer, and that is the promise of adventure. It is that one single property that keeps Wrangler resale values high.