Greg Fink's Wrangler Sport - $28,045
The Jeep Wrangler is a back-to-basics SUV, which is why my Wrangler is about as basic as it gets. With an entry-level $28,045 Wrangler Sport two-door as my canvas, I fit the four-wheel-drive box with $1,910 worth of extras. Hell, even the basic among us need a few amenities.
Many of the options on my white Wrangler enhance its capabilities. For instance, $595 went toward an anti-lock rear-differential and all-terrain tires for the SUV’s 17-inch steel wheels. Other options, though, are there to enhance my driving performance. Notably, the $1,295 air-conditioning system. That’s a small price to pay to avoid regular hospital bills for heat-stroke treatment.
Finally, this Wrangler includes the Smokers Group, a $30 package that adds a cigarette lighter and removable ashtray. Do I smoke? No. But if I’m entering the world of Wrangler ownership, then I at least need to entertain the idea of lighting up while driving. It only seems natural in this sort of vehicle.
All in, I’m looking at an out-the-door price of $31,460, including a $1,495 destination fee. As far as Wrangler’s go, this one’s a smokin’ deal.
Adrian Padeanu's Wrangler Unlimited Sport - $31,545
Having owned a coupe for more than a third of my life, the days of two-door cars are behind me since I’m now old enough to find cars without rear doors rather unpractical. Therefore, I’d go with the Unlimited model while staying on a budget since the ideal Wrangler in my book is a no-frills version with very few extras. The basis would be the $31,545 Unlimited Sport 4x4 in the eye-catching Punk’n Metallic Clear-Coat paint with the standard 17-inch black wheels.
Inside, I actually favor cloth seats over the pricier leather upholstery, but I would spend extra on the $150 all-weather floor mats. When it comes to optional packages, I have no need for the Smoker’s Group or the Trailer Tow Group, which is why I’d skip both and use the money somewhere else. The Wrangler is far from being a sports car that would be more fun with a manual gearbox, so I would spend $2,000 on the eight-speed automatic transmission for a more relaxing drive while sticking with the standard Pentastar V6 engine.
One last option box that I would tick is the Anti-Spin Differential Rear Axle ($595) with those all-terrain tires. While I generally prefer hardtops to fabric roof, the Wrangler is an exception as I’ve always envisioned my ideal configuration with the standard soft top, especially since in the JL generation it’s easier to put down or up than ever before.
That brings the grand total to a perfectly reasonable $35,785, with just $2,745 worth of options.
Anthony Karr's Wrangler - $32,165
If it’s a Wrangler, it has to be one with two doors. Everything from the overall appearance to the off-road capability is just better when you have two instead of four doors. Well, the obvious lack of rear seats might be a disadvantage for some, but it’s fine with me. After all, the Wrangler is an adventurous vehicle to explore new grounds and not a family hauler.
I imagine Jeep’s SUV as the second car in my garage, one that I’ll use during weekends and vacations. With that said, I’ll be totally happy to have a base Wrangler to keep the price low. I can even make do with the entry-level Sport model. As long as it is a Wrangler with all-wheel drive, nothing bothers me.
Of course, that doesn’t mean that it has to be painted in a boring color so I’ll pick a Mojito green hue with standard black wheels and no decals. Just a simple, green body with a Mesh Bikini top by Mopar that’s just $135 extra on the base price. The interior will be all-black and I’ll add an air conditioning and all-weather floor mats. No leather, no fancy infotainment system.
Power will come from the 3.6-liter V6 mated to a six-speed manual. It’s a robust and proven combination that’s engaging to drive and provides enough power and low-end torque for all my needs. That brings my dream Wrangler to a net price of $32,165 – a pretty reasonable figure for a go-anywhere weekend ride.
Brandon Turkus' Wrangler Rubicon - $46,105
Every Wrangler should be two-door. American soldiers won the war with two-door Jeeps, and until recently, that was the only way to get a Wrangler. So that’s what I’ve chosen. And because all the best cars are at least a little inconvenient, I’ve selected a soft-top body with the Rubicon trim, for its knobbly tires and squishy suspension. I once drove a Wrangler Rubicon like this from Detroit to Northern Michigan – it was miserable. On the highway, it pitched and rolled in heavy winds and required constant steering corrections thanks to the tires. Perfect.
Considering my heritage-inspired build, I’ve gone with a six-speed manual transmission which requires the 3.6-liter V6. I’d love the mild-hybrid 2.0-liter for the additional low-end torque, but alas, Jeep isn’t offering that configuration at the moment. Still, the V6 and manual gearbox is an engaging, entertaining combination.
But while I’m not bothered by some inconveniences, others are a bridge too far. That’s why my ideal Wrangler has heated leather seats and a heated steering wheel, thanks to the $695 Cold Weather Package. And because Jeep’s standard headlights are usually lousy, I added the $995 LED Lighting Group. The $1,295 steel bumpers are a must, as is the $895 Jeep Active Safety Group (blind-spot monitoring, rear parking sensors). The $795 Trailer Tow Group adds a beefier alternator and four auxiliary switches. Switches are cool. Rounding out my setup is the $1,295 Alpine audio system because tunes are important when driving a Wrangler.
The total price of my build is a somewhat reasonable $46,105. That’s still crazy money for a Jeep Wrangler, but it’s not as exorbitant as some of the other builds featured here.
Finally, you might notice that my Jeep is the only one with the roof and doors off. That’s intentional because a roofless, doorless Wrangler is the only correct Wrangler.
Chris Smith's Wrangler Rubicon - $46,555
When it comes to the Jeep Wrangler, I’m a purist. If I want a four-door Jeep, I’ll buy a Cherokee and be done with it. Wranglers are meant to be small, slipping between trees or climbing rocks, taking its occupants to places where roads or trails don’t exist. As such, it’s a nimble two-door Rubicon for me, finished in Firecracker Red with the standard-issue black fender flares, black soft top, and 17-inch wheels wearing mud-terrain tires. This is an off-roader, no need to get fancy.
Actually, I would prefer the leather-trimmed bucket seats in tan, just to break up the monotony of the Wrangler’s dark cabin. Standard equipment for the rest of the interior is fine, though I want the LED lights front and rear as well as the steel bumpers. Power-wise, I want nothing to do with turbochargers on my off-roader – those hairdryers can get awfully hot in low-speed, high-RPM off-road conditions – so it’s the 3.6-liter V6 with the automatic for me.
That brings me to $46,555, which isn’t cheap for a small off-roader like this. However, a two-door fabric-top Wrangler is as iconic as it is capable of finding places where other machines – including the four-door Wrangler – simply can’t reach.
Anthony Alaniz's Wrangler Rubicon - $46,770
I’ve never been one to gravitate toward large vehicles – crossovers, SUVs, and trucks aren’t my thing. Every car I’ve owned has had two doors, and I don’t plan on changing now. Thankfully, the Jeep Wrangler provides such a body style, and I’d opt for the two-door Wrangler Rubicon.
As a firm believer in the idea that vehicles require color, I’d wrap it in Ocean Blue Metallic paint. I’d keep the standard 17-inch wheels but wrap them with the optional though free-to-upgrade LT285/70R17C OWL off-road tires because I like the subtle contrast of the white lettering. I’d also get the body-color three-piece hardtop for $2,195. It just looks better to me.
Inside, I’d upgrade to the 8.4-inch Connect display with navigation, which requires the Premium Audio Group pack for $1,595. The Alpine nine-speaker premium audio system is included. I would also fork over the $1,750 for the stitched leather black seats. However, I do not like the red dashboard and considered getting the tan seats instead, which replaces the red with gray.
Other packages I’d add would be the LED Lighting Group for $995 and the Cold Weather Group – heated front seats and steering wheel – for $695 because I do live in Michigan. Out the door, my perfect two-door Wrangler Rubicon would cost an eye-watering $46,770, which includes $7,230 in options plus the $1,495 destination charge on top of the Rubicon’s $38,045 starting price. Is it the most rugged off-road-ready adventure machine? Of course not – but I think it looks cool.
Clint Simone's Wrangler Unlimited Sahara - $50,245
While I appreciate a traditional two-door Wrangler as much as the next person, times have changed. With the introduction of the Unlimited four-door model, Jeep took the wonderful go-anywhere capability of the Wrangler and added the option to bring along friends and family. Simply put, the four-door Wrangler takes everything we love about the Wrangler and makes it more practical. How could you hate that?
Admittedly, my ideal spec is a bit of a dropkick to the stomach with its price, but such is the cost of a good time these days. At $50,245 my Unlimited Sahara ticks all the right boxes, without going overboard. Color matching roof with retractable shade? Yes, please. 8.4-inch Uconnect touchscreen with Apple Carplay? Absolutely. The Sahara is extremely capable off-road still but is more livable on-road than its bigger-tire-wearing sibling, the Rubicon. And that last part is important (you’ll thank me at 80 mph on the highway).
My controversial addition is the $2,000 automatic transmission. I know, I know, – it hurts me too. But the eight-speed is a peach and makes the Wranger that much more liveable on a day-to-day basis. As do the $975 running boards, which also look great. But hey, Chris Bruce’s is more expensive than me, so yell at him and not me.
John Neff's Unlimited Rubicon - $52,115
I want to retire and hit the open road in an overlanding vehicle. I’ll camp along the way as I merrily tour these great United States in a vehicle that can drive outside the lines with ease.
With that in mind, my ideal Wrangler build starts with a four-door Unlimited version of the Wrangler’s most off-road ready trim level: the Rubicon. I like the Rubicon because its fenders aren’t body color. If you’re actually going off road, the less exposed paint the better.
Speaking of paint, I’ll stick with the standard white because I don’t want to pay extra for silly shades of metallic, and I like seeing the dust and dirt from where I’ve been on my Wrangler’s sheetmetal. I did upgrade the Wrangler Unlimited’s top to the Black Freedom 3-Piece Hard Top for an extra $1,195. I want a hard top because I’ll be storing food in the Wrangler while traveling, and bears could easily poke their claws through the soft top. The black version of this hard top is $1,000 cheaper than the body color version, too – again, the less exposed paint the better.
Jeep can keep its leather seats for an extra $1,495; cloth is fine with me. I will drop $1,595 on FCA’s excellent Uconnect 4C system with navigation, though. The larger screen looks much better in the dash, and this software is the best in the biz.
Truth be told, I would spend a lot of money on option packages, some for luxuries, some for added safety, and some for the cool factor. They include the LED Lighting Group for $995, Cold Weather Group for $695, Trailer Tow Group with four auxiliary switches for $795, the Jeep Active Safety Group for $895, Adaptive Cruise with Forward Collision Warning for $795, and the Steel Bumper Group for $1,295. Added up, that’s $9,115 in options.
As for my powertrain, the standard naturally aspirated 3.6-liter V6 is fine with me. Put another way, I’d choose its adequate power and mechanically simpler makeup over the optional turbocharged four-cylinder's cost and complexity. I would order it with an automatic transmission for an extra $2,000, though, because, well, I’m not a manual martyr.
Out the door, my 2019 Jeep Wrangler Unlimited Rubicon costs $52,115 and can take me to any campsite my heart desires. I just need a rooftop tent and bear spray and I’m good to go.
Chris Bruce's Wrangler Rubicon - $53,275
I learned to drive a manual transmission on a 1997 Jeep Wrangler, and the vehicles have had a soft spot in my heart ever since. While the one I learned on was mostly a base model with a few options, I built my ideal 2019 Wrangler with practically every bell and whistle that was available. The total cost came to an admittedly steep $53,275.
I went with the two-door Wrangler because in my opinion the vehicle’s proportions look awkward as the four-door Unlimited. The stock 3.6-liter V6 is fine and a proven design, so I’m sticking with it rather than the optional 2.0-liter turbo four-cylinder, but the eight-speed automatic would mean that my wife and I could both drive this machine.
I want a Jeep that I could conceivably drive comfortably everyday, so this one has the three-piece hardtop, but I’m also grabbing the mesh bikini top to use during sunny times. Inside, the Heritage Tan leather seats look great, and I opt for the larger 8.4-inch infotainment system. All of the optional packages are on board, including the $995 LED lights and all of the available safety tech. I probably don’t need the $795 trailering package, since I don’t intend to do much towing, but this is a fantasy, so it goes onto my Wrangler.
I think the result of all of these amenities is a Wrangler that work for daily driving just as much for a jaunt off-road.
- Chris Bruce
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