At DBOR, we are often asked what Wrangler to purchase, here are MY OWN personal views and may differ with my team here at Double Black:
If you have ANY intention of using the back seat rule out the 2 door. It is impractical, impossible to climb in even for my 5 year old! I get my kids in through the rear swing gate and glass on the stock 2 door im currently driving.
2 Door or 4 Door?
The back seat does not have a split fold option so you cant even carry 3 and use the rest as storage
If your thinking of touring and extended trips, rule out the 2 door. Very difficult without a roof rack to add anything of substance such as an Engel fridge and tools (you do carry tools, right?)
If your thinking of towing anything over 500kgs again rule out the 2 door. It has less towing capacity than the 4 door, and would be unstable towing anything heavy especially with the terrible stock suspension setup
If your limiting your Jeeps mods to releatively stock or just 2” of lift, go the shorty. Its wheelbase and rampover make it a formidable combination off road. In my opinion the 4 door needs at least 3” of lift just to get the belly up which is worse than a stock Patrol or Landcruiser.
Need a convertible? Buy the 2 door, the roof is far easier to raise and lower and taking 2 doors off as opposed to 4 will have you doing it far more often. Doors off driving is cool.
Want a small 4by for the city run? Buy the 2 door UNLESS YOUR USING THE BACK SEAT. I cant emphasise enough how useless the back seat is on a 2dr. On my school run in a 2 door, the kids schoolbags take up the entire boot! But, the vision of the 2 door is better than the 4 door and turning circle is just bloody amazing of the 2 door once you have owned the 4 door which has the turning circle of a bus!!!
Want a toy for the weekends? Buy the SWB UNLESS YOU NEED THE BACK SEAT! The fact is the SWB are cheaper and its wheelbase by its nature makes it better bang for buck offroad. Its more nimble and less prone to damage off road compared to its brother.
Want to build a weapon? Buy the 4 door. The length and width of a 4 door with 37s and above make it a formidable combination and will be THE generic truck most teams will use in the future. SWB owners always need to go long arm to extend their wheelbase to get the edge, whereas with the LWB, you don’t really need to shorten its wheelbase to be a contender.
CRD VS PETROLDoing over 30000kms per year? CRD is the fuel of choice, you will save money. With the premium you pay for the motor, the premium at the pump and the premium you pay for maintenance, you need to do the miles to justify it.
Want a Rubicon? Easy, you can only buy it in a petrol. To my dismay, the fact is, that we can never get a real answer, there is no Jeep CRD rubicon here despite being available in RHD overseas!
The crds were working on at the moment that have started to see a few miles, are proving expensive to repair and maintain. A cambelt change alone, due at 100000kms is around the $1500 mark
The 3.8V6 is just gutless. So much capacity and so little power. Especially the auto 4 door , the worst combination of drivetrain in my opinion. Thirsty and gutless. This bog stock JK auto shorty im driving at the moment is drinking 15 litres per 100k! There are now Supercharger options available to rectify its deficiencies and will deliver better fuel economy too
New Pentastar or CRD? For me, and I just ordered one, its the Pentastar. It has 80 more HP than the mini van engine (think Chrysler Voyager!), Vairable Valve Timing and better fuel economy. The price premium for the CRD ($5K from memory), is just not worth it. Aftermarket support for all petrol engines is massive, the CRD is woeful and parts pricing unrealistic
Again, how many kms per year you doing? If its a daily driver in doing the peak hour runs, the clutch is an absolute pain
AUTO VS MANUAL
Which gearbox combo is most reliable? Manual petrols commonly have noisy gearboxes and their clutches let go even for stock vehicles with as little as 20000kms!
Manual CRDs, are tiring to drive, extremely laggy and a heavy clutch. The gearbox cannot handle any power upgrades thats why it has less power and the cost to replace a clutch?? $2500!!!
Auto Petrol 3.8? By far the worst of the lot. Sees the slightest incline and the asthmatic powertrain goes hunting for gears. The transmission alone drinks around 3 to 3.5 litres more than the manual petrol in a 3.8. The trans is fairly reliable however
CRD auto ? The best combination at the moment, until I get my auto Pentastar. Whilst a little reluctant to downchange gears and in top gear drops back to 3rd not 4th, its so much easier to drive both on and offroad. The fat torque band turns a novice into a pro, allowing you to climb and tackle tricky obstacles way easier
Pentastar auto or manual? At this stage the new auto 5spd trans is the winner. This unit is far smoother and with tiptronic functionality makes it a winner offroad. Plus im lazy and love the ability offroad to focus on my line rather than what gear im in. Plus, its safer too, you are not shock loading the drivetrain, which can lead you heading backwards fast in tricky situations and driveline damage also.
Have I answered your questions? Probably not decisively, but hopefully my experiences shared will allow you to make a more informed decision when it comes to buying one!!!