Jeep Wrangler models come in a wide range of sizes, colors, and wheelbases. How do you know which is the best Jeep Wrangler for you? Read tips from experts here.
Jeep’s iconic 4x4 midsize SUV comes in the Sport, Sahara, and Rubicon trims with multiple packages and special edition options, including the Willys Sport, Sport S, Islander, Willys, 80th Anniversary Edition, Altitude, Sahara Altitude, and the High Altitude. New for 2021 is the Jeep Wrangler 4xe plug-in hybrid and the Jeep Wrangler Rubicon 392, with a roaring 6.7-liter HEMI V8 engine. Each Jeep Wrangler model has distinct features and customizations to suit any terrain and any driver. In this article, we’ll break down the best Wrangler models for wherever your next adventure takes you.
The best Jeep Wrangler for highway driving
You can’t go wrong with the new Jeep Wrangler 4xe plug-in hybrid, especially in terms of fuel efficiency. It has 50 mpg-e (equivalent) combined city and highway fuel mileage. And if you think hybrids are weak, think again: under the hood, you’ll find a turbocharged engine that pumps out 375 horsepower and 470 lb-ft of torque. The Wrangler 4xe accelerates from 0 to 60 mph in 6 seconds flat, making it the fastest Wrangler, too. If you want to rip it down the open road, this is the Wrangler for you.
The best Jeep Wrangler for off-roading
While the Jeep Wrangler is already synonymous with off-roading excellence, for the best rough-and-tumble ride, we recommend the Jeep Wrangler Rubicon, which some say is the most beloved Jeep Wrangler of all time. Originally introduced as part of the TJ generation of Wranglers, nowadays it’s got an upgraded transfer case and four-wheel-drive system, rock rails, locking front and rear differentials, sway bar, and oversized all-terrain tires. Even more exciting is the new Jeep Wrangler Rubicon 392, featuring a 6.4 liter HEMI V8 engine to provide serious muscle for your mudding.
The best Jeep Wrangler for warm-weather locations
Nothing beats driving a Wrangler on a hot summer day, with its detachable doors and soft top. But to get the most out of your sunny weather, we recommend the Jeep Wrangler Sahara. It’s got dual-zone automatic climate control, body-colored fenders, 18-in alloy wheels, side steps, and 7-inch touchscreen display with Apple CarPlay/Android Auto for blasting your summertime tunes.
The best Jeep Wrangler for snowy locations
With their aggressive tires, ample wheelbase, and 8.3 inches of ground clearance, any Jeep Wrangler is a four-wheel-drive machine that’ll handle miraculously in the snow and ice. But consider upgrading to the Rubicon trim, which comes standard with 33-inch tires that’ll help you brave any blizzard. Opting for the three-piece hardtop is going to be your best bet for keeping that winter chill out of your interior, too.
The best Jeep Wrangler for the mountains
For mountainous terrain, we’d once again recommend the Jeep Wrangler Sahara, which offers the Selec-Trac full-time transfer case. This two-speed transfer analyzes road conditions and automatically switches from two- to four-wheel drive if you’re driving over a rocky patch.
The best Jeep Wrangler for the beach
For the first time in 11 years, Jeep has brought back the Jeep Wrangler Islander Edition. With Surf Blue accent stitching, Islander-embroidered front seats, and a white three-piece hard top, the Islander Edition is the perfect beach SUV and performs beautifully on sandy or rocky terrain. Features include a 360-degree camera and an off-road TrailCam to help avoid potential obstacles. It’s also got a ton of hidden and locking storage so you can safely stow valuables while you’re out enjoying the waves. Even the roof panels can be removed in minutes for open-air freedom. Surf’s up!
Considerations and Options Across Jeep Wrangler Models
Two-door or four-door
The Jeep Wrangler can seat either four or five passengers depending on the model. The two-door model has a pair of seats in the back to hold four people total. The four-door model (known as the Jeep Wrangler Unlimited) has a traditional rear seat that holds up to three people, for a total of five passengers. As you might expect, the four-door models also have both better rear-seat legroom and more cargo space.
All Wranglers come with a soft-top that’s removable for open-air adventures. These soft-tops include the Zipperless Sunrider Soft Top, the Premium Black Sunrider Soft Top, and the Premium Tan Sunrider Soft Top. An optional three-piece Freedom Hard Top is available for quieter rides and/or colder temps. Last (but not least), there’s the Sky One-Touch Power Top, which is a soft-top roof that retracts with the touch of a button, from the windshield header all the way to the cargo area. Magic.
Twelve paint colors are available for 2021, including Bright White, Black, Granite Crystal Metallic, Sting-Gray, Billet Silver Metallic, Chief, Firecracker Red, Nacho, Hellayella, and Sarge Green. New for 2021 are the Hydro Blue Pearl, which is pearlescent and a little darker than the baby-blue Chief, and the Snazzberry, which is a pearlescent reddish-maroon. Yum. Snazzberry…
For the base trim, the Wrangler’s MSRP is $28,475 for the two-door body style and $31,975 for the four-door (Unlimited) body style. The Rubicon runs $38,875 and $42,375 for the two-door and four-door body styles, respectively. The plug-in-hybrid Wrangler 4xe starts at $47,995 for the base Sahara trim, $51,695 for the midlevel Rubicon, and $53,570 for the top-of-the-line 4xe High Altitude. The most expensive trim is the Rubicon 392, which starts at $73,500 and comes in the four-door body style.
You’ve got your standard features for every Jeep Wrangler: manual windows and door locks, push-button start, three 12-volt outlets, a rearview camera, and the water-resistant Uconnect infotainment system, which has a five-inch touch screen, an eight-speaker audio system, Bluetooth, and a USB port. If you want to upgrade, you might invest in a forward-facing off-road camera, power windows and locks, air conditioning, dual-zone automatic climate control, keyless entry, remote start, a nine-speaker Alpine audio system, satellite radio, Apple CarPlay/Android Auto, Wi-Fi hot spot, additional SUB ports, and navigation. For safety upgrades, Jeep offers blind spot monitoring, rear cross traffic alert, rear parking sensors, forward collision warning, automatic emergency braking, and adaptive cruise control.
It’s pretty roomy back there. Two-door Wranglers have 12.9 cubic feet of cargo space with their rear seats upright and 31.7 cubic feet with them folded down. Four-door Wrangler Unlimited models offer 31.7 cubic feet of space behind their rear seats and 72.4 cubic feet with them folded down.
There are 11 trims to choose from, and they all look awesome. So how do you decide? In a nutshell: The Sport is the most basic model; the Willys and Willy Sport are more rugged off-roading, trail-ready machines; the Sport S is fully customizable; the Islander is all about the beach; the 80th Anniversary has a gorgeous granite exterior; the Sahara and Altitude have all the Sport S features, plus 18-inch wheels and distinctive interior and exterior accents; the Rubicon is the most powerful and rugged off-roading SUV; the Sahara Altitude includes some Rubicon trim features and also gloss black accents; and, finally, the High Altitude includes some Sahara trim features, 20-inch gloss black tires, a body-color hardtop, and more.
The wheelbase on these midsize SUVs ranges from 96.8” on the Sport, Sport S, Willys, Willys Sport, Islander Edition, Freedom Edition, Rubicon, and the 80th Anniversary Edition, to 118.4” on the Sport Altitude, RHD, Sahara, Sahara Altitude, High Altitude, and the Rubicon 392.
The most luxurious SUV of the Wrangler lineup by far is the High Altitude. The interior features the finest leather-trimmed seats with a distinctive quilted pattern and High Altitude embroidery on the front seatbacks. It has a leather-wrapped steering wheel and other components with contrasting caramel stitching, and a dramatic light-black chrome treatment. Advanced technology includes Uconnect 4C NAV with 8.4-inch touchscreen featuring Apple CarPlay/Android Auto, a nine-speaker Alpine Premium Audio System, and premium safety features. In other words, quite fancy.
The Jeep Wrangler is known for its off-roading prowess. The 4×3 hybrid powertrain is available on any four-door 2021 Jeep Wrangler, which includes the most off-road-ready trim, the Rubicon. The Jeep Wrangler has over 10” of ground clearance and 4WD with a transfer case. In the Rubicon trim, you also get front and rear locking differentials, Dana axles, an electronically-disconnecting sway bar, a shorter final drive ratio, a 30” fording depth, and bigger off-road tires. The Rubicons also now come standard with Off-Road Plus, a feature that allows you to drive at higher speeds with the locking rear differential engaged. With the push of a button, you can tailor throttle, transmission shift points, and traction control for peak performance on both sand dunes and rocky trails.
Starting in 2021, the Sahara and Rubicon will offer the same forward-facing camera system found on the Jeep Gladiator, allowing drivers to spot obstructions more clearly. The Wrangler Sport S will now feature the previously optional Technology Group package as standard equipment, which includes a 7.0-inch touchscreen color display with Apple CarPlay/Android Auto, automatic climate control, and other features. Want to know when you reach optimal tire pressure? On all Wranglers equipped with the 7.0-inch touchscreen, a special tire-fill alert system honks the horn when you’ve filled your tires just right. For drivers who partially deflate their tires before off-roading, this is an especially sweet new feature.
Jeep, in general, is not known for its fuel efficiency but that could change with the 2021 Wrangler 4xe plug-in hybrid, which boasts 50 mpg combined city and highway. The next best thing is the four-door EcoDiesel 4WD 3.0 liter, 6 cyl, automatic, turbo, with 25 combined mpg, or the two-door 4WD 2.0 liter, 4 cyl, automatic, turbo, with 23 combined mpg.
Frequently Asked Questions
What Jeep Wrangler has the best gas mileage?
The Jeep Wrangler 4xe plug-in hybrid is the brand’s most fuel-efficient SUV, with 50 mpg-e (equivalent) combined city and highway fuel mileage.
What Jeep Wrangler engine is the best?
It comes down to transmissions. For drivers who still love driving manual transmission, the 3.6-liter Pentastar is going to be your only choice. For those seeking an automatic transmission, Jeep offers three different engine types: the 3.6-liter Pentastar, 3.0-liter EcoDiesel, and 2.0-liter turbocharged four-cylinder. If cost is a concern, we’d recommend the standard 2.0-liter turbo four-cylinder, which has the on-road power, fuel economy, and off-road punch to satisfy any Jeep driver. For the off-roading crowd, however, the diesel is going to be your best engine to get all that extra torque and performance.
Which Jeep Wrangler drives the smoothest?
Two things to think about here: springs and tires. The newer model Wranglers utilize coil springs, which are far more capable of regulating shock than leaf springs in older models. The high-quality traction on off-road tires can make your ride feel bumpy, so consider swapping them out for tires with a lower tread. This will cause less friction between your vehicle and the road, making your ride effortless. For the quietest, smoothest ride, we’d recommend the Jeep Wrangler Unlimited Sahara with the three-piece hardtop.
Which Jeep Wrangler is the best daily driver?
For drivers who use their Wranglers every day, the Jeep Wrangler Unlimited Willys model is ideal. Truly the most livable Jeep Wrangler SUV, it’s got tons of comfort and convenience features, including a Technology bundle, Sun and Sound package, automatic transmission, Cold Weather Group, safety packages, a towing bundle, and more. The Sky cloth top is the most versatile of the Wrangler's many roof options, combining the finished look and weatherproofing of a hardtop with a convertible-like experience. For colder temps, the Willys offers quick-warming heated cloth seats and a heated steering wheel, making it truly versatile.
Which Jeep Wrangler is the best value?
The bottom line is that the Jeep Wrangler is a great SUV with one of the highest resale values out there. It’s got a timeless, iconic look, is reliable on and off road, is rugged without being uncomfortable, and is pretty affordable. If you’re looking for the Best Off-Road SUV Resale Value, Kelley Blue Book recommends the 2021 Jeep Wrangler Unlimited four-door models—specifically, the Jeep Wrangler Sahara, priced at $39,495, which comes with a standard 3.6-liter Pentastar V6 engine and 6-speed manual transmission, 4-wheel drive, a 7-inch touchscreen display with Apple CarPlay/Android Auto, and dual-zone climate control.
If you’re looking for a used midsize SUV, you can’t go wrong with the universally loved Jeep TJ Generation, manufactured between 1996 and 2006, which offers the perfect combination of off-roading, sport, and family comfort.