Used Jeep Wrangler – Costa Mesa, CA

The Jeep Wrangler is an SUV that holds a strong presence on the market. Jeep has found success in the Wrangler due to its great performance and an emphasis on off-roading capabilities. Those looking for a compact SUV that checks all of the boxes associated with successful off-roading should look no further than the Wrangler. Whether it’s the newest model in production or a used Jeep Wrangler, drivers will find nothing but satisfaction in their purchase.

The Wrangler historically has seated a maximum of four or five passengers depending on the seating configuration, meaning the entire family can come along for the ride. What makes used Wranglers so appealing to drivers is the identical performance output seen throughout the past eight years. This ultimately means that drivers who purchase an older Wrangler in efforts to save money will not have to make sacrifices regarding performance.

A dark grey 2018 used Jeep Wrangler Unlimited is parked on the beach near Costa Mesa, CA.

Generations of Greatness: The Jeep Wrangler Through the Years

When it comes to a vehicle that possesses a vast amount of staying power and a reputation that’s transcended multiple decades, one can only assume that there have been several alterations, innovations, and changes to harness its development. If this process is considered normal, then the Jeep Wrangler is the exception. The first incarnations of what would become the Jeep Wrangler weren’t found on dealerships but on the front lines of the largest conflict in world history. The Wrangler’s lineage is one that stems from the Willys Quad, which entered service in 1941 during the second world war. Fans of pop culture will instantly recognize this vehicle as one of the staples of the popular television show, M*A*S*H*, which was set during America’s involvement during the Korean War.

Very little was changed about the vehicle in terms of outward appearance when the Wrangler began rolling off the assembly lines in 1986. Since that time, the Jeep Wrangler has received praise from drivers and critics and has earned its rightful place as one of the most unique and popular vehicles to be found on the road. During this time period, many vehicles go through several transformations and have multiple generations to their lineage. For the Wrangler, the overall philosophy has been one of “if it’s not broken, then why fix it?”

There have only been four generations of the Wrangler since its inception. The first generation of the Wrangler as we know it today came out in 1987 and is notable for serving both civilian and military needs. Manufactured by the now-defunct AMC (American Motors Corporation) in the United States, a variation of the first generation Wrangler YJ was utilized by military forces in both Israel and Egypt. Available in the form of an SUV and convertible, the first-generation wrangler was popular among average consumers for its sporty look, as well as adventure seekers for its off-road capabilities. Both of which are still attributes associated with the Wrangler today.

The second generation of the Wrangler received an upgrade in terms of performance and handling. A 4.0L inline-six engine and coil spring suspension helped breathe new life into the vehicle. Much like its predecessors, the second generation came with all of the charms of being able to turn your Wrangler into the ultimate open air vehicle. The second generation was called the Wrangler TJ and would span an entire decade, from its inception in 1997 to 2006.

The third generation of the Jeep Wrangler would usher in one of the most significant changes to date. Beginning in the 2007 model year, the Wrangler JK, while also having the standard offering of a two-door version, now came in four-door options. These four-door models were referred to by the name Wrangler Unlimited and were meant to emulate the best parts of the classic Willys MB look and feel. Larger wheels helped it cement its place as the ideal vehicle for off-roading. The third generation of the Wrangler would end in 2018, bringing us up to the current generation, the Wrangler JL.

The fourth generation of the Jeep Wrangler JL has been in production since 2018, and if history indeed repeats itself, we should see this current crop dominate the market for several years to come. Given the popularity of the four-door Wrangler in the previous generation, the option to get a Wrangler Unlimited continues on in the current one. The minimal changes that have occurred through the years have occurred through innovation and necessity, and not to display a variety of bells and whistles. That's one of the biggest charms of the Jeep Wrangler as a vehicle is that it has stuck closely to the original roots and purpose of the vehicle but still adds enough updates to match the modern levels of technology and capability. As we look towards the future, we can only expect that Jeep will improve the Wrangler when necessity dictates a change, but we will still get to reap the benefits of the original open-air experience.

From a historical standpoint, the Wrangler has always been a fan-favorite, thanks in part to its reliability and exceptional performance. After starting production in 1986, Jeep has continuously improved upon the Wrangler’s formula and has become a strong contender in the off-roading scene. With identical performance metrics between used Wranglers and brand new ones, drivers are given the advantage of saving more money without sacrificing features or power. Additionally, used Wranglers from the last few years will sport many identical similarities within the interior.

Amongst these similarities is a maximum passenger capacity of either four or five passengers depending on the vehicle’s two or four-door variations. Depending on the used Wrangler a shopper is considering, it may include the same infotainment system consisting of the same tech-centric connectivity features, too. Mix all of this with a maximum ground clearance of 10.8 inches, and it becomes clear how serious the Wrangler is when it comes to off-roading. With all of these benefits, used Wranglers are an intriguing option for any of those interested.

A red 2015 used Jeep Wrangler Unlimited is driving on a dirt road past pine trees.

The Difference Between Wrangler JK and JL

One significant difference between Wrangler models aspiring shoppers will notice on the pre-owned market is JK and JL models. Jeep introduced JL as the successor to the JK back in 2017 and is the most current iteration of the Wrangler. JL is also referred to as the fourth-generation of the Jeep Wrangler, with the JK beginning the third-generation Wrangler over a decade ago.

Most used Wranglers are likely to be JK models as they’ve simply been on the market for a longer period. This also means that used Wrangler JL models are more likely to appear on the market as CPO vehicles. Jeep made several notable changes to the Wrangler when replacing JK with JL, though, all of which provide a smoother off-roading experience.

Other changes made to the Wrangler since the introduction of JL includes an exterior overhaul that makes the vehicle lighter, interior improvements, and performance upgrades. These performance upgrades include an 8-speed automatic transmission, which replaced JK’s 5-speed automatic. Jeep began implementing infotainment centers into the Wrangler around halfway through the JK’s time on the market and can easily be found on the used market.

The likes of Apple CarPlay and Android Auto became available for the 2015 Wrangler, and these software suites are still highly sought after today. CarPlay and Auto allow devices such as iPhones and Android phones to be connected for seamless interaction with the Wrangler’s built-in infotainment center. These inclusions help the driver stay connected at all times, whether they’re on the road or off. Although JK models are no longer in production, they’re still considered relevant for off-roading enthusiasts, and JL was naturally an evolutionary leap for the Wrangler.

Off-Roading with the Wrangler

Jeep Wranglers offer excellent performance in both on and off-road situations. One of the main engines, powering the Wrangler ever since 2012, is a 3.6L V6 engine that may be paired to either a six-speed manual or eight-speed automatic transmission. This gives the Wrangler 285 hp to work with along with 260 lb-ft of torque. However, both JK and JL models feature turbocharged 2.0L 4-Cyl engines that produce 270 hp and 295 lb-ft of torque. Drivers looking for an engine with extra torque output should certainly consider this engine, considering it has 13% more torque while only sacrificing 5% of overall horsepower.

Regardless of which engine the Wrangler is paired with, the Wrangler provides a smooth yet thrilling ride. While not primarily focused on towing, the Wrangler can tow up to 3,500 lbs with the four-door configuration and 2,000 lbs with the two-door variant. This allows drivers to tow various machinery such as ATV bikes to an off-roading site, for example.

Used Jeep Wranglers can come standard with a host of impressive features that give an edge to the off-roading performance. Amongst these additions, the Wrangler comes with tow hooks, axles in both the front and rear of the vehicle, and a two-speed transfer case. The two-speed transfer case is essential for proper off-roading as it helps the Wrangler climb rocks along with other rough terrains with relative ease.

Wrangler models also historically have fantastic fuel efficiency ratings. For example, a used 2018 Jeep Wrangler with the aforementioned V6 has EPA-estimated ratings of 18 MPG in the city and 23 MPG on the highway. This is compared to the newest Wrangler, which gets 17 MPG in the city and 25 MPG on the highway with the manual transmission and 19 MPG in the city and 22 MPG on the highway when paired with automatic transmission and the same engine. In all, the used models have almost identical fuel economy to get drivers to and from the off-roading trails.

Newer JL Wranglers also offer an available turbodiesel engine for those looking for the utmost fuel-efficiency coupled with an immense increase to torque output. This engine didn’t enter the lineup until the 2020 model year, so it won’t be too long before it makes its way into various CPO selections. With this 3.0L V6 equipped, the Wrangler can produce 260 hp and an astonishing 442 lb-ft of torque.

Putting this into perspective, this is exactly 70% more torque output than the 3.6L V6 that comes standard. As this engine is powered by diesel fuel, it excels in fuel efficiency compared to its gasoline-powered contemporaries with an EPA-estimated rating of 22 MPG in the city and 29 MPG on the highway. Drivers need to pay close attention to the JL generation of Wranglers as they will soon be appearing more prominently throughout the pre-owned market. Overall, though, whether you wait for the JL generation to enter the used market or go for one of the current JK models, buying a used Wrangler will give you tons of off-roading fun.

A white 2018 used Jeep Wrangler is crossing a river while off-roading.

Recommended Maintenance for Your Jeep Wrangler

Just like any other vehicle, your Jeep Wrangler needs scheduled routine maintenance to keep it running well and consistently. The basics are always advisable, such as checking and replacing items such as oil and coolant, and we can’t stress how a yearly tune-up can make all the difference in the world. These practices are essential to anyone who drives their Wrangler on a consistent basis, but for those who live their lives off the beaten path and crave the rugged independence in the world of off-road adventuring, you’ll need to do a little bit more.

Off-roading and the ownership of a Jeep Wrangler have always gone together. But if you want to get the most adventures out of your Wrangler, we’ve taken the time to give some helpful hints for the next time you decide to conquer a hill or two.

Clean Thoroughly: This should be done after each off-road exercise. Cleanliness is next to godliness, and dirt, dust, and other items can accumulate while you’re off-roading rather quickly and mess up components of your vehicle if left unchecked for a long time.
Check Your Tires: Many vehicles come with tire pressure monitoring systems. While this helps you see if you potentially have a leak, nothing beats a manual check. If you think something might be amiss, caution is your best ally.
Shocks & Brakes: Any trip that consists of being on roads that are unpaved or uneven will most likely require some excellent reaction time and more than a few bumps. Off-roading can have its fair share of unexpected obstacles. Making sure that your brakes and shocks are in working order and uncompromised will allow for a safe trip.
Suspension & Axles: When you’re on the path less traveled, having suspension and shocks that are in perfect working order is of the highest importance. You’ll want to check these both before and after your expedition into the wild.
Engine: While you might have recently had an oil change or flushed out your radiator, there’s never anything wrong with being prepared. Check all your fluids and take a close look at your parts, connection, and hose clamps. Just because you think your engine is at 100% doesn’t necessarily mean it is.
Condition of Your Spare: Once you’ve looked over your tires and wheels, you should give your spare a brief inspection and look it over. Unpaved roads lead to unexpected punctures. Making sure your spare tire is still in good shape means all the difference between going back a little early or being stranded.

A mechanic is shown servicing a vehicle on a lift.

Get Your Jeep Wrangler at Orange Coast CJDRF

Whether you’ve always wanted a Jeep Wrangler for urban adventures or off-road excellence, Orange Coast Chrysler Jeep Dodge Ram Fiat in Costa Mesa, CA, was recently voted the Number One Jeep Dealer in all of California. Our ever-expanding inventory encompasses new, used, and Certified Pre-Owned vehicles. We also offer financing for those who need it and a top-tier service center for when your Jeep Wrangler is in need. Whether you decide to shop from home or step foot on our lot, we guarantee a buying experience like none other. The open road is calling, and Orange Coast CJDRF is there to answer the phone for you.

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