practicality be damned

The Cheapest Off-Road-Ready SUV to Own Is Also One of Our Favorites

March 24, 2020 Cars By

The traditional two-door Jeep Wrangler is an automotive icon, but the more family-friendly four-door version — originally known as the Wrangler Unlimited — has made it a threatened species. The take rate for the two-door Wrangler is only around 10 percent — about the same as the manual transmission. It’s fallen so far from grace, Jeep didn’t even think there was a business case for pairing its best off-roading engine with anything but a four-door body style.

There may be a compelling argument for sticking with tradition, however. Kelley Blue Book recently ran the five-year cost-to-own figures for America’s off-road SUVs, and the two-door Wrangler came out as the most affordable, with a predicted five-year ownership cost of $39,045. The cheapest Wrangler option is the V6 with a manual transmission — which is to say, the most economical Wrangler to own is also the purest example of the breed.

That said, the four-door version was estimated to cost $40,020 over five years. In real life, saving $975 in predicted ownership costs over half a decade is unlikely to preclude anyone from getting the more practical four-door version of the Wrangler.

Both Wrangler versions are more affordable than the third-place Toyota 4Runner, which is estimated to cost $46,254 over five years. Though, if you’re buying the legendarily durable Toyota SUV, you may be thinking about ownership on a 10-15-year timescale.

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Tyler Duffy

Tyler Duffy is Gear Patrol's Motoring Staff Writer. He used to write about sports for The Big Lead and The Athletic. He has a black belt in toddler wrangling. He's based outside Detroit.

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