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Should I Even Bother Buying a Used Jeep Wrangler?

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author photo by Doug DeMuro April 2017

Humans of the internet, welcome to everyone's favorite weekly column, Ask Doug, where you write in with questions directed to Doug, and Doug considers answering them before deciding that no, this week he would rather watch "Gilmore Girls" season four.

If you'd like to participate in Ask Doug, you can! Just email Doug at OversteerDoug@gmail.com, and he (aka I) will read your email, and possibly laugh at your ridiculous question, and possibly even air it, right here on Oversteer, for the entire world to see. But don't worry: I promise I'll use a fake name so nobody has any idea it's you. For instance, this week's reader is named John, but I've changed it to Jon. Now nobody knows who he is.

Jon asks:

Hey Doug,

I am thinking of buying a new Jeep Wrangler. I'm not really big on American cars but the Wrangler seems to be reliable... At least from customer reviews. Considering how Jeeps get used, is it even worth buying used? I mean, the values of jeeps don't really depreciate and I'm confused on whether you go used or new on this specific vehicle.

Thanks,

Jon

This, Jon, is a truly excellent question, and I'm glad you've asked it, because it touches on something I've considered many times over the years -- namely, if a car has ridiculously, laughably, hilariously good resale value, why does anyone even bother to buy it used?

So let's go through the particulars here. If you're looking for a Jeep Wrangler, one of the things you'll quickly discover is that a new Jeep Wrangler costs something like $35,490, as an example, and a used one with 20,000 miles costs approximately $35,489. OK, fine, it isn't quite that absurd, but it's seriously close. Here's an amazing number: The average asking price on Autotrader, right now, for all 2016 Wrangler models, is $37,246. The average asking price for all new Wrangler models, regardless of year, is $37,775. I am not making up either of these numbers.

And this leads to our question from Jon: If you're going to get a Wrangler, why bother buying used? To save $500? Wouldn't you rather just get the thing new, spend the five hundred bucks, and know that you're the only person who's ever driven it anywhere? That way, you'll also know nobody before you has ever taken it through a giant mud puddle, a mud puddle so large that it started life as a child's project to drill a hole through the center of the earth to China.

The answer is, of course, YES! But there are several reasons why people buy used Wranglers nonetheless.

One is modifications. The Wrangler world is one of the few car markets where certain modifications actually improve value, because many Wrangler owners want larger tires, or certain wheels, or some sort of aftermarket off-road goodies, or whatever, and that stuff is expensive. So some people would rather buy a 2-year-old Wrangler with all that pricey aftermarket equipment than buy a brand-new model and then stick on that stuff themselves.

And it's not just off-road modifications that boost Wrangler values. There's now an entire industry around turning Wranglers into blinged-out city cruisers, with huge wheels, thin tires, and all sorts of crazy colors and accessories and features. There are several dealerships that specialize in this sort of Wrangler who are selling ultra-customized examples on Autotrader right now for around $100,000. I'm not even slightly exaggerating.

And then, Jon, there's one more reason you might want to consider buying a used Wrangler instead of a new one: The Wrangler is offered with a truly dizzying array of trim levels, option packages, color choices and features, and sometimes you simply won't find the one you want available as a new vehicle.

For instance, say you want a purple Wrangler Unlimited Freedom Edition. Maybe you can only find one on Autotrader, in Pagosa Springs, Colorado, with 19,000 miles. Or say you want an orange Wrangler Unlimited Rubicon. Or a blue Wrangler Black Bear. Or a silver Wrangler Back Country. Or a red Wrangler 45th Anniversary of Grilled Cheese Edition (These are all real Wranglers.) (Except the grilled cheese one.) (Mmm, grilled cheese sounds good right now.) In that case, you might only find what you're looking for on the used market.

With that said, Jon, if you aren't picky about accessories, and if you don't want a super-blinged-out modified Wrangler, and if you aren't looking for a light-fuchsia Wrangler 64GB Memory Card Edition, you should probably just buy new. And then, when you're ready to sell in 2 years, list it on Autotrader for exactly what you paid. Because that's the Wrangler way.

Doug DeMuro is an automotive journalist who has written for many online and magazine publications. He once owned a Nissan Cube and a Ferrari 360 Modena. At the same time.

MORE FROM OVERSTEER:
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Saving this vehicle to yourMy Autotrader account
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Used 2010 Jeep Wrangler Unlimited Sport
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Are you sure you want to delete?
Used 2010 Jeep Wrangler 4WD Rubicon
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Saving this vehicle to yourMy Autotrader account
Are you sure you want to delete?
Used 2010 Jeep Wrangler 4WD Rubicon
Used 2010 Jeep Wrangler
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Saving this vehicle to yourMy Autotrader account
Are you sure you want to delete?
Used 2010 Jeep Wrangler Sport
Used 2010 Jeep Wrangler
$19,988
This image is a stock photo and is not an exact representation of any vehicle offered for sale. Advertised vehicles of this model may have styling, trim levels, colors and optional equipment that differ from the stock photo.
Should I Even Bother Buying a Used Jeep Wrangler? - Autotrader