Originally Posted by Another Guy In A Jeep
Anything before 07
And anything after 95
I'm saying this cause I have a tj which were model years 97-06 and they're the best
Anything after 95 will have coil springs which will give you a much better ride and better articulation offroad.
In your price range you're probably looking at a tj (97 to 06). I would just try and avoid a 97 cause it was a new model year and all the bugs werent worked out yet. In 99 the fuel tank increased from 15 to 19 gallons which can be nice. If i were you I'd look at years 99-06, at least under 100,000 miles (although if its been well maintained jeeps will last forever), and rust free.
Check it good for rust, test out the 4wd, pull up the carpet and check the floor boards to make sure someone didnt pull the drain plugs and forget to put them back in(the previous owner of my last jeep did that and the passenger side floorboard was rotted), check for fluid leaks around the diffs, tranny, t-case, oil pan, ect, if you want to wheel it seriously and throw lockers in it look for one with a dana 44 rear axle (if you're gonna keep it stock or close to stock the dana 35 will be fine), and most will agree you should look for one with the 4.0 inline 6. I've a jeep with a 2.5 4 cylinder and the 4.0 6 cylinder and i can tell you that the 6 makes highway driving A LOT easier, the 4 is underpowered for the highway and you'll be struggling to merge and pass at times. On the other hand around town and offroad the 4 is just fine and both the 2.5 4 and the 4.0 6 are reliable engines. The 4 is usually cheaper by a grand or two.