I was in the market late 2010, but had some misgivings about the 3.8. I read somewhere that the new engine was coming. It didn't happen in 2011, so I waited. 2012 was going to be my year, then I read about the head issues and reluctantly waited again.
Finally, in 2013 it seems that everything is in place. 85 much-needed horsepower over the 3.8 and the glaring issues seem to be resolved. More time needs to pass before I can honestly say 2013 was a banner year, but its looking good.
At times, it was *really* difficult pushing my purchase back so many years (I nearly cracked and bought a clean used TJ), but I knew I'd be keeping whatever I bought for the long term.
Since the 2014s aren't out yet I will say that 2013 is the best year.
Pre 2012's are underpowered. Starting with the 2012s they had the newer 3.6L, 285 hp engine. However, the 2012's had head problems which were fixed with the 2013s. No major widespread problems with the 2013s have been reported.
I'll have to vote for the '09,2 door. By then they had most of the electrical gremlins worked out, and the oil consumption had been addressed. It's not perfect, but it is pretty reliable. After that they just sort of started producing them like Skittles to appeal to the masses. They are all good in they're own way, but most like the one they have.
the 3.6 has more power, but head problems. the 3.8 is an old hunting dog who rambles around the woods and sometimes impresses you. im pleased with my jeep by all means. i picked my 10 sport up for under 20K with all options and 29,000 miles. but they say the 2007's and 2008's are the best because you can pick them up dirt cheap with slightly higher miles
Where exactly can '07s and '08s be had "dirt cheap"? In my travels I've found that no jeep is dirt cheap and the 07 and 08 models are so high I might as well buy new.
Buy the nicest newest you can afford. If you are looking at a used 2012 (if you can find one) and an older 3.8 DO NOT drive a Pentastar. Nothing wrong with the 3.8 sure they may burn oil but unless its a quart in 800 miles a used motor or reman is cheap. They will wheel just fine but if you drive a Pentastar you won't be happy with a 3.8.
Don't worry about a cylinder head issue. I have a '12 if it crops up it will happen WELL before your powertrain warranty is up.
As with anything used prior care is critical. If they have no receipts, looks neglected, or it has mis matching tires or off brand tires or parts run away. These are all signs its been owned on a budget and not received good care.
2012 JK, Rock Krawler 2.5, Bilstien 5100's, Teraflex lower arms/track bars, Currie anti-rock, VDP stubby caps, Black Rock 909D's 285/70/17 Duratracss, Magnaflow ypipe and competition exhaust, 10a.e. Rubicon rear bumper, SRC sliders, G2 diff armor, H4 headlights and some other stuff....
2014 VW Jetta/1989 325i sleeper project/1968 house
Honestly, the best Wrangler for the original owner, is a 2009 JKU Sahara. Other than the annoying steering shaft rattle, and the low power 3.8, they look and run really well. But the real benefit is the Lifetime Powertrain Warranty for the 09. Frankly, as long as Chrysler continues to honor that warranty, I'll be driving Satan through the ice before I get rid of it!