After all of the reading I've done, I think that a TJ is the Jeep for me! I like the looks, price, availability of aftermarket parts and the 4.0L engine. I had a 1996 XJ that I sold last year. I bought it and it already had a 3" body lift on it. As I learned more about it, I realized I didn't like much about what the previous owner had done to it. I'm pretty picky and meticulous. I'd like to get a Wrangler that has had very little done to it so that I can do it all my way. Wrenching on vehicles or anything else is not a problem for me.
I'd definitely like to do some wheeling. I don't think I'd drive it through mud pits or try to mount a giant rock or anything like that. But I would like to do some Jeep trails. I'll be moving to the lower 48 next year. Most likely, Oklahoma City. I traveled to Colorado a lot when I lived there last. I'd love to go do trails like Engineer Pass or Black Bear Pass. That's the type of stuff I'm interested in doing. I'm thinking a 3.5" short arm lift kit and 33" tires.
I'm just trying to figure a couple of things out. When I had my Cherokee, it seemed most people on the XJ forums didn't like the manual transmissions because they're more difficult to use off road. I can drive a manual transmission just fine. I do it every day. My wife can't though. I'm pretty sure she is incapable of operating a manual transmission. I'd hate to have TWO vehicles she can't drive. How are the automatics in these things?
I have read that Jeep put three speed autos in the TJ up until 2003 when they started putting in a four speed with overdrive. I realize that these things don't get good mileage. My XJ certainly didn't. But I'd guess that a three speed auto would be pretty bad on gas. What about the four speed transmissions?