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Old 05-04-2010, 07:31 PM   #1
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Looking for a daily driver... thoughts on the Wrangler SE?

Hi all, i'm looking at getting a Jeep Wrangler (1997-2006 model i believe) and wanted to inquire about it's driveability, reliability, and overall useability as a daily driver.

I'm about to graduate from school but plan on coming back for grad school, so i estimate a couple more years "toolin around" on a college campus. Then it's off to the real world. I'm looking at the 4cylinder Wrangle SE because of it's higher rated MPG. I want something that gets DECENT mileage on the road (and highway i guess) so i'm sticking to the 4banger w/ a 6speed. Anyone else out there with an SE that's still kept pretty much stock as their daily driver?

Here are a few things i'm interested in knowing if y'all wouldn't mind helping me out:

Is the gas mileage bad on a 4cylinder?
I plan on doing mostly city driving and because my campus isn't gigantic, it'll be 5-10min trips here and there with highway drives home and back for visits (~6 hours).

How are the road manners?
I'm talking street here. Is it going to be a "bumpy ride" or is it comfortable enough to just get around in, even enjoyable on the streets?

I don't go offroading much AT ALL... should this deter me from getting a Wrangler?
I love the styling and the utility of this vehicle. I plan on getting some offroad time in if i get one and while none of it will be too crazy, i like the idea of being able to go virtually anywhere, even if i don't have to the majority of the time. Along with the added safety benefit of 4wd in hazardous road conditions.

I'm keeping it stock... bad idea?
Like i said, daily driver and i plan to keep it like it came from the factory with little to no modifications (maybe some minor ones like an armrest or something if one doesn't come with it).

How's the road noise?
I'll be look at the Wrangler SE with full steel doors and a soft top. How's the road noise around town? How about on the interstate going about 70-75? Am i going to have to blast my radio? Are cell phone conversations out of the question?

I like to keep a low profile... is a stock SE going to "blow my cover"?
I don't like "flashing my ride", i'd prefer to be less noticed. I know Wranglers are always cool and jump out at you on the road, but the majority of them out there do that because they are all modded out. Would a stock SE call for too much attention?

If it puts anything into perspective, i drive on '07 Toyota Tacoma (base model, 4cylinder, automatic) and really enjoy it's utility. However, it doesn't have the added benefit of 4wheel drive but it's a good utility vehicle when need be. How do you suspect the transition would be over to the Wrangler?

Sorry for all the questions and the harsh introduction, i have just been trying to do my research and i figure the community is one of the best places to get some opinions and advice. Thanks everyone!

Jordan

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Old 05-04-2010, 07:41 PM   #2
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In reality, the SE (2.5L engine) doesn't get any better mpg than the 4.0L does. The reason being that it is so underpowered that you have to drive it aggressively just to stay up with traffic which means its potential for greater mpg is essentially unrealizable. And if you have to drive on the highway much, you'd like the 4.0L much better as the 2.5L struggles to keep up with traffic.

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Old 05-04-2010, 07:51 PM   #3
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My vote would be for the 4.0L. Everyday driver is fine, but keep in mind its a jeep not lexus. I would consider upgrading the stock shocks to some better riding ones. Also if on campus consider a hardtop version.
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Old 05-04-2010, 07:58 PM   #4
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Eh, I don't know if you're getting into this whole Wrangler thing with the right mindset there is really no difference in MPG with the 4-banger and 4.0L i6. Go with the i6, especially for a daily driver, you won't regret it.

As far as standing out goes, no you're not going to stand out with a stock Wrangler. They're one of the more common vehicles on the road, but when you take the top and doors off, you'll definitely get some glances

If you're looking to save gas, you're definitely looking in the wrong direction. These things are bricks with wheels. Expect 14-15mpg, average about $50 a week roughly in gas, and then about $100 in gas to get home and back. My commute is similar and $20 does not go far believe me.

In terms of street manners, it's by no means a "comfortable" consumer car. It rides rough, you feel most bumps, the engine is a little wonky at times. You have to be sure to be under control when you make turns. For me, it's enjoyable. For my mother and my sister, it's hell on rubber.

As far as the 4x4 goes, stock don't expect it to handle much better in the snow then your Tacoma. It's short wheelbase means that your rear-end still has a tendency to slide out. I know, I spun and hit a parked car last December The 4x4 is fantastic on the dirt, but it's not a full-time street 4x4, so you can't simply cruise around with it engaged.

Road noise is above average then most other vehicles. A hardtop is slightly better, but prepared to blow all over with a gust of wind. Tires make a huge difference in road noise. Cell phone conversations going 70-75 are never a good idea, so I can't give that a dignified response. Cell phones while driving should never be a purchasing decision I recommend the hardtop/steel door combo. It's easier to sell them for $$$ and downgrade, but it's $$$ to upgrade.

They're reliable vehicles, but they don't make fantastic daily driver for most people. You deal and live with some odd engine and transmission niggles, the ride isn't smooth overall, and not everyone could deal with it for 6 hrs. The 4x4 isn't really a road-use 4x4 system. Keep in mind the snow and rain are still hazards that the 4x4 system and crappy tires won't rectify! And keep off your damn cell phone!

Anyways, if you decide to stick with the Wrangler decision welcome to Wrangler Forum!
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Old 05-04-2010, 08:27 PM   #5
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i hate to say it, but if decent gas mileage, toyota-like road manners, low noise, and a low profile (heck, even an armrest!) are on your checklist, you may want to rethink the wrangler idea. unless you have some kind of soft spot for these things, you're gonna have a hard time coming to terms with the many irrational aspects of owning and daily driving a wrangler.

personally, i think that some degree of irrationality is a beautiful thing in an increasingly over-rationalized world. look at it this way, go for a test drive (in a 4.0!), and voil - you're smiling. seriously!
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Old 05-04-2010, 08:41 PM   #6
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i hate to say it, but if decent gas mileage, toyota-like road manners, low noise, and a low profile (heck, even an armrest!) are on your checklist, you may want to rethink the wrangler idea.
Yeah, that's sort of what i wanted to know. How does it handle compared to my Toyota (if anyone has driven both, or if you just want to chime in)? I haven't really tried "offroading" in my Tacoma, but i'd like to think the truck could keep up with a Wrangler (though i think i know the answer to that).

I'm not expecting great gas mileage or anything, i mean to me it's a utility vehicle and i know what comes with that for the most part. However, i'm wondering if 18 city and 20 highway is feasible with a conservative driving style.

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look at it this way, go for a test drive (in a 4.0!), and voil - you're smiling. seriously!
I do not doubt it. In fact, i'm afraid if i DO drive one... i'll want it right then and there. But later down the road i'll regret having made that decision for a daily driver.
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Old 05-04-2010, 08:55 PM   #7
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""""I haven't really tried "offroading" in my Tacoma, but i'd like to think the truck could keep up with a Wrangler (though i think i know the answer to that). """""

i actually have a friend with a jacked up toyota and there is no comparison between his yota and my jeep , he cant touch me haha(<---to my friend with the yota) haha
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Old 05-04-2010, 08:56 PM   #8
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18-20 is probably a bit on the optimistic side stock. Maybe 18 on the interstate if you have the restraint to keep it at about 60. Much faster and the air resistance of your brick will drop that gas mileage very quickly.

I get about 14mpg in mostly mixed, although pretty rural, driving. Maybe 2/3 2ln highways and 1/3 residential. Granted im not driving anything stock, so it would be somewhat better, although not a lot.
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Old 05-04-2010, 09:02 PM   #9
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Gas mileage is a big factor to me, hate to say it. However, i'm willing to give and take... i just don't know if i'm willing to drop down to 15mpg. My Tacoma gets about 18-19 city and 20-23 highway. From what i'm reading in this thread and many others i've searched, that's unfeasible for any Wrangler.

*le sigh*, i'd like to have one for sure, i just don't know if the gas mileage tradeoff is worth it. Not to mention the street manners (unless they are very similar to my Tacoma, and if that's the case then I take that into heavy consideration).

.... help prove to me I want a Wrangler.
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Old 05-04-2010, 09:18 PM   #10
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In stock form, they're pretty benign. Handling is fine, road manners are fine, and they'll get you around a-ok. The compromises only start kicking in when you start deviating from what the factory dreamed up in favor of a Jeep that specializes in one thing or another.

The biggest determinant of road manners is tire choice, in my experience.

If you want one, get one. You can always get most of your money back out of it later if you change your mind.
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Old 05-04-2010, 09:21 PM   #11
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However, i'm wondering if 18 city and 20 highway is feasible with a conservative driving style.
Maybe downhill in neutral? jk

Honestly, anyone worth their honesty isn't going to talk you into getting a Wrangler. They're excellent vehicles that are a ton of fun to drive, either recreational or a daily driver, but they're not vehicles designed for everyone - or even most people. If you're looking for comfortableness or the same driving comfort as your Tacoma, you're not going to find it here. These things ride harsh, sound noisy, leak, spew, and stutter. The only way you really will be able to know if you want one is to go test drive it yourself. And then seriously consider, can I drive this for 6 hrs. comfortably. Do I mind the gas mileage, and don't think 4mpg doesn't mean anything. It's 76 miles less that you'll be getting with every full tank over your Tacoma. I don't know, the way your sounding it sounds like Wrangler sounds like a fun adventurous choice, but one for you 4 months later your regretting because of the cost and the way it handles. It's not a fast car. It's not a great handler. It's actually down-right scary driving 80 in 'em sometimes.

Let me put it this way, I've owned a Mustang and a Cougar. After both of those went, I considered all makes of cars from a Tiburon to a Saturn Vue. I've always had a soft spot for Wranglers, and while I found some great deals by me, it took me about five months to finally weigh all of the pros and cons about owning one. I bit the bullet and found one with a good price by me and no abuse. Seven months later I'm still in love with it as much as I was day one, but let me tell you right now - it bothers me that to go home for the weekend from the Poconos to South Jersey I pay $40 as compared to getting 30 mpg with my Cougar. Riding with the top off and no doors makes all that worth it, but it has certainly been burning a hole in my pocket.
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Old 05-04-2010, 09:46 PM   #12
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2006 SE Here. I average about 20mpg in my 4 banger. This could be because everything on mine is stock pretty much. I know it will get worse when I get my wheels and tires. If they get about the same mileage, I would recommend the I6. Mine is a 2.4L 6 speed and it isn't the fastest thing around but I'm not in too much of a hurry these days. I can do 70-75 on the highway. It just takes me a bit longer to get up there. I have a soft top and it can get a little windy where I live. Top and doors off: can talk on the phone on the street but no way on the highway. I can talk on the phone but the person on the other end knows I'm driving when the top is on. I love the handling and it's not super bumpy but It's certainly no cushy ride. If you want creature comforts look elsewhere. It's pretty much why I love it. You could get a stock SE and keep it that way but I bet you don't lol.
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Old 05-04-2010, 11:09 PM   #13
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Short answer from someone not too long out of college....probably not your best bet. I love my jeep, dont get me wrong, but I wouldnt want to have to drive it everyday. I have a compact sedan for longer trips, better gas mileage and my daily commute. Understanding that gas money can be a big concern in college, that would play a big part in my decision. As would parking....top/doors off is great fun, but unless you live in a pretty safe area or have a garage, leaving the top off often isnt an option.

Im kind of repeating what everyone else is saying. Test one. Better yet (if you can) borrow one for a week. Fill it up a few times. Drive it for an hour on the highway. Then decide just how bad you want a jeep. Maybe its for you. Maybe its not. Only you can decide.
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Old 05-05-2010, 12:48 AM   #14
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Awesome, i really appreciate all your input. I have to mull over all this in my head and test drive one after graduation. If you got anything else, please keep it comin.
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Old 05-05-2010, 01:09 AM   #15
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The Wind noise on the interstate could probably be cut by installing some bows that keep the top tight.

I have 15 minute commute everyday on the interstate for my college classes and job and I haven't had that bad of problem with talking on the phone. If your phone has an earbud set like my blackberry you should be just fine.

You soon learn that your armrest is the door panel or your leg. (Really won't be a requirement once you get used to driving in a Wrangler.)

Road manners depend on the tire used and how drive. I currently have some Michelins that the previous owner put on and they ride pretty soft for a Jeep. When my girlfriend drives it also becomes softer due to the fact she likes to accelerate slow, brake easy, and drive civilized. I was trained in a CJ-7 with barely any existence of a clutch so I have been used to a little heavy pedal usage.

My Wrangler is my daily driver and I have never had a problem with it.
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Old 05-05-2010, 08:31 AM   #16
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in europe the 2.8L diesel JKs (newer model wranglers from 2007 onwards) have become extremely popular as they easily increase gas mileage by about 30%. actually, the diesel is pretty much all that's being sold by chrysler in switzerland at this point. i rented the five-door unlimited diesel once in spain during a one-week holiday. it had good handling and was much less thirsty than my 4.0 TJ and even fast (i sometimes reached 110 mph on the empty highway with the softtop!), but it's by no means the same thing. the engine sounds like crap and i just hate the smell!! also, i assume the diesels are much more expensive in the states than here, if they exist at all...?!

ha, and if you're not in a hurry, you may want to wait for chrysler to actually build the eWrangler with they once introduced as a concept car a few years back... beats any prius in gas mileage!

okay, i'm obviously not being constructive here. if money and daily practical usage are big issues for you at this point, i wouldn't go for it, at least not now. even if the four-banger does get somewhat decent gas mileage, which i don't know, there's tons of other little things that can wreck your nerves unless you're into this with passion. opening and especially closing the softtop is one of them, or even loading a suitcase or something bulky into the rear when the softtop is on (many more steps than with any other car...). there's really no solid way of legitimizing this car. it's great for fun and recreation and CAN be fine for daily driving, but it's not efficient or practical or silent or fast or any of these other standard normal-car selling points.

i think it was enzo ferrari who said that the jeep is america's only real sportscar. the man had a point, even if i don't agree 100%.
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Old 05-05-2010, 08:49 AM   #17
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To answer simply...

I drive a 98 Sahara as a daily driver every day.

Don't expect to be able to hear your radio unless you crank it when you're doing 65+ mph and have a soft top.

It handles well for me (I take corners faster than most anyone) until you factor in the wind...wind likes wranglers.

Everyone is correct in saying you will not keep up with traffic in the 4 banger. My buddy followed me one day (I have the straight 6, and he has the 4 cyl) and I had to slow down for him to keep up, and he used more gas...

The ride is bumpy. You feel everything. But you get used to it (I have 5 years with my sahara)

Based on what you're looking for, I don't think a Wrangler is right for you. You sound like you are looking for something that looks good, maybe something to impress the ladies when you take the top down and the doors off.

But test drive, city and highway. Experience the bumps and the wind noise yourself. Its your decision ultimately.
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Old 05-05-2010, 08:58 AM   #18
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Yeah, that's sort of what i wanted to know. How does it handle compared to my Toyota (if anyone has driven both, or if you just want to chime in)? I haven't really tried "offroading" in my Tacoma, but i'd like to think the truck could keep up with a Wrangler (though i think i know the answer to that).

I'm not expecting great gas mileage or anything, i mean to me it's a utility vehicle and i know what comes with that for the most part. However, i'm wondering if 18 city and 20 highway is feasible with a conservative driving style.



I do not doubt it. In fact, i'm afraid if i DO drive one... i'll want it right then and there. But later down the road i'll regret having made that decision for a daily driver.
I've driven both very recently. The Yota had a better highway ride and was a very capable off-road vehicle with better mpg. After 6 weeks or so w/the Wrangler I've gotten used to the ride however the mpg is about 3-4 mpg less than the Yota under similar conditions. My suggestion to you, drive one around town for a couple of hours and make a decision. If you decide to buy one, I would have a skilled mechanic check out to ensure it wasn't abused etc.
Good Luck
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Old 05-05-2010, 09:56 AM   #19
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I went from a 97 Limited 4x4 4runner. I drove it for 10 years & enjoyed it, but I've always wanted a Wrangler & the time was right for me.

As far as ride quality between the two there isn't much difference (even coming from my wife). Yes the 4runner road better, but not by much.

On a good day I got close 20mpg in the 4runner, but averaged 16-18 which is exactly what I'm getting now with my 130000 4.0.

I searched for months before buying my 01 Sport. If you're going for a DD I highly recommend the 4.0, full doors, & a good top. There are some good deals on SEs out there, but you will miss the basic creature comforts most don't come with.

Take your time buying one & drive everything. Do a little research so you'll know what to look out for. Don't buy from a dealer unless you're getting a heck of deal. For your use I'd go all stock, or 'slightly' modified.
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Old 05-05-2010, 11:26 AM   #20
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I've got a I6 and my buddy has a 4 cyl, and having driven both, let me tell you the the I6 is far supperior, even as a daily driving vehicle
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Old 05-05-2010, 11:54 AM   #21
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But later down the road i'll regret having made that decision for a daily driver.
Oh pshaw. I'm 62 and I LOVE driving my daily-driver TJ in my outside sales job. I'd rather drive it than my frigging Toyota that was handed down to me or the wife's fancy-dancy luxury-mobile.
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Old 05-05-2010, 11:57 AM   #22
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Well.... My 2010 Islander (6sp, 3.20 gears, limited-slip rear, soft top) gets 18mpg at 75mph on hill..way...er.. Highways in PA... I have no issue carrying on a conversation on the phone at 75?
I have been driving it non-stop since buying it a bit over a week ago (700mi on it so far)

I have never driven any yotas outside of my dad's highlander hybrid which is as civilized as a suv gets when it comes to noise, bumps, etc..... its like driving your couch down the road....
The jeep is still a pig gas wise compared to my track ready Mini Cooper S.... I can pull 28mpg at 90mph out of it.....

I'm very surprised with the jeep, it had less rattles and creaks than my wrx, rides nicer than the mini, and goes anywhere I tell it to.....
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Old 05-05-2010, 11:59 AM   #23
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Alright, i have to call everyone out who says there's no difference in MPG between a 4 and 6cyl. That's bogus. Your rational is because it takes more effort for the engine to get up to speed because of it's lower torque that i'll be burning just as much as a 6cyl which won't struggle. HOWEVER, i have a conservative acceleration in order to maintain decent gas mileage. You guys make it sound like i have to race the engine to get to the speed limit or up to speed on the interstate. Nah, i like to take it easy.

And the fact that the difference between a 6cyl and 4cyl is 2cyl, that's 2 more cylinders fuel is dumped into with every combustion cycle, regardless of how "hard" you're pushing your engine.

Aside from everything else, like everyone is saying i'll just have to see for myself. After graduation i plan on taking a few on a test drive to get the feel for it and see what i think. I'm not looking for anything to impress the ladies with, like i said i'd rather stay low profile. I'm just looking for something that's capable on and off the road without being ridiculous.
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Old 05-05-2010, 12:01 PM   #24
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Alright, i have to call everyone out who says there's no difference in MPG between a 4 and 6cyl. That's bogus.
Then all I can say is that you are apparently the expert here then and you can simply ignore all the advice given by everyone here. It appears we don't know anything about what we are talking about so I guess we are done offering you any more unwanted advice from here on.
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Old 05-05-2010, 12:09 PM   #25
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Alright, i have to call everyone out who says there's no difference in MPG between a 4 and 6cyl. That's bogus. Your rational is because it takes more effort for the engine to get up to speed because of it's lower torque that i'll be burning just as much as a 6cyl which won't struggle. HOWEVER, i have a conservative acceleration in order to maintain decent gas mileage. You guys make it sound like i have to race the engine to get to the speed limit or up to speed on the interstate. Nah, i like to take it easy.

And the fact that the difference between a 6cyl and 4cyl is 2cyl, that's 2 more cylinders fuel is dumped into with every combustion cycle, regardless of how "hard" you're pushing your engine.
Not harping or anything, but just to let you know I get 18+ mpg consistently with my 4.0L and that's mostly highway driving (65ish%).
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Old 05-05-2010, 12:27 PM   #26
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Agreed with Jerry. If you think we have no idea what we're talking about, then don't ask in the future. We gave you our advice based on our real world experience. Yes, logically it would make sense that the 6-cyl would use more gas, but its not always the case.

If you drive that conservative on high ways, prepare for a lot of angry people when you try to merge from an on ramp....

And if you're that worried about gas mileage, go buy a SmartCar...or a hybrid. Wranglers aren't for people worried about mpg.
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Old 05-05-2010, 12:35 PM   #27
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Then all I can say is that you are apparently the expert here then and you can simply ignore all the advice given by everyone here. It appears we don't know anything about what we are talking about so I guess we are done offering you any more unwanted advice from here on.
*Le sigh*

I really do appreciate everyone's advice and am fortunate to have everyone's .02 However, i'm not being narcissistic or discrediting anyone directly, I just can't see how you can argue against the fundamentals or engines. More cylinders = more fuel. Of course there are a lot of other factors involved, but this is a rule of thumb.

I sincerely apologize for the tone my last post was in. I wasn't trying to get on anyone's bad side or come in here like i know ANYTHING about these cars (because really, i don't). However, i work on cars to a novice level and have built cars in the past so i understand the basic fundamentals of how an engine works and burns fuel (i used to race if that says anything).
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Old 05-05-2010, 12:37 PM   #28
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Alright, i have to call everyone out who says there's no difference in MPG between a 4 and 6cyl. That's bogus. Your rational is because it takes more effort for the engine to get up to speed because of it's lower torque that i'll be burning just as much as a 6cyl which won't struggle. HOWEVER, i have a conservative acceleration in order to maintain decent gas mileage. You guys make it sound like i have to race the engine to get to the speed limit or up to speed on the interstate. Nah, i like to take it easy.

And the fact that the difference between a 6cyl and 4cyl is 2cyl, that's 2 more cylinders fuel is dumped into with every combustion cycle, regardless of how "hard" you're pushing your engine.

Aside from everything else, like everyone is saying i'll just have to see for myself. After graduation i plan on taking a few on a test drive to get the feel for it and see what i think. I'm not looking for anything to impress the ladies with, like i said i'd rather stay low profile. I'm just looking for something that's capable on and off the road without being ridiculous.

Yes and No.....

Yes the 4cyl is better on gas if you drive it correctly and the terrain is level all the time.....

However if you are going up a slight hill on the highway at 60mph the 6cyl will do better as less fuel is being used to maintain speed as a higher gear can be used and the engine will remain at at a lower RPM and still have the power to overcome the wind resistance, gravity, and rolling resistance of the tires..... then when going down the other way in neutral the tiny bit of fuel into the other 2cyl is negligible and can be overcome by changing the tires to something with less rolling resistance....

It is easier in this case to drive a larger engine conservatively to obtain the same MPG characteristics as the smaller engine driven regularly....
There are too many resistance variables to overcome in a jeep for the 4cyl is "better" than the 6cyl argument to be made (in regards to mpg)...

There are trade offs in both directions.....
1 or 2 against the 6cyl... like in a situation where all travel would be down hill....
Too many against the 4cyl....
I could show you the math but I'm not sure you would understand....
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Old 05-05-2010, 12:39 PM   #29
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It still doesn't sound like you're going to accept the advice you asked for since it doesn't go along with your understanding of engine "fundamentals". So I can only say good luck with whatever you decide to do. I don't know why you even asked since you already had preconceived notions of how all this works and you are unwilling to believe the collective advice that all pretty much agreed on one thing... that in the real world, the 2.5L that struggles on the highway does not get better mileage than the 4.0L that is loafing at highway speeds.
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Old 05-05-2010, 12:40 PM   #30
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If you apply the same pressure to the accelerator of a 6 cyl as you do to a 4cyl to accelerate, yes, the 6 cyl will guzzel more gas.

However, to keep up with traffic, the 4 cyl would be going slower than the 6 cyl with the same amount of pressure applied to the accelerator.

Therefore, the average driver will apply more pressure to get the 4cyl to accelerate at the pace of the rest of traffic.

That, is logic, and not bogus. I'm a math teacher, logic is my thing.

If you are capable of holding back on accerating more, good. All the power to you and your purchase of a 4cyl.

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