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Old 05-07-2015, 10:32 AM
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JK Buying Help

Hello All

I am in the market for a newer Wrangler and am hoping to get some solid input from current JK owners.

I am coming from the vastly underpowered 2.5l 3spd auto '97 TJ and am looking for something a little more powerful and ideally manual. I am looking at the 2012's but do not want to close the door on the 2009-2011 if there is not much difference (I know in 2012 they introduced the new Pentastar engine, which has me leaning towards the 2012 and newer.) Also, I am warming up to the idea of the JKU's but can't quite decide between the 2 and 4 door so whatever advice can be given would be awesome!

Any ideas and thoughts are appreciated. I would like to go with an X or Sahara since this car will for the most part be my daily driver and then hitting some trails on the weekend.


"Clear alcohols are for rich women on diets."

'12 Flame Red JK "Rosie"
'04 Black Grand Cherokee "Jett" (retired)
'97 Red TJ Auto "TJ" (retired)
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Old 05-07-2015, 10:36 AM   #2
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I had the 3.8L and hated it. I love the 3.6L it is night and day. 2 door or 4 door is preference. I personally like the 4 door better. I like the look and there is more space.
That is just my opinion. I looked at the Sahara and the Sport. I ended up with a Sport with the 24S package, got a lot of the bells and whistles of the Sahara but saved some money. Which is quickly spent on the Jeep.

2014 JKU Sport, 35X12.50R20 Falkens AT, Moto Metal Wheels, Tailgate Table, Grabars, Grab handles, Trek Top, Grill Inserts, Barricade bumper with LEDs, Rear Barricade Bumper, Rugged Ridge Winch
2004 TJ Sold, 2010 JKU (2wd Yep 2wd) Sold, 2006 LJ Sold, 2015 JK Sahara Traded 2016 Ram 1500 Quad Cab 4wd Big Horn.
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Old 05-07-2015, 11:10 AM   #3
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I also had the 3.8l and now having the 3.6 I'd never go back to the old engine.

That being said - you may want to look at 13'-15' as some of the 12s had issues. Although by the time you look used on 13' and 14' you may be better off buying new. These things keep so much of their value it's insane. Unless you get a killer deal on a used one id buy new.
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Old 05-07-2015, 11:27 AM   #4
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I drove a 4.0 TJ for years. I bought a 3.8 JKU six-speed with 4.10 gears, 2.5" lift and 35" Mickey Thompsons two years ago. I just sold it and bought a stock JKUHR with a six-speed and 4.10 gears. The 3.6 is a far superior engine, and I can tell a difference, but the 3.8 was not NEARLY as unbearable as everyone makes it out to be.

My advice is if you're looking used, I wouldn't rule out an older JK with the 3.8. By the time you get up to 2012 and the new engine, it starts making sense to look at a new Jeep.
I'm kind of a big deal.
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Old 05-08-2015, 05:31 AM   #5
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My preference are:

Pentastar motor: more powerful

4 door: versatile, roomy, and looks better
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Old 05-08-2015, 06:39 AM   #6
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Coming from a 2.5 it is my opinion you will be perfectly content with an older 3.8
Keep on jeepin' on.
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Old 05-08-2015, 08:08 AM   #7
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I had both 3.8 and 3.6 and both on 35s. I think the 3.6 feels like a more powerful motor but as others have stated the 3.8 is not as bad as most say. I drove it daily for a long time with no issues with 3.73 gearing on 35's and heavy 20s. Never gave me an issue...

Also, I personally prefer the 4 door. The extra space is awesome!
"Do not go where the path may lead, go instead where there is no path and leave a trail."

Current toy: 2015 Wrangler JKUR
Previous toy: 2015 Wrangler JKU
Previous toy: 2009 Wrangler JKU
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Old 05-08-2015, 08:20 AM   #8
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With the right gears, I expect you'll be happy with a 3.8,

The real key here is for you to go drive one and judge for yourself.
2010 JK, Red Rock Crystal, 6 speed manual, Ripp supercharger, 4.56 gears, OX lockers with electric actuators, Rugged Ridge XHD front and rear bumpers, Warn M5000 winch, Rugged Ridge Side Armor Guards, Rugged Ridge Front Skid Plate, Rugged Ridge Evaporator Skid Plate, M.O.R.E. Oil Pan & Transmission Skid Plate, TeraFlex 2 1/2 inch lift, TeraFlex Sport 8 flexarms, Dynatrac Progrip brake system.
1980 CJ7, 258 6 cyl, 4 speed manual
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Old 05-08-2015, 08:36 AM   #9
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My previous jeep was a 97 with the 2.5 and the 5 spd manual. got i hated the power or lack there of. I havent had any experience with the 3.8 but im sure its a hell of alot better than the 2.5. I now have a 14 JKUR and i was torn with the idea of 2 or 4 doors when i got mine and i can say im very glad i got the 4 door. There is so much room. People can get in and out very easy. Plus its easy to put my girlfriends car seat in the back haha. 2011+ you get the latest interior if that matters. But like most said with 13s and 14s your almost better off getting new. I got a great deal on mine and it only had 5600 miles on it when i bought it so i got basically new for several thousands less than new price.
6spd - Dual Top - Alpine - Leather - Connectivity - SWS - Teraflex 1.5" performance level - diver down covers
flowmaster - bestop underseat drawer - bartact paracord grab handles

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Old 05-08-2015, 08:43 AM   #10

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You will find a 2-door with the 3.8, 4.10 and stick shift will be just awesome.

Yes, the 3.6 is better, but I owned three JKs with the 3.8 and stick shift; one was a Sahara with 3.21 gears, the other two were Rubicons with 4.10 gears: the 3.8 Rubicons with stick shift were a lot of fun.

Sometimes we get stuck on which motor is "better".

Life is a sequence of memories, so make them memorable. Jeeps give us the tools to see special places and create unique memories.

Whether it is a 3.8 or a 3.6, it will let you do that.

Good luck,


Here are some memories with my humble 2009 JK with 3.8 V6 and stick shift

Bone stock through Calico, California

Eastern Sierra Nevada, California

Little traveled edge of Death Valley in Nevada

Desolate Panamint Valley, California

Beautiful Oregon Coast

Making new friends in British Columbia, Canada


2018 JLU Sahara
Eight prior JKs and JKUs
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