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I am in the market for a new to me Jeep. I have roughly $12,500 cash to put down on this new Jeep. The reason I have the cash is because my current car is paid off. Being that I don't have a car payment now one of my deciding factors with getting a Jeep is whether or not to have a car payment. This leads me to which Jeep to get. I am 100% dead set on getting a 4 door Unlimited, with a manual transmission and a soft top. Based on this it leads me to the JK.

My ultimate question here is do I get an older 2007-2011 with the 3.8L V6 or do I get a newer 2012-2016 with the 3.6L. From my local market research the price difference is a 2007-2011 goes for between $10k-$15k, and a 2012+ goes for $20k up. Knowing that it is a bare minimum $5000 difference just for the newer engine is it worth it?? I drive a very short distance to work (less than 10 miles per day), and I would be going off road once in a while, but not all the time. Getting the older 3.8L would mean that I don't have a car payment which is a big selling point.

What is the community's opinion, is the 3.6L really worth it considering I am not going to be driving it heavily?

For some history on me, I had a '95 2.6L I4 YJ about 15 years ago, so my history with a Jeep is slow and steady, even the 3.8L is an upgrade in horsepower from what I used to have.

Thanks in advance for your thoughts and comments. - John
 

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Auto or manual? The 3.8L only has a 4 speed auto, which makes the 3.8 seem more sluggish.
 

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3.8 Liter - 202 HP and 237 pound/feet torque
3.6 Liter - 285 HP and 260 pound/feet torque

The extra 83 HP you get with the 3.6 does make a difference. But, that aside, I'd go for the newest, lowest mileage JK I could find that fit my budget.
 

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Take them both for a drive, that’s the best way to decide

I spent a few years with a 08 JKU manual and hated the engine/trans combo. For me the engine did nothing good and the long vague throws with the manual trans didn’t help.

After my divorce.... I purchased a 16 JKU and for me it is a much better vehicle. Bathe engine has a lot more power and also better with gas plus the updated interior. My JKU is a auto which is easier pushing snow..... even with the auto it’s a much better combo vs the 08 I had.

So for me, yes it’s worth the added cost
 

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I am 100% dead set on getting a 4 door Unlimited, with a manual transmission and a soft top. Based on this it leads me to the JK.

I drive a very short distance to work (less than 10 miles per day), and I would be going off road once in a while, but not all the time. Getting the older 3.8L would mean that I don't have a car payment which is a big selling point.
The 3.8 will be fine for what you describe, especially since your set on the manual trans. I’d look for a 2011 to get the updated interior and find one with 3.73 gears.

I have the 3.6, manual trans and 4.10 gears; the 3.6’s power is not that impressive. It’s not worth having a monthly payment for.
 

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I'd probably go with the 3.6L. Just be certain if it is one of the earlier 3.6L models, specifically 2012-2013, that the left head was changed with the AC version. Later model years I would check the left head casting #'s and make damn sure it has an AC head. I was told from a reliable source that some of the AA and AB heads made it to later model year 3.6L engines. I have no factual data to back that up, but I do trust the source.
 

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I'd probably go with the 3.6L. Just be certain if it is one of the earlier 3.6L models, specifically 2012-2013, that the left head was changed with the AC version. Later model years I would check the left head casting #'s and make damn sure it has an AC head. I was told from a reliable source that some of the AA and AB heads made it to later model year 3.6L engines. I have no factual data to back that up, but I do trust the source.
Where is the S/N located on the head?
 

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I am in the market for a new to me Jeep. I have roughly $12,500 cash to put down on this new Jeep. The reason I have the cash is because my current car is paid off. Being that I don't have a car payment now one of my deciding factors with getting a Jeep is whether or not to have a car payment. This leads me to which Jeep to get. I am 100% dead set on getting a 4 door Unlimited, with a manual transmission and a soft top. Based on this it leads me to the JK.

My ultimate question here is do I get an older 2007-2011 with the 3.8L V6 or do I get a newer 2012-2016 with the 3.6L. From my local market research the price difference is a 2007-2011 goes for between $10k-$15k, and a 2012+ goes for $20k up. Knowing that it is a bare minimum $5000 difference just for the newer engine is it worth it?? I drive a very short distance to work (less than 10 miles per day), and I would be going off road once in a while, but not all the time. Getting the older 3.8L would mean that I don't have a car payment which is a big selling point.

What is the community's opinion, is the 3.6L really worth it considering I am not going to be driving it heavily?

For some history on me, I had a '95 2.6L I4 YJ about 15 years ago, so my history with a Jeep is slow and steady, even the 3.8L is an upgrade in horsepower from what I used to have.

Thanks in advance for your thoughts and comments. - John
I’ve had all three. Get the 3.6.
 

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I traded in an 07 3.8 for a 17 3.6, both with the same 3.21 gearing. During my ownership of the 3.8, I added 305/70-16 KO2s, which were transferred to the 3.6, so I'd consider the comparison roughly equal.

When I owned the 3.8, I was never happy with the jeep. There was NEVER enough power, and it always felt just...wrong. When I traded it for the 3.6, I honestly considered not installing the 4.56 gears that's I'd purchased for the 07, because it felt THAT much better. Now, don't get me wrong, I'm glad that I added the gears and lockers, but the HP increase alone made THAT much difference, that I had to step back and re-think it.
 

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Discussion Starter #15
Thank you all for your responses. This has been very helpful. I do plan to test drive both, but it sounds like I am probably leaning towards the 3.6L.
 

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Definitely get the 3.6, i have a 2012, abit over 100k and original heads, its not as big a deal as it was made out to be. The pentastar drivability is so much better. I havent driven any other but my 6 speed with 4.10s hauls pretty good for a 2 ton brick shaped jeep. It will bury the speedo very easy, tons of passing power and dont even have to downshift doing 70 and hitting hills. So much better and comfortable than driving on the edge with the gas to the floor and motor screaming just to go down the freeway.
 

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The extra 83 HP you get with the 3.6 does make a difference. But, that aside, I'd go for the newest, lowest mileage JK I could find that fit my budget.

I went through this a few weeks ago when I picked up my '13. Quite a difference in prices between the 3.8 and 3.6 years. Luckily, my budget allowed me a '13 w/the 3.6, and it was well worth it to me.

Buy the newest, lowest mileage, one you can afford.
 

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Yuo've probably made up your mind by now and already have a new Jeep, but I have a 2 Door with the 3.8, and it takes me about 10 seconds to get to 60 with a manul, 3.73s, and 285s. I also burn about a quart every 800-1k miles. That being said, I have had 0 other issues with it, other than being slow. I can't imagine it on a 4 door. However, mine is a 2008 and I like the 07-10 interior MUCH better than the 2011+s
 

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I recently traded in my '07 JKU Sahara (3.8 Auto; 4:10 gears, stock wheels/tires) for a '15 JKU Sahara (3.6l, 3:75 gear, 2" lift and 35's).

The difference was night and day. I pull an 18' fishing skiff around and also a home built 'adventure trailer'. the 3.6 with the auto is a pleasure to drive. The 3.8l needed to downshift on highway overpass inclines (I live in FL) and could not tow the relatively light toys with OD on. with the 3.6l it rarely downshifts out of 5th when towing, and acceleration/passing feels meaningful.

IMO just a better generation of engine and trans and makes the Jeep more fun to drive!
 
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