Home "Road Ready!" with Moses Ludel at YouTube Road Ready Episode 14: Picking the Right Preowned Jeep 4×4 for Off-Road and Highway Use

Road Ready Episode 14: Picking the Right Preowned Jeep 4×4 for Off-Road and Highway Use

by Moses Ludel

In this discussion, Moses Ludel goes over the more affordable Jeep 4×4 models in the used vehicle market. He shares their design, assets and liabilities. Before investing in any used 4×4, begin by picking a model type that best serves your needs. The best value follows.

A 1987-2001 4.0L Jeep XJ Cherokee, a YJ or TJ Wrangler or the 1992-2004 ZJ/WJ Grand Cherokees would be our pics for affordable 4×4 SUV Jeep models. Each of these vehicles will deliver great service with reasonable parts and repair costs. If low cost of maintenance is primary, the Cherokee or Wrangler would be best. If utility on a budget with off-pavement potential are your aims, this XJ Cherokee with a 6-inch long arm suspension lift and 33″ tires gets it done. This has been our inexpensive to maintain, fun and sporty vehicle since we purchased the Jeep from its original owner for $5,900 in 2005. An XJ Cherokee can still be a cash buy these days; accessorizing can take place when your budget affords. Here we’re at wild horse country—again. This is an all-season, on- and off-pavement daily driver. Fuel efficiency, however, is not stellar with the modifications.
This is our 1999 Jeep XJ Cherokee, bought with 94K miles and now boasting 190K-plus miles on its odometer. Preventive maintenance has made this among our most reliable yet inexpensive to maintain vehicles ever. We repair and tackle wear as we go, making sure nothing fails in service. These are highly reliable, easy to fix 4x4s, a candidate for the best modern utility vehicle to date. If you want dependable transportation and reasonable off-road capability, add the right lift, tires and accessories. Want some of the least expensive replacement parts in the industry? This is the solution. Though fuel mileage is not exceptional, the 7-main bearing 4.0L engine can deliver 250-plus thousand miles of service if maintained properly. This is a great vehicle for improving your mechanical skills while dodging the vehicle payment trap! Find a good one with the right history.
In 2012, the Wrangler JK with the new Pentastar 3.6L high-tech V6 was impressive. Here, we test the Wrangler Unlimited Rubicon on the trail to Camp Wamp. This powertrain was a welcome development for the JK after the previous Caravan 3.8L V6 fell short on power. The 3.8L often proved unfit for duty in a hefty JK 4-door package with aftermarket accessories and armor. Today, earlier JK models are somewhat affordable in the used 4×4 SUV market even in this inflated post-pandemic era. At half the price of a new JL or JT, be certain the vehicle’s CarFax history is flawless, mileage is correct, and the vehicle is in top condition.
I was impressed then and am still good with the 2012-up JK Wrangler. Keep in mind, however, that this is not the spartan, easy-to-service Jeep your parents and grandparents owned. This is a contemporary SUV with many difficult to service features, including a nearly inaccessible HVAC system and electronics from stem to stern. All factors being equal, this was still our 2012 pick of the year among the available 4×4 SUVs, largely due to the 3.6L V6 Pentastar engine’s introduction.

At the high price for today’s new vehicles, this live vlog from nearly a decade ago is more relevant than ever. If your budget makes a used Jeep 4×4 practical, get a pad and pen ready. This vlog shares insights into practical model choices to consider—and why.

If you have questions or need further details after watching the vlog, join us at the 4WD Mechanix Magazine ‘Tech and Travel’ Forums. The forums are securely hosted by IPS and can be accessed at: https://forums.4WDmechanix.com. For answers and technical assistance, join Moses Ludel and a friendly, supportive membership at the forums.

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