The 2023 Jeep Wrangler is one of the most capable off-roaders you’ll find on dealer lots right now, but it’s available in 12 trims from the basic Sport model to the rip-roarin’ V8-powered 392. That seriously begs the question: Which one is best? Luckily, we have some experience in this arena. We’ve driven and tested more than our fair share of Wranglers, and we even bought one for our long-term fleet. It’s safe to say we’re intimately familiar with the JL Wrangler, so here’s what we recommend you do should you find yourself wanting this off-road warrior.
The one we recommend: Wrangler Rubicon
In order to properly fulfill the Wrangler’s core mission of being a go-anywhere, do-anything machine, the Rubicon trim (and all its associated off-road goodies) is the one to have. Yes, it’s pricier than the majority of the Wrangler lineup, but what you get for the money is something with Billy Goat levels of off-road prowess. The list of features the Rubicon trim adds is lengthy and includes 17-inch wheels with all-terrain tires, heavy-duty front and rear axles, 4:1 low-range gearing, electronically locking front and rear differentials, and front stabilizer bar that connects and disconnects electronically, and some rock rails.
There are a plethora of options to pick from, too, and aftermarket support for the Wrangler is so plentiful that picking from those catalogs might actually be even more tiring than deciding what Wrangler you want in the first place. That said, there are a few choice option packs from Jeep itself we’d suggest you spring for. The LED Lighting package vastly improves the headlights (and, frankly, they just look cooler) while the Safety group adds a blind-spot warning system and parking sensors.
We think these options complete the Wrangler experience, bringing the total to $46,235 for the two-door Rubicon and $52,030 for the four-door model. It’s worth noting that these also come with a six-speed manual, and the automatic (which some may prefer) is a $2,000 option, regardless of door count.
A Wrangler on a budget? Willys is the way
If you still want a Wrangler-level experience but think nearly $50,000 is a bit too dear, there are plenty of viable options at the start of the Wrangler lineup. The best way to save some serious cash is by ditching the extra doors. Four-door Wranglers (called the Wrangler Unlimited) carry an almost $4,500 premium over the two-door cars, and if you can live without the extra space, that’s an easy way to save some serious coin.
As for what trim to buy, we say opt for the Willys Sport model. It comes as standard with a more off-road-oriented wheel and tire combination and has some cosmetic upgrades, like a blacked-out grille and a different front bumper, that make the car look far more upscale than the standard Sport model. They also do a reasonable facsimile of the Rubicon trim to boot. There aren’t too many options when it comes to the Willys model, either, and that keeps things simple. We’d recommend going for the eight-speed automatic transmission and pairing it with the 2.0-liter turbocharged four-cylinder. It helps keep weight down, adds efficiency, and the turbo-four is nearly as powerful as the old Pentastar V6.
Want the ultimate Wrangler? There’s only one option
If money simply isn’t a concern, then you have to go for the Wrangler 392. It features a rip-roarin’ V8 and the cacophony that comes with it, some genuinely sporty driving dynamics, and plenty of off-road hardware. It starts at $84,290, and that’s a lot of dough, but if we had our druthers it’s the one we’d pick, too.