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A grey 2022 Jeep Wrangler Unlimited Sport is shown from the front at an angle on a bridge.

Off-Roading on a Budget? Check Out These Used Jeep Wrangler Models

The Jeep Wrangler is made to traverse places that most vehicles could never reach. That said, some off-roading ventures are too unpredictable for a brand-new ride. While the Jeep Wrangler is getting more and more capable with every new model, you may not want to deal with all those dents, knicks, and scratches right off the lot. Since hardcore trailing in a shiny new Wrangler can get expensive fast, your best bet is to find a used Jeep Wrangler for sale. This option ensures impressive off-roading capability without concern for exterior damage.

Since there are so many used Wrangler models and trims floating around out there, narrowing down which one’s the best deal and fit can be difficult. There’s a lot to consider here, including standard features, budget, and capability. Need help finding out which one best matches your own trailblazing needs? Below, you’ll find some of the best off-roading used Wranglers across a variety of different budgets—from bare bones to the most capable models of all.

Feeling Sporty?

Entry-level isn’t a bad thing. The Jeep Wrangler Sport trim is a great option for folks who consider themselves casual off-roaders and prefer to focus on DIY modifications and upgrades. Sport Wranglers pretty much provide everything necessary for trail adventures right out of the box. The Wrangler Sport is typically more affordable because it’s “minimalist” in a sense. It runs on the lower-level Command-Trac part-time 4×4 system, and it doesn’t include as many standard features as other models. But when you just need something to hit the trails in, this Trail Rated trim has everything you need.

There are many different Sport-level trims out there, as it’s been a staple Wrangler trim for quite some time. While any used Wrangler Sport trim will do, we recommend something like the 2013 Jeep Wrangler Sport for the perfect balance of capability, dependability, and affordability. Anything in the third (JK) generation will include similar perks, though. If you happen to come across one of these gems, it’ll be well worth your time.

A grey 2022 Jeep Wrangler Unlimited Willys is shown from the front at an angle after leaving a dealer that has a used Jeep Wrangler for sale.

It’s Willy, Willy Great!

The Wrangler hails from World War II, directly influenced by the original army Jeep, and the Willys trim pays homage to this, but it’s not all about history and style. In fact, the Willys trim is made specifically with some adventure-ready perks in mind. Next to the Rubicon, this is the best Wrangler trim you can get for trailing. It has the same shocks and rock rails as the Rubicon trim, with a standard underbody skid plate, standard 32-inch Firestone mud tires, and Trak-Lock Limited Rear Slip Differentials. It holds some handy convenience perks as well, like all-weather floor mats to tackle water and mud, plus LED headlamps and fog lamps. The Willys also comes with the Command-Trac system, like the Sport trim does, but its standard trailing features make it an even better contender for off-road adventures.

Before you start looking for a mid-twenty-teens Willys Wrangler, just know that there’s not one. The Willys trim is still available as a used model, though, since it debuted in 2020, but it definitely costs more than the Sport trim will due to its higher trim level and age. Nevertheless, it’s still technically a more “affordable” option compared with other newer Wranglers. It just depends on what your idea of “budget” is. If you’re on the higher end of the scale, then this great trim is a top contender.

Soup Up Your Sport

The Sport Wrangler is super cool, but it’s also quite old-fashioned—sometimes too dated for certain buyers. If you like the idea of the entry-level Sport trim but it’s just not quite equipped enough for you, the Sport S is a good option. This model essentially unlocks some important add-ons that aren’t available on the Sport. The Sport S is best known for its power windows and locks and its keyless entry, making it a more modernized version of its base-level sibling. Entertainment add-on gains are also available with the S. None of these features are necessary when heading off-road, but they’re certainly nice to have, and since the Jeep Wrangler Sport S has been around for a while, you can choose from a variety of model years and color options.

Explore the Unknown

It comes as no surprise that the top used Jeep Wrangler trim on this list is the Rubicon. The first Rubicon officially emerged in 2003, marketed the same way it is today—a hardcore off-roading machine. The Rubicon originated from a team of engineers who saw how much potential the Wrangler had as an off-roading prowler and wanted to bring that to life. Creating a Jeep-branded trim level was the best way to do this, and that’s exactly what they did. Since then, the Rubicon has been deemed the most capable off-roading Wrangler on the market.

The Rubicon operates on its own unique drivetrain known as the Rock-Trac System. It does exactly what it sounds like, which is to provide rock-climbing capabilities (and then some). The Rubicon also includes factory locking differentials, large off-road-ready tires, and additional gear depending on which model year you go for. Speaking of which, since it’s always been made to hit the trails, this model is a great one no matter which generation you choose. Go as early as the best-selling 2008 Jeep Wrangler Rubicon and mod it up to your liking, or stick with a newer used option if you’re less into the whole DIY repairs scene. No matter which year piques your interest, one thing’s for certain—the Rubicon is made for serious off-road enthusiasts.

An orange 2019 Jeep Wrangler Rubicon is shown from the front while driving over a rock.

Add These Five Mods to Your Used Jeep Wrangler Off-Roader

While trim levels like the Willys automatically come with cool protection items like the underbody skid plate and rock rails, every used Wrangler is different. There are several modifications that can make your used Wrangler even more off-road-capable.

  • First is the underbody skid plate. This one is important unless your idea of off-roading is going back home for Thanksgiving dinner. Tree limbs, rocks, and other debris can puncture your vehicle’s underbody, causing damage to the transfer case and other important mechanical must-haves.
  • Second, on the list is the winch. No matter how seasoned an off-roader is, wild things happen off the pavement. It’s good to install a winch, most commonly an electric one, if you plan to have frequent trail visits.
  • Third? Light bars, of course! This one is especially important for older Wrangler models that don’t include LED headlamps. Even if you do have those LEDs, a light bar installation still enhances your view range and makes nights in the woods a bit less scary.
  • Fourth on the list is a capable tire set. It is essential to have either mud tires or all-terrain tires on your Wrangler if you plan to make it off the trail. The good news is that Rubicon and Willys include these tires standard, but the bad news is that used models don’t always follow suit. It’s important to check the off-roader’s tire specs and upgrade if necessary.
  • Fifth, make sure to throw a set of rock rails on if you haven’t already. This is a feature that’s standard on Willys and Rubicon trims and helps protect door sills and door bottoms from damage. You may not care as much about dents and scratches as someone who splurges on the newest 2023 model, but a set of these will save you many needless repairs in the future.

Choose Used and Improved for Off-Roading

Finding a used Jeep Wrangler and decking it out with off-roading extras is a great way to get on the trails when you are working with a strict budget. Find one of the trims we mentioned here if you are looking for a well-equipped model that is a good deal. Then, you can add on extra equipment to really outfit your used model for tackling any challenges the trails throw at you. It’s easy to hit the trails when you are on a budget when you opt for a used Trail Rated Jeep Wrangler.

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