The 2018 Jeep Wrangler will be all-new and no doubt an improvement on its already rugged predecessors. What's more, the Wrangler has been a solid seller for the brand for years, resting on a reputation for toughness and fun that few 4x4s can boast. So far in 2017, the Wrangler is the 25th best-selling vehicle in America with over 163,000 units sold as of the end of October. Those are big numbers, and the Wrangler and Wrangler Unlimited typically fare well in a very crowded field. But the Wrangler isn't exactly great to drive on road, where most owners drive them (and oftentimes exclusively). So, why on earth does this wheeled mountain goat sell so well?

2017 Jeep Wrangler Rubicon bouldering

1. The Wrangler Means Freedom

2017 Jeep Wrangler Unlimited red trail

The first reason is because it evokes a spirit of American ruggedness and freedom other SUVs can't seem to match. Though the Wrangler isn't really designed to drive on road but rather off, consumer still flock to it because the Wrangler screams "fun" no matter where you take it. Its WWII roots mean that the body-on-frame Wrangler is supposed to go where others fail.

We've driven the Wrangler in some pretty challenging environments. We drove a stock 4x4 on Hawaii's Big Island, taking on some deep mud, huge rocks and ruts that would upend a typical SUV, but the Wrangler managed it all flawlessly.  But then you take it on road, and it's a challenge. Steering is vague, the ride is rough, and road noise is brutal at highway speeds. Hell, it's not even that spacious inside, even in four-door trim. But that doesn't seem to matter to most owners. They love it because it's a departure from the real world.

2. The Wrangler Has a Solid Reputation

Jeep Wrangler rock crawling

The second reason is that it has a longstanding reputation, something not many car models can boast. It's so iconic, that it even beats out more modern vehicles when it comes to prominence on TV and in movies. The problem we have is that most owners actually never drive the Wrangler off-road, regardless of how often they see it doing all manner of off-roading on the big or small screen.

And owners are willing to spend a lot on their Wranglers. Though a base 2-door 4x2 costs $23K, the Wrangler and Wrangler Unlimited can easily climb north of $40K with trims and options selected, which a lot of owners like because it makes their Jeep look fancy, sort of the antithesis of what a Jeep was made for. For an SUV, it's not exactly ergonomic inside or comfortable for driver or passengers, for that matter, and even the technology is dated compared to vehicles like the Toyota 4Runner and the Land Rover Discovery, which both have superb off-road capabilities and far better on-road manners. 

3. The Wrangler Can Take Mods Like a Champ

modded Jeep Wrangler

The third reason is that the Wrangler is rife for modifications. Done right, you can have a truly unique and even more capable version. Off-roaders buy base models and opt them out with Jeep and/or aftermarket add-ons that enhance its trail capabilities. Though we don't completely fault the Wrangler owners who buy the vehicle without taking it off-road, we do thumb our noses at owners to mod their Wranglers to the point of being unrecognizable (and still don't drive it off-road). Thin tires, big rims, all manner of brush guards and roof racks, and their Wranglers don't ever see anything more aggressive than a parking lot speed bump. To us, this is an utter waste of good money on two fronts. You're not using your Jeep for its intended purpose, and you're acting like a complete poseur by adulterating your vehicle to look like its dressed for a costume party. Ugh, you make real Jeep owners cringe. 

But if you really want to do some recreational off-roading, or you live in an area where the terrain is challenging and roads get washed out, the Wrangler is one of the best choices for your money. Just don't fall for the fancy trim levels since all Wranglers pretty much ride the same, and the level of in-car tech is on the low rung of the ladder. Use them the way they were intended, and get a 4x4 Sport, saving yourself tons of money and also keeping with the spirit of the original Jeep. 

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Interested in getting behind the wheel of a Jeep Wrangler? Read our review below:

2017 Jeep Wrangler Unlimited Chief Review