I bought my Wrangler new in 2001 for several reasons. First of all it was a genuine off road short wheel base four wheel drive with selectable low range, a powerful engine, excellent approach and departure angles, simple engineering with a emphasis on strength rather than looks and genuine manufacturer four wheel drive heritage. At this time in Australia, the closest competitor's are the Ssangyong Korando (about $28000.00) and the Landrover short wheel base model (a whopping $40,000.00 plus due to one high end specification only).
The Wrangler is in between these two in price, but is on a par with the Landrover for ability and is far beyond the Ssangyong in durability. The engine is thirsty at roughly 15 litres per hundred kilometers and the fuel tank is too small for comfortable long range expeditions in Australia. Engine performance is a delight with excellent acceleration and more torque than you will ever need, and this old world brute force more than compensates for the heavy drinking habit.
Off road ability is top notch and will take you far beyond the point where a Toyota or Ford soft-roader will bite the dust. Accomodation is what you expect from a Jeep. Its really a two seater with an emergency bench seat in the back, which I removed as it's a death trap held to the body by two lousy cir-clips. The suspension has been set up to cater to the tastes of urban drivers and for genuine off roading an aftermarket upgrade would be necessary.
As a city drivers convertible, it's a classic 'Barbie' mobile, but in the bush it's a tough little worker with short legs and some other shortcomings. These are as follows.
Cargo space, which is insufficient for both supplies, camping gear and all those extra jerry cans you'll need.
Towing capability. 750 kilograms unbraked isn't enough for a vehicle this powerful.
Lack of a diesel option.
Poor side impact protection in models with half doors. Even the full doors don't inspire much confidence.
On the plus side, there is a massive after market supply community which can replace almost every component on a Jeep with a better custom made upgrade. Every panel on the vehicle can be replaced with an aftermarket metal, fibreglass or plastic copy of high quality.
Summing up, I would buy another one, but I would want the extended 'unlimited' body now on sale in the US with a 80 to 90 litre tank capacity at least and a diesel engine. So far Jeep hasn't provided such a vehicle so I'll hang on to my current Jeep.