For a lot of people, the Jeep Wrangler is what they think of when they imagine an off roader to be. In the past, there were only these Jeep Wrangler trucks available. Nowadays there is a huge market for off road vehicles. What was once the standard is now one of many in a crowded field of similar cars from brands that try to do what the Jeep Wrangler was originally designed to do.
Some add unnecessary features like Apple Car Play (Android Auto maybe?) and look like they have off road chops, when in fact they promote a smooth ride or they pose as a luxurious alternative to the Jeep Wrangler. When in fact they are lost off road.
You are stuck between a Jeep Wrangler and a good alternative but you aren’t sure what is a great alternative and what would be a mall crawler? Are you die-hard for the Ford Bronco? Or maybe you always had a thing for the quirky Suzuki Samurai. So what are some Jeep Wrangler alternatives? What are some cars that look like jeeps but aren’t? Especially when Jeeps break down a lot?
Even the older models like the Ford Bronco, Toyota FJ Cruiser, and Toyota Tacoma are useful options. A truck bed is always nice in a pickup. The Land Rover used to be excellent off roading vehicle with four doors and great ground clearance.
It started out as a direct competitor to the Jeep Wrangler. Nowadays models like the Land Rover Defender, with a high starting price, are more capable of hauling groceries than rock hopping.
There are many Jeep alternatives that cost less as well. Some may even provide better value, lesser brand appeal, and cheap generic aftermarket parts. The Jeep lineup offers some like the Jeep Cherokee. It’s a midsize SUV with engine options and more space than a Jeep Wrangler. But it’s built similarly and almost redundant especially off road.
We will talk about some alternatives that other blogs don’t mention. We will pick apart other pickups and midsize SUVs that give the Jeep Wrangler a real run for its money.
So What Is A Cheaper Alternative To Jeep Wrangler?
- Toyota 4Runner
- Suzuki Samurai
- Chevrolet Blazer
- Nissan Xterra
How does each compare to the Wrangler? Let’s take a look at each in detail to see how they compare:
Wrangler Good. Suzuki Bad.
In a head-to-head matchup, the Samurai is pretty meager. On its own, the Suzuki is a fun ride for a select group of people. Its severely limiting capabilities are too much to warrant any type of comparison in any aspect to a Jeep.
The quaint ride can be fun and joy if you don’t need to haul a lot of stuff or are a grand group of 2-4 looking for a sweet day trip. No third row here and usually a four cylinder under the hood.
Cargo space with four people is made up of little more than cup holders. RVers commonly tow these bad boys (emphasis on boy) behind their campers for quick trips in and around town.
They barely haul 1000 lbs. on a good day. They are torquey for how they’re built and the drive train allows for slow but high-grade ascents. The 4×4 makes it so they can get in and out of a lot of foolish roads.
When comparing these guys it’s completely one-sided. The Jeep Wrangler is a specialized ride being ideal for slow-moving steep and crazy ascents and descents. In any other application, the Wrangler is always lacking. The Samurai even more so.
Little more than a glorified shopping cart the Samurai can be a great off road vehicle. The largest engine it was equipped with is a 4 cylinder 12 valve 2.1L turbo diesel yielding the power of 108 Clydesdales. They can be easily converted to run-on vegetable oil as well.
Finding aftermarket parts to widen the axles is easy as are suspension lifts and body lifts. Engine upgrades are less common unless you can throw a wrench. Suzuki has never really developed a large aftermarket business as the other brands have over their histories.
The market is kind to Samurai’s overall. Inventory is plentiful for used vehicles given its history from 1981-1998. Pricing is also wonderful.
For a starting price as low as $2,000 for a base model you can buy one of these guys and have some fun with it without too much upkeep. If you are game, forget about everything and snatch up one of these strange and quaint rides. The fuel economy is another plus, but hey, it’s not what we’re thinking about when we’re looking up at a rock face in the hills.
Chevrolet Blazer Is Better Than You Think
The Chevrolet Blazer is a great off road vehicle option for a lot of reasons. The Blazer can be modified and used as an extreme off roader. The affordability and availability of aftermarket parts are motivating. You can make one as stock or modified as you want.
The universal fit parts are almost endless. Performance parts fitted specifically for your year and model type Blazer are boundless. It is a Chevrolet and the line has been around for decades.
Its practicality also makes it more of a weekend warrior, family lugger. If you want to go camping and fit a fair amount of fixings for your weekend getaway, you will be better equipped than a Jeep.
The Blazer is more the size of a Grand Cherokee to give you an idea. Plus it will give you a much smoother on road ride, quieter cabin, and more heat of A/C convenience than a Jeep ever could.
Performance-wise the Jeep will give you more in certain aspects. Torque, engine choices, gear ratios all favor the Jeep. This way the Jeep performs much better as an off road vehicle.
The Blazer is more rounded out, so while you won’t create the best rock crawler with a Blazer, it will perform pretty well on the dirt, and much much better everywhere else compared to the Jeep.
Plus if you are seriously planning to have fun on your next vacation, you will be able to drive 60MPH through the Rockies no problem hauling a 5,000 lb trailer loaded up with ease in the Blazer.
The Jeep will give you more trouble than it’s worth making you think it would be easier to just rent locally than haul your own goodies.
The Jeep will of course make you look cooler, so if a certain image plays a factor then you can’t go wrong with a Jeep Wrangler. And if you don’t need to ride comfortably on asphalt or have a daily driver the Jeep can be a much better choice.
The Blazer is an SUV. It is designed to meet a long list of requirements, while each performing at an acceptable level, it simply won’t wow in any single category. From a daily driver to a weekend warrior it will do it all like a 40-year-old with no health insurance. There are many Jeep alternatives and this comes up as the second worse on our list.
Nissan Xterra Ties Jeep Wrangler In Off Roading?!?
The Nissan Xterra proves a worthy competitor to the Wrangler. It scored dead even against the Wrangler in the head to head.
Its greatest Jeep Wrangler worth would be its resale value and four door models. You can find bargain Xterras on the market for pennies compared to the Wrangler. The reliability is also superior to that of the Jeep Wrangler. Ground clearance is better when both are stock.
The resale value difference may be due to the legacy of the Jeep name more than that of the actual product. It is hard to argue with that.
Though one may have a legitimate argument if they are looking at their Jeep in pieces in their garage while their friend in a lifted Xterra is riding in the backcountry every weekend.
Aftermarket parts are plentiful for both may be the advantage of going to the Wrangler.
Engine choices and resources available heavily favor the Jeep Wrangler so for novices an Xterra may not be the best choice but depending on one’s aptitude or tenacity an Xterra may be exactly what you are looking for.
Performance specs heavily favor the Xterra equipped with a V6. Towing is rated at 5000 lbs while the Wrangler’s greatest towing capabilities have been about half of that.
Cargo space is also very pro Xterra. It is a closed cabin SUV while the Jeep Wrangler is typically a two-door open 4×4 that has to fit a back seat with a limited trunk.
Add to the fact that adding anything on the roof would require special racks while on an Xterra you would need to buy some straps or be really lucky with some shoelaces or duct tape.
Overall each truck has its strengths and weaknesses. The Jeep Wrangler excels at the Xterra’s weaknesses and vice versa.
Overall, unless you need something specific, you can’t go wrong with choosing either. Except for looks, the Xterra is one of the most equal Jeep alternatives.
Toyota 4Runner Is A Classic
The Toyota 4Runner and the Jeep Wrangler have a shared history. They are both a body on frame SUV. They are both considered an all road vehicle. Jeep Wrangler comes from a big family of post-WWII classic vehicles made for the mud. The 4Runner can haul the whole family with three rows available. It is based on the Hilux which is an off road truck. They both have excellent off road capability.
The 4Runner debuted a year after the Jeep Wranglers in 1984 but the Wrangler has outsold the Toyota 4Runner by only about 1,000,000 units overall.
The off road culture for Jeep is common with the 4Runner less so. Aftermarket options are plentiful for both.
Jeep Wranglers are more common in the used marketplace (including 4 cylinders) but comparing V6 models the Toyota 4Runner is slightly ahead.
The overall reliability between the two models isn’t as close as the overall numbers show. The reliability of the 4Runner isn’t a good as the overall Toyota brand.
But it still is more reliable than that of the Wrangler or Jeep. The Toyota 4Runners’ inventory is much higher than that of Jeep’s.
The off road capability for both is about even. Jeep for slow-moving 4x4s may have the advantage, 4Runners in all other aspects.
Online resources and engine choices favor the Jeep Wrangler most likely due to it having a long brand history.
Overall performance including payload, towing capabilities, and cargo space heavily favor the Toyota 4Runner.
Not including paved road handling the 4Runner still takes the cake in overall performance and ability over the Wrangler.
Main Takeaways – Jeep Wrangler Alternatives
You love your Jeep Wrangler but are looking for something that is just as capable off roader. We know what you need! Check out our article on the best Jeep Wrangler alternatives for off roading because we have a list of other vehicles that will meet all your needs and desires when it comes to getting dirty.
And if this isn’t enough incentive, read through the summary below where we tell you about how much faster these trucks can go than your average 4×4 vehicle.
The Wrangler is at a disadvantage being owned by multiple companies throughout its history. Sold to Chrysler in 1988 the Jeep Wrangler line has changed manufacturing hands over time.
If you are looking for a truck that you can load the family up for a week of camping, haul a trailer of quads and motorcycles, and take the Toyota 4Runner off road as well. This is one of the better alternatives to the Jeep Wrangler and the best on my list.
What is the best alternative to Jeep Wrangler?
The Toyota 4Runner is my pick of the best Jeep Wrangler alternative.
So are you champing at the bit for a new project? Or maybe you’re tired of watching others have fun climbing rocks or wading through mud in their 4x4s? If you are dead set on a Wrangler, great! But there are many Jeep Wrangler alternatives that fit any need.
I hope you have found this information helpful in your decisions to get a Jeep Wrangler or the many other options for on and off road fun.