By on June 7, 2017

2017 Jeep Wrangler Sport

Jeep is fixin’ to launch a redesigned Wrangler as early as next calendar year, meaning this generation of the venerable off-road brute is slowly marching towards its best-before date. When we last looked at the base Wrangler ten months ago, we found it to be an agreeable steed whose Mohawk Vodka price point more than made up for any deficiencies compared to its snazzier cousins.

Has anything changed for 2017? Let’s find out.

There’s been plenty of digital ink spilled over the forthcoming Wrangler and pressure is on FCA to design a vehicle that appeals to the public and placates the hordes of rabid Jeep fans. These are, after all, the same people who have been known to rival those diagnosed with Metathesiophobia in their staunch dislike of change.

For this model year, though, Wrangler changes are limited to a few minor changes and a $100 price hike to new starting price of $23,995. The base model is still cleverly called the Sport. The now-ubiquitous 3.6-liter Pentastar V6 remains under that flat hood. It makes 285 horsepower in the Jeep, seven fewer than the same mill in my Charger due to packaging.

A manual transmission is standard equipment in the base Wrangler and should be the sole transmission considered unless you only have a right leg. Having sampled many Wranglers, Rubicons, and Renegades (think ‘80s), I severely enjoy a manual transmission Jeep, even if its shifter does feel like a Louisville Slugger with only the barest hint of being attached to an actual gearbox.

The Wrangler has more color choices than a Sherwin-Williams production line, offering everything from staid greys to eye-arresting reds and blues, all for $0. The example above is shown in the superbly named Hypergreen. Purists will want to spring for the similarly priced half-metal doors, offered gratis from the good folks at FCA. Nothing wakes you up on a cold winter’s night like a bracing drive in a Wrangler with plastic side windows. Air conditioning is optional on the Sport. You don’t need it.

Jeep owners have long carped about their headlights not actually being headlights but being some fireflies in a couple of jam jars. Remedying this is a new-for-2017 $595 LED lighting option that swaps out those two candles up in the front grille for a couple of snazzy LED units.

Roughly $10,000 cheaper than the more capable Rubicon, the Sport still represents a great value. Not all of that $10,000 premium goes into stouter off-road equipment, so a thrifty Wrangler buyer could take their savings, blow it all on tires, rims, and suspension upgrades, and proceed to embarrass any stock Rubicon on the trail.

That misses the Ace of Base point, though. For under $24,000, any buyer can stroll into a Jeep showroom and drive away with one of the most capable factory off-roaders on the planet. A gravel driveway will probably be the sole non-pavement adventure for most, but they’ll be living the lifestyle. As long as economies of scale mean I can get into a Wrangler with cruise control, eight speakers, a Dana 44 rear, and half-doors for only $925 more than a base Camry, I don’t care what other people do with theirs.

And just to stoke the fires, you should know: I’d take this thing over last week’s 4Runner.

Not every base model has aced it. The ones which have? They help make the automotive landscape a lot better. Any others you can think of, B&B? Let us know in the comments. Naturally, feel free to eviscerate our selection.

The model above is shown in American dollars with American options and trim, absent of destination charges and available rebates. As always, your dealer may sell for less.

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49 Comments on “Ace of Base: 2017 Jeep Wrangler Sport...”

  • avatar
    87 Morgan

    Hard to argue with the value of a base Jeep Wrangler. You get a convertible for the summer and 4×4 for the winter all with the pleasure of rowing your own. Resale value is ridiculous on them, and thanks to the plentiful aftermarket if you keep yours stock you can buy a new set of tires already mounted on rims, in a lot of cases factory Rubicon wheels and tires no less for about the cost of 2 tires mounted and balanced. Shocks and bumpers are plentiful as well, so small fender benders are an easy hour in the garage unbolting the old bent one, bolt up the new used one from Craigslist and you are good to go with a straight bumper Jeep.

    • 0 avatar

      I have a 15 and would second all of this. And would add that the experience with the top and doors off is like nothing else – a dozen previous years with another convertible did not prepare me for this. But it’s awesome.
      In the Boston area, the dealers love to order them in black, so if you are looking for a certain color and option level, it can be tough.
      The rough and noisy ride thing – meh, not so much. It’s quieter than my 2012 Accord (FWTW)
      And good luck finding a base model!

  • avatar

    Just hard to find base Sports on the lot sometimes. Before I deployed overseas, I toyed with the idea of getting one when I returned. I’d been thinking of a Wrangler since sometime in the mid 90s. I’ve test-driven numerous ones, and always seemed to be rather pleased with the base Sport…manual with the steelies, just can’t decide on full doors or half-doors. When I got back, life interrupted and put that one on hold. But I still think the lowest-spec Wrangler is a fairly good deal. One day…

    • 0 avatar

      Full doors are better because they mate easily with a hardtop, and the front glass windows don’t scratch. Half doors require you to buy special front windows, if you want a hard top. Half doors also make it even easier for people to steal whatever they want from your Jeep.

      The main reason for half doors is so you can offroad spontaneously without the hassle of removing the doors completely, but the NHTSA crash regs have made the cockpit wider and half doors taller so you really have to take them off anyway.

      Half doors are a statement piece for sociological signaling within the Jeeple elite.

  • avatar

    I’d have to spring for the hard top and Bluetooth.

  • avatar

    This must be the cheapest way to get a v6 and manual, unless a mustang has higher incentives…

  • avatar
    30-mile fetch

    “And just to stoke the fires, you should know: I’d take this thing over last week’s 4Runner.”

    It’s not surprising that someone who would type “severely enjoy” would prefer this gloriously miserable alternative.

  • avatar

    I rode in a new Mazda 6 Sport last week and it was quite nice. Seriously considering getting one. It’s a lot of car for the money and has a good number of standard features. I’d certainly take it over a base Camry/Accord/Altima.

  • avatar

    The Wrangler Sport is simply the best base vehicle ever, and is my choice, hands-down – you don’t need anything else, except, perhaps, AC.

    Half-doors should be standard, although I would spring for the after market glass sliders for better quality vision, because the plastic does get scratched very easily.

    What I don’t like about the Wrangler is the top – ‘way to complex and clumsy to take down and set up. I suppose the tops with the slant back fold like a normal convertible top? I don’t know, but if not, it’s something for Chrysler to work on.

    I also dislike all the roll cage and attached stuff that comes with it. Too busy.

    I’d love another Jeep, but being retired now, I have to keep a close eye on my financial resources, plus it would have to be a 3rd vehicle, as I need my Impala for convenient passenger room.

    Still, I can dream, can’t I?

  • avatar

    “Air conditioning is optional on the Sport. You don’t need it.”

    Wrong. And terrible advice.

    If you opt out of factory A/C on any modern Wrangler, you’ve immediately killed any of the sky-high resale you think you’re gaining.


    Unless you plan on beating the ever-loving s**t out of it and sending it to Cozumel as a rental.

    The base Jeep represents a solid value, though. With a 2-door, get the most stripped Sport you can find with A/C, the transmission of your preference, and the color you like the most. Save all that extra $$$ buying custom bumpers, wheels/tires, a 2.5″ lift kit, and whatever else floats your boat. Enjoy your resale.

    If you opt for a 4-door Unlimited for family seating purposes, also get the cheapest Sport, but include the power group (W/L/M), tow package, and – if you choose – a hardtop. Save the rest for accessories. Also enjoy your resale.

    • 0 avatar
      Car Ramrod

      Do you know what it costs to add A/C to these in the aftermarket? I got a quote of $1300, but that was so long ago that a cheaper R-12 system was still legally available.

    • 0 avatar

      “Air conditioning is optional on the Sport. You don’t need it.”

      Wrong. And terrible advice.”

      It all depends on where you live and what your intentions are. Here in the mild PNW no AC on your topless Jeep isn’t a detriment and even preferred by some.

      • 0 avatar

        IMO, you don’t buy a $23k vehicle to leave it exposed to the elements. a $9k TJ? Sure. But you’re really limiting any potential resale by forgoing a, what, thousand dollar option from new.

    • 0 avatar

      Concur, though there is a caveat. If you live in the northern Rocky Mountain regions or maybe the northern most parts of the Cascades, you can still enjoy decent resale without air conditioning. However, this is a small fraction of the Jeep-buying population.

  • avatar

    Jeep owners seem to spend lots of time grumbling about headlights.

    I still remember the “Real Jeeps Have Round Headlights” t-shirts.

  • avatar
    Car Ramrod

    Aftermarket LED headlights can be had for less than $595, and they’re plug and play. They can’t look that much uglier than the upgrade FCA offers.

  • avatar

    AC is an absolute must. You have to drive these in the rain sometimes. Everything else can be added. Bluetooth? Aftermarket. Get yourself a factory leather steering wheel from a low mileage wreck. The base plastic one is just dismal. LEDs? Go quality aftermarket and sell them when you’re done. You will get 75% of your money back and are better units. As for ownership cost, the $25k base Wrangler is probably the best deal you can get today.

  • avatar

    I do love the Hypergreen and the base Wrangler is a great deal, no doubt. But if I’m getting a Wrangler, I’m getting Chief in that beautiful blue color with a white top. Seriously, if I hadn’t bought a truck a few years ago a 6-speed, two-door would be in driveway already.

  • avatar

    Unless you’re going aftermarket or Rubicon 4.10 takeoffs, be absolutely sure you add the 3.73 axle option. Everyone with a Wrangler ends up putting bigger tires on it eventually and the EPA spec 3.21 that it comes with is stupidly tall even with the short stock tires.

    The 3.73s used to be a $50 sticker option, in the age of compliance with the Obama’s EPA that’s now $700, but it still beats $1600 to have a shop do it.

    • 0 avatar

      Isn’t it technically Nixon’s EPA?

    • 0 avatar

      As much as I like to pile on Obama I don’t think he can be blamed for this. My 02 Wrangler had 3.06 gears. I put 31 inch tall tires on it and 5th gear was about unusable.

      • 0 avatar

        I had an ’02 also with 3.07 gears and put 33″ tires on it. Equipped like that it couldn’t do the speed limit on some hilly roads no matter what gear I was in. I went to the other extreme and put 4.88 gears in it and after that it was fine on any road, as well as great off-road, but got horrible mileage.

        • 0 avatar

          Going from 3.07 to 4.88 is one hell of a jump, for some reason I’m thoroughly impressed you would do that. Don’t get me wrong I’m close from getting one of my trucks changed from 4.10 to 4.88 but I can only imagine how much different your truck had to drive with that change.

      • 0 avatar

        There was always highway only gearing for the people who didn’t know or care but the good (at least with stock tires) axle ratio was a $50 order sheet option prior to Obama’s CAFE shenanigans.

  • avatar

    A few comments:

    Pros: cheap, the top comes off, the doors come off, very capable off
    road WITH AN AUTO TRANNY, unbelievable resale, incredible array of after-
    market parts, lots of advice out there on how best to modify, towable.

    Cons: on-parment ride is abominable, manufactured by FCA, the afore-
    mentioned headlights, seating comfort, very noisy even with top up/on.

    I’ll keep my Xterra for now. It’s reasonably comfy and quiet (that’s
    important to us old farts), a modicum of aftermarket parts are available,
    it’s been VERY reliable, and the long term viability of the manufacturer
    is not in doubt.

    If you’re going to drive the Rubicon trail or go red-rocking in Moab,
    you probably want a Jeep. But I’m not. So I don’t

  • avatar

    As a toy, yes. As an offroader with value, Forester wins. Huge sunroof, A/C, quiet drive and rear passenger protection come gratis with the Subaru. Plus it won’t rust as badly.

  • avatar

    I suppose Wrangler Sport is Ace of Base, but it’s not the best value in the Wrangler lineup. First, it’s incredibly annoying to older Jeep owners that Sport is now base trim. It used to be mid-level, which allowed for access to superior options. If you’re trying to sell, you have to explain to the JK generation that Sport was the old mid-level; therefore, all of the options are factory installed from new, not junkyard bolt-ons done after-the-fact (which makes secondary market buyers believe they can push for discounts). Second, you’re still getting open differentials front and rear. Base Jeeps will trounce anything in dry conditions, but if it’s muddy or slushy, a Wrangler can easily be bested by something with decent tires and all-wheel-drive.

    The real value for discerning customers is the Wrangler Willys Wheeler. It has standard 3.73 gearing. Standard 17×7.5 wheels and 255/75 Offroad tires, with standard trail-rated suspension upgrades yield about 5-degrees improvement in all angles (approach, break, departure). Rock rails are standard. Bluetooth Connectivity package is standard w/ leather wrapped steering wheel. Best of all, you get Trac-lok rear differential standard.

    The one big drawback: A/C still an option.

    Still for $28,295 you can buy a vehicle that has a 4wd and supsention/axle setup superior to everything but a Rubicon, and it won’t struggle in slippery conditions, unlike the Sport which has open differentials and inferior tire options. Willys is diamond in the rough, and the appearance really is quite rough compared to other Wrangler models.

    • 0 avatar

      I would agree the Willys is prob the best value if you want to stay “stock”.

      Back in 2014 when I ordered a new JK, LSD and 3.73 were both $249 options each. It’s now laughable at what FCA wants.

      Nevertheless, I think if you plan to modify. The base Sport is still a better value. Let’s just start with gears, $1,500 to $2k, this will bring you to respectable ratops like a 4.56 (throw in auto locker / LSD same time for negligible labor cost). Cut the 3.73 BS, with 33s, they were barely adequate. Say you want to upgrade to Rubicon/Willy tire package, just buy take offs for around $1k and sell off the pizza cutters for $200. You can say the same for the suspension, Willys take off is what, $400-500 tops? For Bluetooth, the array of aftermarket stereo out there will beat whatever factory junk that the Willys have. Just buy one that is compatible with the steering wheel buttons. Factory rock rails, I bought new takeoffs for $125. After I was done with them, I sold them for, $125.

      With the $4k difference between the two trims, the Sport will also save you on sales tax which in my state, is ~$250. Not to mention, the $4k extra in sticker price means the Excise tax savings on the first year is $75 and roughly $50 the second year.

      Resale value…well, the Willys will probably be better since mods don’t do much. This is where your argument is best. Well, there’s warranty too.

      Last point, nobody gives the BLD system any credit? Yes, it has open diffs but does have some computer help via BLD.

  • avatar

    Every time I toy with the idea of one of these I end up thinking “oh yeah that’s right I do have to commute.” (This would be fun but also have to be my primary vehicle.)

  • avatar

    I could see replacing the forerunner with one of these if it ever breaks. I could go with the ragtop even in winter but air-conditioning in Houston is really not optional. That pentastar seems to be the new slant six.

  • avatar

    I love base Jeeps. Keep trying to buy one. In 2015 I ended up with a loaded Sahara 4 door. My son pretty much appropriated it from me and added great suspension, wheels and tires (35 mud terrains) and a few other things. It was really cool but became kind of a chore to drive. I traded it in and bought him a VW GLI last December. We both missed the Jeep. A couple of weeks ago I bought a used 2014 Sahara Polar Edition 4 door. My son has grabbed that. Last Saturday I traded in my Ram 1500 diesel 4wd for a GTI SE and my wife is driving the GLI. I drove his Jeep daily for a couple of weeks and am going to set it up to tow behind our motorhome. When we’re traveling my son will drive the GLI. He doesn’t know how to drive the manual GTI. I still want a base Jeep but the only thing you lose with the more expensive models is the money. Both of my Jeeps have been good family cars and daily drivers. A base 2 door would not be as acceptable to the boss. My next Jeep will be a 2 door soft top with a manual. But until then I’m good with my Auto, leather, remote start, nav, subwoofer and body colored hardtop. It has all the capabilities of a cheap Jeep but may be a bit easier to live with. I made m son promise only mild mods on this Jeep to keep it more drivable. When h graduates college he can do what he wants with it and I’ll finally get my base Jeep. Maybe a base Rubicon though.

  • avatar

    Finding a base, manual Wrangler on the lot in my city is akin to finding a Leprechaun.

  • avatar
    Pete Zaitcev

    A manual in JK Wrangler is a poor bet. Reliability is bad, longevity is bad. It’s going to start popping out of a gear, or even worse – gets a ring snapped somewhere. The only upside is that you don’t have to maintain it as much as you do with the auto. The 42RLE auto in a JK after 2009 is essentially bulletproof and lasts forever. To sum it up, you should take a manual in Crosstrek or Accord, but not in Wrangler.

    P.S. They hint of an all-new manual in 2018+. The current one is too flimsy to take the torque of the VM 3.0 diesel and 2.0 “Hurricane” turbo, so they are making a new manual transmission to go alongside the 8sp auto. Maybe that one will be better.

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