Drivers in search of their next vehicle have many different priorities. Some people want a reliable sedan for commuting. Others need a powerful truck for hauling, or a van with enough seats and safety features for the whole family. Not everyone yearns to feel the wind in their hair, or for the thrill of traversing uneven terrain from behind the wheel of an SUV — but those who do gravitate toward the Jeep Wrangler.
Once you know you want a Wrangler, it’s time to figure out whether it makes the most sense to buy it or lease it. There are certainly perks and drawbacks to both options, so it’s worth exploring the ins and outs of both. Many people are more familiar with the process of buying a vehicle than leasing one, especially if this would be their first time signing a lease.
Keep reading to learn more about what you need to know before leasing a Jeep Wrangler.
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What to Expect When Leasing a Jeep
Leasing a car is like “renting” it for a set amount of time at a set monthly payment. The value of the Wrangler at the beginning of the lease will be the MSRP; the value left at the end of the lease is called the residual value. This monthly payment is determined by a few factors.
- Depreciation: how much value the vehicle will lose over the span of your contract
- Interest rate: based on something called a money factor, which can be turned into an annual percentage rate (APR) when multiplied by 2,400
- Fees: depending on the dealership and lease, fees may be attached to the vehicle price
If you lease a Wrangler, there’s a good chance your agreement will last two to three years — at which point you can either decide to buy the vehicle for its residual value or return it.
When might someone decide that leasing an SUV would be a better choice for them than buying would be? Here are some situations in which leasing might be prudent:
- You want to try the vehicle for a few years before you either commit to buying it or turn it in without further attachment.
- You want the peace of mind that comes with your vehicle being under manufacturer warranty the entire time you drive it.
- You do not necessarily have the money for a sizeable down payment ready to go, which you would need if you were buying a car.
- You want a low-hassle way to switch out your model every few years, giving you access to the newest tech and design features.
- You want to drive a nicer model/trim level than you could otherwise afford to purchase — and for lower monthly payments than buying would dictate.
- You put a less-than-average number of miles on your vehicle each year, making it feasible to stay under the mileage caps established by a lease.
If these scenarios apply to you, leasing a Jeep Wrangler is well worth considering. This is especially true because Jeep Wranglers are famous for holding their value extremely well.
Jeep Wranglers Have High Residual Value
As Forbes cites, one study found Jeep Wranglers to be #1 on the list for vehicles with the lowest five-year depreciation rates — losing just 9.2 percent of their original value over the course of five years. The number two spot was the Jeep Wrangler Unlimited, which lost just 10.5 percent of its value over that same time span.
To put that in perspective, the same study found that the average vehicle loses just over 40 percent of its value in a half-decade. Compare this to those Wrangler residuals and you can see why it may be advantageous to lease one.
Leasing a Wrangler: Mileage Caps & Modification Rules
Just as there are many reasons why leasing might be the savviest move for wannabe Wrangler drivers, there are also situations in which it would not make as much financial sense as buying.
One of the major joys of having an off-road capable vehicle is, well, the capability to hit the trails. It gets a little tricky when you think about doing so in a leased vehicle, though, because a leasing requirement is returning the vehicle in factory condition. Any dents, scratches, paint chips, or damaged parts can cause you to rack up steep turn-in fees. You are responsible for getting any imperfections fixed before returning it or paying the price on the back-end.
But, as we know, going off-road can get messy. You don’t necessarily want to be worrying about keeping every inch of your car pristine when you’re crawling rocks or fording a stream. Furthermore, many of the “fun” modifications available for Wranglers may not be seen so favorably in the eyes of the dealership, which expects vehicles to return in the same condition they left so as to appeal to the widest possible audience of buyers. This may mean you’d have to undo your modifications near the end of your lease if you hoped to return your Wrangler.
Another consideration here is mileage. Off-road adventures themselves and the distance it can take to get there may put you over the annual mileage cap set forth by your lease, often around 12,000 miles — give or take a few thousand either way. It’s important to sit down and accurately estimate how much you will be driving per year. If it’s more than average, buying may be a better fit — or you should at least try to negotiate your annual mileage cap higher so you can avoid paying the costly fees per mile at the end.
Leasing a Jeep Wrangler can be a great way to get behind the wheel of a highly sought-after SUV at a low monthly price — with less of the responsibility of owning a vehicle. But off-road enthusiasts who know they want to seriously customize their car and put it through its paces will typically find owning to be the better move in the end.