10 Trucks to Buy While Waiting for the Jeep Wrangler Pickup
We’ve all been there. In the lead-up to a big new product release, you break down, say “screw it,” and make an impulse purchase instead. Hey, something is better than nothing, right? Well, in the 4×4 world, there are few upcoming trucks more anticipated than the Jeep Wrangler pickup, which will arrive as a 2018 or 2019 model.
Best case scenario: The truck could be here as early as late 2017 if it’s a 2018. But if it’s a 2019 that could be another year and a half. With Jeep fans already counting down the days, that’s a long time to wait.
Well, we hate to blow up Fiat Chrysler’s spot here. But if you want the ruggedness and off-road capability of the Wrangler pickup but just can’t wait, there are plenty of trucks already out there that have you covered. Being a stand-in for a Jeep means bare-bones vintage iron is on the table. (Jeep fans love some vintage off-roaders.) And thanks to all those lifted custom Wrangler Unlimiteds fetching $60,000-plus at dealerships, it also means we have pretty big budget to work with. So if you want to wait for the most anticipated pickup since the Ford Raptor but lack the impulse control to wait it out, here are 10 trucks that should fill that Jeep-shaped void in your heart.
1. Chevrolet Colorado ZR2
When it arrives, the Wrangler pickup is likely to be the most rugged midsize pickup on the market. But until it does, that title arguably goes to Chevy’s tough-as-nails entry. On top of four-wheel drive, the ZR2 has cutting-edge spool-valve shocks, electronic locking differentials, flared fenders, a wider track, and revised front and rear fascias for improved departure angles. Plus, there’s the option of a 2.8-liter Duramax diesel engine. Starting at about $40,000, it isn’t cheap, but there also isn’t much the ZR2 can’t do.
2. FJ Company 1981 Toyota FJ45 Land Cruiser ‘Troopy’
By now, Toyota’s FJ40 Land Cruiser is a bona fide classic. But not many people (other than die-hard fans) know about the FJ45, a long wheelbase model that can haul cargo or be set up to carry up to 13 people. The FJ Company, the go-to company for building better-than-stock FJs, reimagined this troop carrier (or “Troopy”). It makes our shortlist of go-anywhere, do-anything trucks. It might be pricier than any Wrangler pickup will be. But if you ask us, it’s worth the near six-figure price for the cool factor alone.
3. Icon FJ45
While the FJ Company builds beautiful, better-than-ever Land Cruisers, Los Angeles-based Icon uses Toyota’s off-roaders as a jumping-off point for no-compromise rock crawlers. Icon builds an FJ45 pickup, but aside from the timeless sheet metal, virtually everything else is new or heavily modified. There’s little chance the extremely limited and expensive Icons will be in the reach of average Wrangler pickup buyers. But until it hits the scene, this rare, pricey resto-mod could be the best off-roading pickup in the world.
4. DIY Jeep JK-8 Wrangler Pickup
Are you really itching for that Wrangler pickup, won’t settle for less, but can’t wait any longer? Are you a good welder and automotive painter who isn’t afraid to pay for a brand new Wrangler, then hack it up in your backyard? Well, you’re in luck. For $5,499, Mopar sells the authorized JK-8 pickup conversion kit for the current Wrangler. That price doesn’t cover the Jeep or the conversion costs, so if you’re willing to pay more, an authorized dealer can perform the work for a price, and it’ll even be covered under warranty. If you’re the adventurous type who wants to do it yourself, you’re on your own.
5. 1981-1985 Jeep CJ-8 Scrambler
Built for just five model years, the CJ-8 was the closest thing the public ever got to the rugged, go-anywhere pickup Jeep fans are clamoring for today. But in the early ’80s, it wasn’t very popular. Just over 20,000 were built. Today, well-preserved or nicely customized CJ-8s fetch a premium over contemporary CJ-5s and 7s. That said, with spotless examples still trading hands for under $25,000, this legendary model is still cheaper and — sorry, Jeep — probably cooler than the Wrangler pickup will likely be.
6. Toyota Tacoma TRD-Pro
We hesitate to call the Colorado ZR2 the unquestioned king of midsize off-road pickups, if only because the Tacoma TRD Pro has been at it for years and is better than ever. With a mild lift, locking differentials, and a number of electronic aids, the most hardcore of Tacomas currently ranks up there with the Jeep Wrangler Rubicon as one of the best factory off-roaders on the market.
7. 1962-1988 Jeep Gladiator/J-Series
Like any iconic Jeep, the J-Series remained in production for decades with only the most basic upgrades. Underpinning everything from the M715 military truck to the plush Grand Wagoneer, the J-Series is one of the most simple and rugged vintage trucks you can buy — and you can usually find ones for a few thousand on Craigslist. In our opinion, that makes it one of the best 4×4 buys around. It’s also one of the best looking, too.
8. Ford F-150 SVT Raptor
What’s a discussion on off-road ready pickups without the Ford Raptor? Now into its second generation, the Raptor has a twin-turbo 3.6-liter V6 that cranks out 450 horsepower and 510 pound-feet of torque mated to an all-new 10 speed automatic transmission. But what makes the Raptor really stand out is it’s designed to be at its best off-road. Starting at about $50,000, it’s probably quite a bit pricier than the base Wrangler pickup will be. But seeing how more and more Wranglers are leaving dealerships with a price tag close to that, there just might be a little overlap.
9. Dodge Power Wagon
Fiat Chrysler already sells an off-road ready pickup. It’s just a full-size, $50,000-plus Ram. The Power Wagon comes from the factory with an aggressive lift, lockable front and rear axles, heavy-duty skidplates, and a 12,000 pound Warn winch for when things get dicey off road. We doubt many buyers will be cross-shopping Wrangler pickups against the Power Wagon, but it’s too much of the real deal for us to exclude it.
10. 1986-1992 Jeep Comanche
Even with the other vintage iron included, this one might stand out. But hear us out on this one. The Comanche was a good compact pickup for the era, based on the now legendary XJ Cherokee and powered by the iconic AMC 4.0-liter straight six. With that, plus the fact that the XJ remained in production until 2001, you could spend about $10,000, buy enough rough Comanches and XJs to build one great one with modern-ish amenities, and by the time the Wrangler pickup comes out, you’d have one hell of an off-road truck on your hands. It might sound crazy, but for Jeep fans it’s the perfect project.