Cheap Jeep Challenge Ep. 2: Is this 2002 Wrangler TJ A Dud or a Stud? [Video]

Is the 2002 Wrangler TJ just as capable a Jeep as its bigger-engined brother?

Those of you who caught the first episode of our new “Cheap Jeep” series were clued in to exactly what sort of Jeep we just purchased. Roman and Tommy headed out to Los Angeles during the holidays. During that time, they bought a clean example of a base Wrangler TJ. That’s right, no earth-conquering Rubicons here in our Cheap Jeep challenge! In fact, they bought a 2002 Wrangler TJ SE — the base model — with a 2.5-liter four-cylinder engine.

Under that hood is about 120 horsepower and 140 lb-ft of torque, mated to a three-speed automatic transmission. There’s also no locking differential, front or rear, but there is a low-speed transfer case. But there’s an important question to tackle here. Even though this is not the top-spec Rubicon, is it still a capable off-road Jeep? In this video, we find out whether this $6,500 Wrangler TJ is truly a stud of a Jeep, or if it’s just a dud.

Jeep Wrangler TJ off-road review
We take our 2002 Wrangler TJ out for some real Jeeping. [Photo: TFLcar]

First dirt

To that end, the Roman and Tommy take the Cheap Jeep to the Hungry Valley OHV park, just north of Santa Clarita, California. Will the series of inclines, loose dirt, rocks and water challenges trip up this Wrangler? Find out in the video above!

Stay tuned to TFLcar as our new long-term Jeep makes its way from sunny Los Angeles all the way back to our base in Boulder, Colorado. Along the way, we’ll test fuel economy, judge how it runs on the highway and over mountain passes, and come up with even more tests for this 2002 Wrangler TJ!

Editor’s Note: Some of you have already been asking us to test this Jeep alongside our other small off-roader, the 1987 Suzuki Samurai. We do have those sorts of tests in the works, so make sure you like the video above and subscribe to TFLcar on YouTube so you don’t miss anything!

If you missed the first episode, check it out below: