You are going to get better mileage and have better power with the 5-speed, especially since the automatics are only three speeds. The gear ratio for fifth gear on the Saharas and Sports (6 cylinder engines) is .78:1, and with the automatic, third gear is 1:1 (equal to fourth gear on a five speed). So, once you are in fifth gear, your engine turns only 78% as many RPMs as it would in high gear on an automatic at the same speed.
Besides, it is a whole lot more fun to drive a stick shift!
The Sahara has the subwoofer as standard equipment, I believe, but if it doesn't, then you ought to be sure to get it. It does wonders for the sound quality.
Are you sure you want a Sahara? Nothing wrong with them, but you can get pretty much the same equipment on a loaded Sport. I don't know which way is cheaper, if you end up with pretty much the same equipment either way.
I wish someone had told me sooner about the TracLoc option. I had already ordered my Thelma Jane before I was told by a couple different people in this group that TracLoc is really good for driving on snow or ice. If you are alreadyu getting the Dana 44 rear end as part of the 30" tire package, then it only costs $285 more to get the TracLoc.
Hope this helps. Email me if you need any more info or post another message.
Here's Thelma's web page, and it has price info, which might be useful to you.
I'll tell you what, though, Thelma Jane is worth everything I went through to get her. She is more fun to drive than any of the great number of other vehicles I have owned.
I assume you have checked out Thelma's web page, but if you haven't, then you might want to do so. You can read my "Ode to a Wrangler" poem and see some pics of Thelma.
Tonka, I think I would still prefer the 4.0 L. A V-6 is not nearly as well balanced as a straight six. If the 3.7 is anyting like the 4.3 GM engine, which is a chopped off 350, then it is going to be noisy and not exactly smooth running. Now the 4.3 is a good, reliable engine with some serious power, but I don't know anything about the 3.7. That 4.0 L has been around for ages, and it has proven itself many times over.
Whatever you decide, good luck. I know there's no way I could wait that long to get a Jeep (regarding the 2002 model).
I am not exactly blessed with patience.
Have you hugged your Jeep today?