As long as you can accept what a Jeep WON'T do, you can truly enjoy what it WILL do. WON'T go over 70 mph WON'T save you money on gas WON'T impress your girlfriend's mother but it WILL go ANYWHERE at about 5 mph WILL save you money up front (it's cheap) WILL look good when dirty This is the coolest vehicle you can obtain for under $5000. Make sure that it's got a manual tranny, 33" tires or larger and a good top. 6-cyl is fast and has a more-reliable transmission but also gulps fuel - but if fuel economy was the point, you'd drive a prius. Get the soundbar, take off the doors and live a little.
Removable doors. Low Price. Indestructible.
Minimize plastic. Maximize steel. This will improve vehicle lifespan. Beef up the tranny in the 4 cyl.