I hear this all the time...."For the price you paid for the Rubicon I could build up a better Jeep"
I say to each there own, half the time I think folks try to be arrogant about my Rubi just beacuse they don't have one
There will always be attitude good or bad but then again I always say Wheeling is 80% Driver and 20% vehicle.
Okay lets go through a few things.
So you buy your base TJ SE or X model with the 4.0 engine I'll leave out AC just to save you money also leave out a hard top.
Your out the door at 18-20K. You have a 30/35 Axle set up and rear Drum brakes.
Okay we will not take into account suspension since either Jeep will most likely recieve a lift.
To put Dana 44's front and rear, If you do the work your looking at a Min of 1500$ if not more. Hopefully your rear dana Replacement will have disc brakes.
Lockers, front and rear selectable to compare to rubi you have the Electra Trac, and Arb both make units for the 44 axles Min for both and again considering you do the work your self $1500
Side Rocker panels $200
Atlas or NV241 Again you do work yourself $1300
That alone you have at least 5K$ invested and I think I was pretty generous with pricing. So now you have a X or SE model nicely built for 23-25K but you've voided the crap out of your factory waranty.
Now You can buy a base Rubi No AC soft top 5sp with the 1500 Cash back, and if your a current Jeep/Chrysler owner get another 1K in incentives for around 24-25k And even lifted your warranty covers your drivetrain to an extent.
So I personally think the Rubi is the way to go. I am sure you can build cheaper, and its easier to build over time so in cases you get a lower model cheaper with that in mind thats fine as well.
But if you can afford it, get the rubi.
Oh and BTW yes you can buy a slightly used Jeep for cheaper, but you can also buy a used Rubicon, I paid 21K for mine with 4k miles on it
So tell me how your gonna build a comparable 03 Jeep to mine for 21K unless your Jesse James and the companies are giving you "FREEBIES"