I think it really all depends if you want show or go, If you intend to do a little light off roading then the TT will suffice. The money you would save on buying the stock (I recommend the off road package) you could put into your mods. I have the off road package and it comes with most of the mods the TT has for alot less. The skids are not tough at all, they may offer a little protecting but mine are currently bent and waiting for replacement. As for your mpg, there shouldnt be much of a difference between the 2x4 and the automatic 4x4. The manual tranny is all time 4x4 so it has a little more drag on the drivetrain. The addition of tires and bumper with a winch has had a dramatic effect on my millage so just keep this in mind when modding if fuel is a concern for you. Its nice to have 4x4 if you need it, Im from FL and that sand is some tricky stuff!