Another new Jeep Wrangler? Which one is the Rubicon again?
The Wrangler Rubicon is the car that you’ll buy if off-roading is the primary reason you’re making the purchase. Compared to the normal Wrangler, itself very handy off-road, you get uprated suspension, sump guards and off-road tyres. You also get locking differentials at the front and rear axles, a disconnecting sway bar, and a handy little app on the infotainment system called ‘Off-Road Pages’, which will display things like your axle angles and such. Jeep’s aim with the Rubicon is basically to sell the most off-road-ready production car that money can buy. And on that count the brand has absolutely succeeded.
So is it more of the same compared to the previous Rubicon?
This new one has been updated just as thoroughly as the other JL model Wranglers have. That means you get a more welcoming interior with more space, higher quality switchgear, better on-road manners, and more tech. Improvements have been made to the off-road stuff as well. The four-wheel-drive system has been totally reworked, and lots of the oily bits have been strengthened so that there’s an even greater feeling of indestructability when you’re tackling the rough stuff.
How does it perform, then?
We tested the JL Wrangler Rubicon on some off-road tracks deep in the heart of rural Austria. There were mud trails, rock formations, mud pools, grass – you name it. And the Rubicon took it all in its stride, despite some of the sections being pretty hairy indeed. There’s proper low range four-wheel-drive when you need to clamber slowly over harsh obstacles, and that disconnecting sway bar is an absolute gem over undulating surfaces, keeping all four of the wheels planted no matter what the body’s doing. That said, should you wish to keep things old-school, you can get the Rubicon to cock its legs and it’ll still do just fine – such is the effectiveness of the power delivery and the extreme articulation prowess of the suspension. Meanwhile, an effective – if a little rough and ready – hill-descent system means climbing back down the hill is no longer a sweat-inducing experience.
In fact, even on this harsh, woodland terrain, there wasn’t a single moment when the Rubicon struggled. It’s comically over-engineered for off-roading, this thing – the surface of Mars would probably present more of an appropriate challenge.
So I don’t need one?
If you’re looking for value for money when it comes to very good off-road cars, the Wrangler Sport and Sahara will do you just fine. While those models come without the diff-locks, chunky tyres and disconnecting sway bar, the underlying engineering is so sound that they’ll still demolish 90% of what’s thrown at them.
Still, the Rubicon actually is pretty aggressively priced given its abilities. An AED 160,000 starting price really isn’t bad for a car that’ll outlast the apocalypse. Plus, it’s definitely the Wrangler that looks coolest.
And is it awful on the road?
We got only the shortest of drives in the Wrangler Rubicon on the road, but from what we can tell, it’s still miles better than the previous JK Wrangler Rubicon. Jeep had warned us that the chunky off-road tyres would create a fair bit of noise, but the sound-deadening has been improved so much that it’s perfectly tolerable. Otherwise, it’s no sports car, but it’d be fine for the daily commute.
What’s the verdict?
If by that you mean, “Has Jeep created most capable off-road production car that money can buy?” then the answer is yes.