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2017 Jeep Wrangler Unlimited Rubicon Hard Rock 4×4 Review & Test Drive

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Filed under Automotive, Jeep, Test Drives


The Jeep brand has a long lineage and consistency of being one of the most off-road capable vehicles you can buy from your local dealership. In the long 75 years of its existence, there have been many different iterations of the Jeep in its traditional Wrangler mold. For the 2016 model year, celebrating 75 years of the Jeep legacy, the brand has gone all out to introduce new variations. Continuing such, the latest 2017 model year keeps the good times rolling over rough terrain with special edition trim levels like my test vehicle this week, the 2017 Jeep Wrangler Unlimited Rubicon Hard Rock edition.

>> Get the best price on the Jeep Wrangler Unlimited from a network of local dealers now. <<

Based on the Rubicon, my Wrangler test vehicle is ready for just about anything you can throw at it off-road. It features semi-gloss black 17-inch wheels wrapped in knobby off-roading tires, black exterior trim, steel bumpers, Mopar rock rails, a 4.10 front/rear axle ratio in place of the normal 3.73 ratio, red trail-rated badging, red tow hooks, and Jeep’s trail-rated kit.


Literally grappling onto its ruggedness, the latest Jeep Wrangler Rubicon Hard Rock 4×4 is surprisingly easy to drive. On the road, the Wrangler remains stable and consistent in what you expect from its handling ability on paved surfaces. The knobby tires are somewhat versatile in keeping road noise down yet prove to be the desirable option when faced with serious off-roading challenges. Speaking of off-road challenges, I had the opportunity to hit a couple of trails in my local area with a mix of loose ruts and quite a bit of sandy hills. The sand proved to be the most difficult feat for the Wrangler Rubicon Hard Rock. However, I was taken as to how truly capable the Jeep Wrangler Rubicon Hard Rock is and even breaking over steep inclines and descents without worry. IN fact, after conquering some pretty questionable inclines, possibly just over 20 degrees, the Wrangler Rubicon instilled new-earned confidence in its abilities to do what is considered the unthinkable in just about 95% of other vehicles you see on public roads today.


See Also: 2016 Jeep Wrangler Unlimited Sahara 4×4 Review & Test Drive

Power for the new Jeep Wrangler Unlimited Rubicon Hard Rock 4×4 comes from the brand’s highly praised 3.6-liter V6 engine mated to a 5-speed automatic, which is the only engine available in the Wrangler lineup. The proven drivetrain with the 5-speed automatic make for a solid combination of consistent and predictable power is exactly what is needed when navigating off-road terrain. The engine provides a decent 285 horsepower and 260 lb-ft of torque. The power is good enough on the road and when off-roading the unique short gearing and upgraded transfer case with an extra-low crawl ratio in 4-low provides extra low-end steady grunt required for rugged duties.


The V6 engine is quite thirsty on the road, which is partly due to the upright boxy stature of the Wrangler getting an EPA-estimated 16 mpg city, 20 mpg highway, and 18 mpg combined.

The added benefits of the Wrangler Rubicon Hard Rock in having the proper equipment to ‘hit’ rocky terrain and climb through chassis-bending obstacles, was part of the value in such a vehicle. The ability to lock the front and rear differentials and electronically disconnect the front sway bar for added wheel articulation proves to place the Wrangler Rubicon Hard Rock on a literal pedestal above the competition. We’re talking about performing twisting action that is apt to rip axles out of your fancy Land Rover or have your SUV making a quick U-Turn to run for paved roads on the way to Disneyland parking lots where they belong.


IN my full assessment of the new Jeep Wrangler Unlimited Rubicon Hard Rock 4×4, its attempts to provide a broad package in being versatile to not only show off its off-roading prowess, but to fulfill the basic transportation duties on the road as a practical SUV with 4-doors. The added benefit of the Jeep Wrangler Unlimited is the ability to remove several panels, including the full roof, doors, and back cargo area covering. Not to mention, the countless accessories and modifications that are available to the Jeep Wrangler, in general, make it an attractive proposition for becoming a weekend toy that you can easily drive to work daily in your suit and tie in a relatively comfortable enclosed cabin.


When it comes to the interior of the latest Jeep Wrangler Unlimited, there are many corners cut in many obvious areas, such as when it comes to obnoxious sound intrusion, basic insulation from the outdoor heat or cold is lacking, and the many hard plastic surfaces cheapen everything but remain to be a necessity for easy cleaning. In a Jeep Wrangler, you’re going to want hard plastics and all-weather mats lacing the floor. After-all, most Jeep Wrangler buyers, who are part of a recognized family that waives to each other on the road, will eventually take their Jeep on roads or surfaces seldom traveled. That’s all in the adventure of having a Jeep Wrangler!


Part of the new Jeep Wrangler Unlimited Rubicon Hard Rock that ‘gets with the 21st century’ is left to the options list, most of which was included on my test vehicle. Among those options included is a 6.5-inch touchscreen infotainment unit powering a decent-sounding Alpine 9-speaker audio system with an all-weather subwoofer, GPS navigation, SiriusXM radio, and a 40GB hard drive. Apart from the Hard Rock Edition features, some of which were mentioned earlier, my test vehicle options out with a remote start system, a Freedom Top Black 3-piece hard top (rear window defroster, rear window wiper, panel storage bag, a 5-speed automatic transmission, and the 4.10 axle ratio. You also get heated leather seats, a unique hood with a power dome, silver interior accents, low gloss black decals, and a leather-wrapped shift knob – which are all part of the Hard Rock Edition equipment package.


For some, a hard pill to swallow is the as-tested price of my loaded up Jeep Wrangler Unlimited Rubicon Hard Rock Edition, which comes to $47,620 including a $995 destination charge. Mind you, a new Jeep Wrangler in its 4-door Unlimited variation starts at just $27,895. In retrospect, having one of the most off-road capable vehicles around is, in itself, a value-added prospect. Moreover, having the versatility of a Jeep Wrangler Unlimited 4-door with remarkable off-roading chops and the ability to ‘convert’ the vehicle into something completely different by removal of doors and panels places it at the upper echelon of being unique and properly suited for those who like adventure – people who take life by the horns instead of sitting idle by in a shiny new SUV reserved for the road.


>Get the best price on the Jeep Wrangler Unlimited from a network of local dealers now. <<


>> Get the best price on the Jeep Wrangler Unlimited from a network of local dealers now. <<


  • Price: $27,895 base Wrangler Unlimited Sport /$47,620 as-tested Wrangler Unlimited Rubicon Hard Rock Edition -loaded including destination
  • Engine: 3.6 liter DOHC all-aluminum V6 285 horsepower @ 6,400rpm / 260 lb.ft. torque @ 4,800rpm
  • Transmission: 5-speed automatic w/manual -/+ floor selector
  • Wheelbase: 116 inches
  • Track: f/r-61.9/61.9 inches
  • Overall length: 184.9 inches
  • Overall width: 73.9 inches
  • Overall height: 70.9 inches
  • Ground clearance: 10 inches
  • Curb weight: 4,340 pounds
  • Headroom: f/r-41.3/40.4 inches
  • Legroom: f/r-41/37.2 inches
  • Cargo volume: rear seat folded-70.6/rear seat upright-31.5 cu.ft.
  • 0-60 mph: 8.2 seconds
  • Fuel tank: 22.5 gallons
  • EPA mileage: 16 mpg city / 20 mpg highway / 18 mpg combined

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