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2019 Jeep Wrangler Rubicon Review & Test Drive

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Filed under Automotive, Jeep, SUV, Test Drives

When it comes to a Jeep Wrangler, there really isn’t much to speculate about if you’re in-the-know of how rugged such a vehicle is and recognize its long history of being the most off-road capable vehicle around. However, with the newly redesigned Jeep Wrangler, there’s a new conversation to be had that pays homage to its 78 years of existence yet recognizing how Fiat Chrysler Automobiles (FCA) engineers have built upon a formula to make it the best it has ever been in a versatile on and off-roading package.

I have to say, after many years of experiencing the Jeep Wrangler in many different trim levels and configurations, my recent brush with the new Wrangler Rubicon with several Mopar add-ons, is the most hard-core off-roader I’ve ever driven that comes complete with several respected creature comforts. The creature comforts and clever design of the new Jeep Wrangler go the distance to make it stand out and be more of a complete and versatile package for those who like to utilize their Jeep for more than just rock crawling, mudding, or navigating terrain that no other vehicle on this green earth is suited to conquer. Sure, there are some compromises when it comes to overall comfort, drivability, and the loud roar of the off-roading tires. Still, the new Jeep Wrangler was designed with some proactive thinking.

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

Powered by the latest 3.6-liter V6 engine from FCA, the new Wrangler keeps on its well-known steady pace with 285 horsepower and 260 ft-lbs of torque. The engine gets mated to an 8-speed automatic transmission that is surprisingly well-tuned to the character of the Wrangler with an ability to seldom hunt for gears on the road while holding onto lower gearing when you get down and dirty on off-roading surfaces. The updated transmission appears to be a nearly seamless component that just works, as does the Wrangler Rubicon’s robust 4×4 setup with lockable front and rear differentials, a disconnectable front stabilizer bar to allow additional wheel articulation when crawling rocks, and a 4-low gearing when you need that extra leverage to get out of a rut.

The engine, despite its power figures on paper, feels adequate and up to the task of conquering just about any terrain that you can throw at a 4-wheel vehicle. On the road, the engine is strong and at times feels like a bit more than its power figures. You can even lift the front wheels off of the ground in my short-wheelbased Wrangler Rubicon if you accelerate hard out of the hole. The Wrangler Rubicon is downright fun, for those who are willing to drive off the normal path of paved roads and experience what a Jeep is all about. There’s respected performance on the road, but it comes with the traditional Jeep Wrangler traits of wondering off-center steering, a somewhat jiggly ride quality, and the audible roar of the huge knobby tires. However, the exceptionally short wheelbase literally paves the way for making tight turns and easily navigating rough terrain.

The several add-ons on my MOPAR-tricked-out Wrangler Rubicon test vehicle include 17-inch beadlock wheels wrapped with BFG mud-terrain tires. The lifted suspension kit, which consists of FOX shock absorbers, special connecting rods, give the Wrangler Rubicon an added ground clearance, which all work together to not only give it a good ride quality on the road but it gives it the ability tackle off-roading in a way that only after-market-supplied Jeeps were thought to master. Moreover, the MOPAR performance outfit supplied the Rubicon with a front bumper-integrated winch, further assuring that your off-roading adventures don’t leave you stranded. There are four remarkably-bright LED auxiliary lights, that conveniently plug into the two of the four AUX-powered buttons on the dashboard to give you a widened angle of light for those night excursions through uncertain terrain. Lastly, the MOPAR accessory list concludes with skeleton doors that can easily replace the normal doors utilizing the included tools in their separate pouch.

Jeep attempted not to leave any stones unturned, almost in a literal way when it comes to its raw off-roading abilities and versatility. With that, the new redesigned Jeep Wrangler Rubicon has more of an agreeable interior, one that plays with more of a softer side but never loses its durability and water resistance. There are even some soft-touch surfaces on the door trim along with a somewhat soft-touch dashboard that has accent stitching. The highly praised 8.4-inch touchscreen infotainment system from the FCA brand, with Apple CarPlay and Android Auto, is a nice touch for my top-trimmed Wrangler Rubicon with MOPAR accessories, which is encased in a water-tight rubber-like enclosure. Moreover, the gauge cluster is updated to feature a center LCD screen, a page taken directly from other FCA vehicles with a welcomed set of information screens and configurable display items.

The proportions of the Jeep Wrangler are mostly retained with a smallish cabin that keeps the driver focused on the road or terrain ahead. The versatility aspects are also retained allowing for removal of the roof and rear covers, and if you dare, laying down of the front windshield onto the hood in its proper place on-top of rubberized pads.

Jeep’s willingness to keep the Wrangler alive and thriving for its dedicated fanbase is apparent in the latest redesign. The design keeps the classic look yet adds in a bit of much-needed touches with tech updates here and there to make it unmistakable for “the new Jeep”. I have to give praise to what FCA has pulled off with the new Wrangler, that is, if you’re willing to pay to play for the top-dog Rubicon with MOPAR additions, at an as-tested price of almost $50,000. A base Wrangler, sans many desirable features that “complete” a vehicle for 2019, starts at just $28,045.

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


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