So we took the Jeep Wrangler Rubicon out in the streets of London, the country roads around Surrey, up a rocky mountain in the Lake District and for a stroll around Hartwell House Hotel in the rolling hills of Buckinghamshire.
How often do you take your car on a racetrack? If the answer is often, then this may not be the car for you. If you frequently drive English roads and their ubiquitous potholes or want a holiday car that can go anywhere, beach, muddy fields or off-road, then look no further. The Jeep Wrangler Rubicon personifies the spirit of adventure. It may not be as luxurious as a Range Rover, but it is far more fun.
The Rubicon is a four-door with a 2 litre, 4 cylinders, petrol turbo engine that pumps out 272 bhp. It has an 8-speed automatic gearbox and Rock-Track 4x4 with Dana 210 HD locking, link coil leading arms, track bar, coil springs and stabiliser bar, plus high-pressure gas-charged shock absorbers with MTV technology and hydraulic rebound stop. The rear axle is beefed up to M220. You can use in two-wheel drive, or four-wheel high and low gearing. The high and low gears are selected via a secondary gear stick. It also has keyless start, entry and stop-start.
The steering is electric hydraulic and absorbs anything and everything the road or off-road can chuck at it. Seriously, you can drive comfortably over large boulders, and it does it all for you.
The acceleration is an impressive 0-62 mph in 7.3 seconds. Honestly, it is like the proverbial manure off a shovel. It weighs just under two tonnes but appears much lighter. Combined mpg is 28, so not bad for the horsepower. The top speed is 99 mph, which looks poor on paper but be serious, you should never need more.
Maximum ground clearance is 0.2 metres and water fording depth is 0.76 metres (2.5 feet), or your inside leg measurement, at 5 mph, which is impressive. You need to add an engine snorkel and extend your axle breather tubes, front and back if you want to go deeper, up to the hood of the car. As a rough rule, make sure the tyres never get completely submerged.
The whole point of a Wrangler is it’s super easy to clean the interior, with removable carpets. There are even drain plugs in the floor. This is a car that’s supposed to get muddy.
The spiritual love child of the original Willys Jeep, with echoes of the old 2 CV, Mini Moke and Citroen Méhari, this historical brand embodies fun-loving adventure and freedom. A symbolic descendant of the freedom a horse represented on the open plains of America, the sandy desert of the Sahara or the hills and mountains of Europe. Jeep possesses a passionate following internationally amongst off-roaders and mechanics for a good reason.
The Hellayella colour is an extra £675 and well worth the cost. It stands out, bright and cheerful, sun-loving and fun, plus you’ll never lose it in a car park.
A ginormous bumblebee with a black roof, protruding fenders and bubble tyres that radiates adventure. It stands out from every other car on the road, solid, yet nimble and agile. The height imparts a clear view for miles and windscreen visibility is excellent.
The front bumper is amusingly huge, almost a Roman naval ram, which certainly adds a note of confidence to the daily game of chicken in the back streets of the city. Do I like having the biggest ram on the road? Absolutely, as sometimes diplomacy is not enough…I jest, but off road it is reassuring.
I love the modular build that permits the four doors, the two front roof panels and rear hardtop to be removed in minutes. I actually took all these off in under half an hour with surprising ease.
This leaves you with a roll cage car worthy of Mad Max, if he went in for bright, optimistic colours, plus you can even fold the windscreen down.
The interior is just luxury enough and if it comes to luxury over adventure. I’d go for adventure every time. The seats are excellent, comfortable and supportive, they need to be as you could be lying back or tilting at 40 degrees. You can have the leather dashboard with contrast stitching, but keep in mind that this is a practical go everywhere, do anything car, so keep it simple. It is spacious with room for three in the rear and a large boot space. The rear seats fold forward easily for extra space, more than enough for dogs, friends, all the family luggage or supplies for a long adventure.
It does have some cabin noise and is not as hermetically sealed, nor as luxurious as others in this price range. But this is not a chi-chi car to be cosseted and preserved in a garage. It supposed to be rugged, bold and adventurous, whilst still satisfying our need for a minimum of luxury. It gets the balance just right. The seats and steering wheel come heated as standard.
The infotainment screen is 8.4 inches with the sharpest rearview camera I’ve ever seen. Plus the Uconnect™system for Apple and Android is faster than any top luxury car in connecting to your smartphone immediately. It has every app you could possibly imagine, including a readout for pitch and roll so you can put a statistic to your off-roading.
It sounds like a boat and in two-wheel drive, floats about like one, but it has surprising take off when floored. 0-62 mph in 7.3 seconds is excellent in an off roader. Tough enough to ride over anything, the Rubicon has the Rock-Trac 4x4 system as standard, giving you more control and torque, for unbelievable, off-road performance. The frame does wobble and bounce around corners and bumps, but in four-wheel mode, the chassis glues itself to the ground as if by magic. And in rear two-wheel drive you can spin the wheels on launch, if that is your desire.
The new Dana 4 axles have thicker tubes for greater strength, rigidity and durability. These babies can take some serious abuse. If you’re out in the desert or driving up streams, this is what you need for reliability. I took this off-road in the Lake District and climbed up boulders, small cliffs, and stony rivers with ease. We descended boulders piled nine feet high, drenched in water, and the Jeep inched down without any trouble.
The NV241-Off-Road transfer case with a 4:1 low gear ratio is tough, with Tru-Lok® electronic locking front and rear differentials and an electronic front sway bar that you can disconnect with a button. Disengage the sway bar in 4LO mode, and the front wheels drop and compress 25% further, for extreme terrain. It has changed my view of driving. This has enough poke to be interesting and will go over pavements, potholes or even fallen trees, with no fuss. It makes a strong argument for your only car. The modular aspect of the Jeep means there are a lot of garages prepared to modify it further, making it even more unique. You can bump up the axles, suspension, height and amphibious nature of this marvel for even greater off road action or visibility.
“Sure you can go fast, but I can go anywhere.”
The trade-off in handling and luxury goes unnoticed if you don’t worry about cornering fast, a small price to pay for the enormous advantages of a car that is tougher than anything else in the road. Whether on the streets of London, wilds of Africa or tearing across the mountains of Scotland, this car is a thrilling adventure companion.
Jeep has managed to keep this icon as brilliant as the original war vehicles but modernised enough for a luxury demanding audience. A true passe-partout, not a prissy car you have to fuss or worry about. It takes care of the world outside while you go anywhere and do anything with it. The Jeep was always a serious off-roader, but it is now better at everything, including normal driving, so it’s just as much fun to live with on the road as off. More practical, exciting, and tougher than any other car.
“Have fun out there” is right.
OTR price: £48,365
The Rubicon With options: £49,640
KEY STANDARD EQUIPMENT
17” Polished Alloy Wheels with Black Pockets
Rock-Trac® II Full-time 4-Wheel Drive System with Tru-Lok® Differentials & Hill Descent Control
Vinyl Spare Wheel Cover
Black Door Mirrors
Body-coloured 7-Slot Grille with Grey Inserts & Headlamp Throats
ParkSense® Front & Rear Park Assist with ‘Stop’
ParkViewTM Reversing Camera with Dynamic Grid
Premium LED Headlamps with LED DRL (Daytime Running Lamps) & LED Tail Lamps
Remote Central Locking with Keyless Go
Black Fender Flares
Automatic Headlamps and Rain Sensor
Black Freedom Top 3-piece Modular Hard Top
‘Rubicon’ Hood Decals
Electronic Front Sway Bar Disconnect
Leather Upholstery with stitched ‘Rubicon’ Logo
LED Ambient Interior Lighting
7” TFT Instrument Cluster with Vehicle Information Centre (VIC)
Uconnect LiveTM 8.4” Radio Nav with DAB, Voice Command and Smartouch Navigation System
Apple CarPlay & Android Auto
552-Watt 9-speaker + Subwoofer Alpine Audio System
6-way Adjustable Driver’s Seat with 2-way Lumbar Support and 4-way Adjustable Passenger’s Seat
Heated Front Seats
Auto-dimming Rear-view Mirror
Power-adjustable & Heated Door Mirrors
Tyre Pressure Monitoring Display
Cruise Control & Speed Limiter
Automatic Dual-zone Climate Control
Auxillary Switch Bank
60/40 Split-folding Rear Seats
Hellayella Clear Coat Paint
FITTED OPTIONS & PRICES
JL Launch Pack - Rubicon (Keyless Enter’N’GoTM, Hard Top Headlining & Blind Spot Monitoring with Rear Cross Path Detection)