We could spend a whole lot of time telling you about how "perty" the 2012 Jeep Wrangler Unlimited Rubicon's tan leather interior trim is. Or how the new 3.6 l Pentastar DOHC V6 engine with 280 hp doesn't make the dieseling noises of the previous pushrod V6 while generating barely better fuel economy ( an average of 17 mpg during our all-around testing). We might mention that there is the 3 piece removable hard top for "al fresco" hill hopping. "Unlimited" means that five (5) occupants have plenty of space for themselves and lots of gear. And that the climate control is simple to use and Chrysler's U-Connect is still one of the most intuitive touchscreen media / nav/ climate systems connectivity systems on the market, even if the voice commands aren't as versatile as in Ford's MySync Touch.
But then again these are hardly the reasons you pony up the $39,640 for this serious off-road sport-ute. In fact for that as tested price the only amenity missing is an accessory winch for tying to a tree trunk to become extricated from the bottom of a ravine. Of course becoming mired in the Jeep Wrangler Rubicon (named after the famed 22 mile off-road trail in California's Sierra Nevadas) is about as likely as having a snow-ball fight in L.A.. That would be thanks in part to the huge ground clearance of 10.5" and the closest thing to dedicated off-road mudder BF Goodrich tires on 17" alloy wheels, which manage to be relatively comfortable and quiet enough on the street.
Besides a revised 5 speed manumatic auto gear box with hill descent mode there is that lever to the left of the transmission shifter from which you can engage the shift-on-the-fly selectable transfer case high/ low speed four wheel drive with. Then you can electronically lock either front, rear or both Dana HD 44 axles....to engage posi-traction. That feature can be mighty handy when one side of the Wrangler Rubicon is airborne. When maximum clearance is needed in the case of boulder climbing there is push button sway bar disengagement which allows greater wheel travel at each side. Steel skid plates to protect the mechanicals from the occasional bottoming out.
To see what all these Jeep Wrangler Rubicon goodies are capable of delivering , we "Drive...He Said" Chicago flat-landers had to trek just north of the Wisconsin border of I-94 to the Halter Wildlife Hunt Preserve in Pleasant Prarie . Some torrential rains assured plenty of mud for our photo shoot.
True there other other Sport Utes rated for off-road use that offer the solitude and luxury of a library in an English manor. The kind where a custom made Holland & Holland side-by-side is stowed in a presentation case. In the rough and tumble Jeep Wrangler Rubicon a worn Winchester pump action would feel right at home. The decor here consists of fully exposed, though padded, interior roll bars, exposed painted interior metal panels, and cloth door stops permitting door removal. With 4400 lbs of mass to propel, acceleration isn't neck snapping. The huge suspension travel, without costly pneumatic damping, means a busy freeway ride.
However, at its price, no competitor is as ready as the Jeep Wrangler Rubicon to roll up it's sleeves to dive into the nearest mud bog. For anyone that dares verify [FIAT] Chrysler Jeep's claim of the Wrangler Rubicon's ability to ford through 30 inches of water, kindly let us know here at "Drive ...He Said," where we try to Tread Lightly when off-road.
**** Special Thanks to John Burke at Halter Wildlife Hunt Preserve in Pleasant Prarie, Wisconsin . (In the inimitable words of the Governator, "We'll Be Back").****
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