The Long And The Short Of It
In the past 18 years, the Wrangler has become virtually synonymous with four-wheeling. The YJ model is still running strong on trails around the country, while the TJ continues to set new standards for off-road prowess.
Jeep's most recent addition to its expanding Wrangler base is the Unlimited Rubicon. Many Jeep enthusiasts were hopeful that this marriage would be in the offing, and apparently, DaimlerChrysler did not want to disappoint. The Unlimited side of the equation brings with it an added 15 inches in overall length, increasing the wheelbase by 10 inches and rear-passenger legroom by 2 inches. The Rubicon side of the deal offers the ardent four-wheeler Jeep's hard-core package: Dana 44s front and rear with air-actuated Tru-Lok lockers, a 4:1 transfer case, and 31-inch Goodyear M/TRs.
The combination is a logical one, and one that has many people crowing that this is Jeep's best, most capable vehicle ever. While this is largely a matter of personal preference, we have to say that after spending a few days running the Unlimited Rubicon through Moab's red-rock country, we walked away with a smile. This vehicle is just fun to drive. The air-locker system worked perfectly and was easy to use. The M/TRs offered excellent traction on the slickrock, and the added wheelbase gave us a little more confidence on some of the steeper obstacles we ran across. None of these points is surprising on its own, but the fact that they're combined in a stock OE vehicle makes a real statement.
While not exclusive to the Unlimited Rubicon, the transmission options available for '05 made us a lot happier. The new four-speed automatic will be a godsend for four-wheelers who opt to install taller tires and lower differential gears, while the new six-speed manual will give people a genuine choice when they get ready to buy.
Also worth a mention is the new Sunrider top that Jeep has made available on the Unlimited Rubicon. Those of you who remember the Bestop version know that this one has a sunroof feature that allows you to open just the section of the top above the front seats, in addition to folding down the entire top. Will it help you four-wheel better? Probably not, but it's a nice touch that tells us Jeep is trying to think outside the box where even the small details are concerned.
In all, the Unlimited Rubicon is a well-built vehicle that offers four-wheelers a lot more room than the stock TJ and one that comes equipped to hit the trail right off the showroom floor. How can you go wrong with that?
|Transmission:||42RLE: automatic four-|
|speed Overdrive; NSG 370:|
|Transfer case:||NV241 Rock-Trac, part-|
|time 4:1 Low range|
|Axles:||Dana 44 (front/rear)|
|Overall length:||165.1 inches|
|(bumper to bumper)|
|Overall width:||68.3 inches|
|Ground clearance:||8.7 inches at the axles|
|Approach angle:||43.6 degrees|
|Ramp breakover |
|Departure angle:||22 degrees|
|Curb weight:||3,721 pounds|
|Fuel-tank capacity:||19 gallons|