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2010 Jeep Wrangler JK Rubicon Unlimited - The Perfect Fit

Posted in Features on January 1, 2012
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Dreams are great unless they radically clash with reality. You can dream of owning the ultimate rock buggy or King of the Hammers rig, but unless your reality includes a tow rig, a trailer, and storage space, owning that dream trail rig would quickly become a nightmare.

We've said it before, but it bears repeating: your trail rig needs to fit your life.

When he first saw the Jeep Unlimited JK in late ’06, Steve vonSeggern knew there was a way to make his dream JK meld smoothly with his reality. Steve is a trail enthusiast. He’s also busy with his career as publisher of Source Interlink Media’s Truck Group, and busy raising a family. Upon seeing the four-door JK, Steve envisioned a rig that could haul his family down the trail, as well as hauling them through the trails and obstacles of everyday life.

The 37x12.50R17LT Goodyear MTR tires with Kevlar serve well under many conditions.

Steve admired the JK from a distance for a few years before purchasing one of his own in 2010. If there’s an advantage to delaying a purchase, it’s that you have plenty of time to plan the build and hypothetically select the parts. Once Steve had the keys to his Jeep, he already had a solid plan in place.

As mentioned, Steve’s a busy guy, so massive down time couldn’t be part of his JK build. As such, finding bolt-on parts with top-notch function was a key priority. With the JK Unlimited’s 117-inch wheelbase in mind, he decided that running 37-inch tires was the way to go, both aesthetically and functionally.

Mixing 37s with a top-notch suspension that offers low down time sounds like a tall order, but that’s exactly what Steve came up with when he turned to American Expedition Vehicles (AEV). AEV’s “Dual Sport” suspension is designed to be easy to install, but the true value is in the way the vehicle handles after the parts are in place. The “Dual Sport” moniker comes from the way the AEV-equipped JK is competent on both street and dirt.

AEV’s Savegre wheels are engineered specifically for Jeeps. The center bores are machined to be hub-centric so they run true and smooth. The valve stem holes are recessed so they’re out of the way of protruding rocks. The classic good looks are self-explanatory. Steve says one reason he likes them is that they remind him of Porsche 928 wheels.

AEV’s Dual Sport suspension kits are offered at 3.5- and 4.5-inch lift heights; the 3.5-inch lift height is designed for 35s and the 4.5-incher is for 37s. VonSeggern found that with some well-executed body trimming, he was able to seamlessly meld the 3.5-inch kit with his chosen 37s. Thanks to AEV’s painstaking testing and engineering, the kit bolted on smoothly and has proven to work flawlessly as advertised—street or dirt.

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"On the trail, the suspension has all of the flex I could ask for and is just as comfortable rockcrawling as it is going 70 mph down a two-track," Steve comments. "This Jeep is actually very fun to drive fast on twisty mountain roads, which is something you could never say about any TJ." Strong words? Perhaps, but they’re coming from someone who’s driven both vehicles and can tell the difference.

Progressive-rate coils and specially-tuned Bilstein 5100 monotube shocks combine with bump stop spacers to provide lift height and suspension control. Shock tuning was done to ensure the front and rear suspensions are balanced front-to-rear for predictable overall handling.

Of course, there’s more to a trail-worthy Jeep than a suspension kit and a tire/wheel combo. Stouter-than-stock front and rear bumpers are practically mandatory, as they offer superior vehicle protection as well as provide a home for a full-size spare, off-road lights, and a winch. Again AEV products got the nod.

AEV’s bumpers are made by stamping, a process that’s more accurate and less labor intensive than welding separate parts together. Why doesn’t everyone produce stamped bumpers? It’s because the stamping machinery and tooling is extremely expensive. You’ve got to be confident in your products as well as potential sales volume to justify the initial investment. As with the suspension, the bumpers fit flawlessly and perform just as well. The spare tire carrier swings open in sync with the tailgate and does not rattle at all when closed.

The stock JK rearend housing is much stronger than the front, so no extra gussets or sleeves were needed. You can see the AEV track bar lift bracket, which maintains a fairly level track bar angle even at the lifted height. As with the front, progressive-rate coil springs and application-tuned Bilstein 5100’s keep the chassis stable, even when there’s mayhem below. You can see the Pure Jeep evap canister relocation bracket above the rear axle, tucking important and expensive emission-control hardware out of harm’s way. American Overland Expedition (AOE 4x4) in Laguna Hills, California, installed the suspension, bumpers, winch, lights, and evap canister bracket on Steve’s JK.

Overall, Steve’s JK has a stealthy look that belies the performance parts affixed to it. In fact, he’s been asked by the unaware if it’s been modified at all. With minimal down time during the build, parts that fit flawlessly, and the ability to run trails or family errands with the flick of a turn signal, this is a JK that fits Steve to a tee.

Vehicle: 2010 Jeep Wrangler JK Rubicon Unlimited
Owner/Hometown: Steve vonSeggern/Laguna Niguel, California
Engine: Stock 3.8L V-6
Induction: Stock EFI
Transmission: Stock automatic
Transfer case/low range ratio: NVG241OR/4:1
Front suspension: AEV 3.5-inch Dual Sport suspension, Bilstein 5100 shocks
Rear suspension: AEV 3.5-inch Dual Sport suspension, Bilstein 5100 shocks
Frontend: Dana 44
Rearend: Dana 44
Ring and Pinion: 5.38 Superior gears
Differentials: Factory Rubicon e-lockers
Tires: 37x12.50R17 Goodyear MT/R with Kevlar
Wheels/Backspacing: 17x8.5 AEV Savegre/ +10mm offset

PhotosView Slideshow

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