The Perfect AEV-Built Rubicon
Back in the 1980s, I led the Behind the Rocks Trail during Easter Jeep Safari in Moab, Utah. My tailgunner (the jeepherder who brought up the rear, making sure everyone was fine) was Phil Smith. Since those days, Phil has been my friend and off-roading buddy. He has owned almost as many 4x4s as I have and changes them (almost) as fast.
Phil says his latest JK Unlimited Rubicon won’t get the axe so quickly. I had to drive a Jeep that would prompt him to say that. His 2013 Commando Green Jeep Wrangler Unlimited Rubicon was sent to AEV so they could install a new 6.4 Chrysler Hemi V8 and AEV suspension. The Hemi is a powerful addition to the Unlimited and with approximately 200 horsepower more than the already respectable V6, it moves the JK effortlessly. So effortlessly, in fact, that the heavy Jeep returns an average of 16 mpg. AEV changes some internals in the excellent WA580 automatic transmission to allow it to live behind the powerful Hemi. Live it does, and works just as well as it does in a stock Wrangler.
The AEV suspension looks and is simple, but much thought and engineering goes into it to make it work as well as it does. The 3.5” coils and Bilstein shocks are tuned perfectly for the Jeep. Drop brackets allow the use of OE control arms. There are provisions for caster adjustment, so you’re not left with a “one size fits all” suspension. In back, the OE control arms are retained, and roll center is improved with a track bar bracket and track bar designed for this suspension system. The 3.5” height allows the 35” Goodyear MT/R with Kevlar tires mounted on AEV Pintler wheels to clear well.
The Jeep is clean, balanced, and stellar. It’s not a competition rock crawler, but it can be tossed through highway twisties with aplomb and, when hitting ledges or bumps, is QUIET and controlled. I drove this Commando Green wonder on the pavement and in the dirt. It was a hot day and the big Hemi ran cool at all times. Our language lacks the adjectives required to adequately describe how well this Jeep works. I now understand how Phil wants to keep this one around.
Phil Smith’s 2013 Jeep Wrangler Unlimited Rubicon is the best-performing Jeep I’ve ever driven. He says it’s perfect. I have to agree.
Watch for more on this in 4Wheel Drive & Sport Utility Magazine.
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