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Extreme Jeep Wrangler JK

Posted in Project Vehicles on June 1, 2010
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Photographers: Rick Péwé

Using the word extreme conjures up images of death-defying obstacles, such as monster rocks, deep mud pits, and raging rivers. While we do attempt to conquer these types of terrain at times, for the most part our daily driver is enough of a 4x4 for us. Of course we could build the baddest buggy that can scale tall buildings, but that means we probably won't be taking it to the corner store in the rain for a loaf of bread.

Enter the Mopar Extreme Rubicon Wrangler. There's no debate that the Rubicon JK is the absolute best 4x4 available from the factory, bar none. But like any trail rig there are plenty of opportunities for an upgrade, so Mopar answered the call and now has the most popular aftermarket components available. For those who don't know, Mopar is the parts division of Chrysler, so Jeep, Dodge, Chrysler, and Ram trucks all have replacement, optional, and aftermarket parts available, with that all-important factory connection.

The Jeep Wrangler Rubicon can be driven from the showroom to the Rubicon trail, or Moab, or nearly anywhere in the country. While its biggest drawback for road and trail is the underpowered engine, we'd also like a three-speed transfer case, as the stock 4-to-1 low range can be too low for tire spin and too high for the anemic powerplant.

But Mopar has come out with more than just the requisite shiny bling and floor mats. We were lucky to test this rolling testbed equipped with prototype 4.88 axle gears, which help make up for aftermarket 35-inch tires. The factory 4.10 gears simply won't turn 35s with any alacrity unless a Hemi upgrade is performed, so the new cogs make a great difference. Even with the addition of a ton (OK, maybe 1/4 ton) of added Mopar steel protection in the form of rock rails, diff guards, bumpers, and a winch, the little engine that could safely propelled us through a few thousand miles of on- and off-road testing.

Of course this all comes at a price, but if you were going to upgrade the stock Rubicon anyway, why not start with Mopar? On this particular vehicle Mopar threw everything on, from the Hutchison/Mopar beadlock wheel set for $3K, to the Warn winch and bumper for $2K, to the 2-inch lift for $1.5K and the like. Sure, you can find it cheaper, but all this and the corner guards, rock rails, lights, skidplates, diff covers, grab handles, and so on are all designed to fit right the first time and are Chrysler-approved. In addition, it's all available at a dealer and can be installed there as well. If you do it when you buy your new JK, you might be able to have the extra $12K rolled into your payment on the new ride, which makes for a bigger monthly payment but no need sock away nuts until you can play. Check out all the new goodies at or your local Jeep dealer.


Auburn Hills, MI 48321

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