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Is the Jeep Wrangler Unlimited Rubicon Dependable/Reliable?

Should You Buy A New Jeep JL Wrangler Rubicon Unlimited?

After living with our 2019 Jeep Wrangler Unlimited Rubicon Four Wheeler of the Year winner we've got only a couple gripes. And given that the Ocean Blue test vehicle we've been driving for the past year is the exact same vehicle that competed in the 2019 Four Wheeler of the Year test, was previously a FCA press fleet vehicle, and was driven hard off-road on Jp magazine's 2019 Dirt n Drive event, this particular Wrangler had some harder miles on it than many "brand-new" Rubicons.

So what went wrong with our test model during our 12 month in-depth review? Not a helluva lot, really. For one, the driver-side rear-view mirror swivel broke. It wasn't something bad enough to cause us to visit the dealership. The mirror would sometimes sort of fall out of the swivel bracket, and dangle held partially in place by the sun visor vanity mirror lighting wires. All it took was a firm smack with a flat palm to stab it back in place and it'd be good to go for another week or so until the problem presented again. Another quirk we noticed was the soft top got slightly louder on the freeway after several months of seasonal stretching and contracting, sun, rain, and heat cycles. You could still carry on a phone conversation through the Bluetooth system, but towards the end of our time with the vehicle the people on the other end of the line could hear the wind noise through the phone. And finally, it's a function of the Jeep's somewhat upright, boxy styling, but we found that when opening the door during a hard rain, the water streaming off the roof and down the rain gutter from the B- to A-pillar would stream directly into the front floor area. The result was a soaked carpet and a doused leg as you climbed into the front seat as quickly as humanly possible. But, meh, it's a Jeep. And part of living with a Jeep is trading small idiosyncrasies in refinement like this for the freedom the rest of the vehicle package delivers. So let's talk freedom.

We're here to wager that driving a Jeep Rubicon Wrangler like the 2.0L eTorque Unlimited we just stepped out of will net you more freedom than any new vehicle out there. You want to drop the top and run with no doors? You're free to do it in this Wrangler. You wanna turn the A/C to stun and blow down the highway getting 23 mpg? You're free to do it in this Wrangler. You wanna drop the T-case into 4Lo and not worry about how torn up the trail in front of you may get? You're free to do it in this Wrangler. You wanna load five people, a dog, and all their gear for a long weekend getaway to anywhere? You're free to do it in this Wrangler. You wanna bomb down a rock-strewn wash and not have a constant worry that low-profile city slicker tires are gonna get shredded. You know the answer.

The slightly factory nose-down rake contributed to what aero efficiency the boxy Wrangler is able to muster. Still, the 2.0L eTorque is capable of banging out low 20 mpgs on the freeway.

So even though all good things must end, we're pretty bummed to see this particular Rubicon's taillights heading off into the sunset. It's been an absolutely stellar performer on and off road, it's comfortable on long trips, maneuverable and sprightly around town, and very useful as a utilitarian vehicle. Remember, utility is part of "sport utility" vehicle. Nowadays it seems that's a forgotten element of the name, but Wrangler still holds true to that. Whether shuttling multiple bikes on the rear receiver hitch, yanking stumps out of the ground in 4Low, or hauling 50-pound bags of playground sand home from the hardware store, this Wrangler actually did some utility work. And through it all, it was a happy little eager Jeep. Yeah, happy. If we were anthropomorphizing it with human traits the 2.0L Rubicon would be a bouncy, good-natured, down-for-anything friend always ready to have an adventure at the drop of a hat. It's a fun little machine. And at the end of the day isn't that what owning a Jeep should be all about.

The 285/70R17 tires' 33-inch diameter and 17-inch wheels deliver an excellent sidewall aspect ratio. Coupled with the tough BFG A-T carcass, tread and sidewall damage isn't even a concern on most trails we tackled.
The 2.0L eTorque and eight-speed auto work in conjunction to deliver nearly seamless power delivery. The meaty turbo four's torque curve and moderate electric assist of the eTorque system are more evocative of a powerful diesel than a gas four-banger.
One of our few gripes was discovered during a rare SoCal rainstorm. The roof gutters direct water straight into the front floor, ensuring wet feet and legs when entering or exiting during a heavy downpour.
High above it all, the Jeep Wrangler Rubicon Unlimited gives you all the freedom to escape civilization or live among it. Your choice.
The cargo area isn't enormous, but we did find it possible to stuff enough luggage in the back of the Wrangler Unlimited to keep five people clothed for a weekend.
The Trail Rail Management Group includes these in-track adjustable/removable anchors, which can be located in aluminum slots on the tailgate or cargo floor to cinch down cargo.

Report: Final
Previous report: March '20
Base price: $41,545
Price as tested: $55,760
Four-wheel-drive system: Part-time, manual shift lever, two-speed

Long-Term Numbers
Miles to date: 22,184
Miles since last report: 5,132
Average mpg (this report): 18.85
Test best tank (mpg): 21.45 (all highway)
Test worst tank (mpg): 16.60 (mostly off-road)

Maintenance
This period: None
Problem areas: Driver-side sun visor falling off

What's Hot, What's Not
Hot: Super comfy stress relief therapy wagon
Not: Unintentional rain baths when entering/exiting in downpour

Logbook Quotes
"This thing is point and shoot wherever you point it and whatever you're shooting at"
"This is as happy as a puppy dog on espresso"

Options as Tested
Leather-Trimmed Bucket Seats ($1,495), Customer Preferred Package 28R ($795), LED Lighting Group ($995), Electronic Infotainment System Group ($1,595), Jeep Active Safety Group ($895), Adaptive Cruise Control/Forward Collision Warning ($795), Steel Bumper Group ($1,295), Trail Rail Management Group ($195), Soft Top Window Storage Bag ($75), 8-Speed Automatic Transmission ($2,000), 2.0L I-4 DOHC DI Turbo eTorque Engine ($1,000), Remote Proximity Keyless Entry ($495), Body-Color Fender Flares ($495), Premium Black Sunrider Soft Top ($595), Destination Charge ($1,495)