Let’s get past all the basics first. The Wrangler Rubicon gets a not-so-solid 2.0-liter, four-cylinder engine. But because it is turbocharged, you get 268 horsepower and 400 Nm of torque; strong numbers that made it possible for the jeep to put on a strong show over this year’s venue. More on that later … Now that it’s the Rubicon edition, the list of off-road hardware fitted as standard is almost as long as the number of features inside the disc-sided cabin. You get powerful Dana 44 solid axles with a sophisticated gearbox and locking front and rear differential, powerful shock absorbers, a full-time gearbox with low gear and 255/75 R17 chubby tires. Speaking of low range, this version comes with a deeper 4: 1 “crawl” ratio compared to 2.72: 1 on Wrangler Unlimited. In addition, Rubicon allows you to electronically disconnect its sway bar for more suspension and better shoulder joint.
With the basics covered, let’s continue with the show, shall we? Our agenda for this year’s terrain day was to drive all our 4x4s through gravel paths and obstacle courses across the vast expanse of Pro Dirt Academy and see their performance. Although we mostly had to do with wide and open paths, the room served a whole terrain, mainly those with lots of rocks, dirt and some rather side-sloping and giggling slopes. It is in terrain like these where the Wrangler really comes into its own, especially when it is equipped with large, lumpy tires that Rubicon gets. Now, unlike wet weather conditions with slush and mud where you have to be careful with your lines on a path and keep a steady pace, you can squeeze it a little here. But again, my subconscious mind constantly reminded me that I drive the most expensive car in this group and I have to be more careful even if it has all the ground clearance and wheel alignment in the world. Speaking of which, it took me a handful of large ditches, boulders and a mile or so of gravel path to realize that this jeep was crawling across the terrain like a giant ant. The confidence you get from the bearing height, lumpy tires and all the tough terrain equipment that the Wrangler Rubicon has is incredible.
Of course, Jeep has made the standard Wrangler an even better off-road car in its Rubicon rail, but here, across our brand new playground, it was raw nature versus the car. So, how did it go in the deluge of terrain tests we had this year? As it is the heaviest and most powerful vehicle in the party, it would never be easy for the Wrangler to reduce its power, accelerate and stop in the 0-40-0 km / h race. Just then, traction control was turned off and the throttle got stuck in the floor, there was so much wheel spin despite the lack of diesel torque. The heavy service weight worked against the jeep here and it took 5.8 seconds and 37 m to stop after hitting 40 km / h, which in total resulted in the third fastest driving. Now it’s great fun to turn over the cones through a slalom course, but it gets tricky as soon as you cross the first cone where the surface is uneven and full of dirt. Given its length and huge tires, we expected the Jeep to fight its way through the narrow spaces between the cones. But when it came to the race, the Wrangler’s agility, especially around the U-turn, came as a surprise; with extremely low turning radius for a vehicle of this size.
Unfortunately, the rather heavy steering was not the best fit for quick changes of direction and it ended with Vikrant getting a quick biceps pass when he set the time. The wide rear track also managed to step out and catch one of the cones. Finally, the Wrangler Rubicon finished the slalom with a time of 41.50 seconds. At the end of a very scientific and serious test, we decided to have some methodical fun at the expense of my colleague Bilal’s pants.
The beaker test is our way of measuring the off-road quality of a vehicle and how flat it remains when it gets tough. Earlier in the day, it was amazing how the Wrangler simply plowed through deep ruts and huge bumps and gave the impression of a flat ride. However, the cup test threw a crack in Rubicon’s armor and in the end it did not go as well as we expected. Despite all its articulation, suspension and a soft line-up, the Wrangler struggled to level out the choppy terrain, mainly due to the bumpy tires and their lack of yielding. Of course, the hard mix did not offer much in terms of compliance and shock absorption from the small rocks that made up the entire course. Finally, it rocked and rolled and spilled 160 ml (out of 500 ml), the second highest amount of water among all cars.