Jeep Wrangler Rubicon 4×4 still darling of off-road enthusiasts

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For buyers enamored with the idea of a go-anywhere and do-anything SUV, the shopping process can pretty much start and stop with the 2020 Jeep Wrangler.

Long the darling of off-road enthusiasts — thanks to its rugged design and considerable aftermarket support — the Rubicon trim level is especially popular. It comes straight from the factory with features such as big all-terrain tires, lockable differentials, and a front electronically disconnecting stabilizer bar.

Even if you never venture off pavement, this latest generation Wrangler is still quite appealing. The seats are supportive, the driving position is comfortable, and the cabin materials are substantially nicer than in previous-generation Wranglers.

Finally, there’s the Wrangler’s iconic style and removable top, which no other SUV can match.

All that said, the Wrangler isn’t for everyone. It’s noisier, has a stiffer ride, and is less utilitarian than other similarly priced crossovers and SUVs. But if you want capability and personality, the Jeep Wrangler is the best there is.

So here is what’s new with this year’s model. Part of the fourth Wrangler generation, the 2020 does offer a new V6 mild hybrid engine option on Sahara Unlimited trim; it’s got a new altitude variant for Sport and Sahara models; and there are numerous new special edition models.

So let’s take a ride. There’s no doubt the Wrangler is a beast when it comes to off-road prowess. No stock vehicle is better, especially the Rubicon trim. My test vehicle, with the optional V-6 Turbo Diesel Engine, also came with the eight-speed automatic transmission, which shifted smoothly and always seems to be in the right gear.

The 3.0-liter V6 diesel engine is the same revamped engine recently reintroduced in the 2020 Ram 1500 lineup. With 260 horsepower and 442 pound-feet of torque. It also gets superior fuel economy — about 25 mpg highway/city combined — and therefore great driving range.

Inside, there are no new options, but the cabin retains the same attractive design, impressive build quality, and logically arranged controls.

Although the Wrangler doesn’t place a great importance on passenger comfort, there are a few highlights here. The front seats are well-shaped and remain livable on long trips. The rear bench is flatter and firmer, but it reclines a bit.

It is, however, surprisingly modern when it comes to infotainment and smartphone integration. The optional 8.4-inch Uconnect system offers sharp graphics, quick responses, and one of the best infotainment interfaces in the industry.

Jeep Wrangler models include the two-door and four-door Unlimited. It is sold in three primary trim levels: Sport, Sahara (Unlimited only), and Rubicon. There also are several sublevels throughout the lineup.

The Rubicon gets all the Sahara equipment plus 17-inch wheels, special tires, heavy-duty axles with shorter gearing, 4.0-to-1 low-range gearing (other trims come with a 2.72 ratio), electronic front and rear lockable differentials, an electronically disconnecting front stabilizer bar, rock rails, and upgraded cloth upholstery.

With a base price of $41,795, the optional equipment on my test vehicle added well over $20,000 more to the bottom line. The big ticket items were the V-6 Turbo Diesel Engine ($4,000), the Sky One-Touch Power Top ($4,000), the 8-Speed Automatic Transmission ($2,000), and other bells and whistles. So the total price for this vehicle topped out at $64,770 with dealer prep.

Grant Miller is the publisher of Miami’s Community Newspapers. He may be contacted by calling 305-662-2277 or via email at Grant@CommunityNewspapers.com.


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