This trim is the namesake of the famed Rubicon Trail, the boulder-strewn site where Jeep conducts developmental testing for its products. Fittingly, this is the only Wrangler on which you'll find rock rails. Yes, it's ready to take on some serious trails. In fact, the pliable-plastic front fenders are removable for those times when you really want to tackle some terrain.
The new-generation Rubicon is wider, longer, and higher, but is it more powerful? It is, but barely, as the 3.8-liter overhead valve V6 comes in with an increase of a mere 12 horses. That's still not enough for a certain segment (perhaps those who never leave asphalt).
The best news is that the new Wranglers are safer, with reinforced doors and door frames, a well-designed crush-zone system, and standard features such as multi-stage air bags (with optional side units) and ABS. A crash is less likely, though, with the improved vehicle control granted by the Electronic Stability Program, which melds traction control, hydraulic brake assist, and electronic roll mitigation.
But what ain't broken should not be changed, and so remain the round headlights, seven-toothed grille, removable doors, exposed hinges, prominent fenders, fold-down windshield, and Trail Rated capabilities. The Rubicon takes the cake when it comes to off-road capabilities: its approach, breakover, and departure angles are best-in-class, as are its ground clearance and water-fording capability (up to 30 inches).
One of the best features of the new Rubicon is the Electronic Sway Bar Disconnect, which allows the driver to disengage the sway bar while driving in 4 Low to achieve about 30% more front-axle articulation. And it's smart, too: the system automatically re-engages the sway bar when you exceed 18 mph on your way back out to civilization.
The Rubicon's well-regarded off-road savvy is increased with an upgraded two-speed transfer case and an all-new, much stiffer frame and body. There's also a newly-designed instrument panel, and improved steering (with cross-car linkage) and shocks, and new five-link front and rear suspensions, which afford more stability and more precise steering.
There are more conveniences, too, as the cargo area is larger and includes an innovative hidden storage area under the liner that is secure and inaccessible when the swing gate is locked. The most unexpected addition, for a Wrangler, that is, might be the power windows. But fear not - the doors are still removable.
The Rubicon offers versatility in its available array of convertible tops: the standard soft-top, an optional Sunrider bimini-style soft top, and the Freedom Top, a three-piece modular hard top. The tops come in either black or khaki, depending on the body color chosen. We know it looks its best when it's covered in mud, but you don't necessarily want mud on the inside. That's when you'll appreciate the drain plugs, which allow you to hose out the floor area. Pretty handy, indeed.