Automotive

Review: 2016 Jeep Wrangler Rubicon epitomizes offroad cred

Review: 2016 Jeep Wrangler Rub...
The Wrangler Rubicon is a rugged SUV in every sense of the term
The Wrangler Rubicon is a rugged SUV in every sense of the term
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The term “jeep” is filled with history and connotations in the American vernacular and has become universal for any vehicle that can traverse rough landscapes
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The term “jeep” is filled with history and connotations in the American vernacular and has become universal for any vehicle that can traverse rough landscapes
When most people hear “Jeep” they think of the Wrangler, the direct descendant of the Willy’s Jeeps of the Second World War
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When most people hear “Jeep” they think of the Wrangler, the direct descendant of the Willy’s Jeeps of the Second World War
The Wrangler Rubicon model takes its name from the famous Rubicon Trail that runs through the Sierra Nevada near Lake Tahoe in California
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The Wrangler Rubicon model takes its name from the famous Rubicon Trail that runs through the Sierra Nevada near Lake Tahoe in California
There are few places that a Jeep Wrangler cannot go
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There are few places that a Jeep Wrangler cannot go
Lower gear ratios for better grip in tough situations mark the Rubicon model's transmission
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Lower gear ratios for better grip in tough situations mark the Rubicon model's transmission
The Rubicon Hard Rock package includes 17-inch alloy wheels, 32-inch tires, a heavy-duty Dana 44 front and rear axle, a 4.10 rear axle ratio, and a lot of extraneous trail-ready equipment
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The Rubicon Hard Rock package includes 17-inch alloy wheels, 32-inch tires, a heavy-duty Dana 44 front and rear axle, a 4.10 rear axle ratio, and a lot of extraneous trail-ready equipment
The signature Jeep grille and round headlights are a mainstay in the Wrangler model's design
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The signature Jeep grille and round headlights are a mainstay in the Wrangler model's design
The two-door Jeep Wrangler is the most-often associated Jeep model with the nameplate
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The two-door Jeep Wrangler is the most-often associated Jeep model with the nameplate
The top on just about every Jeep Wrangler is removable with either a toolkit (supplied) or a few twists of hand-locks in the t-top option
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The top on just about every Jeep Wrangler is removable with either a toolkit (supplied) or a few twists of hand-locks in the t-top option
The huge front bumper is prepared to receive a winch and like the Jeep of old, nearly everything on the Wrangler is considered optional and is likely removable or can be replaced with something that is
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The huge front bumper is prepared to receive a winch and like the Jeep of old, nearly everything on the Wrangler is considered optional and is likely removable or can be replaced with something that is
There are a lot of compromises for those who may be hoping for a more modern, comfortable existence in their SUV
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There are a lot of compromises for those who may be hoping for a more modern, comfortable existence in their SUV
The Rubicon’s low ratios and powerful torque delivery in low gear are beautiful for getting around no matter the terrain
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The Rubicon’s low ratios and powerful torque delivery in low gear are beautiful for getting around no matter the terrain
Fording small impromptu streams, flailing through mud puddles like a kid in the storm when mom’s been distracted, and climbing hills and descending valleys were all things the Wrangler Rubicon took without fuss
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Fording small impromptu streams, flailing through mud puddles like a kid in the storm when mom’s been distracted, and climbing hills and descending valleys were all things the Wrangler Rubicon took without fuss
The Wrangler Rubicon is a rugged SUV in every sense of the term
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The Wrangler Rubicon is a rugged SUV in every sense of the term
One thing about a Jeep with this kind of offroad equipment, you’re very unlikely to feel that you may not be able to do what it is you’re about to do
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One thing about a Jeep with this kind of offroad equipment, you’re very unlikely to feel that you may not be able to do what it is you’re about to do
The 2016 Jeep Wrangler Rubicon Hard Rock is a very purpose-built machine that exudes fun even when it’s just sitting in the driveway
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The 2016 Jeep Wrangler Rubicon Hard Rock is a very purpose-built machine that exudes fun even when it’s just sitting in the driveway
The Wrangler is not for everyone, of course, but there are certain breeds of human that want, nay need, the ability to go wherever they’d like without thinking too hard about the “how to get there” detail
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The Wrangler is not for everyone, of course, but there are certain breeds of human that want, nay need, the ability to go wherever they’d like without thinking too hard about the “how to get there” detail
With the Rubicon name comes a lot of offroad goodies
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With the Rubicon name comes a lot of offroad goodies
A 3.6-liter V6 powers the rig with 285 horsepower (212 kW) and 260 pound-feet (352 Nm) of output powers the 2016 Wrangler
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A 3.6-liter V6 powers the rig with 285 horsepower (212 kW) and 260 pound-feet (352 Nm) of output powers the 2016 Wrangler
For technology, a tiny 6.5-inch touchscreen with a decidedly outdated infotainment interface is offered
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For technology, a tiny 6.5-inch touchscreen with a decidedly outdated infotainment interface is offered

When it comes to getting wherever you want to go without worrying about whether your vehicle can get you there, the Jeep Wrangler is the vehicle that automatically comes to mind. The Rubicon is the most offroad-ready of the Jeeps and Gizmag thoroughly tested that premise.

The term "jeep" is filled with history and connotations in the American vernacular and has become universal for any vehicle that can traverse rough landscapes. The Jeep brand, of course, has been around for generations and when most people hear "Jeep" they think of the Wrangler, the direct descendant of the Willy's Jeeps of the Second World War.

The term “jeep” is filled with history and connotations in the American vernacular and has become universal for any vehicle that can traverse rough landscapes
The term “jeep” is filled with history and connotations in the American vernacular and has become universal for any vehicle that can traverse rough landscapes

The Wrangler Rubicon model takes its name from the famous Rubicon Trail that runs through the Sierra Nevada near Lake Tahoe in California. That trail, it is said, takes its name from the Italian river (Rubico) across which Julius Caesar marched his armies during the Roman civil war in 49 BC. For as with Caesar's action, once you enter the Rubicon Trail, there is no turning back.

This is a perfect visualization of the Wrangler Rubicon and what legend and reality say about its capabilities. It includes 17-inch alloy wheels, 32-inch tires, a heavy-duty Dana 44 front and rear axle, a 4.10 rear axle ratio, a transfer case with a lower crawl ratio, front and rear locking differentials, a disconnecting front sway bar for more reach, and a lot of extraneous trail-ready equipment besides. The huge front bumper is prepared to receive a winch and like the Jeep of old, nearly everything on the Wrangler is considered optional and is likely removable or can be replaced with something that is. The Jeep Wrangler is also one of the most accessorized vehicles on the market, with aftermarket options for just about every need you can name.

The Wrangler is not for everyone, of course, but there are certain breeds of human that want, nay need, the ability to go wherever they’d like without thinking too hard about the “how to get there” detail
The Wrangler is not for everyone, of course, but there are certain breeds of human that want, nay need, the ability to go wherever they’d like without thinking too hard about the “how to get there” detail

For the second year in a row, I spent a week in the Rubicon Hard Rock edition. Last year, I drove the six-speed manual transmission option. This year, the five-speed automatic. No matter the Wrangler, a 3.6-liter V6 powers the rig with 285 horsepower (212 kW) and 260 pound-feet (352 Nm) of output. Towing in the two-door is rated at 2,000 pounds. In both years, a lot of mud, snow, ice, and fun times were to be had in the Wyoming hinterland.

With the interior of the Wrangler Rubicon, just about everything is about function rather than style. There are many little hints of Jeep-dom, such as little Jeep-shaped logos on the windshield, speakers, and so forth. Comfort is generally secondary to usefulness, however, and everything inside the Wrangler is designed to be robust and built to last.

On nearly all models, the roof can be removed with an included toolkit, but not stowed inside the Jeep. On some models, such as our 2016 Wrangler Rubicon Hard Rock press loan, there are removable t-top-style roof panels that can be taken out without tools and stowed in the rear cargo area. A soft-top option is also available and most Jeep Wranglers sold in dealerships will include a "bra top" cover that can be installed when the hard roof has been removed.

With the Rubicon name comes a lot of offroad goodies
With the Rubicon name comes a lot of offroad goodies

This robust nature for the Wrangler means that there are a lot of compromises for those who may be hoping for a more modern, comfortable existence in their SUV. The Wrangler is definitely not your average daily commuter, offering a solidly fuel-sucking 18 mpg (13 l/100 km) combined EPA rating. For technology, a tiny 6.5-inch touchscreen with a decidedly outdated infotainment interface is offered. This screen flips out, 1990s style, to reveal a CD player slot. Basics like Bluetooth connectivity and satellite radio are offered. To be honest, if you need more than that, you probably don't really need a Wrangler. Bear in mind that the base model Wrangler doesn't even come with air conditioning. It's a rugged SUV in every sense of the term. Coiffed man beards and over-priced lattes with six-syllable names need not apply.

For personal preference, I like the manual transmission for the added control it offers when out on the trail (or lack thereof). The Rubicon's low ratios and powerful torque delivery in low gear are beautiful for getting around no matter the terrain. I managed to drive through a 90-acre steer pasture, hopping frozen mounds of manure and bumping the occasional tree stump before blasting through a snow bank to cross a fence line into another field. My friend, upon whose land we were traversing, kept up a commentary on how great it was to do things in a full-blown SUV that he would get nervous about on a quad ATV.

The huge front bumper is prepared to receive a winch and like the Jeep of old, nearly everything on the Wrangler is considered optional and is likely removable or can be replaced with something that is
The huge front bumper is prepared to receive a winch and like the Jeep of old, nearly everything on the Wrangler is considered optional and is likely removable or can be replaced with something that is

The automatic transmission, though, does have its appeal. It simplifies the workload when juggling terrain needs, especially at speed. It's definitely easier when driving around town or on the highway to the wilderness. During my time with this model, I took my two girls (aged 5 and 6) out onto public lands that had recently seen massive amounts of snow melt, making them muddy and fun. Fording small impromptu streams, flailing through mud puddles like a kid in the storm when mom's been distracted, and climbing hills and descending valleys were all things the Wrangler Rubicon took without fuss. One thing about a Jeep with this kind of offroad equipment, you're very unlikely to feel that you may not be able to do what it is you're about to do. The word "capable" is weak when used to describe what the Wrangler Rubicon can do.

The 2016 Jeep Wrangler Rubicon Hard Rock is a very purpose-built machine that exudes fun even when it's just sitting in the driveway. It's not for everyone, of course, but there are certain breeds of human that want, nay need, the ability to go wherever they'd like without thinking too hard about the "how to get there" detail. For them, the Jeep Wrangler will always reign supreme.

Product page: 2016 Jeep Wrangler

7 comments
MaxCinta
I want a yellow one, a bright yellow one; or, one in racing orange.
guzmanchinky
What a cool vehicle. I wish Toyota made a version of the FJ Cruiser with a removable roof to compete with it. But there is nothing out there like a Wrangler. And when you put bigger tires on it and lift it a bit, there's almost nowhere it can't go.
T N Args
I thought the Toyota Landcruiser was the one that automatically comes to mind, because it will get you there AND BACK AGAIN, unlike the Jeep. :)
TimStone
All that is missing is the option to buy a non electronic engine unit so repairs can be made by those of us that do know how to use a spanner and screwdriver! - It would also work after an EMP strike as well....
RioCeballos
I have one and it is the best car I have ever had. I also have a Pajero but nothing is as fun as our Rubi. Super fun, top off is the way to drive it. Can go anywhere and don't care if it brings me back.
Groucho Jones
When it comes to getting wherever you want to go without worrying about whether your vehicle can get you there, the Land Rover Defender is the vehicle that automatically comes to mind. Or the Toyota Landcruiser, which as T N Args said, will also get you back.
Calson
Excellent off road vehicles but a death trap on the highway with the short wheelbase and high center of gravity. Worse is that these "utility" vehicles do not have to meet Federal safety requirements as would even the smallest sedan. A Subaru is a much safer vehicle though it lacks the macho appeal to young men of all ages that the Jeep provides. By the way, more than 40% of jeeps produced during World War II were made by Ford.