2018 Jeep Wrangler Unlimited Rubicon Review

Is Rubicon the best 4WD Under $60,000

Jeep Wrangler Rubicon Overview

Long overdue for an overhaul, the Jeep Wrangler Rubicon nominated here is still an awesome off-road beast. The all-new 2018 Wrangler is sure to be better in most aspects and we will bring you a review of that as soon as we get our hands on one.

Jeep Wrangler Rubicon

Jeep Wrangler Rubicon External

Externally the Rubicon can trace its heritage way back to the Willys jeep of WW11. Despite many upgrades over the years it retains the box on wheels basic design that has as many advantages as disadvantages.

A key feature of the Jeep is the ability to have the open-air experience with the removable three-piece modular hardtop. Although it’s not a 20 second job (more like a half hour job with two people) you can remove the top and in fact the doors and windscreen to have just about as much fun as is legally possible. It will take you forever to remove all these but it’s an awesome feeling when you do. Freedom not experienced with any other vehicle.

Jeep Wrangler Rubicon Internal

The front seats could do with more travel but are soft and very comfortable which is surprising. The leather steering wheel with multiple controls is a beauty in the hands and in fact the redesign of the instrument cluster and centre stack all works pretty good. Storage is still at a premium but improved with a lockable centre console, glove box and a cool storage area above the media centre.

Rear seat passengers are also comfortable with adequate leg, shoulder and headroom. The door straps are a pain. Don’t be deceived by its bulky appearance outside, the Jeep is definitely mid-sized inside. It is however versatile with 60/40 folding rear seats and quite reasonable boot space with a removable storage bin underneath.

The standard Media Centre with Audio Jack can blast out the required noise for teenagers and with speakers on the centre roll bar and all around they had some fun with the top off.

Jeep Wrangler Rubicon Features

Features include:

  • heated front leather seats,
  • removable hard top,
  • freedom panels,
  • black hard top,
  • body colour fender flares,
  • body colour grille with silver accents,
  • 5-Inch touchscreen radio,
  • satellite navigation,
  • reverse parking camera,
  • 9-Speaker Alpine premium audio system including subwoofer,
  • deep tint sunscreen glass,
  • Rock rails and
  • Rubicon hood decal

Jeep Wrangler Rubicon

Jeep Wrangler Rubicon Engine and Drivetrain

The 3.6L Pentastar® V6 engine provides 209kW @ 6350rpm of power and 347Nm @ 4300rpm of torque. It drives through a 5-speed automatic transmission.

While these figures are good it requires work to extract the most from the engine and that translates to thirsty work. The ADR figure combined is 11.9L/100k but around town you can easily add another half again.

While the on road dynamics have improved it is off road where the Jeep Wrangler Rubicon shines. It is built for the adventurous driver and features include heavy-duty Dana 44 axles, Rock-Trac® four-wheel drive system with shift on the fly capability, Quadra-Coil™ suspension with front and rear axle 5-link solid axle with heavy-duty monotube gas charged shock absorbers, transfer case and fuel tank skid plates. Wrangler’s Electronic Throttle Control (ETC) system helps prevent the “pedal bobble” that often occurs when in 4WD-low mode.

At the heart of the 4WD capability of Wrangler Rubicon® is the Rock-Trac® 4×4 System.  It delivers extreme rock crawling ability, thanks to the 4:1 low-gear ratio.

With the low crawl speed on Rock-Trac®, it’s easy to ascend or descend sharp hills and crawl over obstacles with the added protection of rock rails for body protection.

The Rubicon benefits from the Tru-Lok® Front & Rear Locking Differentials.  Front and rear Tru-Lok® electronic locking differentials lock power and distribute it evenly between the wheels for unbelievable traction.

Combine this with the electronic front stabiliser bar disconnect and heavy duty front & rear axles there isn’t many places the Rubicon can’t go.

Flip a switch and the available sway bar disengages when driving under 28 kph in 4WD-low (4LO ) mode. This allows the front suspension to travel up to 25 percent farther on Rubicon than on Sport and Overland® models.

The Rubicon has an approach angle of 35 degrees, rampover angle of 18 degrees and departure angle of 28 degrees, a wading depth of 760mm and a ground clearance of 242mm. These are pretty impressive.

Jeep Wrangler Rubicon

Jeep Wrangler Rubicon – what is it like to drive?

On the sand it simply glides over the dunes. One annoying trait is the propensity to override the switch off button for the traction control.

As an experienced 4WD driver I turn it off on the sand for a reason and it is annoying when the electronics believes it should turn itself back on.

The tyre pressure monitors are a handy feature as we found out when we put air in the tyres after driving on Stockton Beach. The tyre gauge at the garage obviously was a little out because as we drove out the tyre monitor was flashing telling us that the tyres still needed more air.

Its ride on the road can be a little unsettled, especially in strong crosswinds and the four door has a turning circle like the Queen Mary as well as a number of other unique ‘characteristics’.

However turn off the bitumen and head to the bush and all those idiosyncrasies are quickly forgiven and forgotten.

Jeep Wrangler Rubicon

Jeep Wrangler Rubicon Safety

Safety features include:

  • advanced multistage driver and front-passenger airbags,
  • Supplemental side seat-mounted airbags for front occupants.
  • Electronic Stability Control,
  • four-wheel anti-lock, with on- and off-road calibrations,
  • four-channel, active-wheel-speed, vehicle-speed, steering-wheel-angle, yaw-rate and lateral acceleration sensors,
  • vehicle stability management with three-stage activation switch,
  • All-Speed Traction Control (ASTC),
  • Brake Assist, Electronic
  • Roll Mitigation (ERM) and
  • Electronic Brakeforce Distribution (EBD)ABS with
  • EBD (Electronic Brakeforce Distribution) and
  • VDC (Vehicle Dynamic Control).
  • HDC (Hill Descent Control)


Jeep Wrangler Rubicon Conclusion

So what is the Rubicon really like? Similar to all Wranglers it has certain attributes that only the faithful can love.

It has a lack of effective storage spaces other than the centre console and glove box, it has doors that swing freely in the wind and have a habit of swinging back on your shins as you are getting out, a hard top that takes two people to remove it and no reach adjustable steering wheel,

However the jeep is as good as anything off road and often it’s not until you swap cars and go over the same track that you realise just how easily and comfortable the Jeep Wrangler Rubicon handled it.

It doesn’t even raise a sweat over terrain that other highly rated 4WD’s sometimes can’t cover.

It’s also fair to say that the Wrangler Rubicon is ‘cool’ and appeals on many levels. Don’t buy one and expect saloon car ride around town, but take it bush and you will have so much fun you won’t want to come back.

Jeep Wrangler Rubicon

What’s Good:

  • 4WD capability
  • Improved internal comfort
  • Street cool

What’s Not:

  • Thirsty petrol engine
  • Drives like you’re drunk
  • Wrangler idiosyncrasies

Model Jeep Wrangler Unlimited Rubicon

  • Model Price $59,162 RDAP
  • Drivetrain 4WD 3.6L PenstarV6 5 SP AT
  • Power 209kW @ 6,350 rpm
  • Torque 347 Nm @ 4,300 rpm
  • Safety N/A
  • CO2 Emissions 275 g/km
  • Economy (ADR comb)11.8 L/100km
  • Tow Capacity – 2000Kg
  • Tow Ball Rating 200Kg
  • Servicing 5 Yrs Capped Price
  • Warranty 5yr/100,000 km with full roadside assist

Overall OzRoamer Rating 80/100

  • Behind the Wheel 7
  • Comfort 7
  • Equipment 7
  • Performance 7
  • Ride & Handling 8
  • Practicality 9
  • Fit for Purpose 9
  • Towing Ability 8
  • Off Road Ability 9
  • Value for Money 9