The Jeep Wrangler is unique in many senses. It’s an historic car yet still produced in modern area. This is the 4×4 by excellence, yet mostly used in the big city. It’s high with a very large clearance underneath yet so short. It’s undriveable yet so attaching.
Background and short story time!
When I say that it’s an historical vehicle it truly is. Even if the Wrangler denomination only appears in 1987 the production of this car started in 1940 in the context of WW2. The US army wanted a light weight vehicle very polyvalent to be able to transport troops and perform recognition missions on the front line.
The 4×4 was a mandatory requirement at that time as well as the small size and outstanding modularity. Between 1940 and 1945 almost 400,000 cars where produced for the army. It became a symbol of the US army and the WW2. For a more detailed history of that awesome car refer to this article!
Since then, multiple denominations where used for this car, Willys, CJ, Wrangler but the basic characteristics remain the same. A true 4×4, with a folding wind shield, removable roof and doors (the Willys only had fabric roof and doors, in other words, no doors at all) and a tremendous squared design.
I do have a lot of special memories with the Willys as our grand-dad owns one for more than 30 years. This is actually its French version, the Hotchkiss M-201, but it’s almost the same. It’s actually one of the 1st car I’ve driven, in the middle of the forest without roof and windshield. Therefore, I approached this test drive with a lot of excitement as I will be able to experience what it’s like to drive a modern and well equipped Jeep Wrangler Rubicon.
The Willys is an amazing 4×4 but it’s terrible on the road, it’s slow, imprecise and the brakes are just inexistant. I imagine that in 70 years all these issues have been solved thanks to the evolution of car engineering and the experience acquired producing one the longest lasting model of the car history.
Well, yes and no!
The legendary design
On a design point of view the Jeep Wrangler Rubicon is definitely a Jeep. No doubt. It’s actually the only Jeep model that come to my mind if you tell me you own a Jeep and this is probably the case for the majority of the population. It’s squared with round eyes, I love that design which is a clear descendant of the original Willys.
The model I drove was the 2 doors Rubicon which in my opinion is the closest from the original Willys you can find. It’s a car that pretty much everybody like (including me).
I don’t know if you aware of this but Jeep is a community, therefore while driving, if you see an other Jeep on the road people are waving at you to say “Hi!”. Just like the motorcycle community. That very interesting because it shows how much the brand is strong and differentiated from other car makers/model, because, let’s face it, we rarely get hand signals on the road when we drive a Dacia Duster, for example. Otherwise it’s the wrong finger and it’s less friendly.
The Wrangler Rubicon is high with its 17 inches mags coupled with all terrain tires with a huge profile. It is made for the off-road and this is terribly attracting to me. Inside, nothing reminds you the old and original Willys (almost nothing I should say).
It’s quite luxury with the leather seats and pretty nice details while being rough (in a good way). In fact, you can feel just by seating in the car that it is made to be driven, not on the road but off-road. The large passager handles on the dash reminds you that this car could go pretty much everywhere, if your passenger hangs on tight.
Inside, I’ve been blown away by the fact that the habitability is terrible. On the 2 doors version there is almost no boot, and even when you can fit something in the door does not close. The back seat access is very difficult and the space to the legs is very small. Consider it a 2 seaters car with the possibility of taking 2 small people at the back from time to time.
The roof panel are made of fiberglass, no fabric cover to hide them, the Wrangler is raw and does not miss an occasion to mention it!
On the road
What is it to drive? Well, it really reminds me the old Willys, which is crazy when you think that there are 70 years in between the 2 models… The steering is so blurry that I had the sensation of driving a boat. The suspension shakes you at each and every potholes just like if the car was about to fall apart.
The brakes are ok but you will need to learn how to operate them. The pedal is really hard and you need to press even harder to stop the car. But you feel good while driving this car, I can’t explain why but remove the roof and you forget all the flaws this car has. You’re driving a Jeep and that is an experience in itself.
Talking about experiences, the main quality of this car from my point of view is the modularity, you can remove the doors in a couple minutes, the front roof panels and the main roof panel at the back, basically within 30 min you can convert by yourself your car from a SUV to a beach car. This is AMAZING!!! There are a couple issues with this process, as it’s design by an Italian group they kind of forget about the practicality. For example, when you remove the door you’re losing the mirrors. Also, you don’t have anywhere to put the part you removed… Where I am suppose to leave half of my car?
Assuming you have some room to store all these parts you have a completely different car now, since you no longer have any mirrors, that is not really useable daily because, you no longer have any mirrors and you can lose pretty much anything you put in the car. However, it’s still very very cool!
And once again behind the wheel, you forget everything and enjoy a very special moment. That kind of freedom is exclusive to Jeep and we want more of this!
The infotainment system of the car is very complete and quite easy to operate, on the technology side the Wrangler is a modern car with all the safety and confort features you can imagine.
Serious stuff : off-road
Just like the old Willys the 2020 Wrangler Rubicon is surprisingly better off road than on the road. All the flaws disappear and it seems that the Wrangler reveals its true nature.
The car is quite confortable, the suspension do their job perfectly absorbing all the rocks, piece of wood etc and the direction is just like you want it to be, precise enough to navigate the car but not to precise to react to every difficulty you will encounter. It’s honestly a blast to drive off road, after a mixed experience on the real road.
An UFO in the automobile portrait!
The Rubicon is a true 4X4 but not a permanent 4X4. Indeed, in the day to day you’ll probably used it as a propulsion. However, when the condition deteriorate, choose the 4×4 and you’ll stay safe in pretty much every situation.
To enhance your experience you can count of a wide range of driving assistances both on the road and off road. These technologies make the off-road experience accessible to everybody. For example the car is equipped with heavy duty front and rear axles, front and rear locking differential, electronic disconnecting sway bar to help you tackle any terrain.
Your dashboard also gives you informations about the angles of your car both (longitudinal and lateral) which is really useful in demanding terrain.
#FunToDrive Score: 72/100
The Jeep Wrangler Rubicon is the “best” of both world, an american plateform with the italian sense of engineering… However, it’s tremendously attaching because it’s simply unique and makes you feel special. The modularity is amazing and it remind me so much of the original Jeep that I can’t dislike this car.
It is definitely expensive for what it is as the model I drove was reaching as high as 65,000$ but the good thing is that you can have as much pleasure for way less as the Jeep Wrangler start just over 36,000$.
Another thing worth mentioning is that the accessories available for this model are almost unlimited so it only pertain to you to truly make your own car unique.