Caraganza first drive review 2020 Jeep Wrangler Rubicon: The more things change…

2020 Jeep® Wrangler Rubicon
I love the holidays. It’s that time that comes around every year when we eat too much, drink too much and buy things to give to people that don’t really need such things and who, in turn, give us things we don’t really need.

The point is we all like the sort of stability that the holiday brings.  It happens every year keeping us grounded somewhat. No matter what changes in the world around us, things happen to remind us that the more things change, the more they stay the same.  It’s also true, for the most part, with cars.  Sure, sometimes models get a makeover, a complete redesign and many fail miserably.  But there are some who make changes that are subtle meaning that what you get in one year, you will get the next, or at least something very similar.

Jeep does such a thing.

For the last four years, like clockwork almost, they send me the latest Wrangler for a week. So it was when they sent me a 2020 Wrangler Rubicon for a recent week.  I had the 2019 just a few months before.  The 2020 is the fourth model year I’ve had time with.  Despite an update in 2018, the thing I like about Jeep, and the Wrangler in particular is that the more things change, the more they stay the same.

Starting with the 2018 model year the JL became the JK. The JL takes all that was good with the JK, adds more, and makes it all so much better. And that’s no joke.

The JL is longer, wider and a bit taller.  For 2020 Jeep has added several trim packages, an optional diesel engine, and revised the gas-engine lineup. Two-door Wranglers are available in base Sport, Sport S, and Rubicon versions. The four-door Wrangler Unlimited lineup includes those three models plus a Sahara trim.

2020 Jeep® Wrangler Rubicon
You can still get a 3.6-liter V6 under the hood, but you can now get an eight-speed automatic transmission as well.  There is also a turbocharged 2.0-liter four-cylinder engine which is actually a quasi-hybrid engine with Jeep’s new eTorque technology, featuring automatic engine start/stop, extended fuel shut-off during coasting, electric assist to compensate for turbo lag, and more.

Now however you can add a 3.0-liter EcoDiesel ESS engine (260 hp and 442 lb-ft torque). And that’s what was under the hood of the 2020 Unlimited Rubicon I had for my recent week.

With the Rubicon you get heavy-duty Dana 44 front/rear axles, front/rear electronic locking differentials, an electronically disconnecting front swaybar, upgraded Rock-Trac part-time 4WD, rock rails, all-terrain tires, taller fender flares, special wheels and styling elements, automatic headlights, upgraded cloth upholstery, a 115-volt power outlet, a second USB port and the contents from the Convenience and Technology groups. You can option in heavy-duty winch-capable bumpers. In other words, all the off-road things that make the Jeep, a Jeep.

My Rubicon had the “Sky One-Touch Power Top” which allows the roof to be folded back over the rear passenger seats with the simple press of a button.  We were able to fully engage this feature when I did something I don’t normally get a chance to do with a Jeep, go off road.  Okay, not the sort of ‘off-road’ that involved a bunch of rock crawling, hill climbing, mudslinging that the Wrangler is very capable off, but off the pavement nonetheless.  We took the Rubicon for a drive around Lake Apopka on the Lake Apopka Wildlife Drive a 12-mile unpaved dirt road. Since it was the rare time of year here in Florida when the weather is cool enough to actually go topless, it gave me an opportunity to do just that with the Rubicon.  We then completed day with a 50-mile road trip through the Ocala National Forest. In all it was perfect day with a perfect vehicle for the job, the Rubicon.

One of the other nice surprises was the fuel mileage from the diesel.  Not only did it perform well, but while it’s rated at 29 highway, 21 city and 34 combined mpg, I got what seemed to be nearer to 40 mpg.  I didn’t use some scientific formula to figure that out. I just know that when I got the Jeep the tank (18.3 gallons) was full and after several hundred miles during a weeks’ worth of driving (I don’t know how many miles exactly) during the week and which included that day around the lake, I put $35 worth of diesel in the tank. Impressive.

It’s good to know that despite everything changing around us, we still have constants in our life. Like Christmas trees and Thanksgiving turkeys, the Jeep is something that seems to stay the same, year after year.

And that’s just fine with me.

The 2020 Jeep Wrangler Unlimited Rubicon 4X4
MSRP: $ 41,795
MSRP (as tested): $64,770
Engine: 3.0-liter EcoDiesel 260 hp @ 3600 rpm, 442 lb.-ft. torque @1400-2800 rpm
Transmission: 8-speed automatic w/overdrive
Fuel Mileage (EPA): 29 highway 21 city, 34 combined
Fuel Mileage (as tested): 40 mpg
Curb Weight: lbs     4654.00

Interior Dimensions
Passenger Capacity:     5
Front Head Room: in     42.6
Front Leg Room: in     41.2
Front Shoulder Room: in     55.7
Front Hip Room: in     53.9
Second Head Room: in     41.7
Second Leg Room: in     38.3
Second Shoulder Room: in     55.7
Second Hip Room: in     56.7

Exterior Dimensions
Length Overall, (W/Spare tire): in. 188.4
Wheelbase: in     118.4
Width, Max w/o mirrors: in     73.8
Height, Overall: in     73.6
Track Width, Front: in     62.9
Track Width, Rear: in     62.9
Min Ground Clearance: in     10.8
Liftover Height: in     30

Cargo Area Dimensions
Cargo Area Width @ Beltline: in     47.9
Cargo Box Width @ Wheelhousings: in     41.1
Cargo Box (Area) Height: in     35.7
Cargo Volume to Seat 1: ft³     72.4
Cargo Volume to Seat 2: ft³     31.7
Cargo Volume to Seat 3: ft³     31.7

Trailering
Dead Weight Hitch – Max Trailer Wt.     3500
Dead Weight Hitch – Max Tongue Wt.     350
Wt Distributing Hitch – Max Trailer Wt.     3500
Wt Distributing Hitch – Max Tongue Wt.     350
Maximum Trailering Capacity     35000020

Warranty
Basic: 3 Years/36,000 Miles
Drivetrain: 5 Years/60,000 Miles
Corrosion: 5 Years/Unlimited Miles
Roadside Assistance: 5 Years/60,000 Miles

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Greg is a published award winning sportswriter who spent 23 years combined active and active reserve military service, much of that in and around the Special Operations community. Greg has been published in major publications across the country including the Los Angeles Times, the Cleveland Plain Dealer and the Atlanta Journal-Constitution. He was also a contributor to Chicken Soup for the NASCAR Soul, published in 2010, and the Christmas edition in 2016. He wrote as the NASCAR, Formula 1, Auto Reviews and National Veterans Affairs Examiner for Examiner.com and has appeared on Fox News. He holds a BS degree in communications, a Masters degree in psychology and is currently a PhD candidate majoring in psychology. He is currently the weekend Motorsports Editor for Autoweek.

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