Caraganza Review 2019 Jeep Wrangler Rubicon: Already good enough

(Jeep)

(Jeep)

I’m not big into change. Most of that comes with age I guess, but then again, it’s almost universally accepted that no one likes change. And that can sometimes happen with cars.  I once bought a Pontiac (back in the 1980s) and a year after I bought, they changed it, from front to back.  So, there I was stuck with a car, that truth be told I did like, but was ‘last year’s model.’ Anyone who looked at it, knew that it was, at least that’s what I thought.

The same notion occurred when Jeep brought me a 2019 Wrangler Rubicon. I’d had a 2018 Rubicon just a few months ago and liked it very much. But now I’d get a 2019 making the 2018 ‘last year’s model.’

Oh boy.

I had a fear that the 2019 would be changed so much that it would be almost unrecognizable.

It turns out the changes were infinitesimal; and that’s a very good thing.  In fact, the only changes are the addition of Wrangler’s Advanced Safety Group package now includes adaptive cruise control and forward collision warning, and a new paint color.  That’s it, nothing more. I breathed a sigh of relief and enjoyed a week with one of the coolest SUVs on the road today.

That being said, here’s a reminder of all the goodness of the Jeep Wrangler:

Part of the reason for no big changes of course, is that the 2018 marked the debut of a new Wrangler.

This new Wrangler is dubbed the JL; the old one is the JK, which I did actually find amusing (lol). The new 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.  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.

You can get the Wrangler in a two-door layout or a four-door called the Unlimited.  The two-door is available in Sport, Sport S and Rubicon trims, while the four-door is available in all those plus a Sahara trim. Both are available with a soft-top convertible or a hardtop.

For my second week I had the Unlimited Rubicon with the new 2.0 liter and the 8-speed automatic.

(Jeep)

(Jeep)

Inside the new JL there is more room and is a bit more comfortable with room enough for five adults. The Rubicon has 17-inch wheels wrapped in 33-inch off-road tires (the biggest Jeep has ever put on at the factory).   With its fender flares, large off-road tires and the traditional look Jeep has, there is little doubt the Wrangler can ply its trade in the dirt and mud. That hasn’t changed.  What has is how this new Wrangler behaves when fenced in by the pavement.

This new JL had all the off-road stuff, the Rubicon even more with Dana 44 solid front and rear heavy-duty axles, electronically locking front and rear differentials, a more capable four-wheel-drive system with a 4:1 low gear ratio, and two-piece fender flares.  Unlike the other SUVs the Jeep does all the Jeep things.  The Wrangler has a removable hard or soft top (try that with your minivan), and you can ford water up to 30 inches.  There’s also 10.9 inches of ground clearance and on the Rubicon the Rock-Trac 4×4 system has a “4LO” ratio of 4:1 and Tru-Lok locking differentials standard with skid plates and front and rear tow hooks. So yes, crawling over rocks won’t be an issue.

But when not rock climbing with its new stance it seems so much better to drive on the road; there is no wandering, no need to be up on the wheel every second.  The new interior seems a bit friendlier than before, not that there was anything wrong with the old; it just seems that a bit more room on the inside and the wider stance on the road makes a big difference.

Under the hood the new 2.0 delivers 270 hp and 295 lb.-ft. of torque. With the new 8-speed automatic the power has never been better, on and off road.

With the new added tech, modern safety features and a more comfortable interior, using the Wrangler for everyday driving is a much more appealing prospect. Knowing that you can take the family chariot to the wild for an off-road adventure makes it even better.

The Wrangler has always been good. But it was less of a true SUV and more of a vehicle specific to younger single people who wanted to show off how outdoorsy they are. This latest one however is stylish enough and large enough that a family could, and should, consider one for everyday use.  It may not be for everyone, after all some might be afraid of chipping a nail, but for those of us who want a true SUV this Wrangler is definitely worth a look.

The 2019 I had was clad in a bright ‘Hellayella’ which is yellow if you can’t figure that out.  It was only mildly less shiny than the Mojito!, color a brighter green,  on the 2018 I had a few months ago.

I enjoyed my second week with the Wrangler Rubicon; it’s a great SUV that can do anything you want to throw at it, and laugh while doing it.  And the best part is the 2019 Rubicon added only $100 to the base MSRP.

Change doesn’t have to be a bad thing, unless you buy a Pontiac that gets changed the next year.  Of course, Pontiac is gone, but the Jeep and the Wrangler have been around for a long time, and I hope will be around for a long time to come.

The 2019 Jeep Wrangler Unlimited Rubicon 4X4

MSRP: $ 41,545
MSRP (as tested): $55,070
Engine: 2.0 liter turbocharged I-4 270 hp @ 5250 rpm, 295 lb.-ft. torque @3000 rpm
Transmission: 8-speed automatic w/overdrive
Fuel Mileage (EPA): 22 city, 24 highway, 22 combined
Fuel Mileage (as tested): 23 mpg
Curb Weight: lbs     4175.00

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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