It’s a Jeep Wrangler, but not as you know it. Sure the Wrangler Rubicon 10th Anniversary Edition has raided the Jeep/Mopar parts department for just about all of the off-road gear hard-core enthusiasts demand, but there’s luxury and style too – including beautiful red leather seats.
As Jeep enthusiasts know, the ‘Rubicon’ is between Lake Tahoe, California and Reno, Nevada and is regarded as one of America’s best off-road tracks – for its testing terrain and ‘to-die-for’ scenery. Jeep has been taking groups of VIPs to tackle the Rubicon each summer, and 10 years ago launched the first of its ‘Rubicon’ limited edition models.
To commemorate that first decade, the Rubicon 10th Anniversary Edition is claimed to be the most capable factory-produced Wrangler model so far. That factory would be the famed Jeep plant in Toledo, Ohio and Jeep enthusiasts contend that North American factory has more 4WD ‘cred’ and history than any plant in an un-named city in Japan or Germany which are relative ‘Johnny-come-latelies – in the SUV business…a fair point too.
Jeep Wrangler Rubicon 10th Anniversary Edition Overview
Fiat-Chrysler Australia has secured just 30 of the limited production run Wrangler Rubicon 10th Anniversary Edition (12 two-door models and 18 four-door versions).
Available in two colours and sporting extras like unique 17-inch alloy wheels, side body protectors and other parts from Chrysler’s Mopar division and glorious red leather seats.
But most importantly there are some mods for serious off-road action, not the least of which is a 13mm increase in ride height. There’s also Dana 44 axles with a 4.10 axle ratio for the part-time four-wheel-drive system, a Rock-Trac transfer case with a 4:1 low range, Tru-Lok electronic remote-locking differentials and an electronically-operated front anti roll-bar disconnect.
While our test car was equipped with the five-speed automatic transmission, Jeep Wrangler Rubicon Anniversay Editions with the six-speed manual provide a crawl ratio of 73.1:1 – and that will get you out-of/over/through just about anything, anywhere.
Jeep Wrangler Rubicon 10th Anniversary Edition Engine
No changes for the engine with the Rubicon 10th Anniversary Edition employing Jeep’s 3.6-litre V6 petrol engine. Maximum power is 209kW at 6350rom and peak torque of 347Nm arrives at 4300rpm.
Drive is via a five-speed automatic transmission or six-speed manual.
Euro 6 compliant for emissions, the Jeep Wrangler Rubicon 10th Anniversary Edition delivers combined cycle fuel consumption in the range of 11.4l/100kms (two-door manual) to 12.0l/100kms (four-door automatic as tested)
Jeep Wrangler Rubicon 10th Anniversary Edition The Interior
Tough no doubt, some interior luxury stamps the Rubicon 10th Anniversary Edition as a very special Jeep Wrangler. Most striking are the red leather seats with embroidered ‘Rubicon 10th Anniversary’ logos.
The leather-wrapped steering wheel gets matching red stitching and the dashboard scores some ‘10th Anniversary’ badges and premium grade ‘Electronic Vehicle Information Centre’ (includes oil pressure, oil temperature and tyre pressure displays). And there’s handy Mopar heavy-duty ‘Slush Mats’ on the floor.
Although the steering wheel adjusts only for height, we’ve nevertheless always found Jeep Wranglers can provide a driving position we find comfortable. And, in the American way, you do notice soft seat bases and substantial shoulder room between driver and front seat passenger.
Our Jeep Wrangler Rubicon 10th Anniversary Edition was a four-door and again as you’d expect from an American vehicle, rear seat leg-room was abundant.
Jeep Wrangler Rubicon 10th Anniversary Edition Exterior & Styling
For the Jeep Wrangler Rubicon 10th Anniversary your body colour choice is simple – two. Oh, there’s white of course, but the pick is the ‘anvil’ colour of our test car (a blueish-grey) which sounds tough with its name and looks tough in the metal.
There’s also a 13mm increase in the ride height and Mopar side rock rails to ensure everyone knows this is a serious off-roader. Wheels are unique 17-inch ‘Rubicon’ alloys finished in satin black with neat tiny red-coloured ‘Wrangler’ icons.
Up-front, the bonnet gains a ‘Power Dome’ design with twin air vents.
And at the rear are a black fuel-filler cap and tail-light guards – also sourced from Mopar.
Otherwise it’s the standard Wrangler with a body-colour hard-top roof (and the soft-top stored in the rear).
Jeep Wrangler Rubicon 10th Anniversary Edition On The Road
First-up we’ll admit our week in the Jeep Wrangler Rubicon 10th Anniversary Edition didn’t require selection of low-range at any point. Didn’t need to – if you’re considering a Wrangler you know all about their legendary off-road agility and you’ll know precisely the benefits of the Rubicon 10th Anniversary Edition’s extras – the Dana axles, Rock-Trac transfer case, 13mm extra ride height etc.
In a few weeks Jeep will be loaning us the Wrangler Rubicon 10th Anniversary Edition again and sending us off-road on some demanding winter trails in Victoria’s snow country so we’ll report back on that front. But we think we know the likely outcome – the Jeep will conquer everything before it and we’ll freeze our tailbones standing outside taking photos – that’s the way 4WD tests normally play-out.
So, as usual, our week in the Wrangler saw plenty of headlight flashing and knowing nods from other Wrangler drivers (“we’re just back from Cape Trib you know”; “we’re heading over to Broome next week”) and surprise at how adaptable this full-size, ‘go-anywhere’ SUV is to life in the city.
The 3.6-litre V6 delivered its 209kW/347Nm with reasonable smoothness via that five-speed auto (a six or seven-speeder would be nice). And while the 13.1-metre turning circle was a handicap when parking in the CBD (12.3-metres for the latest Range Rover) at least the standard reversing camera was a friend.
On the freeway there was plenty of grunt at both low and mid-range engine speeds and surprisingly good all-round vision for lane-changing.
Over our high-speed mountain roads test loop, the Jeep Wrangler Rubicon 10th Anniversary Edition afforded plenty of grip from its Canadian-made 245 75 R17 Goodyear Wrangler tyres and the steering was responsive with good feedback even at the limit. Of course with its off-road bias in suspension calibration, there was noticeable body-roll when pressing-on hard and some harshness over bumps.
Jeep Wrangler Rubicon 10th Anniversary Edition Challenges
Are you a ‘soft-roader’ or an ‘off-roader’? If you’re in the first category any Jeep Wrangler may be too complex to double as an everyday drive (although millions would challenge that proposition and in fact over the years Carshowroom.com.au has driven a couple of Wranglers as our daily drive).
Regardless of which category fits you, you’d certainly appreciate an automatic transmission with at least one, if not two or three more ratios than Jeep Wrangler’s current five-speeder.
Jeep Wrangler Rubicon 10th Anniversary Edition Verdict
If you’re climbing out of a Toyota Prado or Mercedes-Benz ML, at first you’ll always find a Jeep Wrangler a bit hard – so the Rubicon 10th Anniversary Edition with its extra ride height and off-road kit isn’t going to change that perception. But viewers of adventure shows on Foxtel like ‘Alaska Air’, ‘Bearing Sea Gold’ and ‘Deadliest Catch’ see plenty of Jeep Wranglers but no Prados or MLs up in the tough, demanding conditions of the deep north of North America.
And for us, that has always been the differentiation of the Jeep Wrangler – it’s America’s SUV.
Maybe it’s because we’ve accumulated years living in North America or maybe it’s because we’re not brand snobs and take a ‘worldly-view’ of the automotive industry but we’ve always liked the Wrangler for what it is. So, by extension, the Rubicon 10th Anniversary Edition is our favourite Wrangler.
We like the extra luxury of those sensational red leather seats, we like the ‘grunty’ looks courtesy of those 17-inch alloy wheels and bonnet air ducts and that off-road suspension/driveline technology is just plain smart.
The Jeep Wrangler Rubicon 10th Anniversary Edition possibly isn’t a ‘Toorak Tractor’ or ‘Rose Bay Bus’, because it’s a genuine ‘off-roader’…but we’re prepared to compromise on that front. In fact find us a secluded, access-by-4WD-only weekend beach shack with a good surf break, good fishing and a Jeep Wrangler Rubicon 10th Anniversary Edition…well we’d have this whole ‘lifestyle’ concept nailed.
Jeep Wrangler Rubicon 10th Anniversary Edition The Competition
With this level of standard equipment, the Jeep Wrangler Rubicon 10th Anniversary Edition has very few comparable petrol-powered rivals…unless you count other Jeep models.
Toyota Prado – maybe? But it’s a $60,490 starting price for the petrol model and you’d have to go to the Toyota parts department or even after-market to companies like TJM or ARB to equip your Prado like the Wrangler Rubicon 10th Anniversary Edition.
If you broaden the consideration set to diesels, then you bring-in rivals like the Korean-sourced Holden Colorado. Tough and handily priced from $46,990, the Colorado is similarly short in off-road specification compared to the Wrangler Rubicon 10th Anniversary Edition and a long way short in luxury.