The Jeep Wrangler Rubicon is like the funnest go-kart you’ll ever drive. But unless you’re a weekend warrior, there’s little justifying it in the city. Designed to power through tough terrain, it’s not zippy. So you’re constantly changing gears to attain speed (though standard transmission is an option). The 3.8L V6 engine drinks like a tipsy auntie – you don’t notice how much is gone till after because the company’s so charming. And with its heavy-duty suspension, it’s a bit like driving a kid’s bouncy castle.
But that’s half the fun.
Unlike some CUVs and SUVs, it’s genuinely designed to be driven out of the city and off-roads. Indeed, the Rubicon certification only applies to Jeeps that have been tested on the ridiculously rugged Rubicon trail in Utah.
So we drove hoser country.
It climbed an old dirt road up a local ski hill, a sign at the bottom of its double-black diamond pitch warning, “Use at own risk.” Now we were starting to feel genuinely jeepish, like we’d left the beaten path – though you can only feel so cut off when Howard Stern is barking at you from the satellite radio. I was nervous but it climbed steadily and evenly. 17-inch tires gripped and the gears seemed to shift easier than in city traffic.
In the wettest summer in recorded history we still went topless. The hardtop unscrews and unlatches easily. The two roof pieces fit snugly in the back. In case it does rain, the interior allows easy drainage through minute holes on the floor. The seats are designed to dry without stinking. And the dash slants inward from top to bottom, shielding the instrument panel like an awning.
If you visit the country a lot and have a thrill-seeking side, try it. Better still, if you just go away now and then for weekends, rent one.