Jeep Wran­gler Un­lim­ited Ru­bi­con

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The mod­ern de­scen­dent of the orig­i­nal US Army work­horse has been com­pletely re­designed, al­though the styling is best de­scribed as evo­lu­tion­ary: you mess with the Wran­gler’s looks at your peril.

The Jl-gen­er­a­tion Jeep Wran­gler will reach the UK in Novem­ber. Once again, it is avail­able in two-door and four-door Un­lim­ited vari­ants; we drove the lat­ter on- and off-road, in range-top­ping Ru­bi­con guise.

A lad­der-frame chas­sis and Dana solid axles are re­tained but Jeep has used high-strength steel to take about 45kg out of the frame. It’s part of an over­all 90kg drop in ve­hi­cle weight.

A new elec­tri­cal ar­chi­tec­ture brings the Wran­gler bang up to date not only in fea­tures such as the Ucon­nect in­fo­tain­ment sys­tem, but also through driver as­sis­tance tech such as a re­vers­ing cam­era and blind-spot mon­i­tor­ing. Two petrol en­gines are cur­rently avail­able in North Amer­ica, the 3.6-litre V6 driven here and a 2.0-litre, four­cylin­der turbo with an etorque 48V mild-hy­brid sys­tem. The UK will get the lat­ter and a 2.2-litre diesel.

The V6 was fine when crawl­ing trails off-road but peak torque doesn’t ar­rive un­til 4800rpm and, on wind­ing roads or hills, we found our­selves rowing the gears of the new-but-notchy six-speed man­ual gear­box to main­tain mo­men­tum. All UK Wran­glers will get an eight-speed au­to­matic gear­box and we’d ex­pect the etorque’s com­bi­na­tion of turbo and elec­tric mo­tor to take care of the missing low-end oomph (and use less fuel in the process).

Road man­ners are much im­proved com­pared with the old JK model. The new elec­tro-hy­draulic power steer­ing is light but has a more pre­cise, car­like feel. The all-ter­rain tyres of this Ru­bi­con are im­pres­sively quiet and there’s less body roll than you might ex­pect. The front anti-roll bar can be elec­tron­i­cally dis­en­gaged off-road.

On a chal­leng­ing trail, the ride qual­ity and ef­fort­less­ness ex­poses car-like SUVS as the pre­tenders they re­ally are. The new Wran­gler’s per­for­mance is fur­ther ex­tended by higher ap­proach, departure and breakover an­gles than the JK and by the in­tro­duc­tion of hill de­scent con­trol. Mean­while, the elec­tric por­tion of the steer­ing’s as­sis­tance and a tighter turn­ing cir­cle make it eas­ier than ever to plot your course.

The on-road im­prove­ments and ad­di­tional equip­ment, to­gether with er­gonomic up­grades to the soft top and pas­sen­ger ac­com­mo­da­tion, should make this the most every­day us­able Wran­gler to date.

Switches on the cen­tre stack can be con­fig­ured to run flood­lights and fog­lights

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