The Wrangler’s off-road prowess is second to none at its price point.
Few nameplates in the automotive industry today are as iconic as the Jeep Wrangler. The boxy silhouette, round headlights next to the seven-slot keystone grille, industrial looking exposed hinges, as well as the overhanging wheel arches all contribute to the Wrangler being one of the most recognizable vehicles in history. Its appeal extends way beyond the appearance, as the Wrangler’s rugged all-weather go-anywhere image projects a desirable lifestyle onto owners, which have in-turn developed it into the Jeep culture that is wildly popular.
This is the 2020 Jeep Wrangler Rubicon 4×4, borrowed for an in-depth look. Fiat-Chrysler Automobiles had achieved the impossible when designing the fourth generation “JL” Wrangler – it remained instantly recognizable while looking refreshed and more modern. The optional LED lighting system looks great on the JL Wrangler’s simple exterior design, and the optional 17-inch wheels suit the sporty look of the Rubicon trim very well. We have to commend FCA designers for offering us an excellent array of colours to choose from, with cool names to match such as HellaYella, Punk’n Metallic, Sting Gray, and the awesome paint scheme worn by our tester, Bikini Pearl.
Powered by a 3.6-litre Pentastar V6 engine that produces 285-horsepower and 260 lb-ft. of torque, the Wrangler gets off the line with relative ease but it certainly cannot be considered agile by any measure. FCA claims that the optional eTorque Mild-Hybrid system equipped here adds 90 lb-ft. of supplemental launch torque, however there is not a noticeable surge of power that one would expect from that statement, but rather the extra power is sent to the crankshaft during stop-start maneuvers to make for a noticeably faster restart at the light. The eTorque system also provides additional benefits of improved fuel efficiency, as well as reducing noise, vibration, and harshness during gear changes.
The JL-generation has much improved on-road capabilities and is now far more livable than previous generations. In the hardcore Rubicon form here though, it can feel a bit skittish thanks to its off-road spec suspension and tire set up. It demands your full attention when you are driving to ensure its large 285/70/R17 BF Goodrich All-Terrain T/A tires do not deviate from the lane. We would not consider its on-road driving experience to be frightening, but it simply is not the point-and-shoot crossover that many are used to. Those with a priority for urban driving would be recommended to check out the Sahara (reviewed here) or Sport trim levels.
Where the Rubicon excels though, is when the road ahead gets rough. It comes standard with a standard Rock-Trac heavy-duty part-time 4×4 system that is built to utilize more torque and allow for more even power spread among all of the wheels for better traction when compared to the standard 4×4 systems on other Wranglers. To help overcome the toughest terrains, the Rubicon also comes standard with a dedicated 4:1 low-gear ratio, front and rear Tru-Lok electronic locking differentials, as well as an Electronic Sway Bar Disconnect system. The Wrangler also comes with built in off-road software in the fourth-generation Uconnect infotainment system that displays vital information such as steering, pitch, and roll angles so drivers can assess the situation at hand.
Fuel consumption of the 2020 Jeep Wrangler Rubicon was not released at the time of writing, but we do not anticipate any change from the 2019 model’s ratings of 12.8L/100km city, 10.4L/100km highway, and 11.8L/100km combined. We observed 12.3L/100km in a mixed setting, a fair achievement in the heart of winter. The Wrangler can accept a minimum of regular 87-octane gasoline into its 66.2-litre fuel tank. Those seeking a longer driver range should consider the five-door version with a larger 81.3-litre tank.
Jeep Wrangler interiors have always taken a function over form approach. Materials are easy to clean, and the switches and knobs are large enough to accommodate those wearing gloves. Our tester is optioned with a variety of comfort features such as leather-wrapped seats, shift knob, and parking brake handle, and heated steering wheel and front seats that could really benefit those braving changing climates out in the wilderness.
The Wrangler is a firm riding truck, and generates more wind noise than usual due to its boxy shape and removable roof panels. The optional bucket seats do well in absorbing a lot of the bumps, and our truck had added an extra layer of headliner under the roof to help create a quieter cabin. Ingress and egress require some practice to complete gracefully, and accessing the back row demands an awkward climb. Given its small size, it is expected that the rear legroom and cargo space are both limited, and anyone who needs to regularly haul more than two people are recommended to check out the spacious five-door Wrangler Unlimited (reviewed here).
An optional 8.4-inch touchscreen unit on the centre console houses the Uconnect infotainment system with GPS navigation. It is an intuitive system with an easy to learn layout, and smartphone users can connect with Apple CarPlay and Android Auto. Our tester is also optioned with driver assist systems including rear park assist, blind-spot monitoring with rear cross-path detection, advanced brake assist, forward collision warning with active braking, and adaptive cruise control.
Pricing of the 2020 Jeep Wrangler Rubicon 4×4 starts at $48,845, and our tester had included 19 different options (ex. Black hardtop, eight-speed automatic gearbox, Trail Rail cargo management system, Trailer Tow & Heavy-Duty Electrical Group, dedicated off-road tires, etc), bringing the as-tested total to $63,730. Given its special off-road capability, there really is no direct competition to the Jeep Wrangler Rubicon, but the Toyota 4Runner TRD Pro (reviewed here) comes close. They both excel off the beaten path and retain excellent value on the used vehicle market. We suppose most buyers would know which one their heart desires without needing much comparison.
The 2020 Jeep Wrangler Rubicon is a special vehicle. It exists to serve a group that enjoys getting dirty outdoor, and its off-road prowess is second to none at its price range. Buyers who desire the Jeep lifestyle but do not need the hardcore capability are recommended to look at other trim levels for better road comfort, and they will still offer a great deal of winter-driving confidence and a lot of fun in the trails.