The Jeep Wrangler is the four-wheeled equivalent of a mountain bike because it’s able to tackle seriously tough off-road terrain yet be suitable for daily commuting.

The latter part of that equation, using the Wrangler for a daily commute, is much more tolerable with the Wrangler Unlimited because it has four doors and more civilized amenities.

The previous generation Wrangler was rough and loud, whereas the current model is much quieter, and the Unlimited long, 116-inch wheelbase smooths out the ride and reduces the choppiness that comes with a shorter wheelbase.

I drove a Wrangler Unlimited Rubicon from Chrysler’s press fleet. The Rubicon differs from the standard Wrangler Unlimited because it is equipped for off-road use. It is equipped with an electronic-disconnecting front sway bar, 32-inch off-road tires and the Rock-Trac two-speed transfer case with electronically locking front and rear differentials.

While I did not test the Wrangler’s off-road capability with this vehicle, I have experienced it with other models, and it excels. The Unlimited’s greater size will be a handicap in some very tight trail situations, but for the most part it will handle anything you attempt.

The four-door Jeep Wrangler Unlimited is bigger than it looks, yet it drives like a smaller vehicle.

I drove the test vehicle in the city and on the highway, like most drivers will. It was such an improvement over the old model that I was continually surprised. The cloth top had a slight whistle around the windshield at low speeds, but it went away at highway speeds.

I took a short road trip in the Rubicon and found it easy to talk to my passenger in a normal voice, and the radio did not have to be cranked up so it could be heard while driving 65 miles per hour.

The optional hard top would make the Rubicon even quieter and better suited to cold weather.

The soft top is designed with a cable system that allows it to be opened and closed more easily, and it has a sunroof section. The optional hard top also has three panels that give even more options for open-air driving.

The Wrangler’s engine is a 3.8-liter V-6 with 202 horsepower. This engine delivers 237 pound-feet of torque through a six-speed manual or four-speed automatic transmission. The test vehicle had the automatic.

The V-6 needs to deliver its torque at low speeds to make it suitable for off-road use, and this one does. The two-speed transfer case has a gear that enables the Rubicon to crawl slowly, which is what you need for rugged trails. The Rubicon is named after a famous off-road trail in California.

The test vehicle was equipped with the optional navigation system that also includes Bluetooth phone connectivity. The nav system screen is fairly small but more than adequate. The Sirius real-time traffic information was helpful in routing me around a traffic accident that caused a major traffic jam on the freeway.

The test vehicle was equipped with two-tone cloth seats, but two-tone leather is optional. The front seats had ample contouring for good side support, which is helpful in off-road use. The back seat is wide enough for three, and the cargo space is adequate.

The front power windows retract with one touch, and a plug-in/out system enables them to be removed easily. The rear doors are 30.5 inches wide and open 90 degrees.

Standard safety items include vehicle stability control, anti-lock brakes, hill-start assist and side airbags.


The base price of the Wrangler Unlimited Rubicon is $32,050. Options on the test vehicle included the navigation system with Sirius real-time traffic service, Sirius satellite radio with 30-gigabyte hard drive, trailer tow group, Red Rock metallic paint and automatic transmission. The sticker price was $36,195.


Three years or 36,000 miles with a five-year, 100,000-mile powertrain warranty.

2010 Jeep Wrangler Unlimited Rubicon

Engine: 3.8liter, 202-hp V-8

Transmission: automatic

Four-wheel drive

Wheelbase: 116 inches

Curb weight: 4,340 lbs.

Base price: $32,050

As driven: $36,195

MPG rating: 15 city, 19 hwy.

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