2007 Jeep Wrangler RubiconPosted on May 31st, 2007
Ultimate Off-Road Tool
By Nina Russin
If I was to rate the off-road courses I’ve driven on a scale of one to ten, the Rubicon trail just outside of Lake Tahoe would be eleven. It’s easier to walk the trail than to drive it: faster too. Vehicles without four-wheel drive and a two-speed transfer case need not apply. There are few times, if any, that all four wheels of any given vehicle will make contact with the ground. Going forward on two is not unusual.
When Bob Lutz was Vice Chairman of Chrysler, he decided to make the Rubicon trail the litmus test for all Jeep products. Jeeps that have the guts to go end to end in tact are called “trail rated.” Having driven the Rubicon trail in a Wrangler, I can attest to its durability.
Because visibility is so important in off-road driving, the doors of the Wrangler come off, and the windshield flips down. The wheels have tons of travel. Skid plates beneath the truck protect the chassis against rocks. The Wrangler can go through deep water without intrusion into the engine. There are tow hooks to the front and rear. Best of all, the whole interior is designed to hose out after the adventure is over.
Rubicon is also Jeep’s designation for the top-grade Wrangler, one of three trim levels. The Rubicon has a base price of $26,090: the test car with a removable hard top, upgraded stereo, side airbags and automatic transmission retails for just over $31,000.
The Wrangler Rubicon has larger front and rear axles than the lower grades, special wheels and off-road tires, locking front and rear differentials, an electric disconnecting sway bar to give the wheels more travel on trails, and a more sophisticated two-speed transfer case.
All of this makes the Wrangler Rubicon either the best or worst active lifestyle vehicle on the planet. For off-roading enthusiasts, it’s manna: for triathletes, probably not. For example, the Wrangler doesn’t have a lot of storage space with the rear seat in place. The second-row seat tumbles forward to extend the cargo floor, but the space is still too small to fit a bike in easily, even with the front wheel removed.
The real deal
One of the coolest things about the Wrangler is its styling, evolved front the original 1941 Willys Jeep. Its exterior doesn’t change much: the distinctive front grille and round headlamps look pretty much the same as they did fifty years ago. Innovations such as the three-piece modular hard top are crafted to blend in with the classic Jeep styling.
The Wrangler is obviously a no-nonsense car for people who like to live life on the edge, or at least drive on it. Despite the availability of both hard and soft tops, it’s basically an open-air car. The Wrangler seems most at home with the top removed, blazing down a dirt trail, with bungee cords holding down the cargo. Everything the driver needs to survive a tough trek in the wilderness is easy to get to: the rear-mounted full-sized spare tire, locking center console, electronic locking differentials, transfer case controls, power points, etc.
The new cars have a few more concessions to the civilized world: more passive safety features, available power windows and locks, remote keyless entry, and satellite radio. The new hardtop comes with a rear window defroster and wiper. The glass flips up and out of the way to make loading cargo easier.
Improvements for ’07
The 2007 models have a more powerful V6 engine, paired up with a four-speed automatic transmission. Compared to the outgoing model, the new Wrangler Rubicon has more low-end torque. It’s easier to merge onto the freeway, and to pass other vehicles at speed.
Engineers made the frame stiffer, which translates to fewer squeaks and rattles. They also retuned the shocks and suspension to keep the vehicle flatter on paved roads. The sway bars keep the Wrangler flatter in the corners.
Visibility with the hard top in place isn’t great. The rear window is relatively small, and the brake light blocks some of the view. The side mirrors do an acceptable job of compensating for blind spots, but I wouldn’t want to try a series of quick maneuvers in thick traffic.
The new models are more spacious inside. There is more room for both front and rear passengers. It’s still hard to get into the back seat since the Wrangler is a two-door vehicle, and rear passengers have to climb up and around the front seats. The front seats flip forward, but there still isn’t much room, due to a fairly large B pillar.
Electronic stability program and antilock brakes are standard on all models. The test car also has side air bags: a $490 option.
All models have a grab bar mounted on the instrument panel for the front passenger. It works pretty well when the vehicle is at a sharp tilt going over a gnarly group of boulders. Since the doors are usually removed at this point, side airbags won’t work.
Most off-road driving takes place at extremely slow speeds: under five miles-per-hour. As long as the Wrangler doesn’t roll, the passenger should be able to use the grab bar to keep from sliding out of the seat.
Small but functional cargo area
Designers made the best use out of the limited cargo space by adding a small under-floor storage area, and equipping the cargo floor with plenty of tie-downs. Flipping the second-row seat forward is easier with the headrests removed. Once that’s done, it’s basically a one-step operation. With the seat folded forward, there’s enough room for some camping gear, but the space is still too small to comfortably house a bicycle. The rear gate opens sideways, and the glass flips up, so access to the back is good.
Towing capacity for the Rubicon is 2000 pounds with either automatic or manual transmission: not enough to meet our ALV requirements.
More luxurious interior
The test car has the optional stereo upgrade: a six-disc changer that’s MP3 compatible, and AM/FM/ satellite radio. The new modular hard top ($1585) comes with a rear window defroster and wiper. The three-piece top has separate removable sections for both front passengers, and a third panel for the rear seats.
The cloth upholstery is soil-repellent and anti-microbial: an asset for those of us who get sweaty enough to soak the seats. There are two large cupholders in the center console and two power points in the instrument panel. The doors have map pockets but not bottle holders. There’s a large flat work surface between the two front seats, and plenty of small cubbies to hold things like cell phones and PDAs. The center console also has a locking compartment to store valuables when the hard top is removed.
Considering the fact that the hard top doesn’t provide much insulation, the air conditioner works surprisingly well. It can cool the vehicle down quickly in the late afternoon, when temperatures here in Phoenix reach into the triple digits.
Off-road performance for city dwellers
While the Jeep Wrangler has always excelled in extreme off-road conditions, it has not been a particularly practical car for everyday use. The new Wrangler comes a lot closer. It’s got a smoother, more refined ride, a better engine, more comfortable interior, and more safety features. Don’t expect the ride and handling of a passenger sedan: that isn’t what the Wrangler is about. It’s a niche car for people who want to blaze their own trails, and eat plenty of dust in the process.
The Jeep Wrangler is produced at Chrysler’s Toledo, Ohio assembly plant, and is currently in showrooms at dealerships nationwide.
Likes: An extremely capable off-road vehicle with exceptional wheel articulation, traction, and durability. The new Wrangler Rubicon is a better road car than the outgoing model, with a more powerful engine, stiffer frame, better suspension, and more comfort and convenience features.
Dislikes: The cargo area is small, even with the second-row seat tumbled forward. The second-row seats are hard to get into. Visibility to the rear is limited with the hard top in place because of the small rear window.
Base price: $26,090
Price as tested: $31,125
Horsepower: 202 Hp @ 5000 r.p.m.
Torque: 237 lbs.-ft. @ 4000 r.p.m.
0 to 60: N/A
Antilock brakes: Standard
Side curtain airbags: N/A
Fuel economy: 16/19 m.p.g. city/highway
Bicycle friendly: No
First aid kit: No
Comments: Base price does not include a $660 destination charge.
One response to “2007 Jeep Wrangler Rubicon”
There are some interesting points in time in this article but I don’t know if I see all of them center to heart. There is some validity but I will take hold opinion until I look into it further. Good article , thanks and we want more! Added to FeedBurner as wellyou have a great blog here! would you like to make some invite posts on my blog?
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