Regular readers of this blog will recall that I posted nearly a year and a half ago that Petersen's 4-Wheel and Off-Road Magazine awarded the 2012 Jeep Wrangler Rubicon their 2012 4x4 Of The Year award. That win qualified the Rubicon for a long-term test to validate the staff's conclusions about the vehicle's capabilities, and the magazine has now published their final update to the test.
A quote from the article:
Jeep has preserved the Wrangler's tough and capable qualities while continually refining it year after year. No vehicle is perfect, and Petersen's mentions the gripes that came up over the course of their long-term test, but Jeep and the aftermarket industry will continue to perfect the total package for each owner's particular needs.
Our 2012 4x4 of the Year winner was the Jeep Wrangler Rubicon (Feb. ’13). Pitted against the venerable Ram Power Wagon Crew Cab, it was still a solid-axle slugfest with double throwdown lockers and all the good equipment. However, the Rubicon shone brighter than the Ram. As the winner, the Jeep was ours to punish and enjoy over the course of a year.
We say “punish” because the Rubicon won its marks as the no-holds-barred winner for a few straightforward reasons. First of course is capability. A custom-fabbed 4x4 could easily outdo the Rubicon in many off-road venues, but for a mass-produced, production-based vehicle straight out of the box, the Rubicon is hands-down the most capable rig ever made. Face it: What other vehicle could drive cross-country in comfort while negotiating many of the country’s toughest trails and do it all for a price many of us could afford? We have had a chance to wheel this Rubi far more than any other 4x4 of the Year winner for this one reason.
Second on our list is the confidence-inspiring reliability. Sure, any vehicle can break, but when the going gets tough, what other contemporary, available rig would you take? There just isn’t any other choice. Any trail that goes beyond the pale is still possible by pushing through with the 4:1 transfer case gearing in 4.10 axles that can be locked with the flip of a switch, and a suspension supple enough to handle nearly anything short of competition climbing and speed contests. And speaking of speed, torque, and power, the new 3.6L V-6 is more than enough engine for whatever the Rubicon is tasked for, unlike the old 3.8L, which was more than underwhelming.
Congratulations are owed to Jeep for not screwing up the Wrangler. Every other competitive vehicle has been discontinued or emasculated with independent suspension and a unitized body. The Wrangler is the last remaining serious offroad SUV. Let's all hope that the JK's successor in 2015 or 2016 will continue the Jeep legacy.