When it comes to rock crawling on the off-road capability meter, the Jeep Wrangler Rubicon sits at the top of the totem pole.
And it needs to, when we're talking about trying to conquer the infamous Rubicon Trail with Jeep’s big hitter, the aptly named Rubicon. This is a hardcore trail, which has broken almost as many 4x4 vehicles that have attempted to tame it.
The Rubicon Trail is absolutely not a Sunday afternoon walk in the park. This is serious off-road business and certainly not for the weekend novice.
CarAdvice is currently at base camp in California’s Squaw Creek preparing for a run at the Trail over the next two days, trying to tame what most claim to be the toughest off-road course in the United States. The weapon of choice is a 2012 Jeep Wrangler Rubicon, with the all-new 3.6-litre Pentastar V6 engine.
It might have a smaller displacement than the previous 3.8-litre powerplant, but with 209kW and 347Nm, the new Wrangler Rubicon has a 43 per cent power advantage along with 10 per cent more torque and even better fuel economy.
It wasn’t that the old engine lacked any get up and go either, but you needed to kick it in the guts if you really wanted some decent acceleration. It was also very quiet inside the cabin too, and on a quick 100-mile journey today into the Nevada city of Reno, we rediscovered just how quiet that really is.
As far as on-road dynamics and NVH levels go, the Wrangler Rubicon is light-years ahead of Land Rover’s Defender with the only discernable noise inside the cabin when travelling at the highway legal 65mph (105km/h) being the wind off the side mirrors and roof joints. Not even the hardcore Rubicon-rated all-terrain tyres produced any unwanted tyre roar.
Jeep is claiming even more superior NVH levels with the Pentastar as well as a 27 per cent improvement in acceleration times, from 0-100km/h (8.1 seconds for the two-door).
The Jeep Wrangler Rubicon will need every weapon it has availble if it is to conquer the Trail without incident. For starters, it features heavy-duty Dana 44 front and rear axles, Rock-Track NV241 two-speed transfer case with 4:0:1 low-range gear ratio, electric front and rear locking differentials and disconnected front sway bar for MAD levels of wheel articulation over what can only be described as boulders.