Over the years, many people have felt the allure of the rugged, top down lifestyle that the Jeep CJ and later the YJ offered.
The problem with those vehicles was they they just weren’t very practical for a family, having space for little more than a dog and a cooler in the back seat.
When the TJ was fully redesigned in 2007, the replacement (now the JK) was renamed Wrangler and was offered in two and four door models.
The styling remained classic Jeep, but the functionality was improved dramatically, while the off road capability remained intact.
The four door Wrangler Unlimited format provides actual seating for 5 people. The seats are comfortable enough, although if they were any more cushy it would feel less like a Jeep. The interior is visually spartan with body colour steel panels and easy to clean surfaces.
That is not to say it is old school in any way. Our tester was equipped with the optional navigation and connectivity package which includes a USB port and bluetooth connectivity and satellite radio.
Cargo area was a weak point with previous generations of the Wrangler and that has been addressed in a big way. On a recent road trip we managed to load my daughter’s giant dance bag, along with five rolling travel bags and was still able to see out of the rear view mirror.
The removable top is a huge part of the Jeep Wrangler mystique and the hard top on the Unlimited is the 3 piece unit which is easily removable for open air driving.
Our tester was the Rubicon model, which Jeep has stuffed full of some hardcore offroading technology. These are the dirty bits that make the Rubi one of the most capable off road vehicles ever to leave a showroom floor.
The big torque, low gearing and giant mud tires are perfect when driving off the beaten track, but they drastically affect on road manners. The tires are noisy and cause the truck to wander on the highway. Given the long wheelbase, the ride is smoother than expected but is miles away from minivan smooth.
As one might expect, fuel economy is not the Rubicon’s strong point, but we still managed to eek out an average consumption of 12.2 l/100 km on our trip.
For those who want to get into a real Jeep but aren’t concerned with all the connectivity toys, the four door Rubicon starts at a more than reasonable $31,795.
Our tester had every conceivable option and rang in at $44,430 before taxes and freight.
The “Jeep Thing” isn’t for everyone, but for the active family that wants a cool vehicle that is capable of carrying five people, tons of gear and towing a trailer while letting the sun in, the Jeep Wrangler Unlimited Rubicon can’t be beaten.
Quickie Review: 2012 Jeep Wrangler Rubicon
INTERESTING: A real off-road capable vehicle that does almost everything a family could need
UNINTERESTING: Fuel economy and on-road manners may not be acceptable to some
TO BUY OR NOT TO BUY? Buy