MOAB, Utah – The special-edition 4×4 universe expanded but once more this 12 months with the launch of the Jeep Wrangler Rubicon 20th Anniversary Editions. Loads has modified since we final noticed a commemorative Rubicon, and consequently the brand new effort bears solely a passing bodily resemblance to the tenth anniversary mannequin of 2013. Larger tires, longer wheelbases and exploding MSRPs have seen to that. However are we higher off for it?
I wrote up the main points of the Anniversary Editions again after they had been introduced, however the gist is that this: You are taking an ordinary Rubicon 4xe or 392 (No V6 or inline-four), add a singular grille remedy, numerous badges and decals, a grille guard, BFGoodrich All-Terrain T/A KO2 tires, an built-in entrance path digicam, metal rock sliders, a Gorilla Glass windshield and another bits right here and there. 4xe fashions get a half-inch suspension raise and commonplace 33-inch tires; the 392 consists of the Xtreme 35 bundle (beforehand Xtreme Recon) with its further 2-inch raise and 35-inch KO2s. Inside, each get the telltale Rubicon crimson inside, all-weather mats and built-in auxiliary switches. Topping it off is a tailgate-mounted air compressor for re-inflating after a path drive.
For the really devoted (or flush, I suppose), there’s AEV’s Anniversary Degree II bundle. With that, you get 37-inch tires, a pile of AEV add-ons together with a 2.5-inch raise with Bilstein shocks, customized bumpers with an built-in winch, 17-inch Savegre II wheels and an upgraded axle ratio for the 4xe (4.56:1, the manufacturing facility ratio on the 392). With 14.2 inches of floor clearance, 37.1 inches of water fording, and method, breakover and departure angles of fifty, 33 and 43 levels, respectively, I’ll prevent some clicks: No manufacturing facility Bronco is thrashing these specs. Raptor and Everglades can every take a chew or two, however they will should accept these nibbles till Ford comes up with one other excuse to jack the Bronco up half an inch extra.
However all that ain’t low cost. The usual Anniversary Version will set you again $71,380 for the 4xe or $92,690 for the 392 (vacation spot included). AEV’s add-ons will run you an additional $22,978 (4xe) or $21,130 (392) put in, which signifies that earlier than taxes, charges and the dreaded “M” phrase, the 4xe will set you again $94,358. That’s Ram TRX cash. In the event you spring for the 392, the value flooring sits at $113,820. Six figures for a Wrangler, folks.
When Jeep invited us to Moab to examine this out, I used to be admittedly skeptical. What’s the story right here? Seatbelts and decimal locations? However the prospect of attempting out the AEV bundle was too juicy to move up. Luckily, I used to be among the many few who managed to shake it free for some path time in between stints in the usual twentieth — which, let’s face it, quantities to little greater than a sticker bundle. The AEV Degree II, however, made the journey worthwhile, much more so than the beautiful views.
Jeep’s native tour information led our caravan on an end-to-end run of Seven Mile Rim Path. Whereas its namesake canyon is certainly seven miles lengthy, the path doubles again on itself so typically that its full size is almost 3 times that — conveniently akin to the 4xe’s complete rated EV vary of 21 miles. Simply as appropriately, the one AEV Degree II that Jeep had available was a 4xe. With the prototype altering fingers so many occasions throughout our outing, it was not possible to trace whether or not the fuel engine got here into play, however in accordance with Jeep, the path can certainly be traversed on a single cost with out assist from the two.0-liter turbo.
I began out in a 4xe with out the AEV bits, that means it solely had an additional half-inch of floor clearance over a inventory Rubicon. Seven Mile Rim is classed as a reasonable path by the Bureau of Land Administration, which notes that it has “just a few troublesome spots” that may be managed by inventory autos with “superb” clearance if pushed with “nice care.” That final bit isn’t any joke. This video is from the aptly named Wipeout Hill, which could be approached from two angles. Trying uphill from the bottom, the correct path seems extra sheer; the left, damaged however with a extra gradual incline. You’d be forgiven for assuming the left path is the better one simply from a look; it’s not, as our good friend within the rental found above.
Being within the least “succesful” of the rigs at our disposal, I opted for the simple line first. Having not ventured this manner beforehand, this gave me the chance to scramble up shortly after which watch others as they climbed. In EV mode, the 4xe climbed the ravine in digital silence; solely the clunking of the driveline and the scruff of tires on slick rock broke the calm. The nose-mounted digicam takes the stress out of dropping visible on the horizon. 4-wheeling has by no means been this serene.
Hungry for extra, I hopped into the Degree II and signaled to the spotters that I needed to take the more durable route, which truly is simply as straightforward because it seems — at first. After being lured in, you are introduced with a nasty little bit of offset slick rock (the place our good friend toppled over above) that requires delicate maneuvering. Easing the left-front nook up onto the ledge took some trial-and-error and a few left-foot braking to maintain issues additional clean, however the Degree II by no means as soon as obtained spooky. It’s straightforward mode, plain and easy — even with out the 392’s 35-inch tires. However at this value, it positive as hell should be, proper?
I spent the remainder of the route swapping between commonplace 4xes and 392s, however as famous earlier than, there’s actually not a lot to speak about. Whereas this bundle celebrates 20 years of Rubicon, the additional half-inch of floor clearance isn’t setting the world on hearth. It offers Jeep both a slight edge over (or at the least parity with) Bronco’s water fording and floor clearance figures, however its Raptor and Everglades fashions have one thing to say about each. The important thing takeaway right here is that you simply don’t want an AEV Degree II Wrangler to beat Seven Mile Rim; an ordinary Rubicon will just do properly. Actually, I’d put my cash on the up to date 2024 Willys maintaining tempo with its rear locker and 33s.
Let’s deal with the elephant within the room: Even setting apart the price of the AEV Degree II bundle, the Rubicon twentieth Anniversary Editions are eye-wateringly costly. The Rubicon tenth Anniversary Version was a $40,000 proposition in 2013, and plenty of discovered that prohibitively costly. It is a lot extra Jeep, granted, however for successfully double the cash. So, who is that this factor for? In a phrase, whales — followers who will gladly throw cash out the window simply to have the ability to say they personal the most-capable showroom mannequin on the market.
When the Bronco launched, I used to be excited not only for what Ford was going to construct, however for what it will do for the market. Competitors betters the breed, because the previous saying goes. If it weren’t for Ford’s option to revive its iconic 4×4, I doubt very critically that I’d be writing about six-figure Wranglers in 2023. However right here we’re. Look out, Moby. The Pequod‘s a-comin’.