If you’re into Jeeps then you already know we’re this close to an all-new Wrangler and that’s a pretty rare occurrence. So before the next-gen model arrives I figured it would be a good time to take one last spin in the ultimate factory built off-roader; the 2017 Rubicon Recon Edition.
Just months from now, FCA’s Toledo North Assembly Plant will begin rolling off the new JL – the code name given to the next Wrangler. But if you just can’t wait any longer the current generation JK Wrangler tempts with a new top-of-the-line Rubicon model – the Recon Edition. When it comes to shopping a Wrangler, not only do you have a 2- or 4-door decision, but there are no less than 13 trims levels including a host of roof options. With a starting MSRP of $40,240, it’s this Recon that provides the most capability with the addition of a stronger front axle, enhanced rock rails and heavy duty cast differential covers. Jeep says this is the one for their “most loyal, diehard off-road enthusiasts who love to tackle the most demanding trails.” The Recon Edition also has many different features that make it distinctive, including a half-inch lift, new 17-inch Low Gloss Granite Crystal aluminum wheels wrapped in 32-inch BF Goodrich KM off-road tires, optional body-color fender flares and a vented Power Dome hood. It’s also available as a 4-door Unlimited model.
And just in case you forgot what your Recon Edition includes, Jeep put it right here on a decal for you.
It’s subtle, but the features are laid out for you and heck, why not include more info on the dash plaque? All told, it’s a great looking Jeep and with the optional 3-piece Freedom Top, popping off the front roof panels is relatively easy, requiring only 1 person. After that, you can stow them in this special bag which then attaches to the rear seat – pretty cool.
A 6-speed manual is standard but mine has the optional 5-speed auto working the Pentastar V6 with its 285 horsepower and 260 pound-feet of torque – an excellent engine for this Jeep. It’s rated at 18mpg in combined driving. This model has the Dana 44 axles in the rear and the front with the most aggressive gear ratios, a 4:1 low range with exceptional crawling, and a winch-capable front bumper with removable end caps for damage-free rock climbing. The 2-door model is sized perfectly for the trail and it’s out here where its legendary reputation truly comes to life. It’s the Wrangler’s fundamental purpose and what attracts so many people to it is that it’s raw and elemental. There’s no Selec-Terrain system in here, you’ve still got to pull a lever for 4-wheel drive. The doors unhinge and the windshield can be lowered. The entire roof can be removed if you desire. The Wrangler is on a singular mission and for that you won’t find any other SUV quite like it. For now at least, it’s in a class of its own.
I love off-roading sometimes even more so than track driving, especially when I’ve got something like this Rubicon – with the roof panels removed and a willing partner in the passenger seat. It feels completely invincible. But – and it’s a big one – if you romanticize about the Jeep life but never intend on taking a vehicle like this off-road than this is not the SUV for you.
I’m certainly not breaking any ground here and I’ve made this point numerous times before, but if you can only afford 1 vehicle than this most likely shouldn’t be it – akin to why a Miata wouldn’t be your only car. With the big off-road tires and short wheelbase it drives like a drunken sailor, the cargo room is highly compromised by the rear seat, getting in and out isn’t easy for anyone and frankly, I didn’t even know Chrysler still used this aged thing. And that’s OK. I don’t use a fork to eat yogurt and I wouldn’t drive a Rubicon to the office every day.
MSRP of my loaded tester is $45,000. The passion for the Wrangler is Jeep’s ace in the hole – owners love to modify them, join clubs and of course there’s the wave. But if you want one tough son of a gun right off the showroom floor, the Rubicon Recon will satisfy your mission.