Jeep Wrangler Unlimited Trail Review

Post First Trail Run Impressions of the jeepfan.com 2007 Wrangler Unlimited Rubicon, thoughts, likes, dislikes, and a review of the new Jeep.

Obviously I am not new to Jeeping, I have been enjoying being part of the Jeep community for many years and will continue for the foreseeable future. It was exciting to finally get the jeepfan.com JK out on the trail during OK Auto’s Grand Reopening Event and give it a good shake-down. The Jeep is a 4 door Rubicon equipped with a TeraFlex 2.5″ Budget Boost lift and 295/70R17 (33+”) Toyo Open Country M/T tires and nothing more than what was there off the showroom floor.

For those of you not familiar with the Rubicon model of the Jeep Wrangler lineup, in short the Rubicon is specially equipped with a 4:1 transfer case, Dana 44 front and rear locking differentials, and an electronic sway bar disconnect.

Thoughts

My biggest apprehension was the thought of damaging the beautiful Moab aluminum wheels and/or body/paint damage. I had to accept that these things are always a possibility on a trail with varying conditions, I guess I’d rather damage it having fun on the trail than in the local mall parking lot.

I didn’t expect to get into anything on the trail too extreme but the day brought trails a little rougher than I initially wanted. It seemed like every trail we hit consisted of rock gardens. Nothing that this Jeep could easily handle but challenging to say the least.

ONWARD: Before hitting the trail the normal “get ready” tasks (below) were completed along with the social activities (BS’ing with old friends and looking at everyone else’s stuff).

TASKS: Air down, hit 4WD low, and disconnect the sway bar (by pushing a button)

Likes

A few minutes into the trail the initial love for this Jeep developed. I have little trail experience with a coil sprung Jeep and I have to say that they make all the difference. The uneven terrain of a typical trail was completely absorbed by the coil springs. The suspension of the new Jeep is very flexible, much like the JK’s predecessor, the TJ. We soon got into a rocky section, I pushed the rear locker button, put the Jeep in 1st gear, and with both feet flat on the floor I let the Jeep drive itself over the rocks. The 4:1 low range makes for an excellent crawl ratio…The Jeep had no problem maintaining idle and momentum with no throttle input. Only once the whole day I stalled the Jeep.

The above images were from the OK Auto Grand Reopening and Rausch Creek Trail Ride

Crawl ratio comparison between the jeepfan.com JK and the jeepfan.com CJ
JK – 4.46:1 (1st) * 4:1 (low range) * 4.10 (rear) = 73.1
CJ – 6.32:1 (1st) * 2.03 (low range) * 4.10 (rear) = 52.6

A ~21:1 difference is very noticeable and makes driving in the rough stuff quite a bit easier. I actually found myself using the brakes for control while the Jeep idled it’s way over the rocks. Next, I had to climb a steep hill with a quick drop off the other side. The Jeep high centered itself…I activated the front and rear lockers, backed up a bit, repositioned myself and over the hill the Jeep went, fun!

Dislikes

Perhaps these are some nit-picky dislikes but they are worth mentioning. The Jeep is a bit wide…I found myself needing to squeeze the Jeep through some areas easily managed by a TJ, YJ, and CJ. The engine has a tendency to keep a high idle when moving along slowly at a higher rpm. For example: I was putting along in 2nd gear around 2000 rpm and let off the gas. The Jeep just keep it’s 2000 rpm until I slowed it either by pushing the clutch or using the brake. It wasn’t a problem but it was noticeable and unusual.

In Review

Jeep hit the nail right on the head with the new JK, two door or four door the new Jeep JK is superior in many ways than all previous models. The wider stance is perhaps it’s biggest disadvantage since many trails are made for a Jeep of TJ width or less. For obvious reasons increased width, or length for that matter, can be an advantage in certain situations. Also, not that this makes a good Jeep but it sure was nice to air up, close the windows, turn on the A/C, crank up the satellite radio, and drive comfortably home after the trail run. I may have a hard time leaving it home next time.

About the jeepfan.com 2007 Wrangler Unlimited