Wrangler is ideal for open-air motoring fans
THE RIDE: Two-door, four-passenger 2008 Jeep Wrangler Rubicon 4X4 SUV. DOWN THE ROAD: With a 65-year history behind it, the Jeep with its removable doors continues to offer solid off-road capabilities. Redesigned just last year, the Wrangler is the ideal vehicle for open-air motoring enthusiasts. TECH & PERFORMANCE; The 3.8-liter V-6 engine boasts 202 horsepower at 5000 rpm and 237 pounds-feet of torque at 4000 rpm. It is mated to a smooth-shifting 6-speed manual transmission. Ensuring that the driver and occupants are at ease is a suspension system consisting of a five-link solid axle, gas-charged shock absorbers, stabilizer bars and front and rear heavy-duty Dana 44 axles. That this Jeep is a hardcore off-road vehicle is apparent from its approach angle of 44.3 degrees, break over angle of 25.4 degrees and departure angle of 40.4 degrees. It also is equipped with skid plates to cover the transfer case, fuel tank and automatic transmission oil pan when you venture off the beaten path. Brakes made up of front 11.9-inch vented and rear 12.4-inch solid rotors are big enough to slow down or stop during steep inclines or declines. LOOK & FEEL: This body-on-frame structure portrays the customary Jeep looks: seven-slot grille, round halogen headlights, fog lamps, trapezoidal wheel flares, open forged hinges, fold-down windshield, sport bar and notably front and rear tow hooks. The rugged cabin is spacious and tidy with reclining front seats and fold-and-tumble rear seats for storing cargo. There also is a covered storage area in the rear. The four-pod instrument cluster of fuel, temperature, speedometer and tachometer gauges looks simple and straightforward but elegant. We found the digital compass and outside temperature readings in the speedometer convenient and easy to read. Other standard amenities include air-conditioning, four-spoke leather steering wheel, tilt steering column, sport bar, two cup holders in the center console and two in rear, and a sizeable glove box.SAFETY FIRST: Dual front airbags, four-wheel antilock brakes, Electronic Stability Program, anti-roll bar, antiskid system and tire pressure monitoring system are standard. Taking care of your off-road needs is a two-speed transfer case, front and rear heavy-duty locking differentials, front sway bar and a part-time all-wheel-drive system. OUT THE DOOR: $27,220, plus tax, tag, delivery and destination charges. BY THE NUMBERS: Tires, LT 255/75R17 BSW off-road; wheelbase, 95.4 inches; length, 152.8 inches; weight, 3,760 pounds; fuel capacity, 18.5 gallons; highway, 19 mpg; city, 15 mpg. WHY DIG IT: If off-road is your gig, you cannot afford to pass on the Wrangler Rubicon. While it is renowned for effectively tackling rough terrain conditions, this Jeep performs adequately during daily driving conditions.
Nitish S. Rele is an advertising staff writer for The Tampa Tribune.