(Editor's note: please keep in mind that this DaimlerChrysler press release was written with the European community in mind)
The Rubicon name isn't just for one of the toughest off-road trails anymore - it is also what the Jeep® brand is calling its limited production, ultimate off-road vehicle. The new Jeep Wrangler Rubicon is engineered to take on the most demanding trails, including those previously reserved for only highly modified vehicles.
"The Jeep Wrangler Rubicon features an off-road performance package, as only Jeep can engineer, allowing serious off-road enthusiasts the opportunity to drive over some of the most extreme trails and then drive it home," said Craig Love, Vice President for Jeep Product Team, Chrysler Group.
While sturdy off-road tyres and diamond plate sill protectors hint at the tremendous capability of Wrangler Rubicon, the underpinnings make it truly worthy of the Rubicon name. In response to the demands of hardcore off-road enthusiasts, the Jeep Wrangler Rubicon model features locking front and rear differentials, front and rear Dana model 44 axles and a 4:1 low-range transfer case.
Jeep Engineered Off-road Model
The Jeep brand is the only original equipment manufacturer offering this combination of traction, manoeuvrability and versatility. Compact, nimble handling and a tight turning circle help Jeep Wrangler Rubicon navigate through the toughest of trails. Also, Wrangler Rubicon is a true 4x4 "convertible" with removable doors, fold-down windscreen and hose-out interior for the ultimate in versatility.
The new Wrangler Rubicon features Tru-LokTM locking differentials that can be driver-actuated when the transfer case is in low range with vehicle speed below 16 km/h (10 mph). A dash-mounted rocker switch allows the driver to lock the rear axle and toggle the front axle locker on and off for improved manoeuvring. When engaged, this feature mechanically locks the axle shafts together to drive all four wheels at the same speed. When unlocked, the rear axle has a torque-sensing limited-slip feature to provide better traction and handling on-road. Dana model 44 axles with 4.10:1 ratios front and rear provide the durability and strength needed for extreme off-road driving.
The Rock-TracTM transfer case with 4:1 low range slows the vehicle speed to give the driver more control and increases the amount of torque available at the wheels. This fixed-output NV241 Off-Road transfer case was engineered specifically for the Wrangler Rubicon to meet the demanding durability requirements of an intense off-road vehicle. For the same reason, this model also includes heavy-duty driveshafts with 1330 universal joints.
Goodyear Wrangler "Maximum Traction/Reinforced" 31-inch tall tyres feature a rugged tread pattern that wraps around the sidewall to help grab ledges along the trail. This state-of-the-art off-road tyre includes a three-ply sidewall and advanced silica compound for excellent durability and puncture resistance. The new tread pattern provides increased tread stiffness and uniform tread wear. The largest tyres offered from the factory on Wrangler, these LT245/75R16 tyres add an extra 13 mm (0.5 inch) of ground clearance over the 30-inch tyres.
The vehicle is driven by a 4.0 PowerTechTM I-6 petrol engine providing 142 kW (190 hp) of power and 319 N•m of torque. It is available with a choice of either a five-speed manual transmission, or a new 42RLE four-speed automatic transmission that provides improved performance over the previous three-speed automatic transmission.
Unique Exterior Appearance
The Jeep Wrangler Rubicon features unique exterior design cues and will be available in all Wrangler exterior colours. Reminiscent of legendary Jeep vehicles, a "Rubicon" graphic is prominently placed on each side of the bonnet. Heavy gauge diamond plate sill guards are bolted to the bodyside to protect rocker panels from damage in off-road situations. And new 16-inch, five-spoke aluminium wheels are designed with a dished face to protect the wheel from off-road obstacles.
The Rubicon model is a limited production vehicle with 8,000 units planned for the 2003 model. Jeep Wrangler Rubicon will be available in North America, while selected international markets are under consideration.
The Jeep Wrangler Rubicon is built at DaimlerChrysler's Stickney Avenue Assembly Plant in Toledo, Ohio, USA.