Test Drive: 2011 Jeep Wrangler Unlimited Rubicon car test drives reviews jeep auto articles
Test Drive: 2011 Jeep Wrangler Unlimited Rubicon car test drives reviews jeep auto articles
Test Drive: 2011 Jeep Wrangler Unlimited Rubicon car test drives reviews jeep auto articles
Test Drive: 2011 Jeep Wrangler Unlimited Rubicon car test drives reviews jeep auto articles
2011 Jeep Wrangler Unlimited Rubicon. Click image to enlarge

As you might expect, the Wrangler’s off-road attributes create some compromises for everyday use: its solid axles make for a rough ride over bad pavement surfaces and cause it to skip sideways briefly when traversing sudden bumps; its low transmission gearing and traditional overhead valve 3.8-litre V6 aren’t conducive to good fuel economy (although the standard six-speed manual transmission has a nice highway gear); its high ground clearance and raised door sills create a high step-in height; the doors swing out to their full length without stopping until they reach the end of the tether; and the rear tailgate is a two-piece affair: the tailgate swings out sideways along with the full-size spare tire, and the rear window lifts up.

Jeep has made some attempts to “gentrify” the Wrangler for urban buyers. Even the Rubicon model has made some concessions to the god of comfort: it’s available with heated leather seats, automatic climate control, 368-watt Infinity stereo with subwoofer, navigation system, Uconnect hands-free phone, power door locks and keyless entry.

For 2011, there’s a new interior design with nicer dash materials, easier to reach controls, a lockable console, softer armrests, and more soundproofing. New steering wheel controls allow the driver to operate the radio, phone and cruise without taking their hands off the wheel and there’s a new USB interface, a new 110-volt outlet, and more 12 volt outlets.

Due to its tall roof and boxy shape, the Wrangler Unlimited’s cabin is quite roomy. There’s plenty of headroom and legroom for four or five people, and the cargo area is very roomy, particularly if you fold down one or both of the articulating rear seats with automatically folding head restraints. There’s 46 cubic feet of cargo space behind the rear seats and 86 cu. ft. with the seats folded – however, the loading height (80 cm/31.4 in.) is rather high and the convertible top mechanism sits in the middle of the load area. There’s also a storage area under the rear cargo floor.

The optional removeable plastic roof panels include twin panels over the front passengers and a single panel over the rear seats. All the panels can be removed by hand and put in a storage bag in the cargo area. A full roll bar cage, padded for safety, protects front and rear passengers in the unlikely event of a rollover.

The 2011 Jeep Wrangler Unlimited Rubicon is definitely not for everybody, but its combination of extreme off-road abilities and acceptable on-road manners at such a reasonable price is impossible to beat. 2011 MSRPs for the Wrangler two-door range from $21,595 to $31,495. MSRPs for the four-door Wrangler Unlimited range from $26,695 to $33,495.

Pricing: 2011 Jeep Wrangler Unlimited Rubicon
  • Base price: $33,495
  • Options: $6,090 (two-tone leather-trimmed seats, heated front seats, $995; Connectivity Group: Uconnect phone with voice recognition, vehicle information display, USB port, $495; Dual Top Group: removeable roof panels, storage bag, rear defroster, wiper, washer, $2,075; Trailer Tow Group: trailer sway damping, four-pin wiring connector, Class 2 hitch, $475; front seat side airbags, $400; air conditioning with automatic temperature control, $175; Media Centre 430N: GPS navigation, hard disc-drive, 6.5-inch touch-screen, CD/DVD/MP3, $1,200; Sirius satellite radio with one-year subscription, $275)
  • A/C tax: $100
  • Freight: $1,400
  • Price as tested: $41,085

    Specifications
  • Buyer’s Guide: 2011 Jeep Wrangler

    Competitors
  • Toyota FJ Cruiser

    Crash test results
  • National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA)
  • Insurance Institute for Highway Safety (IIHS)
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