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Special-edition Jeep Wrangler the best factory-equipped 4x4 ever to hit the woods

Article & Photos By Bruce W. Smith

Everyone knows the Jeep Wrangler. It’s the most recognized vehicle on the road. But Jeep takes the nimble Wrangler far beyond just classic looks with the Rubicon Unlimted—a brand new model that gives serious outdoorsmen a dream ride that takes four-wheeling to a level never before offered by a vehicle manufacturer.

As Jeep says, the Unlimited Rubicon is where “extreme out-of-the-box off-roader meets ultimate in 4x4 versatility.”

To the casual observer, the Unlimited edition of the Wrangler Rubicon looks like any other Wrangler. But put the two side-by-side and the differences are glaring.

The Unlimited is 15 inches longer, with 13 of those in the cargo area and the other two behind the front seats. Such frame stretching more than doubles the Unlimited’s cargo capacity and greatly improves rear passenger legroom and comfort.

Jeep’s stretched Wrangler settles the ride on and off-road—a nice trait that should attract buyers who didn’t care for the standard Wrangler’s choppy demeanor while zipping around the Gulf Coast’s city streets and country roads. 

However, what really sets the Wrangler Unlimited Rubicon apart from other Wranglers is the off-roading hardware that isn’t so obvious. The Unlimited is equipped with heavy duty Dana 44 axles front and rear, both of which have 4.11 gears and air-actuated Tru-Lok locking differentials.

That all sounds like gobble-dee-gook to the average vehicle buyer, but to hunters and off-road adventurers, such mechanical goodies are music to their ears. What it means is this Jeep has twice the traction of a conventional four-wheel-drive, and it can take a lot of off-road abuse without fear of something breaking.

Another great advantage the Unlimited Rubicon has over the other Wranglers is the ultra-low-geared NV241 Rock-Trac transfer case. The standard Jeep Rubicon transfer case has a ratio of 2.27:1, while the Unlimited gearing is 4:1.

The deeper “low-range” gearing allows the Unlimited to literally move at a snails pace when the terrain requires such finesse.

 Coupled with either the manual six-speed, or the optional four-speed automatic, the 190-horsepower 4.0L Power Tech inline six-cylinder makes the 2005 Unlimited Rubicon a hardcore outdoorsman’s dream ride. It’s both fuel-efficient and pleasant to drive.

The standard Rubicon Unlimited package includes a Sunrider soft top to let the outside in, seven speaker sound system for soothing tunes, four-wheel disc brakes to stop on a dime, and a new child seat anchor system to keep the young ones secure so they can enjoy the Jeep experience.

“Jeep Wrangler Unlimited Rubicon’s unique factory off-road system is another chapter in the Wrangler value story,” says Jeff Bell, Vice President, Jeep Marketing. “Jeep Wrangler Unlimited Rubicon offers extreme off-road capability at approximately half the price of modifying the vehicle with aftermarket hardware.

“Combine that with Jeep engineering, testing on the world’s most demanding trails, Jeep’s 7-year/70,000-mile Powertrain Limited Warranty, and significantly more space, and it’s clear the all-new 2005 Jeep Wrangler unlimited Rubicon delivers the ultimate combination of capability, versatility and value.”

After spending time behind the wheel, I couldn’t agree more; the Unlimted Rubicon, which has an MSRP of $28,825, is a lot of Jeep for the money. –Bruce W. Smith

Fast Facts


MSRP: $28,825

Engine:  190hp 4.0L electronically fuel-injected  inline-six

Transmission: 6spd manual; 4spd automatic (opt)

Transfer Case: NV241 Rock-Trac (4:1 ratio)

Axles:   Dana 44 w/ air-actuated Tru-Lok differentials

Brakes: 4-wheel vented disc

Wheelbase: 103.4 in.

Fuel Capacity: 19 gals.

EPA mpg City/Hwy: 16/20

Curb weight: 3,721 lbs.

Towing capacity: 3,500 lbs.

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