REVIEW: 2017 JEEP WRANGLER RUBICON RECON 4X4

You can buy an off-road capable 4X4 for a surprisingly reasonable price if you look around, but when it comes to getting involved in serious trail-bashing activity involving very steep grades, loose rock, ford-crossing and deep sand, the choice begins to narrow to a very few elite off-roaders.

For 2017, Jeep has added to this exclusive club with the Wrangler Rubicon Recon Edition, a rig that comes fully equipped for the worst the exciting world of unexplored back country can throw at it. This Jeep variation doesn’t come cheaply, but the serious off-road crowd will certainly think it worth every nickel.

This is a good place to confirm that this highly capable Jeep will take you to places that shouldn’t be tackled without some experience in the sport, or at least, without taking along someone who does know rugged territory. There’s plenty of good advice around for back country travel and the BC coast has several excellent clubs where experts have advice well worth listening to for the novice off-roader.

But back to this exciting new Jeep. It’s based on either the four or two-door Wrangler like other Jeeps in this range but adds a long list of trail-capable goodies for the most severe terrain. Basic upgrades are a stronger front axle, enhanced rock rails and heavy-duty cast differential covers for better rock resistance. Beefed up components really enhance off road capability and buying them in the aftermarket can be very expensive. This new Jeep is pretty well “ready to go” with very little, if anything, needed to improve it. It also happens to be a great-looking vehicle and a real attention grabber.

Power plant is a 3.6-litre Pentastar VVT V-6 with 260 lb-ft of torque, which is the most important part of the engine spec for off-road work. Buyers can choose from a 6-speed manual transmission or a 5-speed automatic and the Jeep is equipped with Wrangler’s part-time shift-on-the-fly 4X4 system with electronic locking front and rear Dana 44 axles with power sent to each through a Rock-Trac transfer case with a “4-Low ratio of 4:1. Standard equipment is a 4:10 front and rear axle ratio as are the Tru-Lok locking differentials. These features mean very impressive crawl ratios that make climbing obstacles a breeze.

All Wranglers feature body-on-frame architecture, which is the way serious off-roaders like to go. The Recon is raised half an inch compared to other Jeep Wranglers and the chunky 17-inch wheels are painted cast aluminum and clad in BF Goodrich KM off-road tires. Various creative finish highlights combine with “Rubicon” and “Recon” badges to make this Jeep just about as attractive as an off-roader can get. Finishing off the front end with the traditional Jeep grille (which dates back to WW2) are red-finished tow hooks.

All these models come with an eight-speaker speaker system for the audio kit (which includes satellite radio) and the seats are black leather, which are certainly easier to clean dust off than cloth. There’s a choice of soft or hard tops too. On the dash is Jeep’s “Electronic Vehicle Information Centre” with added readouts for this model.

This is certainly one of the most interesting Jeep variants to come along in some time and builds on 75 years of experience in the off-road field. It’ll get you just about anywhere you can take a wheeled vehicle and take you there in great style and safety. The only feature anyone with serious backcountry travel plans could add is a good winch to use if anything does go wrong out in the bush.

 

IN SUMMARY…

BODY STYLE: Four-door with soft or hard tops.

ENGINE: 3.6-litre V-6

TRANSMISSION: 5-speed automatic or 6-speed manual

TOWING CAPACITY: 3,500 lbs.

PRICE: $47,040 two-door; $49,440 four-door MSRP

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