A hyperactive seven-year-old, chafed hamstrings and a lot more… Here’s what it was like spending a week with the 2018 Jeep Wrangler Rubicon in the UAE
I’m picking up the 2018 Jeep Wrangler Rubicon from the delivery point in Al Quoz Dubai, and anyone who is familiar with the area knows that it can be a bit of a labyrinth for the uninitiated. To compound problems my sense of direction is pretty darn useless, if I’m honest. Furthermore, to provide additional distraction my seven-year-old boy is with me with his incessant questions about everything from clouds to the depth of the ocean and why he can’t have a chocolate ice cream right now.
We eventually make it and I am greeted by FCA group’s PR dude Neil, who gives me a rundown of the vehicle and tells me about the 25 or so easter eggs that are hidden away in the new Jeep. Not real easter eggs, of course, but rather little Jeep graphics that are strewn around the car. He even lays down a challenge for my son “to find all of them for daddy.” Big mistake, as I shall discover later.
The first thing I notice is that just how ruddy high this thing is. And it doesn’t have a side-step, which, for someone as vertically challenged as yours truly, is a bit of an issue – it’s a good thing I’m not wearing my skirt today.
While getting in I accidentally honk the horn, startling Neil.
And then out of the blue: “JEEEP!”
My son’s spotted one on the gear lever. This is going to be a recurring theme of this week, as you will soon find out.
It’s an early start for the school run and, “JEEEP!” – he has spotted a couple more on the wheels. Also, the Jeep’s too high for my son to get in on his own so I have to lift him up; you might want to bear that in mind if you’re thinking of using this as a mom-mobile.
It’s a drive to work on Shaikh Zayed Road and the first thing I notice is that how noisy it is on the move (to be fair, I was warned about this by Neil, because the Rubicon is more of a hardcore off-roader.). This is quite possibly the only car in the world that comes with Hi-Def, 3D, Surround Sound wind noise. The roof, the doors, the windows, the windscreen – wind noise pours in from every conceivable direction in this car. I’m not much of a fan of the new Jeep, so far.
I have spent a considerable amount of time with the previous Jeep Wrangler, when I ran one for three months as a long-termer a couple of years ago. The biggest drawback, in my opinion, was the gutless engine. Things really have changed in the new Wrangler. You could almost describe the 3.6-litre V6 making 284 horsepower and 347Nm of torque as peppy. It provides adequate propulsion for safe overtaking and merging with fast moving traffic; something that almost felt dangerous in the previous car.
Afternoon, and it’s time to pick the boy up again.
I explain that it doesn’t count if he keeps spotting the ones on the wheels every time he walks up to the car.
“JEEEP!” He points at the second wheel.
Kids are stupid.
Back to the school run and today I decide to poke and prod around the cabin as Neil seemed especially proud of the fit and finish. The quality is a massive improvement over its predecessor, but this is no Rolls-Royce. Then, to be fair, our four-door version only costs about AED195,000, which for a genuine rough and tumble off-roader is not a bad price. The leather is reasonably soft, the plastics aren’t scratchy and the infotainment system is rather good too. I like it.
The sat-nav has a little Jeep icon instead of the usual arrow to denote your position, which is a cool touch.
Sigh… Thanks Neil.
I wake up with a mellow, lingering pain on my left hamstring. I jog my memory and conclude I haven’t accidentally gone jogging or, heavens forbid, played any sort of physical sport. No idea why this is happening.
You can apparently disassemble pretty much the whole car including the doors, roof and even the windscreen for a full-on off-roading experience, but for the purposes of this test, I’m sticking to the blacktop to see if this is indeed a vehicle you can use every day. I would assume it would become tiresome quite quickly. It’s difficult to get in and out of if you’re 170cm or less, which I am. And the wind noise constantly batters your eardrums.
It does have a lot of presence though. And it looks quite nice if you take in the details. Plus, there is this sense that nothing can stand in the way of where you are and where you want to be in this thing. I heroically drive over a curb to prove the point to myself.
It’s almost the end of the loan and it’s only now that the source of my mild hamstring injury has become apparent: it’s the ruddy Jeep! You see, the seat is so high that every time I get out of the vehicle I have to almost jump out, which makes the back of my left leg chafe against the seat bolster. You might want to seriously think about that if you’re planning to buy a Rubicon and have no intention of taking it off-road. The regular version is capable enough and is much more practical.
I have to run some errands with my son in tow and it’s the same old thing all over again: wind noise, chafed hamstrings, “JEEEP!”. Good engine though.
Time to drop off the Wrangler and I begin pondering my verdict on the Jeep Wrangler Rubicon. And I come to the conclusion that, at least in this avatar, this is an acquired taste. You either love the Wrangler or you hate it. However, there is an inherent honesty about this car that makes it very, very likeable. It doesn’t just have macho looks, it backs them up with serious off-road credentials, as my colleague and Motormouth Editor, Dejan Jovanovic, found out at the international launch in Austria. You can check the video here. And Jeep owners actually take their vehicles off-road, so it makes complete sense to compromise a little on the road to deliver in spades off it.
However, if you’re planning spend most of your time in the city and have your heart set on a Wrangler, the Rubicon isn’t for you. I’d go for the more road-biased version, but be warned, even they are not your average-crossover comfy.
The Wrangler has immense amounts of personality though, which for a real petrolhead matters more than pretty much anything in a car. If you’re one – and over 170cm – you won’t regret buying the Rubicon.
Unless your kids are anything like mine, that is.
2018 Jeep Wrangler Rubicon
3.6-litre V6 | eight-speed automatic, all-wheel drive | 284bhp at 6,400rpm and 347Nm from 4,100rpm | 0-100km/h in NA and a top speed of 156km/h | AED195,000
That price though. It’s entry level Patrol money.