HAVE DONE MY RESEARCH, BUT NEED SOME ADVICE ON WHICH JL IS RIGHT FOR ME

bruin1md

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About me: Current 2020 TRD Pro 4runner owner-- fully stock w/o any mods. Have had it for almost 2 years and at sea level, the 4.0L V6 is perfectly fine for my needs. But in April I moved back out west, and live at 7K feet above sea level in northern AZ.
Driving around here is also fine, but when I make weekend trips to Phoenix, driving back up here makes it very apparent how underpowered my 4runner is. It's an issue when it comes to passing vehicles on the windy mountain roads. It's doable when I downshift and let it rev out, but it's starting to get old.

We have amazing trails here and I've done some light off roading so far, but nothing crazy. I don't plan on doing crazy rock crawling up in Moab (although I reserve the right to change my mind :), and I also want to do some desert running at some point. I'll probably take my rig on trails 2 weekends/month.
Having said all of that, on road comfort is also important to me, especially since I do the drives to Phoenix a lot (3 hours each way) about 2 times a month.

I've been looking at JL's for a while and have driven the eco diesel only in both a Sahara with Goodyear AT tires and a Rubicon with KO2's.
I drove the Sahara first about 3 months ago right after driving a GC Trailhawk in both the V6 and then the V8. I was pleasantly surprised at how well the Sahara drove on road. I took it on a light trail and it actually felt more confident than my TRD pro. I was pretty impressed. I didn't pay too close attention to wind/cabin noise.
At that time I was still crossing shopping with a raptor and even considering a Bronco. Both of those options are out.

Fast forward to 2 weeks ago: I test drove a Rubicon eco diesel. I noticed the wind noise more as i crossed over 65mph, and less ride comfort than the Sahara.
I was also less impressed with the get up and go-- definitely felt the turbo lag and just ok off the line acceleration-- relative to what I was expecting with all that torque.

As far as engines go, I am wary of anything new w/o a track record thanks to Fiat's sh*tty rep.
--Ergo, I'm wary of the eco diesel. It's in its 3rd gen, but it's been like 80% redesigned from what I understand. The second gen had a lot of issues.
--The 2.0 turbo 4 seems to perform pretty well and could be probably be tuned easily to improve performance, and it's been around now for 4 years. Thankfully, Jeep decoupled it from the e torque battery after they had some issues.
--The 3.6 pentastar is tried and true, but they now coupled it with the e torque for off the line improvement and emissions reasons, but it seems to have been around for a bit in the GC and Ram, so it seems to be doing well w/o issues? Issue here is the lack of power at elevation. I drove it in the GC and it feels fine, and will do better than the 5 speed V6 in my 4runner, but not sure it will be enough of an upgrade for my purposes.

So, with all of that said, here is what I'm thinking in terms of 2 options:

1. Getting a Sahara Altitude with all the safety features and LED package, plus the Selec Trac for full time 4wd, but with which engine ? I haven't been able to drive the turbo 4 as of yet and worry it will feel weak if I felt the eco diesel was less than impressive.
I would want to put on 33" Falken AT3's on it but without having to do the Mopar 2" lift, if that's possible, and do an after market steel bumper. We get lots of deer and elk jumping in the road up here. I feel this set up will be more than enough for my off road needs and provide the comfort I want for long drives plus the benefit of full time 4wd when I'm doing the winter drives down to the valley.

2. Go all out and get the Rubicon 392. For a couple of reasons, I can no longer have a fun sports car and I miss the Flat plane crank V8 of my Shelby. The 392 allows this to be a more 'fun' vehicle, at the cost of horrible fuel economy. But it's also going to be perhaps the last chance at a NA V8 in a daily driver for me given the direction the auto industry is going.
The other thing is that the 392 gets the Fox shocks and between that set up and the heavier engine, I've read a review where it actually is the best driving Wrangler on pavement. I won't get the chance to test drive one, so I would have have faith that is the case.
In addition, I won't get it with the 35" tires and likely won't have to do anything to it after market, which is reassuring, given the small selection of good after market places up here where I live.
The 392 has every feature I want, including all the creature comforts and the steel bumper.
FYI, I can get the 392 with a 2.5-3% discount off sticker from an out of state dealership, which I know is unheard of these days.


Any advice would be appreciated. Am I better off saving almost $25k and getting a Sahara altitude and just getting the turbo 4 and tuning it? Will it be the better daily driver and long distance driver than the 392?
OTOH, that turbo 4 will sound God awful from what I read and the the joy of listening to that 6.4 Hemi along with the performance/fun factor is hard to ignore.

thanks
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engineXI

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I think the Sahara is a great off road vehicle and is also great on road. I rented 1 in Hawaii a month ago. It drove more smooth on the highway than my Rubicon.
I have the 2.0L turbo, and I think it has plenty of git-up-and-go. Sorry your experience is different. It's certainly not a Tesla and I wouldn't expect it to be.

If you're not looking to do any semi-serious off roading, then I think the Sahara is right up your alley. And if you decide later, you can obviously add all the things you want to after market.

Personally, I would recomend the Rubicon hands down. I believe it to be the greatest vehicle ever devised. $$ wise, it will get your everything you need without having to modify it.
 

2nd 392

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Sounds to me that you know what you really want. Was the 25K difference truly similarity equipped, bumpers, tires, wheels, shocks and whatever else the 392 comes standard with that the Sahara doesn’t? Oh yeah lift too. Plus, no wranglers are fuel efficient and from the numbers I have seen posted (no personal experience) the mpg increase isn’t worth the enjoyment decrease. My 2c.
 

2nd 392

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Left out lockers, sway bar disconnect and off road plus, probably more
 
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bruin1md

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Sounds to me that you know what you really want. Was the 25K difference truly similarity equipped, bumpers, tires, wheels, shocks and whatever else the 392 comes standard with that the Sahara doesn’t? Oh yeah lift too. Plus, no wranglers are fuel efficient and from the numbers I have seen posted (no personal experience) the mpg increase isn’t worth the enjoyment decrease. My 2c.

Good point. When you factor in the fact I would have to:
1. Swap out the shocks on the Sahara to the Fox set up on the Rubicon 392
2. Get the lift (but again, can i put on 33" tires on the Sahara w/o having to do the lift?) and swap out tires.
3. Lack of lockers and sway bar disconnect isn't a huge issue right now as I don't see myself doing serious rock crawling, but then again, if i decide I want to, it's nice to know the 392 is ready to go
4. Get an after market steel bumper
 

engineXI

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but why? You don't mention anywhere that Off Road capability is what you are looking for. You said you want to use it to commute between places.
 

2nd 392

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Good point. When you factor in the fact I would have to:
1. Swap out the shocks on the Sahara to the Fox set up on the Rubicon 392
2. Get the lift (but again, can i put on 33" tires on the Sahara w/o having to do the lift?) and swap out tires.
3. Lack of lockers and sway bar disconnect isn't a huge issue right now as I don't see myself doing serious rock crawling, but then again, if i decide I want to, it's nice to know the 392 is ready to go
4. Get an after market steel bumper
Engine is right a Sahara sounds up your alley and that a Rubi is the best bang for buck so how about an excellent happy medium? Willys- no mods necessary and good capabilities? Or just spring for what you really want and screw the gas mileage
 

Wabujitsu

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You can put 33s on ALL Wrangler JLs without a lift.

We have a 2020 Sahara on 33s, and I have a 2021 Rubicon which comes with 33s - 2.0 turbo, 8-speed transmission. The 2021s now also come with Off Road+, a function that allows, among other things, high speed desert running. With it activated and the traction control “button-long-push-disabled,” it allows you to run in 4H WITH rear locker locked. It also attenuates the accelerator and changes the shift points for various applications in 4H and 4L.

The 2021 Rubicons also all have off-road cruise control now as well, as long as you have the auto transmission.

I had a 2018 Sport JL prior to the Rubicon, with the 2.0 turbo and auto transmission. I absolutely LOVE that powertrain! Plenty of off the line power and acceleration, and plenty of low end torque! That engine has been around far longer than the JLs have. It’s a proven engine. I suggest you read this link, to start. https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/FCA_Global_Medium_Engine

My Rubicon handles just as well on-road as my wife’s Sahara. In fact, I think it handles even better.

As far as lifts for off-road use, keep in mind that the stock Rubicon has been run down the Rubicon Trail successfully MANY times. That’s why the model is called a “Rubicon.” Obviously, a lift on any Jeep will make it much more capable, and I plan on lifting mine.

Good luck!
 

Wabujitsu

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Also, I need to add that my wife’s 2020 Sahara has the 3.6, which is also a fabulous engine! I still prefer my 2.0T though.
 

Pic18

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If spending the extra money to get the 392 is not a big deal, then I say do it!

You had a Shelby, which I imagine you only got to enjoy a small amount of the time. Getting the 392 would allow you to have all of the features of the best off road vehicle on the market, combined with the glorious sound and straight line performance of a muscle car. You’d get to experience that every day! You’d have the ultimate Wrangler. There’s nothing more you could want! You only live once! If you have the money, I think it’s an easy decision.
 

aldo98229

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About me: Current 2020 TRD Pro 4runner owner-- fully stock w/o any mods. Have had it for almost 2 years and at sea level, the 4.0L V6 is perfectly fine for my needs. But in April I moved back out west, and live at 7K feet above sea level in northern AZ.
Driving around here is also fine, but when I make weekend trips to Phoenix, driving back up here makes it very apparent how underpowered my 4runner is. It's an issue when it comes to passing vehicles on the windy mountain roads. It's doable when I downshift and let it rev out, but it's starting to get old.

We have amazing trails here and I've done some light off roading so far, but nothing crazy. I don't plan on doing crazy rock crawling up in Moab (although I reserve the right to change my mind :), and I also want to do some desert running at some point. I'll probably take my rig on trails 2 weekends/month.
Having said all of that, on road comfort is also important to me, especially since I do the drives to Phoenix a lot (3 hours each way) about 2 times a month.

I've been looking at JL's for a while and have driven the eco diesel only in both a Sahara with Goodyear AT tires and a Rubicon with KO2's.
I drove the Sahara first about 3 months ago right after driving a GC Trailhawk in both the V6 and then the V8. I was pleasantly surprised at how well the Sahara drove on road. I took it on a light trail and it actually felt more confident than my TRD pro. I was pretty impressed. I didn't pay too close attention to wind/cabin noise.
At that time I was still crossing shopping with a raptor and even considering a Bronco. Both of those options are out.

Fast forward to 2 weeks ago: I test drove a Rubicon eco diesel. I noticed the wind noise more as i crossed over 65mph, and less ride comfort than the Sahara.
I was also less impressed with the get up and go-- definitely felt the turbo lag and just ok off the line acceleration-- relative to what I was expecting with all that torque.

As far as engines go, I am wary of anything new w/o a track record thanks to Fiat's sh*tty rep.
--Ergo, I'm wary of the eco diesel. It's in its 3rd gen, but it's been like 80% redesigned from what I understand. The second gen had a lot of issues.
--The 2.0 turbo 4 seems to perform pretty well and could be probably be tuned easily to improve performance, and it's been around now for 4 years. Thankfully, Jeep decoupled it from the e torque battery after they had some issues.
--The 3.6 pentastar is tried and true, but they now coupled it with the e torque for off the line improvement and emissions reasons, but it seems to have been around for a bit in the GC and Ram, so it seems to be doing well w/o issues? Issue here is the lack of power at elevation. I drove it in the GC and it feels fine, and will do better than the 5 speed V6 in my 4runner, but not sure it will be enough of an upgrade for my purposes.

So, with all of that said, here is what I'm thinking in terms of 2 options:

1. Getting a Sahara Altitude with all the safety features and LED package, plus the Selec Trac for full time 4wd, but with which engine ? I haven't been able to drive the turbo 4 as of yet and worry it will feel weak if I felt the eco diesel was less than impressive.
I would want to put on 33" Falken AT3's on it but without having to do the Mopar 2" lift, if that's possible, and do an after market steel bumper. We get lots of deer and elk jumping in the road up here. I feel this set up will be more than enough for my off road needs and provide the comfort I want for long drives plus the benefit of full time 4wd when I'm doing the winter drives down to the valley.

2. Go all out and get the Rubicon 392. For a couple of reasons, I can no longer have a fun sports car and I miss the Flat plane crank V8 of my Shelby. The 392 allows this to be a more 'fun' vehicle, at the cost of horrible fuel economy. But it's also going to be perhaps the last chance at a NA V8 in a daily driver for me given the direction the auto industry is going.
The other thing is that the 392 gets the Fox shocks and between that set up and the heavier engine, I've read a review where it actually is the best driving Wrangler on pavement. I won't get the chance to test drive one, so I would have have faith that is the case.
In addition, I won't get it with the 35" tires and likely won't have to do anything to it after market, which is reassuring, given the small selection of good after market places up here where I live.
The 392 has every feature I want, including all the creature comforts and the steel bumper.
FYI, I can get the 392 with a 2.5-3% discount off sticker from an out of state dealership, which I know is unheard of these days.


Any advice would be appreciated. Am I better off saving almost $25k and getting a Sahara altitude and just getting the turbo 4 and tuning it? Will it be the better daily driver and long distance driver than the 392?
OTOH, that turbo 4 will sound God awful from what I read and the the joy of listening to that 6.4 Hemi along with the performance/fun factor is hard to ignore.

thanks
Given your situation, I’d go as you say:
  1. Get the 2.0T given that you are in elevation
  2. Get the Sahara Altitude with the Selec-Trac, the rear LSD and D44 (the latter 2 are added when you get Selec-Trac)
  3. When you are ready to add 33s, add a simple 1-inch leveling kit and you will be good
This was my Sahara on 33-inch KO2s and a Daystar “Comfort Ride” leveling kit (3/4-inch in front, 0.5-inch in rear; $49 on Quadratec). It has the Selec-Trac, rear LSD and D44: it was a beast in the snow! Best part was, it retained the smooth factory ride and handling.
28B358FC-1B59-46EF-B053-7C638CADC2F5.jpeg


FFBCB169-3558-42D9-99D3-A4AC91501E0B.jpeg

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ACB78B65-DECB-4357-9272-5C22147D0BB8.jpeg
 

Will

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I’ve had a base wrangler TJ for 6 years and now a Rubicon JLU. Love them both equally.

If I could afford the 392 I would be all over it.
 
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bruin1md

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Engine is right a Sahara sounds up your alley and that a Rubi is the best bang for buck so how about an excellent happy medium? Willys- no mods necessary and good capabilities? Or just spring for what you really want and screw the gas mileage

I drove the Rubi eco diesel with cloth seats and didn't like them. I've sat in the leather seats in the 392 and did like them, but haven't gotten a chance to actually drive one with them.
If the Willys had the option of leather seats, I think I would be all about it
 
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bruin1md

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You can put 33s on ALL Wrangler JLs without a lift.

We have a 2020 Sahara on 33s, and I have a 2021 Rubicon which comes with 33s - 2.0 turbo, 8-speed transmission. The 2021s now also come with Off Road+, a function that allows, among other things, high speed desert running. With it activated and the traction control “button-long-push-disabled,” it allows you to run in 4H WITH rear locker locked. It also attenuates the accelerator and changes the shift points for various applications in 4H and 4L.

The 2021 Rubicons also all have off-road cruise control now as well, as long as you have the auto transmission.

I had a 2018 Sport JL prior to the Rubicon, with the 2.0 turbo and auto transmission. I absolutely LOVE that powertrain! Plenty of off the line power and acceleration, and plenty of low end torque! That engine has been around far longer than the JLs have. It’s a proven engine. I suggest you read this link, to start. https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/FCA_Global_Medium_Engine

My Rubicon handles just as well on-road as my wife’s Sahara. In fact, I think it handles even better.

As far as lifts for off-road use, keep in mind that the stock Rubicon has been run down the Rubicon Trail successfully MANY times. That’s why the model is called a “Rubicon.” Obviously, a lift on any Jeep will make it much more capable, and I plan on lifting mine.

Good luck!

Thanks........good to know about the 33's sans lift. I think another poster mentioned having to do a 1" leveling kit.
Are you saying your Rubicon handles better and rides better (smoothness) on pavement c/w your wife's JL Sahara?
 
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