JLUR First Impressions

dudemind

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Plenty of others have posted their thoughts on their delivered JLs. And, like them, I'm overall very happy with my purchase. Just I thought I'd give my objective driving impressions (and a quick blurb on appearances)... I'm sure some of this will rub some people the wrong way, but I really am the opposite of a fan-boy so I like to be very real about anything I drive or have driven. I've owned way too many different makes to pledge allegiance to any one of them. Haven't taken it off-road yet, so this is an on-road impression.

As others have mentioned, it's much improved over the JK (though I've only driven an early-model JK). In fact, it feels pretty good around turns, while under heavy braking, during acceleration, all of it. But anybody who claims this thing drives/feels like a sports car or anything resembling a sporty crossover SUV likely has driven neither. To put it in perspective: to make room for my Jeep, I sold a 7-year old Range Rover with worn out lower control arm bushings, bad alignment, slipping transmission, uneven rear rotor surfaces, and probably-shot air struts, and that still drove significantly better than my new Rubicon does. That said, I am still completely surprised at how not-horribly the Rubicon drives. I wasn't at all expecting a sporty SUV, so I'm not complaining. Just thought I should give my honest opinion in case others read some overly-positive reviews and thought this rig had truly become a modern SUV driving experience.

My only gripe is the 6-speed manual transmission, and that is still only slightly disappointing. The clutch has extremely vague feel and a good inch of initial dead zone. I've heard some people saying that it felt "sporty". I would say it's the exact opposite of sporty; a proper sports car tends to have a far heavier clutch (there are mechanical reasons this is true, it's not purely a design choice), but the lightness of the pedal is actually okay with me. The gearing in the Rubicon is a bit strange for on-road use. First gear has you aggressively leaving stop lights with anything but the lightest application of throttle. Then way up on the other end, you've got a practically useless sixth gear that'll only come in handy if you're cruising at a very consistent speed on flat ground with no chance of slowing down -- forget about really ever actually use it on these Los Angeles highways. Also, the only car I've driven with more transmission chatter than this one was a track-only Spec Miata I wheeled a decade ago. Still, in the end, I suspect some of my transmission-related gripes will become evident benefits when I do take it off road: the dead zone will be more forgiving if I'm bouncing around with my foot hovering over the clutch in anticipation of a shift, the gearing will come in handy when I need to get torque down in first up a hill, and the light action will make it a lot easier to slip the clutch when I need to. If I could do it over again, I'd still choose the manual in a heartbeat.

As for the handling, it's definitely not bad for a car running 33" all-terrain tires. Body roll is evident but manageable, side-to-side stability is acceptable, and the steering feel around tighter turns is again not bad but far from sporty. Overall, it's not difficult to place the car where you want it, but the feel through the chassis and steering wheel are both understandably lacking, almost like driving a video game car. That's not to say it's at all unwieldy. It'll still go where you want it to go without much drama. Side note: I was pleasantly surprised to find that you can get the rear end out (in a very controllable manner) with a decent application of throttle while taking a turn from a dead stop.

As for looks: as cliche as this may sound, pictures simply do not do these cars justice. With the bigger wheels, the Rubicon has a surprisingly large footprint for a stock vehicle. Frankly, I'm not sure if the numbers on paper agree that this is a "big" car, but I can guarantee your eyes will still be fooled in person. Speaking of wheels, I have the basic Rubicon wheels (prefer the way they look over the upgrades or even the Mopar beadlocks), and they look so much better in person than they do in pictures. The Granite Crystal Metallic paint is nice and deep in person. In every photo, it looks a little too light. There isn't a ton of metallic flake in the paint, but maybe that's what is being picked up and overblown by cameras. And finally: even those Rubicon hood stickers, which I thought were way too obnoxious, are actually not too bad when you look at the car in person. I'm not 100% sure that I'll leave them on, but at least I'm not 100% sure that I'm taking them off like I was before actually seeing the vehicle. I was thinking of all these stylistic modifications I wanted to do but... it's cosmetically kinda close to perfect overall...

It may seem like I've focused too much on negatives (at least in terms of driving impressions), but that's because we've already read tons of praise, and I don't want to rehash points others have already made. Despite any shortcomings, I'm very positively surprised by how well it drives. The drive is amazing "for a Wrangler" and definitely good enough versus many other (less capable) cars. All in all, I'm absolutely in love with this car (though I've been informed by my JK buddies that I'm not allowed to call it "a car" anymore). I needed something less fussy/pretty/snobby than my Land Rover, and this is exactly what I wanted. My colleagues have questioned my sanity -- I'm a hedge fund guy, it's all luxury makes in our garage. But I've always been "the t-shirt and jeans guy" at the office, and this is the best switch I've ever made.





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K9Jeeper

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Nice write up, and I appreciate the extra bit of honesty for the not so glamorous Jeepisms. It is definitely a signature ride for sure, and it’s not for everyone still, though it’s light years beyond anything from the past with the Wrangler badge in it
 

RW Sting Gray

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Do you guys get wind noise when driving down the freeway. Sounds like the windows are cracked open a little but not the case. The noise is in a high spot, like coming from top of windshield area. Maybe its just the air passing over but my previous JK didnt do that and this windshield is even raked more.
Maybe just the seals at the windshield area? Cant imagine this is normal but maybe?
 

JeepCares

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Do you guys get wind noise when driving down the freeway. Sounds like the windows are cracked open a little but not the case. The noise is in a high spot, like coming from top of windshield area. Maybe its just the air passing over but my previous JK didnt do that and this windshield is even raked more.
Maybe just the seals at the windshield area? Cant imagine this is normal but maybe?
Hi RW Sting Gray,

We are sorry to hear that you have a concern with wind noise in your JL. Please send us a private message if you decide to have this addressed at the dealer.

Darlene
Jeep Social Care Specialist
 

Tex117

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Plenty of others have posted their thoughts on their delivered JLs. And, like them, I'm overall very happy with my purchase. Just I thought I'd give my objective driving impressions (and a quick blurb on appearances)... I'm sure some of this will rub some people the wrong way, but I really am the opposite of a fan-boy so I like to be very real about anything I drive or have driven. I've owned way too many different makes to pledge allegiance to any one of them. Haven't taken it off-road yet, so this is an on-road impression.

As others have mentioned, it's much improved over the JK (though I've only driven an early-model JK). In fact, it feels pretty good around turns, while under heavy braking, during acceleration, all of it. But anybody who claims this thing drives/feels like a sports car or anything resembling a sporty crossover SUV likely has driven neither. To put it in perspective: to make room for my Jeep, I sold a 7-year old Range Rover with worn out lower control arm bushings, bad alignment, slipping transmission, uneven rear rotor surfaces, and probably-shot air struts, and that still drove significantly better than my new Rubicon does. That said, I am still completely surprised at how not-horribly the Rubicon drives. I wasn't at all expecting a sporty SUV, so I'm not complaining. Just thought I should give my honest opinion in case others read some overly-positive reviews and thought this rig had truly become a modern SUV driving experience.

My only gripe is the 6-speed manual transmission, and that is still only slightly disappointing. The clutch has extremely vague feel and a good inch of initial dead zone. I've heard some people saying that it felt "sporty". I would say it's the exact opposite of sporty; a proper sports car tends to have a far heavier clutch (there are mechanical reasons this is true, it's not purely a design choice), but the lightness of the pedal is actually okay with me. The gearing in the Rubicon is a bit strange for on-road use. First gear has you aggressively leaving stop lights with anything but the lightest application of throttle. Then way up on the other end, you've got a practically useless sixth gear that'll only come in handy if you're cruising at a very consistent speed on flat ground with no chance of slowing down -- forget about really ever actually use it on these Los Angeles highways. Also, the only car I've driven with more transmission chatter than this one was a track-only Spec Miata I wheeled a decade ago. Still, in the end, I suspect some of my transmission-related gripes will become evident benefits when I do take it off road: the dead zone will be more forgiving if I'm bouncing around with my foot hovering over the clutch in anticipation of a shift, the gearing will come in handy when I need to get torque down in first up a hill, and the light action will make it a lot easier to slip the clutch when I need to. If I could do it over again, I'd still choose the manual in a heartbeat.

As for the handling, it's definitely not bad for a car running 33" all-terrain tires. Body roll is evident but manageable, side-to-side stability is acceptable, and the steering feel around tighter turns is again not bad but far from sporty. Overall, it's not difficult to place the car where you want it, but the feel through the chassis and steering wheel are both understandably lacking, almost like driving a video game car. That's not to say it's at all unwieldy. It'll still go where you want it to go without much drama. Side note: I was pleasantly surprised to find that you can get the rear end out (in a very controllable manner) with a decent application of throttle while taking a turn from a dead stop.

As for looks: as cliche as this may sound, pictures simply do not do these cars justice. With the bigger wheels, the Rubicon has a surprisingly large footprint for a stock vehicle. Frankly, I'm not sure if the numbers on paper agree that this is a "big" car, but I can guarantee your eyes will still be fooled in person. Speaking of wheels, I have the basic Rubicon wheels (prefer the way they look over the upgrades or even the Mopar beadlocks), and they look so much better in person than they do in pictures. The Granite Crystal Metallic paint is nice and deep in person. In every photo, it looks a little too light. There isn't a ton of metallic flake in the paint, but maybe that's what is being picked up and overblown by cameras. And finally: even those Rubicon hood stickers, which I thought were way too obnoxious, are actually not too bad when you look at the car in person. I'm not 100% sure that I'll leave them on, but at least I'm not 100% sure that I'm taking them off like I was before actually seeing the vehicle. I was thinking of all these stylistic modifications I wanted to do but... it's cosmetically kinda close to perfect overall...

It may seem like I've focused too much on negatives (at least in terms of driving impressions), but that's because we've already read tons of praise, and I don't want to rehash points others have already made. Despite any shortcomings, I'm very positively surprised by how well it drives. The drive is amazing "for a Wrangler" and definitely good enough versus many other (less capable) cars. All in all, I'm absolutely in love with this car (though I've been informed by my JK buddies that I'm not allowed to call it "a car" anymore). I needed something less fussy/pretty/snobby than my Land Rover, and this is exactly what I wanted. My colleagues have questioned my sanity -- I'm a hedge fund guy, it's all luxury makes in our garage. But I've always been "the t-shirt and jeans guy" at the office, and this is the best switch I've ever made.
This is a great write up. Thank you for sharing your impressions.

What sold you over the Rubicon over the Sahara? (Especially being in a profession where more "luxury" cars pervade. (I'm in a similar profession, and while the Sahara is far from luxury, it does have a sleeker edge to it compared to the Rubicon)/
 
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dudemind

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This is a great write up. Thank you for sharing your impressions.

What sold you over the Rubicon over the Sahara? (Especially being in a profession where more "luxury" cars pervade. (I'm in a similar profession, and while the Sahara is far from luxury, it does have a sleeker edge to it compared to the Rubicon)/
I felt that the Sahara would have been too much of a compromise between what I already had and what I wanted. The Wrangler was purchased to replace my aging Range Rover, and I wanted something that felt truly new to me. I felt like the Sahara was too focused on trying to bring on-road comfort into the equation, which is precisely what I was trying to get away from. So I was pricing up the Sport S and the Rubicon, and noticed that a Sport S + desired options + "necessary" aftermarket upgrades would likely put me well over the cost of the Rubicon (which already has all the options I want standard) + lifetime warranty. Given that my taste in upgrades can be questionable, I decided to just buy a rig I wouldn't need to tinker with too much.

If I'm being 100% honest, the Sahara IS a better car for me. I'm not "hardcore" off road, and I like the kind of high-speed, low-traction, mixed-but-not-treacherous-terrain driving that the Selec-Trac would be great for. But if I wanted to that style of driving kicks, the Range Rover, with its gobs of torque and that beautiful air suspension would have been far better to stick with. I guess I needed a change? Maybe I'm getting old and just want to calm it down and drive slowly over things while drinking a beer.
 

Torero

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I felt that the Sahara would have been too much of a compromise between what I already had and what I wanted. The Wrangler was purchased to replace my aging Range Rover, and I wanted something that felt truly new to me. I felt like the Sahara was too focused on trying to bring on-road comfort into the equation, which is precisely what I was trying to get away from. So I was pricing up the Sport S and the Rubicon, and noticed that a Sport S + desired options + "necessary" aftermarket upgrades would likely put me well over the cost of the Rubicon (which already has all the options I want standard) + lifetime warranty. Given that my taste in upgrades can be questionable, I decided to just buy a rig I wouldn't need to tinker with too much.

If I'm being 100% honest, the Sahara IS a better car for me. I'm not "hardcore" off road, and I like the kind of high-speed, low-traction, mixed-but-not-treacherous-terrain driving that the Selec-Trac would be great for. But if I wanted to that style of driving kicks, the Range Rover, with its gobs of torque and that beautiful air suspension would have been far better to stick with. I guess I needed a change? Maybe I'm getting old and just want to calm it down and drive slowly over things while drinking a beer.
I could have written the same thing. Including the RR. Funny.
 

Wanted33

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dudemind, thanks for the non-fan boy write-up on your Jeep. I have wanted a Jeep for a long time, and have started the odious "Don't know much about a Jeep" journey to ownership. Your observations are very helpful in moving me to a more educated purchase. :)
 

Tex117

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I felt that the Sahara would have been too much of a compromise between what I already had and what I wanted. The Wrangler was purchased to replace my aging Range Rover, and I wanted something that felt truly new to me. I felt like the Sahara was too focused on trying to bring on-road comfort into the equation, which is precisely what I was trying to get away from. So I was pricing up the Sport S and the Rubicon, and noticed that a Sport S + desired options + "necessary" aftermarket upgrades would likely put me well over the cost of the Rubicon (which already has all the options I want standard) + lifetime warranty. Given that my taste in upgrades can be questionable, I decided to just buy a rig I wouldn't need to tinker with too much.

If I'm being 100% honest, the Sahara IS a better car for me. I'm not "hardcore" off road, and I like the kind of high-speed, low-traction, mixed-but-not-treacherous-terrain driving that the Selec-Trac would be great for. But if I wanted to that style of driving kicks, the Range Rover, with its gobs of torque and that beautiful air suspension would have been far better to stick with. I guess I needed a change? Maybe I'm getting old and just want to calm it down and drive slowly over things while drinking a beer.
Ive gone through almost the exact same analysis. First, I thought I wanted a Rubicon, but then the red dash...., So I thought, well, the Sahara looks prettly slick. But once I spec'ed it out, it was only 2 grand cheaper than the Rubicon but without the features. (I couldn't even use the Select-trac because of the manual).

So, I priced a sport, and added just a handful of upgrades, and it was still within striking distance of the Rubicon. (Maybe 5 grand or so). So, Im back at the Rubicon. Unless you go bone stripped Sport S, it really is a better value for your money as opposed to heavy options or a Sahara.

But yeah, thanks for your post. It was very much like reading my own thoughts. And glad to hear you love it! I'll be ordering the 2019 as soon as banks open.
 

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