I've been through the journey you are considering. Let me tell you right now: Get a Rubicon.Test drove the 2-door Sport JL 8–Speed Automatic - love it... More refined than I had expected... Less road and wind noise than expected, and not as harsh on the road than expected. Actually thrilled. It is fire cracker red.
It has the hardtop and I found that the drip edge is extended all the way back to the top on the hardtop JL's. This means that cross bars can be mounted with enough separation to safely carry a kayak(s).
I saw a pumpkin on the lot. The color is nice. Must see in person - I have not seen an internet picture that truly captures the color.
A half an hour after I left the dealership several JL unlimited arrived and at least one has manual transmission. So, will get a chance to try a manual...
I know you think all you want is a sport. I know you think it'll satisfy you. I also know by week 2 you'll take it offroad, and it will do great, but you'll start wanting lockers, and you'll start wanting that gear ratio, etc etc.
Order a nice 2 dr Rubicon with Leather and the upgraded sound system. Get the 5% under invoice and have a similar price to that sport. Enjoy the axel ratio which will make the 2dr screaming fast. Enjoy being able to answer when the 10 million people ask if its a Rubicon that yes, it's a Rubicon. Enjoy the resale value of the Rubicon. Enjoy the aggressive look. Go all in. Trust me.