The Jeep Rubicon: Best of the Best?

2013 Jeep Rubicon!

2013 Wrangler Rubicon

How does the Jeep Rubicon stack up in comparison with previous Wranglers, and of course the venerable old Jeep CJ's?

With a long history of over 70 years since the first Universal Jeep was conceived, the tough little 4x4's have maintained their basic "Jeep" character with several stand-out versions of note.

(Compare the Jeep Rubicon with the old Jeep CJ's here)

However, just when you thought that Jeep had made the ultimate offroad/street vehicle such as the CJ5, CJ7, YJ and TJ Wrangler, they make your mouth drop with not one, but two versions of the Jeep Rubicon.

Named after the infamous unimproved highway in Northern California (see more on the Rubicon Trail below) the Jeep Rubicon lives up to it's rugged namesake.

The Jeep division of Chrysler has been testing (Trail Rating) their Jeeps on the Rubicon Trail for a while now to determine how much punishment and durability they can extract from their products before putting them on the market.

While some diehard Jeep owners swear by the CJ5...and others praise the CJ7 or YJ Wrangler as the ultimate off-road vehicles...they may be right.....

But only in the off-road arena...and only in stock production form. Most Jeeps can be modified to climb trees and leap tall buildings in a single bound..well...not really..but you get the picture!

When the Jeep TJ Wrangler appeared in 1997 it revolutionized the short wheelbase go-anywhere vehicle market by presenting the best compromise in Jeep history with:

  • better ride

  • better handling

  • better safety features

  • better interior comfort

  • better on-pavement function

  • better mechanicals

  • better electronics, and

  • better off-road capability

Well...since the introduction of the TJ Wrangler in 1997 the Wrangler line remained mostly unchanged until 2003 when several upgrades in the engine compartment and throughout the drive-train were added. Several model packages were available including the base SE, X and Sahara.

But...also in 2003 a new model was introduced to the Wrangler line...

The Jeep Rubicon exemplified the complete factory package for a 4-wheel-drive vehicle.

It came fully loaded with the best that Jeep had to offer including top-of-the-line axles, transfer case, larger tougher tires, 4 wheel disc brakes, heavy duty drive-train and tougher suspension components.

Many experts agree that the Jeep Rubicon is the most off-road capable factory built Jeep ever produced with enough manners to be at home on dry pavement as well.

Jeeps in general have become more user friendly on or off the pavement, as well as being safer to operate on all road conditions. After all, Jeep safety has always been an issue with many consumers.

And...if the 2-door Jeep Rubicon wasn't enough, Jeep later introduced the Jeep Wrangler Unlimited 4-door Rubicon. Wow!!! This is hands down one of my favorite Jeep vehicles!

Jeep Rubicon Unlimited 4-door!

Wrangler JK Rubicon Unlimited 4-Door

They could easily be collectibles someday as the original Jeep Rubicons were limited production models! This Jeep is in great demand new and used...and the prices reflect that demand.

I'll give you an interesting set of scenarios:

1) buy a non-Rubicon Wrangler for less and build it up to similar specs, or

2) buy a Rubicon Jeep at a premium price with most of the desired upgrades already built in from the factory.

In my opinion, unless you can do most of your own mechanical work, you will get the best head start on a Rubicon...even at a premium initial cost.

The Rubicon Trail

According to Wikipedia ( "The Rubicon Trail is a 22-mile-long route, part road and part trail, located in the Sierra Nevada of the western United States, due west of Lake Tahoe and about 80 miles east of Sacramento.

The maintained portion of the route is called the McKinney-Rubicon Springs Road; it begins in Georgetown, California, a hamlet in California's Gold Country.

The road continues from its intersection with State Route 193 towards Wentworth Springs, where the trailhead for the unmaintained portion of the route exists adjacent to Loon Lake.

The trail portion of the route is about 12 miles long and passes in part through the El Dorado National Forest."

Rubicon Trail Map!

(Map courtesy of http://www.rubicon-trail .com)


The history of the Rubicon Trail taken from states that "in 1887, the El Dorado County Board of Supervisors declared the trail (or highway) from Wentworth Springs through Hunsucker Springs (Rubicon Springs) a public highway.

To ensure that the trail remained open for public use, in 1991, the Board of Supervisors reconfirmed the Rubicon Trail’s status as an unmaintained County right-of-way.

From the 1880s into 1940s, the Rubicon Trail was used to move cattle, sheep, and turkeys from the western slopes of the Sierras to the Meeks Bay area for summer grazing.

It was also used to provide access to the resorts located at Wentworth Springs, Rubicon Springs, and the west shores of Lake Tahoe.

Later residents of California used the area for hunting and fishing, just as the Maidu had hundreds of years before.

Shortly after the Eldorado National Forest was established, the U.S. Forest Service prepared a map showing areas where various game and fish species could be found.

In the 1920s, cars (Dodges and Stars) could travel the route from Georgetown to Rubicon Springs if they used “ropes and planks” to cross some of the rougher spots.

Car skeletons found along the trail in the early days were said to be proof of the trail’s difficulty.

El Dorado County officials eventually decided to develop the Rubicon Trail as an improved route from Georgetown to Lake Tahoe.

They rebuilt the wooden bridge across the Rubicon River in 1939.

In 1947, the County ordered the construction of a steel bridge over the River to replace the log bridge. The steel bridge was constructed in Placerville and transported to the site.

To ensure that the various pieces of the bridge would not shift on the trip to the bridge site, they were welded to the frame of the truck.

The bridge components were moved into the area via Lake Tahoe and Rubicon Springs.

Jeep Rubicon At TMS Auto Show 2008!

Trail Equipped Wrangler Rubicon

2008 Rubicon

In 1952, several residents of Georgetown met to discuss the possibility of hosting an organized Jeep tour from Georgetown to Lake Tahoe via the Rubicon Trail.

On August 29, 1953, 55 Jeeps with 155 participants left Georgetown on a two-day trip that is now known as "Jeepers Jamboree 1."

Every year during the last weekend of July, 4-wheelers follow the tradition of these “pioneers.” "

And now you know the rest of the story!

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