Happy Anniversary, Jeep! Born in 1941, the iconic brand is celebrating 75 years of off-road toughness and its go anywhere, do anything attitude. We recently marked the stellar occasion by spending a week behind the wheel of a 2016 Jeep Wrangler Unlimited Rubicon Hard Rock Edition as we celebrated our anniversary in the Texas Hill Country.
At first, I thought perhaps the Jeep might not be the ideal vehicle for a road trip but we soon learned many of the wineries we were going to visit in the new Texas Wine Country were on real Texas ranch land and the pavement ends at the front gates. These were ideal conditions for the Jeep, especially if Mother Nature decided to rear an ugly head.
The weather was fabulous and we even opened up the Sunrider soft top to further enjoy our time in the Jeep. Our tester was up to any situation we could throw at it. Surprisingly, the big mud tires were not too noisy and offered a smooth ride. The suspension never bounced us around too much and the Jeep Wrangler Unlimited handled like a champ on paved surfaces and ranch roads alike. There were times when we were dodging wildlife and farm animals but the Jeep took it all in stride and proved to be a good choice for the trip.
Several years back Jeep switched to the new corporate Pentastar 3.6-liter V-6 engine as the big motor for the Wrangler Unlimited models and its smooth operation and wide powerband never let us down. Being still somewhat of a squared-off body vehicle, fuel economy is not as high as sibling SUVs in the Jeep stable. We managed to get between 16 and 20 mpg in town and on the highway. Jeep offers a choice of six-speed manual gearbox or five-speed automatic transmission in the Wrangler Unlimited and our tester featured the latter.
Some of the significant features that set the Hard Rock Edition apart from other Wranglers is the wide steel front bumper with removable end caps, rock slider side rails, red tow hooks front and rear, polished semi-gloss black alloy wheels (with red Jeep logos), black fuel filler door, premium Alpine audio system with subwoofer, heated leather seating, the aforementioned black Sunrider soft top, all-weather slush mats, and power dome hood with heat extractors. If I could change one thing I would opt out of the leather seats and go with something in a durable sport cloth.
Being a Jeep Wrangler, the doors and all soft-top panels are removable and the windshield still folds flat forward. We never went to that extreme this trip but we have enjoyed Wranglers open-air experience in the past and there is nothing else like it these days in a vehicle purchased right off the showroom floor.
The tire pressure monitor provided miles of worry-free driving and with the rear seats folds forward we were able to cram quite a bit of cargo in the back of the long Wrangler. Our tester also came with a 6.5-inch color touchscreen display complete with navigation, satellite radio, and SiriusXM Travel Link and Jeep also throws in a remote start system.
Pricing for the 2016 Jeep Wrangler Unlimited Rubicon Hard Rock Edition begins at $36,995 with our loaded tester arriving with a final window sticker of $46,525. This includes Dana 44 heavy-duty front and rear axles, Tru-Lok front and rear differentials, hill start assist, hill descent control, electronic stability control, electronic roll mitigation, trailer sway damping, and skid plates to protect vital components underneath.
Thank you, Jeep, for being a part of our anniversary celebration and congratulations on 75 years of 4×4 leadership. The Rubicon Hard Rock Edition was a blast to drive and spend time in. We made many new friends on this trip and hope to bring you along on future travels to Texas Wine Country.