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Jeep Rubicon Hits Moab!

By Mike "TXJEEPER" Cohn
Photos courtesy of DaimlerChrysler

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2003 Jeep Rubicon
Jeep Rubicon on Moab Rim
So what do you get when you take what is widely-regarded as the best out-of-the-box four-wheeler on the market and add tons of upgrades made for tackling the toughest trails? The 2003 Jeep Rubicon.

For over 60 years, Jeep has been the leader in building one of the most capable and fun off-road vehicles in the world. The short wheelbase Jeeps have evolved from basic, rough-riding CJ's to softer and more refined YJ Wranglers to the current TJ Wrangler, whos flexy suspension and car-like interior have made it a favorite among four-wheelers since the '97 model year.

All along, those who really wanted to push the envelope off-road and go well beyond where a stock Jeep could take them have added driveline upgrades and accessories from the aftermarket, such as lockers, bigger axles and lower gears. These upgrades are not only expensive but they are also, in many cases, difficult to install.

The folks at Jeep have finally heeded the call for an off-the-line, go-anywhere Wrangler. For the last couple years, rumors have circulated about a "built" TJ coming, however, with new safety regulations, liability issues, and the bean counters tightening the boot straps, nobody ever thought that DaimlerChrysler would ever let Jeep built this elusive Wrangler.

Well thanks to a lot of hard work, R&D, and probably some begging, the top brass have given the green light to the Jeep Rubicon for the 2003 model year.

The Rubicon will be a far cry from just a trim package added on to a regular TJ Sport. As you may have read on these pages before, the Rubicon models will include such things as:

  • Dual, switchable air lockers
  • Front and rear Dana M44 axles with 4.10:1 gears
  • An all-new NV2410R transfer case with 4:1 low range
  • Goodyear P245/75R16 MT/R (30.46") tires on new 16-inch 5-spoke rims
  • Four-wheel disc brakes
  • Diamond plate sill (rocker) guards
  • Extra-strength 1330 driveshaft u-joints
  • Extra-strength 297 axle joints. New ones to be cold-forged - proven 10x longevitiy in cyclic-testing
  • Full factory warranty

2003 Jeep Rubicon
Doing a handstand on Moab Rim
We Drove It!
We got invited to a special event put on by Jeep during the Moab Easter Jeep Safari last month. Jeep brought out four Rubicons for us to test. Two were hand-built test mules, while the others actually came off the assembly line in Toledo, where actual production will begin at the end of the summer.

Each invitee was given the keys to a Rubicon and we headed for the trails. Throughout the day, Jeep engineers and PR people would ride in the passenger seat of each Rubicon so we could hear their thoughts on the vehicles and we could share ours, as well as ask questions.

During the two days that Jeep took the press out for rides, the Rubicon tackled such trails as Moab Rim, Gold Bar Rim, Lower Helldorado, and Hell's Revenge.

The Rubicons gathered many onlookers as it traversed the trails around Moab. It was a lot of fun being able to say we were in a "stock vehicle" as people asked what it was.

We have included some sneak-peek photos for your enjoyment, but we have tons more coming soon. But, to see those and to find out what our impressions of the Jeep Rubicon are and what else is new for the TJ in 2003, you'll have to wait until August 1st. Stay tuned!

2003 Jeep Rubicon 2003 Jeep Rubicon
2003 Jeep Rubicon 2003 Jeep Rubicon
2003 Jeep Rubicon 2003 Jeep Rubicon
2003 Jeep Rubicon 2003 Jeep Rubicon

Learn more about the 2003 Jeep Rubicion at www.jeep.com.
Be sure to also take a virtual test-drive at www.jeep.com/adventure/home.jsp

 

Michael Cohn

Michael "TXJEEPER" Cohn is the Editor and founder of Rockcrawler.com.

Contact Michael at