photos to enlarge
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.
Rubicon on Moab Rim
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.
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.
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.
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.
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:
a handstand on Moab Rim
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.
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.
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
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!
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
"TXJEEPER" Cohn is the Editor and founder of Rockcrawler.com.
Contact Michael at