2003 Jeep Wrangler Rubicon 4 WD (439)

This week I took a break from the daily boredom of get up, go to work and went off roading in the 2003 Jeep Wrangler Rubicon 4 WD. A friend has a 1942 Army Jeep and we took them together.

The Old and New. Well, the first thing that happened is the Army Jeep overheated and vapor locked. After the usual attempts to clean out the fuel line we concluded the fuel pump went out. After trying some starter fluid in the carburetor it primed the pump and it started.

Some statistics I thought interesting between the first and the last: Curb weight is 2800 lbs. on the 1942 and 4600 lbs. on the Rubicon. The Wheelbase is 14 inches longer on the Rubicon and it tracks 11 inches wider.

Other than the basic-ness of the Wrangler, it was fun to drive and surely a departure from usual transportation. And this Jeep is not just a guy thing. There are a lot of gals driving Jeep Wranglers. My kind of gals. In fact I have visions of a lovely lady in a wet T-Shirt, in search for adventure, wind blowing through her hair and always ready to hang with the guys.

This Rubicon spells excitement and conjures up visions of hunting, fishing and rafting trips and almost seems out of place on a paved street.

By the way if you gals are looking for guys, I gotta tell ya, buy one of these and the guys will find you. Guys go for that “Wet and Wild” kind of gal. There is an interesting mystique with off road vehicles and the people who drive them. Consider the recent craze for the Hummer H2. At $100,000 the H1 was not reachable for most. At $48,000 the H2 is closer. At 24,000 this Rubicon will still give that “ready for anything” image. Well, almost anything. Of course if you hate the wind blowing in your hair, can’t stand outside activities, stop reading and forget the whole thing.

General Info:

Parts – US /Canada 83%

Assembly – Toledo, Ohio, USA

Class: – Special Purpose

Cars: – Grand Cherokee, Liberty and Wrangler.

Handling & Performance:

Bumpy. Rugged. Basic. But off road, hold on to your hat because this modern version of the original Army Jeep is nimble, Jack. For you old timers it is an “E” Ticket ride.


Original. There isn’t much of a departure from Jeeps beginnings aside from fancy paint, pretty wheels, upholstered seats and the like.

Jeep Wrangler Rubicon is available in a Soft Top, Hard Top or both Hard and Soft-top versions.

Fit and Finish:

It is a bit more solid and well put together, but still pretty basic.


You can spoil the effect by adding almost anything you find on Luxury SUV’s.


The price of being different means you’ll pay for champagne and get beer, because there is much more to this Jeep than meets the eye. It is very capable off road. Things like the front and rear wheel-locking feature. This kind of engineering doesn’t come cheap.

Consumer Recommendation:

If you’re a down to earth guy or gal who pride yourselves with being uniquely you, don’t mind getting your hands dirty, love to be outside in the wilderness, the manufacturer had you in mind for this vehicle. You probably like, skiing, camping, rock climbing, skydiving, rafting, surfing, hiking or all of the above.

Jeep owners are in a special club encouraged by the company who help make the off road adventure a reality with Jeep Jamborees. Truly a great experience and a 3-day course on how much your Jeep can do. It will amaze you as it did me on the Mohawk Trail in Massachusetts. I’m looking forward to the experience on the Rubicon Trail in California. You can learn more from their web site


The Competition:

Jeep Wrangler Rubicon $16-24,000 is in a class all by itself, even though the following are listed as competitors. Chevrolet Tracker $16-22,000, Kia Sportage $15-18,000, Suzuki Vitara $16-18,000, Toyota RAV 4 $17-18,000. But there is nothing close except the Hummer at two to four times the money.

Good News:

Different, fun to drive, powerful and a good reason to get off the couch, because life is not a spectator sport.

Bad News:

Poor fuel economy and getting in and out is like mounting a horse.

Standard Equipment:

4.0 liter inline 6 cylinder 190 horsepower engine, 4-speed automatic trans with lockup torque converter, dual air bags, 4-wheel power disc brakes, power steering, skid plate shield on the transfer case and fuel tank, tow hooks – 2 front and 1 rear, stabilizer bars front and rear, high pressure gas shocks, tilt leather wrapped steering wheel, center console, AM/FM radio with cassette and 4 speakers, carpeted, fully padded roll bar, fog lights, swing away mirrors, matching full size spare wheel and tire, soft top. Options: Air-conditioning $895, Cruise control $250, CD changer $125, Hard top with roll up windows, rear wiper and defroster $920.

Gas Stats:

16 City and 19 Highway MPG.


MSRP $24,485.

Your comments are welcomed. My e-mail is joe@autolove.com
Copyright © 2014 – An Automotive Love Affair.

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