A New Chapter in Four-Wheel Drive Adventure
When I purchased the Cherokee in 2005, I was just getting acquainted with the “overland” genre of recreational off-roading. Although I’ve never been a “hard-core” off-roader, I’ve always had a propensity to pick ambitious lines, which weren’t always appropriate for my modestly-equipped vehicles.
My intention with the Cherokee, was to preserve the vehicle’s factory characteristics, while maximizing its off-pavement mobility. This satisfied my needs as a recreational off-road enthusiast, and as an explorer. While the ride quality was always that of a Jeep, this goal was mostly achieved. It evolved into an extension of myself, and I wore it like a tailored suit.
After 10 years, two engines, an assortment of accessories, and over 150,000 miles, I’ve decided to retire the Cherokee. At a seasoned 15 years old, maintenance becomes somewhat more frequent, and quite simply, I was ready to try something new. Despite the Cherokee’s age, I have a feeling that its days of idling down primitive two-tracks are far from over.
In December of 2015, I purchased a 2013 Jeep Wrangler Unlimited Rubicon in vibrant Orange Crush. The Wrangler Rubicon satisfies the majority of my needs as a recreational off-road enthusiast from the factory. Additionally, the aftermarket industry is burgeoning for the JK Wrangler, which is nearing the end of its 10 years of production as I write this.
Although the Cherokee is exceptionally capable, the Unlimited Rubicon is a more contemporary platform that addresses many of Cherokee’s shortcomings, and introduces relatively few compromises.
I haven’t started outfitting the new Jeep yet, but I’ve already taken it on an inaugural trail ride at Rausch Creek Off-Road Park to familiarize myself with its capabilities. The crawl ratio is superb, I’m a huge fan of the electronic sway bar disconnect, and the manual locking differentials are a welcome addition. I think what amused me the most was the descent control. This is my 7th Jeep, and it’s the first time I’ve had such an electronic gizmo that affects off-road performance. Low range alone is sufficient for most descents, but the descent control button offers additional speed reduction.
As you might expect, the stock JK Unlimited’s biggest shortcoming is its ground clearance, which is easily remedied.
This is just the beginning and I can’t wait to get out there and do some travel and exploration in the new Wrangler!