2015 Jeep Wrangler Rubicon Hard Rock Edition Review
Excellent off-road prowess
Hard top option good for security & comfort
Off the lot trail-ready
Not a terribly smooth ride
Hard Rock edition not for the casual driver
For off-roaders, there’s the Jeep Wrangler, Nissan Xterra, Toyota 4Runner and the discontinued Toyota FJ Cruiser. For serious off-roaders there is the top-of-the-line Jeep Wrangler Rubicon that is already set up with all the equipment for some serious fun. The Jeep Rubicon is named after the famed Rubicon Trail that’s 22 miles of part road and part trail located in the Sierra Nevadas. The Jeep Rubicon will handle the trail with ease.
This week we are test driving the top-of-the-line 2015 Jeep Wrangler Rubicon 2-Door Hard Rock Edition. The 2-Door has a shorter wheelbase and overall length making it ideal for tight trails, traversing rock fields and getting in and out of remote spots. Rubicon has some hefty off-road credentials.
Wrangler’s standard stereo now has eight speakers, while the optional Alpine stereo standard on Rubicon now features nine. Jeep also includes a Torx tool kit for removing the doors and roof. The Rubicon Hard Rock edition debuts, though it’s essentially last year’s Rubicon X with the addition of the premium Alpine audio system.
Rubicon features and options
The 2015 Jeep Wrangler Rubicon ($31,595) is ready for serious off-road excursions and gets special 17-inch wheels, 32-inch off-road tires, a heavy-duty Dana 44 front axle, a shorter 4.10 rear-axle ratio, an upgraded transfer case with a lower crawl ratio, electronic front and rear locking differentials, an electronically disconnecting front sway bar, rock rails, automatic headlamps and under-hood insulation. Inside, you get a leather-wrapped steering wheel and shift knob, coat hooks, a 115-volt outlet, bright interior accents and satellite radio.
The Rubicon “Hard Rock” Edition ($4,500) adds 17-inch semi-gloss black wheels and black exterior trim, a power dome hood, wider rock rails, black leather upholstery, heated front seats, a unique gauge cluster and the Alpine stereo. It also gets steel front and rear bumpers, power heated mirrors, keyless entry and deep tint windows. This Rubicon also came with an optional three-piece removable hardtop ($595) with a rear defroster and wiper. Total MSRP $39,255 including destination.
While the 2015 Jeep Wrangler Rubicon has some mighty hefty off-road credentials, inside the Hard Rock Edition, there is much to make you comfortable on the trail. This Firecracker Red Rubicon tester comes with black heated leather seats, a leather wrapped steering wheel with audio controls and power heated mirrors. There’s actually a smattering of style inside with its silver accents and accent stitching on the seats. It also includes an 8 speaker audio system with satellite radio.
Otherwise, the Jeep Rubicon is more about function inside. The dash is still upright and the cabin evokes a throwback feeling from another era when the Jeep was about the only true off-road vehicle around. One glance upward though, and you know you are in a new-generation Jeep Wrangler. This Rubicon came with the optional hardtop that replaces the standard soft top. The hardtop features removable T-top-style panels over the front seats and offers a smart choice when you don’t want to go topless. Otherwise the entire hardtop can be removed with the new Torx tool kit.
The Rubicon 2-Door has a full back seat and is more suited for taking two adults on a short trip. It’s ideal for two people and their gear loaded in the back for a weekend excursion. There’s limited cargo room behind the Wrangler’s rear seats (just 12.8 cubic feet), with the seatbacks folded down there’s 55.8 cubes. Gaining access to the back is tight for adults with the top on, and much easier with the top off as rear passengers can hop over the sides. Rubicon is offered in a four-door Unlimited version and a good option for those needing more cargo and passenger carrying ability.
Engine and fuel mileage specs
The 2015 Wrangler is powered by a 3.6-liter V6 engine producing 285 horsepower and 260 pound-feet of torque. It’s all-wheel-drive system features high-and low-range gearing and Rubicon comes with very short gearing uniquely suited for off-road use. It also gets an upgraded transfer case with an extra-low crawl ratio. The V6 engine comes mated to a 6-speed manual gearbox with hill start assist as standard. A five-speed automatic is optional. Estimated fuel economy for the two-door is 17/21 city/highway and 18 combined mpg.
The Jeep Wrangler Rubicon 2-Door isn’t for everyone and it’s designed for those wanting a truly unique off-road vehicle. You don’y buy this vehicle for the ride quality, because it does have higher on road noise levels and the short wheel base can get squirrelly at high speeds if you aren’t used to it.
Because of its higher ground clearance, we experience quite a bit of body roll in the mountain corners west of Denver. The 6-speed’s low gears required some getting used to, but once we has a little time behind the wheel, the Rubicon was fun to drive in the city. The 3.6-liter V6 has plenty of power for all driving situations and reasonably quick around town. The 2-door’s short wheelbase enabled us to scoot through traffic with no issue.
Denver experienced a severe winter storm this week and we got to experience the Rubicon’s all-wheel-drive abilities up close and personal. We put the Wrangler into four high and powered through 20-inches of fresh powder that fell in the foothills west of town. With the bigger off-road tires, this tester had no issue with getting us to our destination in the mountains. We tried the four low gears on a steep snow-covered off-road hill west of Denver, and experienced the Rubicon’s extra tire-spinning torque multiplication (and better crawl ratio) that the 4.10 gears provide. We were able to pull up the hill and reached the top without getting stuck.
The 2015 Jeep Wrangler Rubicon is designed for those wanting to get far away from civilization. It offers recreation enthusiasts a complete trail-ready vehicle without any modifications. If you want to completely dominate the off-road trails, the Rubicon two-door is ideal for extreme off-roaders that can handle just about anything you can throw at it. The “Hard Rock” Edition gives adventure enthusiasts even more features and luxury. We would definitely recommend the hard top option as it provides an extra level of security and comfort.