2023 Jeep Wrangler Unlimited Rubicon (car review)

Chances are if you have a hundred grand to throw at a 2023 Jeep Wrangler Unlimited Rubicon and you’ve made your mind up to get one, no review is going to change your mind. That’s good because despite its flaws, it possesses something many others don’t.

That something is personality. Yes, the Jeep is old school. Yes, it has a lower ANCAP safety rating, is bloody thirsty and hell yes, it’s expensive (thanks to a price hike). That might sound like it doesn’t have much going for it, but that’s an incorrect assumption to make.

Put your sensible hat away for a little while, so we can explain, because the Wrangler Rubicon is one of the most engaging and personable vehicles on the road today. It’s big, loud, bright, bouncy and a total extrovert.

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It’s the mad mate with the big hair and cherry Doc Martins that happens to have an engineering degree. Crazy, but intelligent. It’s also powered by the same 209kW/347Nm 3.6-litre V6 petrol Pentastar engine as the rest of the range, mated to an 8-speed auto.

The Rubicon comes with a few extras though, including Rock-Trac active on-demand 4×4 (4:1 transfer case), a 77.2:1 crawl ratio, and Tru-Lok locking diffs. An electronic front sway bar disconnect is included, along with heavy duty Dana axles.

2023 Jeep Wrangler Unlimited Rubicon
2023 Jeep Wrangler Unlimited Rubicon

You’ll also find a rock slider with step assist, 32-inch BF Goodrich off-road tyres, 17-inch alloys, an auxiliary switch bank, off road mode, trail-rail management, leather and heated front seats. Grey exterior accents feature.

That’s all in addition to the goodies that come standard across the range such as an 8.4-inch Uconnect touchscreen infotainment system with satellite navigation, Apple CarPlay and Android Auto.

There’s a 7.0-inch information display in the dash and a 9-speaker Alpine sound system with a subwoofer too. LED lighting can be found everywhere and there’s an alarm, push button and remote start, window tinting, front and rear cameras and parking sensors.

Blind spot monitoring, rear cross path detection, adaptive cruise control with stop/start, forward collision warning and keyless entry complete the package. On top of all that, the hard top headliner (known by Jeep as Sky Roof) can be removed, as can the doors.

There’s a rollover bar inside that roof, and some neat interior highlights and stitching. On the outside, you can’t hide that bright Firecracker Red exterior paint. It screams look at me, as do the polished alloys with Gloss Black highlights and spare wheel cover.

front seats
Inside the 2023 Jeep Wrangler Unlimited Rubicon

Flat black steel bumpers, black mirrors and the black cloth rooftop slide, all work well to enhance that feeling. Officially nicknamed Ruby, we found ourselves in King Street in Newtown (one of Sydney’s alternative fashion suburbs).

We had to laugh. Here we were in a very serious off-roader, yet it fit in so well in Sydney’s alt-fringe. Total madness. What’s also crazy is taking this car too seriously for its on-road capabilities. Any “road only” review would pick it to shreds.

The 2023 Jeep Wrangler Unlimited Rubicon isn’t about the tarmac. It’s about compromise, traded in exchange for the smiles it creates when you’re having a a good time. There are some things that need to be called out though.

Firstly, the driver’s seating position is horrible. The footwell is designed for left-hand drive and when the conversion has been done, one minor detail has been overlooked. The gearbox takes up a third of the foot space. It is so, so cramped at the pedals.

We drove the Rubicon with one foot behind the other. There was no room for two feet near the stop and go pedal. It’s too narrow and while that isn’t a deal breaker, you’ll need to get out and stretch every so often. It’s super annoying but we doubt it can be fixed.

2023 Jeep Wrangler Unlimited Rubicon
2023 Jeep Wrangler Unlimited Rubicon

That footwell reminds us of a certain American motorcycle brand that fitted a fat rear tyre and wheel to one of their models. Instead of realigning the engine and drive belt to centralise everything, they simply moved the front wheel over by using a fatter spacer.

That means the wheels are inline, but they don’t run down the centre-line of the bike. This type of engineering tomfoolery surely only happens in the USA, and yet, despite all that, here we are, loving the Jeep because of its personality. Now back to the Wrangler.

The Rubicon is every bit as bouncy as you would expect for such a kitted out 4×4. You need to take your time, not rush corners nor brake suddenly, and use the torque the V6 offers. Keeping it straight requires constant input, while gaining momentum needs patience.

It’s not fast, on its way to 12.5-litres/100km from the 81-litre tank. Engine noise is up there too, but it adds to the experience, and the top notch sound system easily drowns it all out if you want it to.

The infotainment system is glitch free, very easy to navigate and even has proper buttons (there’s that old school thing again). The touchscreen is small but easy to see, and the instrument cluster has two real dials, along with a digital central display.

infotainment
Inside the 2023 Jeep Wrangler Unlimited Rubicon

We loved the hard buttons for things like climate control and audio, and there’s even a cigarette lighter (we haven’t seen one of those in years). The stick shifters are well positioned, with the road/off-road knobs both leather bound.

The centre armrest is well placed, with plenty of storage inside. There are cup and bottle holders throughout, and plenty of front and rear device charging outlets, as well as air-conditioning vents.

The power window controls are in the centre of the dash, presumably because the doors are removable, so that takes some getting used to, but aside from that, and the reverse stalk operation, everything falls to hand naturally. The dash vents are brilliant too.

Rear passenger space is generous, although there are no cup holders if a middle row passenger is onboard (they’re in the centre armrest), but there are a few metal bits to bang your head on if you’re not careful.

Boot storage is mega, with loads of room, plus the option of straps on the built-in Trail Rail. There’s a massive Alpine sub woofer out the back, which is handy for those beach parties you’ll find yourself at. You can even make the Rubicon topless at the push of a button.

rear seats
Inside the 2023 Jeep Wrangler Unlimited Rubicon

To be honest, the 2023 Jeep Wrangler Unlimited Rubicon is a silly road car that’s seriously good fun to drive around. At $90,450 plus on-roads, it’s also expensive. You’ve got to really want one, like, really, really, want one badly.

It’s also not the greatest on-roader, but is definitely the ultimate off-roader (see separate story – coming soon). While we reckon it’s too pretty to scratch, it does come with a 5-year 100,000km warranty.

You can find out more on the Jeep Australia website. If you’re keen on one and need finance, talk to CreditOne.

Our test vehicle was provided by Jeep Australia. To find out more about the 2023 Jeep Wrangler Unlimited Rubicon, contact your local Jeep dealer.

REVIEW OVERVIEW

Driving experience (on road)
7.5
Exterior styling
9.5
Interior look and feel
8.5
Technology and connectivity
9
Family friendliness
7.5
Value for money
6

SUMMARY

Pros - fun and engaging drive; great sound system; excellent gearbox; stand-out styling.
Cons - excessive fuel consumption; narrow driver footwell; low ANCAP score; price.
Jeff Ware
Jeff Warehttp://www.bikereview.com.au
Jeff Ware has been an Australian motorcycle journalist and publisher since 2001. He was the founder of Rapid Bikes Magazine, Knee Down Magazine, and Retrobike Magazine and currently heads up the team over at BikeReview. He's not a bad car journo either.

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<strong>Pros -</strong> fun and engaging drive; great sound system; excellent gearbox; stand-out styling.<br> <strong>Cons -</strong> excessive fuel consumption; narrow driver footwell; low ANCAP score; price.2023 Jeep Wrangler Unlimited Rubicon (car review)