Aloha from Hawaii!
I have visited the Jeep Wrangler Forum many times over the years and decided today to sign up and become a member. I had guests here (I live on the Big Island of Hawaii and have guests often!) and rented a four door Jeep Wrangler Unlimited Hard Top for the last 10 days (because I only have a regular cab pickup). I was pleasantly surprised when it ended up being a new Rubicon with only 900 miles on it. Overall I have to say that I was pretty impressed with it. I really liked the 4:1 low range. The power was adequate. It would be nice if the electronic locking differentials worked in all drive positions other than just low range and under 10 miles per hour (as I recall from briefly reading the owners manual). The four speed Automatic Transmission did not seem to be a big power drain either and worked fine. In fact I drove this Unlimited Wrangler Rubicon fully loaded with five people and all our gear to the top of Mauna Kea at almost 13,800 feet in elevation and it performed fine. Another day I drove through, up, and across rivers and streams multiple times. Some water crossings were probably almost two feet deep. Not one bit of problems. This Rubicon convinced me to order a new Wrangler, but a two door model.
I an inclined to order a Rubicon model only because of the 4:1 Low in the Transfer Case and the Dana 44 front axle. I am however not sold on the electronic locking differentials. The other idea I had was to order a plain standard model two door Wrangler. I will install a 2 1/2" TeraFlex lift and run 35" tall tires. I would also install 4.88 gears. A Detroit Locker in the rear and a TruTrac in the front (as I understand the standard front axle is a high pinion reverse rotation Dana 30 and that this version is stronger and able to survive a larger tire. I believe that the axle tubes and knuckles are the same on either the Dana 30 or Dana 44. Only difference is the pumpkin housing and inner axle shafts). I will also install Shockworks Rock Sliders. New winch and front bumper. Maybe after the warranty is expired install an Atlas II gear driven transfer case with a 4.3:1 Low Range (this is even a better transfer case than the chain drive version that comes with the Rubicon). If the front axle did fail I would install a high pinion 9 inch Currie made axle with manual hubs, however I drive pretty conservative, even in four wheel drive and I expect that the Dana 30 would survive just fine.
Either way I will order my Wrangler with an Automatic Transmission, Hard Top, Air Conditioning, and Cruise Control. I would plan to keep this Wrangler until it or I am dead.
What would other more experienced members recommend?
Thank you for reading my long first thread! Brad.