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Old 07-12-2015, 05:37 PM
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Rick Grimes's Avatar
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Let me pick your brain

Hi everyone! For decades I've been modding and building classic cars and Euro compacts. Now that I am in my mid 40's, at a high stress job and have two phones strapped to me plus a communication radio I'm done with high speed and cannon carving. I want to be able to go oou to the middle of no where and unplug. No phones, no internet, no radios. So after doing some research I want to get a Wrangler Unlimited. I don't plan on doing any rock climbing or mud bogging. I want to do a build that I can go through the desert, some river beds, and over small to medium rocks. I want a '12 or newer, so I got some questions....

1. What model do you recommend, Sport, Sahara, or Rubicon?
2. I heard '12 had some engine issues... What are they?
3. Lifts; no more than five inches however I have heard of stabilization issues. What are some of the best lifts?

Thanks for you help

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Old 07-12-2015, 05:50 PM   #2
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Others will have much better information for you but I'd suggest you start looking in some of the "Overland" threads because it sounds like the direction you'd want to build your rig (as opposed to rock crawling). It's where I'm headed as well. I picked up a Rubicon because I wanted the extras it comes with in the electronic sway bar disconnect, front and rear lockers, the mud tires, and Dana 40s in the front an back. I looked at it as I was going to put the overlanding equipment in this, so I'll leave the offroad mechanics to Jeep.

That said, any of the models will take you quite a ways off into the middle of no where as they are. 2012 was the first year for the 3.6 Pentastar and there were some head issues that plagued the engine for a while. It seems that by 2013 it was all corrected. I haven't read about any issues with the engine now and it seems to be one of the best ever made - right up there with the 4.0L.

I'm taking my Rubicon back across the country next year and I'm doing in loaded down with all the overlanding extras, including a roof top tent, fridge/freezer, etc ,etc. My home in the middle of the desert. I don't plan on lifting it at all from the factory- at least until these M/T tires wear down and it's time to replace them. I have a winch, a shovel and some Maxtracks and that's all I need.

Black 2015 JK Unlimited Rubicon Hard Rock
Full overland build.
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Old 07-12-2015, 08:21 PM   #3
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1) based on what you said you want to do, any model is acceptable. The sport and Sahara models come with the same equipment. Both have factory body armor and 4 wheel drive on solid front and rear axles. The Sahara has the additional option of rear LSD and more creature comforts standard and optional. The Rubicon has a larger front axle with locking differentials front and rear. It has an improved crawl ratio and electronic sway bar disconnects. You can get the interior bare bones or fully loaded. There are also several limited additional models each year with some added perks.

2) The engine issues were in 2012 and might have impacted a few of the early 2013s. I can't remember for sure what it was, but I think it was ticking heads.

3) a five inch lift is crazy for a new model JK or JKU. You can roll stock in what you want to do given appropriate tires. 5" lifts are reserved for guys that trailer their rigs to Boulder fields and require 10s of thousands of dollars in other modifications in order to work. You want a suspension lift somewhere between 0 and 2.5 inches. The only reason to lift a Jeep is to put bigger tires on it. New Jeeps come stock with 32" tires. To go bigger, you need new wheels with better offset. 33s will fit with new wheels and a 0-1" lift. 35s will fit with new wheels and a 2-2.5" lift. You don't need anything bigger than a good 32" tire for your needs, but bigger tires do add better performance and really look cool!
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Old 07-12-2015, 10:13 PM   #4
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Just get a Rubicon and call it even. You won't need a lift, will have ultra overkill for capability, and most of them are already optioned out pretty good.

Now if you want a toy, and don't need plug and play (in other words want something to "build") get a Sport and get nuts. But be forewarned: for what it sounds like you want, you'll be spending more than what a Rubicon would cost to just to get to it's level of capability out of the box.

For reference, I wanted one mostly done and that I didn't have to build when we ordered our '12 JKUR. All I did in order to prep it for it's namesake (yes, the Rubicon is actually named after a trail) was put mild 2" springs, winch, and a whole bunch of armor on the underside. We are on our second set of stock sized tires and have been very happy with all of it and have done 2 runs on that trail with zero issues (never even spooled out the winch).

There are much better lockers than the Rubicon. There are better axles than the OEM D44s. The T case is pretty stout, but if you get crazy, an Atlas is always out there. You can add a much better aftermarket head unit for the stereo than the OEM Nav ones, and blah blah blah. But I just rattled off way over $10k in modifications, and ours has been a very good machine to us in its mostly stock form.

Hope that gives you a little point of reference. I've been doing what you are seeking on motorcycles for many years, and now take the dirt bike on a hitch carrier to places like Death Valley where work knows they can't reach me.
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Old 07-13-2015, 12:08 PM
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Thank you all so very much! You all have been more the helpful!
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Old 07-13-2015, 12:28 PM   #6
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+ 1 on the Rubicon, I ordered mine without all the electronics they would allow me to remove, then added the lockers with 4:10's.
Still a little bummed manual hubs weren't an option.
Only thing I now wish I'd added is the headliner.
Made my first payment last week so not much experience with it yet, BUT I did grin signing the check. That was a new reaction for me.

The only down side is I'm already looking to drop a couple k for a Rock Hard bumper n winch.
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Old 07-13-2015, 12:45 PM   #7
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I am with longtallsally, Rubicon is the best as far as factory optioned trail capability. I am a little biased though since I have an 03 TJ and a 15 JKUHR both Rubicons and would not have it any other way. But....if you wanna tinker on it and build it your way I would go sport or the freedom Oscar mike edition. I really like that Oscar Mike.
Which ever way you choose to go the Jeep is a very relaxing ride and will take your mind off of a lot of other stuff. Enjoy!!!
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Old 07-13-2015, 01:03 PM   #8
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Based on your description .... Any model BUT the Rubicon is the one I'd get if I was in your shoes.

and, just stay away from my nose. Thanks (-:
"Sticking Feathers up Your Butt does Not make You a Chicken"
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Old 07-13-2015, 06:24 PM
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Thank you!

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