Ever seen a car with a black mustache? You might have seen a pink mustache to indicate it’s a Lyft driver, but a black mustache? It being November, savvy men might understand the connection between a car and a mustache, however, because November is also Movember, a month-long series of charitable events to raise money for men’s health research.
Plenty of individuals and groups support Movember, including my pals at the Dad 2.0 Summit, but I haven’t heard much about companies that step in and participate. Which is why I was so impressed when Jeep reached out as part of their Movember campaign. The offer: drive around a brand new 2016 Jeep Wrangler Rubicon Hard Rock 4×4 with a mustache on it. For real:
It was fun test driving the Jeep, though I got less weird looks than I expected. Either people didn’t notice or they don’t think that there’s anything odd about a vehicle with facial hair.
With almost a week behind the wheel, I also learned that while the Jeep Rubicon is a really fun, rugged outdoor vehicle, it’s not a car that I would ever purchase. After years of driving luxurious cars and SUVs, it was jarring to be driving a SUV that required things like the actual insertion and rotation of a key to start:
Which isn’t to say that the car wasn’t without its luxuries and amenities. Far from it.
As you can see from the steering wheel, the vehicle includes a hands free bluetooth phone system, cruise control, remote stereo and entertainment system controls and a dashboard that shows engine temperature, tachometer, the direction you’re heading, outside temperature, and more:
This particular vehicle included an $1100 entertainment system upgrade that included the GPS nav system, which was much easier to photograph at night:
The combination of AM / FM / XM, hands free bluetooth and support for various media plus an internal hard disk for storing favorites made it hard to run out of listening options. The Jeep is relatively noisy — standard design in an actual off-road vehicle — so the music lacked the nuance of a luxury sedan, but was still enjoyable at highway speeds.
The heavy duty off road tires made handling a bit weird and at times it felt a bit mushy on turns, but, again, I’m sure that the deep treads on the tires contributed mightily to that. You can see in this photo what I mean about big, heavy tires:
What’s unusual and very cool about the Rubicon design with the Freedom Top option is that you can not only pop off the roof (just over the driver and passenger) but you can actually take off the doors too! They even include a toolkit with just what you need to disassemble your Jeep:
November in Colorado is on the way to winter and so it was way too cold to try taking the Rubicon apart, but if they want to sponsor a July or August event with me, I’m definitely ready for some vehicular disassembly!
What might surprise you is that the back door opens in such a way that you’d still have locking storage even if you did pop off the roof and doors, as you can see in this photo:
I already talked about being surprised I needed to actually use the key to start the Jeep, but one of the other things that surprised me was the hinge on the doors. Perhaps because of being removable, the door hinge assembly doesn’t stay partway open but moves purely based on gravity.
This meant that every time I parked on the slightest incline it was actually a bit tricky to get in or out of the car: something you’d probably get used to after a few weeks, I suspect, but I prefer car doors that don’t require me to think about them.
Look closely, it looks like a chain covered by fabric. That’s it. Functional for the off-roader, but I always wonder with this sort of 4×4 what percentage of owners actually drive off pavement, let alone head up into the mountains and blaze a new trail across the rugged wilderness.
If you’re looking for a 4×4 with everything you need to go where there aren’t any trails, there are a lot of features to really like about the Rubicon Hard Rock 4×4, including its 4WD system, sway bar, stabilizer bar, heavy duty front and rear axle, skid plate, fuel tank skid plate, traction control and lots more. The 2016 Jeep Wrangler Rubicon is a tough, off road vehicle where they’ve added some luxury features, but it’s not a luxury SUV. When the zombie apocalypse hits, this is the vehicle I want. Until then, however, I’ll stick with my more luxurious and, yes, less off-road capable SUV.
2016 Jeep Wrangler Rubicon Hard Rock 4×4 with Billet Silver Metallic exterior paint, Black interior, leather-trimmed bucket seats, 3.6-liter V6 24-valve VVT engine with 5-speed automatic transmission. Add-ons: Rubicon Hard Rock Edition 24J, 5-Speed Automatic transmission, 4.10 axle ratio, Freedom Top 3-piece hard top, and Radio 430N, including GPS system. Fuel efficiency: 17 city/21 highway. MSRP as configured: $43,825.
Disclaimer: Jeep made the Rubicon Hard Rock available for me to drive and experience for the purposes of this review.