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Old 12-11-2013, 03:04 PM   #1
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Sahara or Rubicon

I am getting my new Ventana in January and am looking at toads. I had a Montana that I pulled with my F-250. Instead of getting a new truck, I am taking the plunge into a Class A.

Does anyone have an opinion on between a Jeep Sahara or Jeep Rubicon? I am now driving a Denali and will probably get rid of for the new Jeep. Too many vehicles. I am wondering which Jeep I will like driving better. I would go fully loaded with whichever I get. I won't be rock climbing but will probably be going to Mammoth, Big Bear, or Tahoe in it.

Any help or comments will be appreciated.
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Old 12-11-2013, 03:14 PM   #2
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If you're not doing any serious off-roading a Sahara will do just fine. I assume you're talking JK. If so, they are very comfortable. A fully loaded one will have everything any other SUV will have.
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Old 12-11-2013, 03:27 PM   #3
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We have a 2007 Sahara Unlimited 4 door. The tow package gave it the same rear end as the Rubicon. The Rubicon has the "lockers" and that allows all 4 wheels to be drive wheels where as the Sahara in 4 wheel drive will have 1 front and one back wheel driving. As an example my buddy has a Rubicon and we were hill climbing in muddy conditions. I watched as all four of his wheels spun as he was attempting to climb a muddy hill (after watching I did not attempt to climb the hill).The Rubicon comes standard with the knobby tires and the are not quite or as quiet or smooth as the standard tires on the Sahara. Our Sahara came standard with 18" wheels and the Rubicon came standard with 17" wheels. The Sahara gives a bit better gas mileage. We have off roaded with our Sahara but have not done any hard core rock climbing with it. We have run the Sahara in 10-12" snow with no problems. The Rubicon Decal on the hood looks cool . If you buy a wrangler you might want to look into getting both the rag top and the hard top. We got the 4 door because there is soooo much more room in the back even when the back seats are up. If we were buying new today we would opt for the leather seats instead of the cloth that came with ours. We have used ours as a family car and we have 119,000 on the odometer plus maby up to 40,000 as a toad..

In short the Sahara, for us, was more of a everyday kind of vehicle with a bit more luxuries, although I understand you can go an extra mile and get a bunch of options on the Rubicon now.
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Old 12-11-2013, 03:52 PM   #4
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There are several differences between the Sahara and the Rubicon. The most noticeable are the difference in the differential axle ratios, locking vs. non locking differential capabilities, suspension, rock rails, electronic sway bar disconnect for extreme off roading.

There are also some differences in trim levels and amenities.

For a full comparison here's a link to the Jeep site.
2014 Jeep Wrangler - Detailed Chart Model Compare

You can compare all features on all the models or just the differences between models.

We went through this a few years ago. I was all set to order a Rubicon with all the goodies. When I asked the wife what color she wanted the reply was YELLOW. Much to my dismay 2005 was the only year Jeep didn't make Wranglers in YELLOW. We ended up buying a left over YELLOW 2004 Sport.

In the end it was probably a better choice. The Sport came with the 3.73 differential, and automatic transmission, both tops, fancy wheels & tires, and a host of other goodies. We've towed it over 100,000 miles and driven it only 39,000 miles. About 1/2 the miles are off road on trails rated moderate to difficult.

It's more than capable of going anywhere I'm willing to drive it. We don't do rock crawling or diving through mud holes, and don't abide by the hardcore axiom of "expect some body damage". I must admit there were times when there was more excitement than I expected. All in all I'd rather drive home from the trails with the Jeep undamaged than walk or be carried away.
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Old 12-11-2013, 04:06 PM   #5
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  1. Occasional trail riding and easy off-reading, the Sahara.
  2. If you are going to get into moderate to serious off-reading and the requisite Jeep modifications, the Rubicon.
  3. If really serious off-reading and modifications that would be upgrading lockers/gears past those of the Rubicon, then neither - more likely start with a base Jeep and modify to your hearts content.
I loves my Rubi - I am a #2 above.
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Old 12-11-2013, 04:13 PM   #6
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Our '07 Rubicon was totaled 18 months ago (while I was sitting still at a stop light) and I was not able to find another Rubicon Unlimited on short notice for less than a 42k MSRP. I ended up with a Sahara.

Firstly, the '12 gets better mileage, but not because its a Sahara, but because of the new engine that became standard in '12. I was not happy with the 3.21 gears that it came with so I switched them out for the same 4.10 ratio I had in the Rubicon. I still get a solid 2mpg better than I did with the '07 (20 with an occasional 22 vs the 18, occasional 20 with the Rubicon). For the short time I had the 3.21s I was getting 22 to 24mpg. This is with a 6 speed stick. I suspect you'd loose some with the automatic. While we had the differentials open I also had electric lockers installed.

The Sahara will have a Dana 30 front axle rather than the 44 in the Rubicon. It will come with a 44 in the rear, but not the same version as in the Rubicon. The Rubicon also has the ability to disconnect the front sway bar with a button on the dash and has a 4.1 to 1 transfer case as opposed to the standard 2.62.

For what it's worth, the "knobby" tires were not at all noisy. You'd not notice a whit of difference going down the road vs the all weather tires that come on the Sahara. The Sahara tires are also the exact same height as the Rubicon tires, in spite of the difference in wheel diameter. In fact, I found that there are hundreds of tire brands, sizes and designs, appropriate for a Jeep, in the 17" size that comes with the Rubicon package and very few sold for an 18" wheel, which seemed to make comparable tires that I could find for the 18" wheels much more expensive.

With 22k miles on the Sahara's odometer, and around 10k more as a toad, I can tell you the all weather tires will not last anywhere near as long as the Rubicon BFGs. I had 80k miles on the Rubicon when it was destroyed, with probably another 30k as a toad - with the original tires - and I expected to get at least one more season out of them without pushing any safety or functional envelopes. I'll be lucky to get half of that on the Sahara tires.

I'm not sure, but I suspect the spring rate on the Sahara may be a bit softer than on the Rubicon.

All that said, I agree that if all you're going to use it for is exploring some back country gravel roads, a Sahara will do you fine. As previously mentioned, without the locking differentials, a 4X4 is really just two wheel drive (describes 90% of the 4X4s on the road), with one powered wheel/tire per axle. The differential will send all the power to the wheel with the least traction.

If you anticipate any even moderately aggressive off road adventures you'll appreciate the additional capability of the Rubicon, probably the best "out of the box" off road vehicle you can buy at a dealership.
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Old 12-12-2013, 06:31 AM   #7
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Rubicon!!!!!
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Old 12-12-2013, 07:26 AM   #8
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This is a great thread with some excellent information.

I am currently looking for a Wrangle (Sport or Rubicon) as a toad and for some light banging around on gravel/dirt roads.

One thing I was wondering about...

The website/brochure says the Wrangler has plugs in the floor that you can remove and "Hose out the interior."

My question is... Just how wet can you get the interior?

Back when I was in high school, my buddy had a CJ5. We used to get the interior filthy, but it was all vinyl and metal. We would literally spray everything down with a power washer, including the dash. Never hurt it a bit. In fact, half the time my buddy would leave the top off and it would just sit out in the rain. The CJ didn't seem to care.

Are the current Wranglers that water proof? They don't appear to be.
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Old 12-12-2013, 08:03 AM   #9
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If you're going to do any "mudding", or deep water crossings, you should remove the carpet before your outing (it's designed to come out relatively easy), maybe put just the rubber floor mats back in. There are rubber or plastic body plugs in the floor that you'll be able to pull to drain any water.

Remember though, nothing in or behind the dash will react well to water. Even if you get lucky and don't have immediate problems the moisture will start corroding any and all electrical connections, not to mention anything else it gets into.

There's quite a difference between a Sport and a Rubicon, both in capability and in price. In my opinion, however, 90% of us will never need more off road capability than what you get with a stock Rubicon. With just a few choice mods to the Rubicon that would go up to 99%.
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Old 12-12-2013, 08:36 AM   #10
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We went the Sahara route and purchased a 2014 a couple weeks ago. I am really impressed with the smooth and quiet ride. It is the 5 speed automatic and has all the bells and whistles.
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Old 12-12-2013, 02:59 PM   #11
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Went and test drove a Rubicon this morning. Had tested a Sport S, and wanted to see how they compared. They come with different shocks and axles and I was concerned that this would adversely affect the ride of the Rubicon.

The Rubicon has a heavier feel to it, but performance, ride and handling was about the same.

What I did notice was the aggressive tires on the Rubicon. They made it feel like I was constantly driving on those rumble strips they put on the side of the highway. OK... Maybe not that severe, but you get the idea.

That is not a deal breaker for me as those tires can eventually be replaced. ... And it didn't seem to bother the DW at all.

Personally, I really like the more aggressive look and stance of the Rubicon, but as pointed out, the price is significantly more than the Sport S.

Decisions, decisions!
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Old 12-12-2013, 03:19 PM   #12
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I am not looking to see how big a rock I can climb.

My Wrangler Sport does everything I need, including Broken Arrow in Sedona, and the stuff in Moab, etc.

You can spend more than I did. But I'm betting I have more fun! ;-)

What is truly a shame is a Wrangler of any model that spends it's life "pristine".
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Old 12-12-2013, 03:33 PM   #13
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Quote:
Originally Posted by vtwinwilly View Post
What I did notice was the aggressive tires on the Rubicon. They made it feel like I was constantly driving on those rumble strips they put on the side of the highway. OK... Maybe not that severe, but you get the idea.
It would be interesting to check the tire pressure on the one you drove. If I ever started to feel that "rumble" I knew one or more of the tires were low on pressure.
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Old 12-13-2013, 08:45 AM   #14
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Thank you all for your posts. I got out yesterday and test drove a Rubicon and a Sahara. Both were fully loaded. The difference in price was around $3,000 more for the Rubicon.

I was trying to compare these to my Denali. No comparison on comfort. The Denali is a much better ride and has more comfort options. I was looking for power seats which the jeeps don't come with.

I found that the Rubicon seemed to have less power accelerating onto the freeway. This is probably because of the extra weight of the vehicle. The Rubicon hugged the ground and you can feel that it would climb over anything in its way. I really liked the more rugged look of the Rubicon.

The Sahara was a smother ride but seemed to have more wind noise. Not sure if this is typical or just on the one that I test drove. The Sahara has the step which is a good feature.

Both seem like a great extra vehicle to have and use mainly for a toad. I will probably start looking for a good used Rubicon and not a new one. If I'm going to have it just for the toad, then the Rubicon seems like the best option. May never go over a bunch of rocks but it is nice to always be able to.
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