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When Driving is about Lifestyle, Car Life Nation is the Answer

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A grey 2023 Jeep Wrangler is shown from the side parked on a dirt road.

The 2023 Jeep Wrangler: The Five Best Off-Roading Models

Every 2023 Jeep Wrangler is off-road capable: let’s just get that out of the way. That said, there are some trim levels and models that are even more off-road-friendly than others. While Wrangler Sport and Sahara owners, for example, may spend most of their time on pavement, someone who frequents the trails will want something even more capable—a Willys or Rubicon trim, for example. The main factor here is that you need those extra features, like a full underbody skid plate, higher articulation ratings, Selec Speed Control, and the like. If you find yourself frequently chasing rocks, dirt, and mud, these Wrangler trims and models are for you.

#5. The Willys Sport

The good ole 2023 Willys Wrangler Sport trim is made for the more price-conscious off-roading enthusiasts. It has the lowest MSRP of the five main off-roading trims yet includes Rubicon shocks and rock rails, a Trac-Lok Limited Slip Rear Differential, and 32-inch mud tires, just like the regular Willys trim. Its aesthetics are similar as well, thanks to the classic black grille and bumper, 17-inch black aluminum wheels, the 4×4 swing gate decal, and Willys front hood decals. This trim also comes with standard all-weather floor mats and the available Xtreme Recon Package, which includes massive 35-inch tires.

There are three main Wrangler 4×4 systems—Command Trac, Selec Trac, and Rock Trac. The Willys Sport trim comes with the standard Command Trac System, which also contributes to its lower price. Don’t let this deter you, though. Just because it’s standard does not mean it’s weak. Command Trac is a part-time four-wheel drive system that uses Dana axles and includes a two-speed transfer case with a low-range gear that helps maintain traction. The Willys Sport trim also has an available Trac-Lok Limited Slip Differential for mud, snow, and tricky terrain.

#4. The Willys

At first glance, the Willys trim may not seem much different from the Willys sport, but it is. While there are a lot of similarities, there are also some key differences that separate these two models. The 2023 Willys Wrangler comes with everything that the Willys Sport trim does, plus LED headlamps and fog lamps, and most importantly, the Selec Trac 4×4 System. Although it’s similar to Command Trac, the Selec Trac System comes with a full-time four-wheel drive mode. This means that the Willys Wrangler will automatically switch between two-wheel drive and four-wheel drive for you, depending on the road conditions. This model also comes with Selec-Speed Control which is a combination of Hill Ascent and Hill Descent Control—an off-roading cruise control feature that holds the Wrangler back across declines and maintains a safe speed during inclines.

We find that the regular Willys trim offers the perfect balance between all Jeep Wrangler off-roading models—it’s handy for those who like to hit the trails while also using their Wrangler as a daily driver. When you find yourself equally split between city commutes and farming or trailing fun, the Willys is a perfect fit. It’s also a great option if you like to go mudding but aren’t keen on spending Rubicon-level cash. The Willys may not be as capable as the Rubicon, but it’ll certainly get the job done for the average off-roader.

The black interior of a 2023 Jeep Wrangler shows the steering wheel and infotainment screen.

#3. The Rubicon

Of course, the Jeep that was originally designed for off-roading is clearly high on our list. The 2023 Jeep Wrangler Rubicon is superior with its unique Rock-Trac System, 33-inch off-road tires, electronic sway bar disconnect, and steel rock rails. It also has locking front and rear differentials, meaning that all the wheels can spin at the same time, equalizing torque and improving traction. Speaking of torque, the Rock-Trac System works with standard Dana front and rear axles to provide the most torque possible. Like the Willys trims, the new Rubicon also comes with an optional Xtreme Recon Package, which includes those massive 35-inch off-roading tires for optimal ground clearance.

Keep in mind that the whole Rock-Trac name comes in good faith. While the Willys model is more than enough for mudding and dirt trails, hardcore rock climbing requires something greater, like the Rubicon. While it’s unrealistic to generalize, the Rubicon is a better fit for west coast off-roaders who are tackling rock-heavy trails, while the Willys is great on the east coast and the Appalachian Mountain Range. This doesn’t mean that you shouldn’t opt for the Rubicon if you’re east coast; it just means that when you’re on a budget, the Willys trims will more than suffice.

Keep in mind that while capability is important, convenience is also essential when you’re driving a Wrangler. That’s why the new Rubicon includes some cool convenience features in addition to its vast capabilities. Not really into the whole heavy, removable top thing? This model includes an available Sky One-Touch Power Top, which essentially makes your Wrangler an electric-powered convertible. Like to access all your favorite features in one place? You’ll also get a standard Uconnect 4C NAV system that includes an 8.4-inch touchscreen and a premium audio system. Overall, it’s safe to say that the Rubicon is a top-level trim for more than one reason.

#2. The 4xe (Rubicon and Willys Trims)

What if we told you that the hybrid Wrangler is one of the best off-roading models on the market? It’s true, thanks to the Willys and Rubicon trim levels. Get all those awesome off-pavement features you get with the Willys or Rubicon trims, but with an electric twist. The hybrid 4xe Wrangler is chargeable via two different charging cables—Level I and Level II. Level I is great for overnight charging since the 4xe can reach a full charge in 12 hours. The Level II is good to have for last-minute endeavors because it can charge the 4xe fully in just two hours. This allows for an estimated 49 MPGe, and with a full tank of gas, up to a 370-mile drive range.

The best part about off-roading in the 4xe is that you can fully immerse yourself in nature. Simply save your electric power for scenic, wildlife-filled routes when you want to avoid disturbing the wildlife. The Jeep Brand is also working to install charging stations at off-roading trails all across the country, so you can always bump up your charge when you stop for lunch or to do some hiking. For the ultimate gas/electric off-roading experience, just be sure to stick with the 2023 Jeep Wrangler Willys or Rubicon 4xe trims.

A silver 2023 Jeep Wrangler is shown from the rear off-roading.

#1. The 392

As if the regular Rubicon wasn’t powerful enough, the Jeep brand has gone above and beyond with the 2023 Jeep Wrangler Rubicon 392. This beast has everything that the regular Rubicon has, plus a standard 6.4-liter V8 HEMI engine that helps it produce 470 horsepower and 470 lb-ft of torque, pushing it from 0 to 60 in just 3.5 seconds. Due to this and its dual-exhaust with Performance Mode, you cans roll up in your Wrangler, sounding like a sports car with all-terrain capabilities that no other stock SUV on the market can offer. The Electronic Sway Bar Disconnect provides a ramp travel index of 730, which essentially means that the Wrangler 392’s front-end articulation is unthinkably impressive.

The 392 comes with a Hydro-Guide Air Induction System, which looks like a sporty hood scoop but is much more than just aesthetics. Keep that powerful engine cool and dry thanks to the standard induction system, which draws cool air into the engine and separates water from the intake. That higher price tag isn’t all about performance, either. Once you’re inside the 392, you’ll find steering wheel paddle shifters, an “Off-Road Pages” screen that details everything you need to know about current trail stats and specs, and even an available TrailCam Off-Road Camera. That’s not to mention a premium audio system just like the regular Rubicon, leather-trimmed seats, and a seven-inch full-color instrument cluster.

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