Dave's Jeep JL Rubicon: The Gray Goat

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Senior Staff
GP. General Purpose. Jeep.


A legendary name forged in the fires of war. On the battlefield, the Jeep was fast, nimble and tough, serving in every clime and place.

Since then, Jeep has gone through many changes in ownership and lineup over the years, and has even been imitated (and arguably improved upon) by Land Rover and Toyota. And while I was always a sucker for an old flat fender Willy's (really, who isn't?), the brand never had my full attention as a consumer until they revealed the JL Wrangler at the LA Auto Show in 2017.

This modern variant of the original Jeep is still built right here in the USA, and the JL features a modern interior and drivetrain with factory solid axles, removable doors and top, and some of the small touches that gave the 1941 Willy's such a cool factor.

This JL weighs 200 lbs less than the JK with it's doors, hinges, hood, fenders and windshield frame being made from high-strength aluminum, while the rear tail gate is made from magnesium. The all-new frame is fully-boxed with five cross members and a hydroformed front section. It uses 80 percent high strength steel, increasing torsional stiffness by 18% over the JK.

The new JL Rubicon D44 axles are stronger and feature a different ring and pinion (210 mm/8.27 inches front and 220 mm/8.66 inches rear) and thicker axle tubes. The Rubicon’s housings are stuffed with 4.10 gears and Tru-Lok electric lockers that can be engaged on the fly at up to 30 mph in 4LO. The new Dana axles are also 1.5 inches wider which allows for a tighter turning radius than the JK, and ground clearance is 10.9 inches from the factory. An approach angle of 44 degrees, breakover angle of 27.8 degrees, and a departure angle of 37 degrees gives it a HUGE advantage on the trail.

The standard 3.6 liter Pentastar V6 makes 285 HP and 260 lb-ft of torque, significantly more than my 4.0 liter 1GR-FE V6 Tacoma did and with better fuel economy too. I wasn’t interested in the 2.0L 'eTorque' I-4 Turbo Engine with BSG (mild hybrid) option with its complicated systems, and the 3.0 EcoDiesel (if it actually happens) doesn’t appeal to me.

The factory electric lockers front and rear are great as is a good old fashioned manual shift lever for the transfer case, and new 850RE TorqueFlite automatic features a low 4.71:1 First gear and delivers a JK-beating 77.2:1 crawl ratio (compared to 58.9:1 on the five-speed automatic JK) when paired with the JL Rubicon’s NV241OR Rock Trac 4:1.

There is simply nothing else on the market in 2018 that offers better mobility right from the factory. It was love at first sight.

So I sold my other rig and started a new project with a goal of keeping it simple, fast and light.

YEAR: 2018
MAKE: Jeep
COLOR: Sting Gray
PACKAGES: Everything
ENGINE: 3.6 liter V6, 285 hp and 260 lb-ft of torque
TRANSMISSION: 850RE TorqueFlite, 8 speed auto


Additional Lighting by Baja Designs
-LP9 Pros
-S2 Pros
-Rock Lights (red)

Vehicle recovery via Superwinch EXP12

Suspension by Icon Vehicle Dynamics 2.5 inch Stage 8

Rhino Rack JL Backbone and Pioneer Rack

12V accessory control by sPOD - Bantam w/HD panel
Jeep JL Plate system by Goose Gear w/kitchen
Magnetic phone mount by 67 Designs



Maintenance Info and Notes:

Lug nut torque specs: 130 ft lbs

Oil and Air filter notes:
Changed both at 29,850 miles February 2020

Engine air filter P/N: Mopar 68257030AA
Cabin air filter P/N: Mopar 68301863AA
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Senior Staff
The window sticker. New Jeeps ain’t cheap, and old ones hold their resale value at a ridiculous level (go price a 2006 TJUR), but I never pay full sticker on any new vehicle and neither should you. Even dealer applied second stickers should be closely scrutinized and haggled over. An extra $10K for "lift, tires and wheels" is not a good deal especially when considered over the full term of the loan.

If you are a Tread Lightly! member, you are eligible to for the Affiliate Rewards Program Preferred Price which gets you 1% under invoice pricing. Even 5% under invoice is not unheard of. The dealer is required by law to show you the invoice if you ask for it. Car buying is a chess game so do your homework and know more than the sales guy when you're ready to purchase, and be ready to walk away. It's all part of the art of the deal.


Just landed!



Senior Staff
My list of “needed” modifications on this Jeep is remarkably short. It just doesn’t need much right out of the box.

One of the very first mods on my short list was the Trailgater tailgate table by Outback Adventure Products. It adds a surprising amount of utility to the vehicle and was an easy mod. Several other companies are making tailgate tables for the JL including Mopar but I kept going back to this one.

Step one. Remove the OEM trim panel.

Step two. Add the included clips and attach the table to the tailgate with screws and one large bolt.

Step three. Enjoy easy tailgating, and no need for carrying a bulky camp table anymore. Because if this isn’t enough table space, you’re bringing too much crap with you!


Senior Staff
Storage. Long term plans include a Goose Gear plate system and a few other things. Luckily Jeep included this nice “basement” underneath the rear hatch area on the JL that can hold most if not all of my recovery gear and a few odds n’ ends. There’s also another hidden space there under the front where the OEM jack lives.

It’ll do for now until I get to know the Jeep better and decide on a few other things.

Mmmm...Jeeps. Welcome.

I like those tables. I had an ebay job and got rid of it because it took up a little too much cargo space for me. That one looks nice and slim.

Are you going with a separate tent, or some other kind of shelter set up?


Founding Member
I really like the tailgate fold down table. Efficient and light weight, two priorities that should get more attention in adventure builds.

Meh on the intro; from corporate moves over the generations it could be argued that Jeep is only an imitation of its own namesake, far separated from its pedigree beyond grill style, while Toyota had a parallel track of military purpose to commercial endeavor that stopped abruptly and Land Rover was inspired to do better. Regardless, that is not what this thread is about.

Nice ride! Kudos to Jeep for keeping core customer desire a focus, and FCA for allowing Jeep their autonomy. There is a lot of pressure to focus on ride comfort and fuel economy that is contrary to a Wrangler’s design and I am glad to see parts like the solid front axle and hearing options remain. You said it, in 2018 there is no more capable US market vehicle off the lot. When I have less passenger need and the 80 dies, I like this option.

I would agree with @Al Swope, stick a winch and call it done. But Jeep protocol will not allow that! Besides, you still need to mount a canoe.

Following along.
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