Which Off-Roader is Best? Jeep Wrangler vs Ranger Rover Sport
This week I was lucky enough to tackle some of the muddy trails of Monticello Motor Club in New York State back to back with the Jeep Wrangler Rubicon and Range Rover Sport. Both of these SUVs claim to be incredible off-roaders but they go about it in very different manners.
There’s no greater joy than driving through a deep muddle puddle so hard muddy water explodes, covering the surrounding area. This week I was able to do this in two very different off-roaders, the 2019 Jeep Wrangler Rubicon and the 2019 Range Rover Sport. So which is best, old-school hardware or modern software?
The Jeep Wrangler Rubicon is the classic off-roader formula we all know and love. A body on ladder frame construction, two locking differentials, two solid axles, low range transfer case, and a knobby set of 33" tires.
The Range Rover Sport, by comparison, is a luxury SUV perfectly at home in the wealthiest area codes around the world. Although the Range Rover Sport is an accomplished luxury vehicle, it really shines when the pavement disappears.
Before I took on the off-road course at Monticello I put the JL in 4-wheel Low and then locked both the front and rear differentials, disconnected the front sway bar all with the flip of a switch.
Now that the Jeep was ready, I descended into the thick forest. This was the perfect opportunity to use the new Rubicon's hill descent control. Push the button, aim the Jeep, and everything else is taken care of by clever terrain management software.
Back in the Range Rover Sport, I climbed into my comfortable leather bucket seat, selected Mud Mode and set off. The Mud mode on Land Rover's Terrain Response system raises the Range Rover's ride height and uses a clever concoction of traction control, abs, and a center differential to keep the Range Rover on track.
Then there's the Jeep which feels like a modern interpretation of a vehicle built 50 years ago. Besides the new digital display and easy to access locking difs, the JL is very simple. It has a soft top and removable doors, the wheels stick out barely covered by plastic fenders, and best all it communicates the terrain through the steering wheel.
The Rubicon may have automatic climate control, an 8- speed automatic transmission and a whole host of modern electronics but the package remains the same as it's always been. This is old school off roading perfected.
The Jeep is full of feedback. The wrangler communicates even the smallest stone to your finger tips. With the Jeep in low range with both differentials locked it's an unstoppable force.
The Range Rover Sport by comparison, is a cocoon of luxury. Not even the sound of loose gravel on a downhill descent could penetrate the jazz-filled cabin thanks to the mesmerizing meridian sound system. While the JL communicates the Range Rover insulates. If you were to close your eyes you'd never know you were off the road driving through deep mud.
The Jeep has two solid axels, two locking differentials, and off-road ready 33"s BFG K02 tires. The Ranger Rover, by comparison, has a set of all-seasons and a brain with enough computing power to match the Jeep's tried and true hardware.
Both the Jeep and the Ranger Rover were great to drive and showed just how capable some SUVs are right off the showroom floor. In the battle of hardware vs clever software we're all winners because both make it more fun to off-road.