2023 Jeep Wrangler Rubicon 20th Anniversary Edition First Drive: On the trail to six figures

2023 Jeep Wrangler Rubicon 20th Anniversary Edition First Drive: On the trail to six figures

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MOAB, Utah – The special-edition 4x4 universe expanded yet again this year with the launch of the Jeep Wrangler Rubicon 20th Anniversary Editions. A lot has changed since we last saw a commemorative Rubicon, and consequently the new effort bears only a passing physical resemblance to the 10th anniversary model of 2013. Bigger tires, longer wheelbases and exploding MSRPs have seen to that. But are we better off for it?

I wrote up the details of the Anniversary Editions back when they were announced, but the gist is this: You take a standard Rubicon 4xe or 392 (No V6 or inline-four), add a unique grille treatment, various badges and decals, a grille guard, BFGoodrich All-Terrain T/A KO2 tires, an integrated front trail camera, steel rock sliders, a Gorilla Glass windshield and some other bits here and there. 4xe models get a half-inch suspension lift and standard 33-inch tires; the 392 includes the Xtreme 35 package (previously Xtreme Recon) with its additional 2-inch lift and 35-inch KO2s. Inside, both get the telltale Rubicon red interior, all-weather mats and integrated auxiliary switches. Topping it off is a tailgate-mounted air compressor for re-inflating after a trail drive.


For the truly dedicated (or flush, I suppose), there’s AEV’s Anniversary Level II package. With that, you get 37-inch tires, a pile of AEV add-ons including a 2.5-inch lift with Bilstein shocks, custom bumpers with an integrated winch, 17-inch Savegre II wheels and an upgraded axle ratio for the 4xe (4.56:1, the factory ratio on the 392). With 14.2 inches of ground clearance, 37.1 inches of water fording, and approach, breakover and departure angles of 50, 33 and 43 degrees, respectively, I’ll save you some clicks: No factory Bronco is beating those specs. Raptor and Everglades can each take a bite or two, but they'll have to settle for those nibbles until Ford comes up with another excuse to jack the Bronco up half an inch more. 

But all that ain’t cheap. The standard Anniversary Edition will set you back $71,380 for the 4xe or $92,690 for the 392 (destination included). AEV’s add-ons will run you an extra $22,978 (4xe) or $21,130 (392) installed, which means that before taxes, fees and the dreaded “M” word, the 4xe will set you back $94,358. That’s Ram TRX money. If you spring for the 392, the price floor sits at $113,820. Six figures for a Wrangler, people.

When Jeep invited us to Moab to check this out, I was admittedly skeptical. What’s the story here? Seatbelts and decimal places? But the prospect of trying out the AEV package was too juicy to pass up. Fortunately, I was among the few who managed to shake it loose for some trail time in between stints in the standard 20th — which, let’s face it, amounts to little more than a sticker package. The AEV Level II, on the other hand, made the trip worthwhile, even more so than the stunning views.

Jeep’s local excursion guide led our caravan on an end-to-end run of Seven Mile Rim Trail. While its namesake canyon is indeed seven miles long, the trail doubles back on itself so often that its full length is nearly three times that — conveniently corresponding to the 4xe’s total rated EV range of 21 miles. Just as appropriately, the only AEV Level II that Jeep had on hand was a 4xe. With the prototype changing hands so many times during our outing, it was impossible to track whether the gas engine came into play, but according to Jeep, the trail can indeed be traversed on a single charge without help from the 2.0-liter turbo.

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