Test Drove a Rubicon and a Sport S Back-to-back

  1. Phljeeper

    Phljeeper Well-Known Member

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    May help to provide some detail on what you are trying to do with the Gladiator and we may be able to help more. What specifically are you looking for? Off road capabilities? If so what kind of trails? Towing capabilities? If so what size trailer? On road driving manners? What are you comparing it to?

    Overall in my opinion either a sport s with max tow or a rubicon both drive great (if you like the way a Jeep drives, which most of us on these forums do), can both tow a decent size trailer and can all be upgraded relatively easily with new hoods, bigger tires, lifts, skids, bumpers, etc.

    Fuel economy and towing capabilities is going to be better with smaller all terrain or highway tires over taller mud terrain tires. But it looks much better (in my opinion) and performs better off road with bigger mud terrain tires.

    In my case I bought a Rubicon and upgraded to 35” tires and love the way it rides and toes and have no issues towing a 4500lb travel trailer. I will admit my Hemi Grand Cherokee did tow better up hills but overall I am happy with the way my Gladiator tows.
     
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  2. OP
    OP
    futzin'

    futzin' Well-Known Member

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    #17 Aug 13, 2019 at 4:32 PM
    Last edited: Aug 13, 2019 at 5:10 PM
    Edit: this one was for Bruce

    Dude, I'm wanting to tow the same amount as you! I like that it can tow what I need, has off-road capability, and has open-air capability. There is no half ton for that! I'm just trying to decide on which model, for sh!ts sake . . .
     
  3. Phljeeper

    Phljeeper Well-Known Member

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    Then I can tell you that with the stock tires or upgrading to 35s you can tow without an issue with either a Rubicon or a Max Tow Sport. I think the Rubicon is worth it if you are going to take it offroad and use the lockers and sway bar disconnects. If not, the Sport max tow is your best bet.
     
  4. OP
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    futzin'

    futzin' Well-Known Member

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    Thanks. I have a thread in the Towing section with my trailer and a test tow with our Durango Pentastar. In this thread, I'm trying to get a feel for the differences in the driving dynamics between the models. Unfortunately, judgers intervened, as will happen.
     
  5. Hawkeyes3312

    Hawkeyes3312 Well-Known Member

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    step.jpg
     
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  6. SandSurfer

    SandSurfer Well-Known Member

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    I test drove a Rubicon for about a day and a half, (I know the dealership owner) and was at first very disappointed with the handling. That being said, after driving it for 20 - 30 miles, I began to "settle" in to the characteristics! The first thing that I noticed was it seemed to "dart" around with minimal steering input, it was like I was chasing it. After I realized it was my input causing this and just relaxed a little and let it go, it was fine, as a matter of fact it was quite "planted" as it tooled down the freeway at 70 MPH. The ride was firm, but not harsh, I was very pleased with the acceleration and the braking was spot on.

    Now moving on to the Sport-S w/ Max Tow , the particular one that I drove had the 2" Mopar lift and 35 x 12.5 x 20 M/T tires installed. The ride was noticeably more harsh than the Rubicon, and there was no feeling of it being planted, it was very flighty feeling, probably had a lot to do with the tire choice, stopping it required noticeably more pedal than it did on the Rubi, again tire choice. Overall, after driving the Rubi, the Sport felt cheap, not in a bad way, just different, not as refined.

    In my opinion, if you can, get a Rubicon, it's way better to HAVE things your NOT going to use, than to NEED things and NOT have them! This is partially due to my JKU, instead of buying a Rubi, I bought a Sport, $15,000 later, I almost had a Rubicon, NOT GONNA DO THAT AGAIN!

    Sorry for the rambling......
     
  7. OP
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    futzin'

    futzin' Well-Known Member

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    appreciate it, thank you
     
  8. WXman

    WXman Well-Known Member

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    Not to be argumentative, but I disagree here. I've been around full size trucks all my life. I've owned several from all the brands. I've also used others still as work trucks. If you look at the payload and towing specs on the average full size truck, you'll see that the Gladiator is spot-on those specs.

    Example: My brother has a F-150 Supercrew FX4 with the 5.0L V8. His payload capacity is 1,169 lbs. and his towing capacity is 7,500 lbs. My Gladiator exceeds both of those ratings legally and gets better fuel economy doing it.

    I have a hard time calling full size trucks "half tons" in the sense that it somehow puts them above midsize trucks. Truth is, the only difference between the two is passenger volume.

    I don't consider the Gladiator a compromise at all in terms of doing work. Now, if you want to compare the Gladiator to a 3/4 ton HD truck it's a whole new ballgame. But then again a HD full size can't hold a candle to a Gladiator offroad.
     
  9. bgenlvtex

    bgenlvtex Well-Known Member

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    I don't care about "specs" they are not real world numbers in practical application anyone who pretends they are is doing just that, pretending.

    I will agree that modern half ton trucks are tempered more to the "car" aspect than the truck aspect. With that in mind the JT is tempered more to the Jeep aspect than the "truck" aspect, again compromises are always made.

    Pretending that all other things are equal for a moment, any manufacturers naturally aspirated V8 available today will do a better job doing truck things (hauling and towing) than any manufacturers naturally aspirated V6 will.

    Dedicated tow rig? Buy a 3/4 or 1 ton..

    Gladiator will do "truck" things within the limitations of the OTHER things it is designed to do there are no free rides, so if the focus is on doing "truck" things with some light off roading there are better choices. If the focus is on off road mobility while doing some light duty truck things nobody beats the Gladiator.

    If it is a lifestyle accessory, none of the above matters one whit.
     
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  10. Ichthus

    Ichthus Well-Known Member

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    Futzin, I don’t think anyone labeled you a troll in the towing thread...I’m pretty sure they simply said they THOUGHT the thread was trolling.

    Had you approached that conversation by saying, “I’ll be towing about 5000 lbs pretty regularly. I want some of the Rubicon features, but am concerned about the 7000 lb tow rating. Should I buy a Sport S with Max tow for the 7650 lbs, or will the Rubi be ok? What gives the Sport S a higher rating? Is there anything I can do to make the Rubi a better tow rig?”...you would have gotten more straight answers. The thread devolved because nobody understood why you were asking if doing something that made little sense would accomplish something impossible.

    Please understand, I’m NOT trying to insult you here, and maybe I should have sent this in a PM. The internet isn’t the place to take things personally...just be clear with your intentions and goals so we understand where you’re coming from and what you’re trying to do.
     
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  11. Bobzdar

    Bobzdar Well-Known Member

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    Here's what it boils down to, if you do heavy off-roading and need lockers and/or armor, or you want some of the options not available on the sport S, then get the Rubicon. If you don't, or you aren't sure if you need the off-road equipment, then get the sport s max tow, because if you're not sure, you don't need them. It's actually pretty simple. The suspension is the same except for slight differences in the springs and the Rubi gets Fox shocks, which are good for washboard roads but otherwise not much different or better than the regular shocks the other models come with. The rest of the differences are down to the tires and any as equipped weight differences - ie minimal. For daily driving, I get 20mpg in my stock rubi. It can tow 5000lbs without issue at all, so unless you plan to push the tow limits, it actually boils down to the off-road capabilities/options. Given that all of them have BLD, you can put good all terrains or mud terrains on a sport and get 90% off the off-road performance of a Rubi. That last 10% is where it matters, and I'd wager very few, even with Rubis, need that last 10%. And even then, a good winch will get you (out of) a lot more places than a rubi without one will.

    I managed to get mine stuck already, so I know (and knew going in) that I wanted/needed the lockers for the type of off-roading I do, but I traded in a JLUR for it so already was well versed on the capabilities. I also have a winch, so the main difference with a rubi for me is that I need to use it less often, and I'll do less damage dragging it across stuff. I also was spoiled with all of the goodies on my JLUR so didn't want to give them up, but unless you plan to push the tow rating to 6500-7000lbs, it won't matter either way and the driving experience on similar tires should be near identical. They're not very different.
     
  12. Hemi

    Hemi Well-Known Member

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    The Sport S has a bigger fan and better cooling which can come in handy if towing.

    Rubi will retain resale value better.

    You put the same set of tires on a Rubi and a Sport S and I am betting they will drive pretty much the same. Manual disconnects can be installed under $200, so that's a wash.

    Comes down to how much you like lockers and the Jeep lifestyle.
     
  13. eternus

    eternus Well-Known Member

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    So, the Sport S Max Tow and the Rubicon Tow have the same fan and cooling, so that's a wash.

    It's been confirmed many times now in the Wrangler world, the Rubi doesn't "hold it's value better", they fare around the same. It seems like the Rubicon fares better only because it starts out a higher price. Either Wrangler holds its value well, we can extrapolate that a Gladiator (barring some asofyet unknown major flaw) will have the same resale behavior. So, again that's a wash.

    The biggest Rubicon only features are
    • the lockers,
    • the electronic sway disconnect (which is nicer than manually disconnecting),
    • the steel rear bumper,
    • the improved interior features at base model (400w inverter with plugs in the back seat)
    • the high clearance fenders
    • the fancy hood
    • the prettier plastic front bumper
    • the bigger tires
    • the tuned/performance suspension
    You also gain the ability to upgrade some items which aren't upgradable on the Sport S. You can add most of those things yourself, and for less... but the lockers alone will cost you almost the ~$3k difference.

    But OP is really most interested in how they feel to drive, and the towing.

    As has been said above, the Sport S will feel more sporty because of the smaller/lighter tires and stiffer springs. I did a similar comparison a while back and feel the same way, I liked how the Sport S felt to drive... but I know I'd stick 33" tires on there and put a mild lift, so it's hard to say how much that will all change.

    Unfortunately there isn't a definitive, fixed answer for this... we all have opinions about how it feels, and they won't map to OP so he has the unfortunate job of reading what we say, decide if its enough to sway his decision on which model he wants. I've been playing this game for 6 months now and I still flip flop on the true value (to me) of one vs the other.
     
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  14. Hemi

    Hemi Well-Known Member

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    The push button disconnects are nice, but on the JK they motor was in an exposed spot and had a tendency to quit working after a few months, Most if not all Rubi owners in my Jeep club including myself replaced them with manual disconnects. So to me that's still a wash. We need more trail data, but looking at where the disconnect motor is placed it looks about the same.
     
  15. Heyzeus

    Heyzeus Member

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    I bought this as a truck capable of going off-road. For me it is a truck that can do jeep stuff. I do not understand the “Jeep only or Rubicon only” comments. There are all kinds that will be drawn to this awesome vehicle. Not everyone has the same vision. Some want fat silly tires, some want pizza cutters. I see people whinnying about no V8 or gotta have a diesel. I love this Truck because it is like no other truck. I love this Jeep because it is not like the other Wranglers. This is like nothing else on the market. It is a fun truck. It is a Jeep that can haul things. All vehicles are compromises . Trucks suck to drive. Give me a fun sporty car any day. Sporty cars suck at hauling lumber. My motorcycle sucks on hot days. Compromises are just another day. If you want this one of a kind awesome vehicle I say buy it and enjoy it. There is nothing else like it on the road!
     
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