Chrysler Group Goes To Extremes

That is a real situation.

That is a real situation. Not something from PhotoShop. Not staged. A real driver in a real ‘05 Jeep Wrangler Unlimited Rubicon on a portion of Hell’s Revenge in Moab, Utah. What’s perhaps most important to note is that he’s driving a production vehicle, not something that has been tricked out with aftermarket parts to be able to handle such, rocks. This is a Jeep just like the ones that are rolling off the line at the DaimlerChrysler Toledo (Ohio) Stickney Avenue Assembly Plant. What’s somewhat ironic about this particular setting is that the Wrangler Unlimited Rubicon is a vehicle that is setup to provide, in addition to this extreme capability, a comparatively comfortable ride and room that has otherwise been lacking. That is, it has a 103-in. wheelbase, 10-in. longer than that of a regular Wrangler. By lengthening the frame—yes, this is body-on-frame—there is two more inches of room for passengers in the second row of seats and 13 in. of space behind the second row, to carry gear—like the kind of stuff that you might need should your vehicle break down (I’m assured by Jeep engineers that this is unlikely) out in the middle of Hell’s Revenge. While 22.3 ft3 of interior cargo space might not seem particularly capacious in relation to many SUVs, it is twice what the ordinary Wrangler offers. This Unlimited model, like the non-Rubicon version, has a 4-liter, OHV, 12-valve, PowerTech I-6 engine (cast iron block and head) that offers 190 hp @ 4,600 rpm and 235 lb.-ft. of torque @ 3,200 rpm. It is equipped with Dana 44 front and rear axles, an NV241 Rock-Trac transfer case (part-time, heavy-duty, offering a low-range ratio of 4.0:1) and Tru-Lok locking front and rear diffs (like you’d try this with anything less). The standard 16-in. wheels are wrapped with Goodyear Wrangler MT/R tires; Jeep engineers worked with Goodyear so as to have characteristics like that side-tread that can help the vehicle grip rock faces.

That is a real situation. Not something from PhotoShop. Not staged. A real driver in a real ‘05 Dodge Power Wagon on a portion of Poison Spider in Moab, Utah. What’s perhaps most important to note is that he’s driving a production vehicle, not something...Is there an echo in here? Yes. But for a purpose. To indicate that the Chrysler Group, which encompasses both Jeep and Dodge, is dedicated to offering vehicles that truly go to extremes. In this case, they’ve effectively resurrected the Power Wagon (which began life in ‘45 for the military, ‘46 for consumers, and which went out of production in ‘68), with hopes, Brad A. Pinter, brand manager, Ram Truck, Dodge Div., explains, in part of attracting both government and commercial buyers because it offers tremendous off-road capability with a staring price of $36,660. Based on the Dodge Ram 2500 (and so it is built in the Saltillo, Mexico, plant), it comes equipped with a HEMI V8 as standard. One of the most clever aspects of the vehicle is the ability to electronically disconnect the stabilizer bar (“Smart Bar”) so that the Ramp Travel Index, which measures suspension articulation, goes from 23-in. vertical height when locked to 32-in. vertical height when disengaged. It automatically locks at speeds above 18 mph. It is fitted with American Axle TrackRite axles with front open and rear anti-spin electric-locking differentials. At the Saltillo plant there is a bit of additional fitting and fastening done, with the addition of a steering damper skid plate, and fore-aft bars that go between the transfer case and fuel tank skid plates for underbody protection. One interesting aspect of this amazingly versatile vehicle is that it emerged from a “skunk works” operation. Pinter says that some truck engineers were sitting around talking about making the most capable off-road pickup, and they built one. There was a ride-and-drive for company execs, including Dieter Zetsche, and they became interested, so...