In my 10 years of offroading, it is my opinion that 2 solid axles, both locked, makes a vehicle far "more capable" offroad then a winch. Winches are primarily for extraction. They don't make a rig "more capable," they are there as a safety valve for when you get in over your head.
Besides, you can get a winch for your Rubicon right from the dealer. A buddy of mine got his Rubi with a MOPAR branded winch bumper and MOPAR branded WARN winch right out of the parts catalog.
As for size... Moab makes overall size less of an issue, but to this NEw England boy, used to tight forest trails and trees everywhere, the idea of wheeling a Dodge Powerwagon instead of a Wrangler just seems nonsensical.
BUT... The fact that you can get a Mopar stickered Warn straight from Jeep, makes my argument pointless. It makes the 2 door Rubicon the winner hands down.
Your last point about tight trails, I agree, and was only playing devils advocate for the winch. On that note: 2006 Rubi > 2010 Rubi.
Do we go there though? The thread limits this to 5 years, which makes the TJ a contender...
I think a winch is a HUGELY important thing, don't get me wrong.
But when I think of how "capable" an offroader is, I think of it moving on under it's own power, taking you places(and back) that less "capable" rigs can't. To me, that does not mean pulling cable to drag it another 12' before turning around. Which is why I don't weigh a winch so heavily when deciding what rig is "most capable."
Just my opinion though, and I absolutely get what you guys are saying.
What do you drive on the trail? Have you ever had to go down the trail with full sized rigs? Do you notice how they can't handle even the smallest of obstacles with the same agility as a smaller rig? How exactly is a winch going to solve all those issues they have? You'll just break more stuff when you put a winch on a big truck and drag it over things.
Last edited by robbyb413; 03-23-2011 at 05:27 PM.
There are a LOT of things the Jeep dealer will install - lifts, winches, body armor, a matching expedition trailer...
Is it fair to include that stuff in the discussion though? Some of it comes right from the mopar catalog but some of it doesn't, and the things that will be installed vary be dealer. It might be more reasonable to just look it as 100% stock and exclude "dealer installed options".
But I mean really if we're adding the dealer install options from the mopar catalog the Wrangler Rubicon is literally unstoppable. It's the only one you can roll an Expedition Trailer into the initial purchase price. I mean look at it - Dealer installed lift kit, dealer isntalled skids/body armor, dealer installed winch, dealer installed expedition trailer - give it to her, son!
I'm just playing devil's advocate. A nod to the Power Wagon, and Disco for having that as part of their "stock" gear was all I wanted. Put the Power Wagon against the Raptor... say which is more "capable", and don't ask "for what".
The 5 years thing kills it a bit, but the D90 Rover is the actual answer to this question. I adore Wrangler Rubicons, and agree that if you cannot get a D90, then it is the clear answer. However, a stock D90 is a purpose built truck for exactly this. V8, solid axles, roll cage, the works. They even have sealed electronics and are serviceable with a flathead screwdriver.
But they weren't sold in the US in the last 5 years.
Also Defenders have a tendency to purposely unbuild themselves at the most inappropriate times. In short, they are junk.
Based on my real world offroading I have another vote for the G-Wagon.
There's a reason that many countries use the G-Wagon as a military vehicle.
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Last edited by robbyb413; 03-24-2011 at 04:28 PM.
Stock for stock over the same obstacles I've never seen a STOCK d90 do anything spectacular that a STOCK Rubicon can't do as well, at least not around here in the northeast. Plus when you ride with rovers you spend a lot of time sitting around. They really do break. A Lot. And they are less fuel efficient than the Rubi.
There's just no benefit to paying the premium, other than the fact that d90s are darn sweet rides.
Last edited by robbyb413; 03-24-2011 at 04:29 PM.
One the the OP didn't say was that it had to be a US vehicle. I choose a 70 series Land Cruiser! They are available brand new right now with a turbo diesel, manual trans, solid (and locked) axles, coil suspension front and rear, etc. That gives you all the benifits of the Rubicon but with stronger axles, frame, engine, trans... Hell, it's a better, stronger rig. It is also availible in different wheelbase lengths (even a pickup) and you don't have to drive a J**p!
This one is an '07 but the new ones look the same:
Oh (almost forgot) these come with winches as an available option as well.
Last edited by CreeperSleeper; 03-24-2011 at 05:41 PM.
The Land Rover Defender is older than 5 years as a US model, but they still make it in other markets. If the series 70 gets a seat at the table then so does the Defender. And if you put them head to head it's defender all the way! Then you don't have to drive "T****a".
I'm still sticking to the Wrangler Rubicon, IMO there's never a benefit to a full size rig on the trails. They have their place, but it's in wide open spaces with long easy inclines that make having the big long wheelbase a nice thing. All the rest of the time they're just bigger, burn more gas, and break more stuff because they have too much overhang to get up to an obstacle or off of one, and they're too long in the belly to get over things when they're on top. If you need a little more wheelbase get the off-road minivan Rubicon Unlimited.
I'll put it more succinctly, head to head a 76 makes a D90 look like a retarded purpose made only by North Americans who want to buy into some fantasy about what Defenders are, and believe their something to their supposed pedigree.
Sales figures in South Africa have nothing to do with the most capable stock off-road vehicle for Moab. People buy Toyota off-road vhicles because they're cheap and have easy access to repair parts, not because they're built like tanks or capable out of the box. The guy who just finished driving around the world in a Land Cruiser talked about that alot. he wanted a Rover. He weighed in a bunch of factors and decided that he had to go with a Toyota because toyota has a larger presence in the undeveloped countries he was traveling through. He thought he could cut downtime because he could find mechanics familiar with the brand and could also find parts easily. IMO after following the whole process he ended up losing out on a lot of days because every time he looked at his truck wrong it broke. Looking at his repair list it seemed like silly stuff that broke and he should have just gone with the Rover and enjoyed it.
And IIRC he's French. Not North American.
Last edited by robbyb413; 03-28-2011 at 09:21 AM.
Every vehicle is a trade off. Taking a Rover certainly was no guarantee that he wouldn't break things also. While I'm sure the Land Cruiser round the world guy might like to imagine that a Rover wouldn't have broken anything, that's simply just not realistic.
Much of it comes down to personal preference and having owned both a Rover and Toyota's I can say that BOTH will happily break parts big and small when used for long periods in rough conditions. The idea that one or the other will magically not break is simply a fairy tale.
Some historical perspective.... most of Africa was under the British Crown for a century, thus the initial toe-hold by Rover in those parts of the world. They weren't driving a Series land Rover in "The Gods Must Be Crazy" because it was the "better" choice, they were driving it because it was the "only" choice.
Toyota has since built a giant dealer and parts network there (as well as other places obviously) and in many respects take over the "#1 Choice" role in the desert.
While marketers and competing marquee-fans will argue them to death, on a mechanical level, they both come with their pluses and minuses.
In the terms of the last 5 years, I would go with an XTerra Offroad package or a JK Rubicon. A Power Wagon is a joke as they are just too damn big.
I went back in time to find my most capable, perfect rig. It has a rear locker and a winch up front. The rear locker added the capability and the winch is just there for extraction and will probably never get used. Its all in how you look at it. I dont mind using the winch. Some people will build a truck that is so insane as to avoid using the winch. I will go as far as I can without taxing my drivetrain and then use the winch for the rest of that section. I see no shame in that. Others do. Its wheeling mentality really. I try to save my mechanical bits whereas some just go out to break things. That being said, I agree that in definition, a winch adds to capability. It allows you to go through obstacles and complete them. At the same time, does it actually add to the capability since you are no longer relying upon your actual vehicle but on an aftermarket piece of equipment? Thats your call to make.
Me, I run all terrain tires. Not great in the mud but will get me far enough. When forward momentum has stopped, I hand throttle to about 1600 rpm, hook up the winch line to a tree and go from there. Its all in your mentality. To some, I just failed. To others, I took the smart, less abusive way out. That way out might have saved my u joints some unneeded wear and tear and get me further down the line than the guy with dual lockers, ripping it up, bouncing off the limiter and beating the piss out of his truck yet going nowhere. There is fun to be had with both options, thats for sure.
Modern, straight out of the box vehicle: JK Rubicon, it pains to say. In an ideal world, you would look at all options, past a present and you would more than likely come up with a Toyota. I was a Land Rover owner and am still a Land Rover guy. I love them for some reason but after going Cruiser, I dont really see myself going back. Well, with one exception. When the 60 rots away, the motor, trans, axles, etc... might find their way into a Series III 109. Just a thought though.
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morecarsthanbrains, Well said.
Nothing worse then being on a trail ride with a guy who refuses to pull cable when he's clearly just spinning tires and digging holes.... sadly the "skinny pedal" crowd more often breaks something then not.
One other thing to point out, is that when the D90 hit US shores, it WAS a bit better then the Wrangler since it was coil sprung, sat taller from the factory, etc. The Wranglers of that era where still leaf sprung and didn't have the heavier-duty axles, the lower transfer case, and lockers that the modern Rubicons have.
The TJ's closed the gap (move to coils), with the Rubicon clearly outpacing the old D90's thanks to modern everything and a ton of offroad specific goodies previously not available from the factory in the US.
Capable from the factory comes 1 time, and will take you into the woods, but even with the best equipment, it's never guaranteed to bring you out. Then you're replacing broken parts. For me, to pay to play on something like a JK, or a LR/RR, or hell a G-wagen, well it just isn't in the cards. Now, if I lived in Germany, and could go to a u-pull-it, and they had G500's in various stages of decay, I would rock one in a heartbeat. No question about it. Chero-what?
I'm not saying that Cherokee would satisfy the answer to this thread at all, just a mini-tangent on how parts availability is a real good point to bring up.
FYI, you can import in 70-series Land Cruisers... There is one that is daily driven in Tualatin, OR I see every once in a while and a handful of TLCA members in the states have them.
The smart wheeler is the one in the cherokee that wheels it to the breaking point and then limps back to have it fixed the next day. I do agree with that, but it really all depends on what kind of trail you are running. If you were to hop through a small rock garden or up a decent incline, the xj will perform great with a good set of tires. But as soon as it becomes a little more technical, the tj is hands over heels better...
Really though, an XJ has no bearing on this since the OP set forth the 5 year rule and they're not going to meet anyone's criteria of being the "most capable" in stock form with only a tire change. If you were to put 30" mud tires on there you'd be running at it's max it will fit without lift, and those won't have the ability to let your axles play about without rubbing. That's a disadvantage out of the box that you can't get around.
Mod for Mod the XJ costs more than TJs and JKs as well because you just have more work and dump more cash into mods to do to keep up with the TJ or the JK. It takes twice as much lift to clear the same tires with the XJ, and that creates extra cost and extra labor at each stage of your build. They're not the smart move for wheeling at all, really.
Last edited by robbyb413; 03-29-2011 at 09:12 AM.