There’s no doubt in my mind that the latest Jeep Wrangler is one of the most exceptional 4WD’s ever produced—a vehicle that will remain relevant in the marketplace for decades to come. I’ve even compared it to the famed and highly revered Land Rover Defender. When outfitted with the Rubicon package, it’s a vehicle that is not only capable of traversing California’s famed (Rubicon) trail with virtually no drama, but also your nine-to-five commute on the interstate during the work week—all straight from the showroom floor. It’s back-breaking work trying to improve something that’s already pretty extraordinary, but luckily for those who want something that’s literally stupid capable, ARB has the special sauce.
The first thing you’ll notice about ARB’s latest Wrangler build is that it’s rather unassuming. The black on black on black color scheme does wonders for hiding the capability of the vehicle and makes it quite the attractive, albeit stealthy daily driver. It’s that stealthy theme that you’ll see re-occuring throughout the feature of this vehicle, and aside from the ARB Intensity lights and an aggressive AEV Heat Reduction Hood—it doesn’t even raise an eyebrow to the untrained eye. It’s a nice reprieve from the bright-orange Land Rover I usually drive on a daily basis.
Speaking of ARB’s new Intensity LED Lights—forget the old-school idea that you’re required to have approximately 34 lights bolted to the front of your Jeep to see what is in front of you—two of these lights suffice. Granted, they do cost about the same as 34 regular lights, at around $750 a piece, but look at them, they’re gorgeous, and trust me they’re bright as hell. There’s also a Warn 9.5cti winch mounted in between the lights, standing guard just in case you manage to get the beastly 35-inch tire, lifted, fully ARB-locked Wrangler stuck.
The suspension and front axle which really go the distance to separate this vehicle from your usual lifted Jeep Wrangler to something special. Take the front axle for example. Was the stock Dana 44 sufficient? Totally. Was it good enough for ARB? Nah. They went the distance and installed a Teraflex Tera44 Heavy Duty Axle Housing, paring it with Reid Racing knuckles, ARB Air Lockers and a tie-rod, drag link, and ball joints from Synergy Suspension and Poly-Performance for the utmost in performance and durability.
The 4-inch Old Man Emu suspension system ensures that the vehicle can handle the additional weight of the added accessories while at the same time allowing the suspension to articulate exceptionally well to keep the tires on the ground where they can get traction. The suspension kit that was installed on this truck was a prototype system, but it was still impressive how well it handled the trail. Just a few years ago 35′s and a 4-inch lift would have meant nearly instantaneous death on the highway, but with this system it’s completely manageable—not quite stock—but damn good.
The kit isn’t just a set of shocks and some new coil springs—it’s a comprehensive approach that includes everything from sway bar disconnects (if your vehicle isn’t equipped with electronic sway bar disconnects) to an adjustable track bar and relocation kit to the required bits to correct your driveline and caster angles.
ARB is synonymous with bumpers and air lockers—that’s why it’s no surprise that the factory e-lockers are out, with front and rear ARB Air Lockers and a 4.88 gearset from Nitro going in. Along with the Air Lockers come aftermarket 35-spline axle shafts, with the front getting high-performance CV axle shafts, and the rear getting an equally beefy set, both from Nitro Gear and Axle. Heavy-duty black differential covers for the Dana 44′s have also been installed to make sure a rock doesn’t turn your ring and pinion into a chewtoy for your driveline.
The 35″ tires we’ve been talking are for technical purposes a 325/70-R17 in the form of the new Falken Wild Peak All-Terrain. While we didn’t get to test them on a trail that would have really put them to the test, they’re quiet on the highway, and grippy on the wet and muddy red rock trails of Sedona, Arizona. The tires are wrapped around Pro-Comp Series 7069 Alloy Wheels.
Check out the resource links below to find out the ingredients that make this build.
- ARB USA [link]
- WARN Industries [link]
- American Expedition Vehicles [link]
- Reid Racing [link]
- Pro Comp [link]
- Falken Tires [link]
- Synergy Suspension [link]
- Nitro Gear and Axle [link]
- Bruce Dorn [link]