Jeep Wrangler vs. Jeep Wrangler Rubicon—which is better?

The Jeep Wrangler Sport is a great option for off-roaders on a budget, but the Rubicon comes packed with more capability and sophistication.
Written by Andrea Barrett
Reviewed by Jessica Barrett
The Jeep Wrangler Sport is built for off-road purists on a budget. But if your budget allows, the Jeep Wrangler Rubicon is the Wrangler to get—it’s
more capable off-road
and most sophisticated on-road, opening up a world of possible adventures whether you're a first-timer adventurer or a seasoned conqueror.
For the outdoor adventure lovers ready to get off paved roads and head venture into the unknown, there’s only one vehicle for the job: the Jeep Wrangler. It’s retro, rugged, durable, and can tackle just able any obstacle you throw at it—and the boxy design hasn’t changed much since it first hit the road in 1987. But what used to be a basic interior is now decked with the latest modern conveniences. And while the base-level Wrangler comes loaded, up-trim levels edge closer to downright luxury. So, how do you know which of the 13 trims is right for you?
Here to walk you through the differences between two of the most popular Jeep Wrangler trim levels—the Sport and the Rubicon—is
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car insurance
. We’ll look at the main differences between the Rubicon and Wrangler in price, performance, capabilities, interior features, and technology, plus cover some tips to reduce your
Jeep Wrangler insurance costs
without sacrificing coverage.
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For a real Jeep enthusiast, price isn’t always an object—they want the best off-roading vehicle money can buy, and the Jeep fits the bill in nearly every way. But the price tag might be the deciding factor for anyone looking for a solid off-roader that’s equally capable on-road.
2022 Jeep Wrangler Sport
2022 Jeep Wrangler Rubicon 2-door
2022 Jeep Wrangler Unlimited Sport
2022 Jeep Wrangler Rubicon 4-door
The 2022 Jeep Wrangler Sport 4x4 is designed for those looking for a thrill on a budget. The $34,045 starting MSRP offers an inviting and affordable entry into Jeep life, but the price can be lifted—almost as easy as your Jeep itself can—by adding packages and additional options. If you’re not in dire need of the extra space, knocking off the second row of seating means savings with a starting MSRP of $29,995 for the 2-door Wrangler Sport.
If you’re looking for more of everything, the 2022 Jeep Wrangler Rubicon steps up its game on- and off-road—but it also increases the price. The Rubicon has a starting MSRP of $46,195 for the 4-door model and $42,395 for the 2-door model. But if you’re willing to shell out the extra $12,000, you get more capability and convenience. 

Performance specs

The new Jeep Wrangler Rubicon outranks the Wrangler Sport in most categories, but if you’re looking at performance, it depends on what you’re looking for.
If you’re a seasoned off-roader looking to conquer some of the most challenging terrains, the base model Sport probably won’t cut it. Although still built to tackle nearly anything you throw at it, upgrading to the Rubicon has notable off-roading advantages.
The Wrangler Sport and Wrangler Rubicon come standard with a 285-horsepower 3.6-liter V-6 paired with either a six-speed manual gearbox or an ultra-smooth eight-speed automatic transmission. They also have the option to upgrade engines, choosing from the standard V6 or three other options:
  • 2.0L I4 DOHC DI Turbo Engine with Stop/Start
  • 3.0L V6 Turbo Diesel Engine with Stop/Start
  • 3.6L V6 24V VVT eTorque Engine with Stop/Start
For optimal off-roading, the 3.0L V6 Diesel engine offers 442 lb-ft of torque for better performance and outstanding low-end torque
Where the mighty Rubicon falls short of the Sport is speed—the two-door Wrangler Sport with a six-speed manual transmission sprinted from zero to 60 mph in just 6.1 seconds. With the extra weight on the Rubicon from heavier-duty off-roading equipment, it’s not as quick to hit 60 mph. But if acceleration speed isn’t a concern, the Rubicon is still the better choice.
Key Takeaway On either model, everyday steering and handling take a hit from the traditional body-on-frame construction, solid-axle suspension, and old-school steering. The brake pedal travel is relatively long, which is great for off-roading but not ideal for a daily driver. 

Off-road capabilities

If the budget allows, the Jeep Wrangler Rubicon has more off-roading advantages than the Sport, earning it a Trail Rated badge. 
One of the most notable differences—and perhaps the most important for off-roading—is the 4WD system. The Wrangler Sport comes standard with the Command-Trac® 4×4 System. It allows drivers to use 4x2 or 4x4 mode to suit their driving conditions. The Command-Trac 4x4 system also has a 2.71:1 low range used at low speeds to crawl over tough obstacles or when you need more at low speeds, such as pulling a boat out of the water.
The Rubicon, however, has a different 4WD system. The Rock-Trac 4x4® System offers a higher crawl ratio (4:1 instead of the default Command-Trac 2.72:1) along with a higher ride, bigger tires, electronic locking differentials, sway bar disconnects, and a pair of locking Dana 44 axles. Plus, the 4:10 rear axle ratio that comes standard on both the Rubicon has a higher rear axle ratio than the Sport’s 3.45 overall ratio, giving the Rubicon better towing capacity at the expense of fuel economy.
Key Takeaway The standard powertrain delivers good performance capabilities—but upgrade your Wrangler to the Rubicon and you’ll unlock even more capability and better off-road performance. 

Fuel and mileage

Fuel economy isn’t a strong point of the Jeep Wrangler, and the Sport and Rubicon both earn the same EPA estimated combined fuel economy of 20 mpg.
If you’re looking for fuel savings, you won’t find it with most gas guzzlers. The best wallet-friendly fuel potential doesn’t come with the Sport or Rubicon—it’s with the Wrangler 4xe, Jeep’s all-new plug-in hybrid vehicle. 
With an unimpressive 20 mpg combined, the Wrangler Sport and Wrangler Rubicon with 4WD and the V6 engine beat out rivals like the
Chevrolet Colorado ZR2
and the
Toyota 4Runner
. But if you want to maximize fuel efficiency without compromising performance, the diesel engine is your best bet, topping out at 22 mpg city and 29 highway. 
Check out how each engine option for the Sport and Rubicon fares in fuel economy.
Fuel economy (city/hwy/combined)
2022 Jeep Wrangler
3.6-liter V6 (base)
21/19/24 mpg
2022 Jeep Wrangler
2.0L four-cylinder
22/21/24 mpg
2022 Jeep Wrangler
3.0L V6 diesel
25/22/29 mpg
2022 Jeep Wrangler
3.6L V6 eTorque
20/18/23 mpg
Key Takeaway The 2-door Wrangler tends to get similar or slightly better fuel economy, while adding a manual transmission may slightly improve fuel economy.
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Interior features

Although the exterior of the Jeep hasn’t changed and pays homage to the rugged Jeeps of World War II, the interior has received a big upgrade—it’s packed with modern conveniences like touchscreen infotainment, cruise control, and an eight-speaker stereo system. And if you choose to upgrade to the Rubicon trim, the interior is luxurious with leather upholstery, ambient interior lighting, in-dash navigation, Wi-Fi, and even a power-operated soft top.
So while the convenience features might be on point, how comfortable and accessible is the Wrangler? The layout is intuitive, the slender pillars on the interior minimize blind spots, and the upright driving position can be altered with various seat and steering wheel adjustments for an optimal driving position. Cloth upholstery and manually adjustable front seats are standard on the Sport, but the Rubicon receives an upgrade to premium cloth or leather upholstery, heated front seats, and a heated steering wheel—perfect for bitter winter mornings.
Both cabins are equipped with ample storage and enough space for five passengers, but adults may find it difficult and uncomfortable to squeeze into the backseat of the 2-door Wrangler models.
The table below summarizes cargo volume, legroom, headroom, shoulder room, and hip room measurements for the 2022 Jeep Wrangler.
Jeep Wrangler Sport and Rubicon
Cargo volume
31.7 cubic feet
Headroom (front seats)
42.6 inches
Legroom (front seats)
41.2 inches
Shoulder room (front seats)
55.7 inches
Hip room (front seats)
53.9 inches
Headroom (rear seats) 41.7 inches
Legroom (rear seats)
35.7 inches
Shoulder room (rear seats)
57.7 inches
Hip room (rear seats)
45 inches
Key Takeaway If you’re in the market for a reliable passenger vehicle that also offers a decent amount of cargo space, you can’t go wrong with the Sport or Rubicon—but remember, the 2-door model drastically minimizes the rear cargo space and makes for slightly cramped quarters for rear-seat passengers.

Technology and safety features

Although the Wrangler may look old-school from the outside, the inside is surprisingly modern and loaded with all the latest technology and driver-assist features
The Sport comes standard with a 5-inch touch screen, Apple CarPlay and Android Auto connectivity, Bluetooth, two USB ports, an eight-speaker sound system, air conditioning, manual roll-up windows, door locks, and push-button start. But if you’re looking for all the bells and whistles, the Rubicon adds the following: 
  • 8.4-inch touch screen
  • In-dash navigation
  • Wi-Fi hot spot
  • HD Radio
  • Nine-speaker stereo
  • Automatic climate control
  • Power windows and door locks
  • Keyless entry and remote start
And regardless of your chosen model, the Wrangler's Uconnect touch-screen infotainment system is easy and intuitive thanks to its user-friendly design, speedy responses, and large icons.
However high-tech the interior is, the Wrangler faults on advanced driving systems. Some features—such as blind-spot monitoring, electronic stability Control, and ParkView rear backup camera—are standard, but you won’t find as many standard safety features as rivals. That said, the two optional Rubicon safety packages include several driver assistance features standard to most other vehicles.
If you want to mix true off-road capability with luxury, upgrade to the Jeep Wrangler Rubicon 392. It may lack the Rubicon's axle ratio and low-range gearing, but you get a V8 engine, high-performance brakes, Fox shock absorbers, leather upholstery, heated front seats and steering wheel, an Alpine premium stereo system, and more advanced safety features.

Available upgrades

Are you looking for more in your Sport or Rubicon? Although the Rubicon may come with more standard features than the Sport, there are still plenty of extras to choose from. 
Here are some of the available packages for the Wrangler Sport:
  • Smoker’s Group ($30)
  • Trailer-Tow and Heavy-Duty Electrical Group ($995)
There are a few additional package options for the Wrangler Rubicon:
  • Advanced Safety Group ($945)
  • Cold Weather Group ($895)
  • LED Lighting Group ($1,595)
  • Safety Group ($1,145)
  • Smoker’s Group ($30)
  • Steel-Bumper Group ($1,845)
  • Xtreme Recon 35-Inch Tire Package ($3,995)
MORE:It’s official: the Jeep Wrangler is getting a zero-emission ‘brother'

How to find cheap car insurance for your Jeep Wrangler

While the Jeep may be the perfect vehicle to take you on your next epic off-road adventure, one thing the Jeep comes with that’s not so perfect is high insurance costs. And because most standard insurance plans don’t offer off-road coverage, you’re left to shop the expensive ones to enjoy the ride.
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Yes—the starting MSRP for the 2-door Jeep Wrangler Sport is $29,995 and $34,045 for the 4-door model, versus $42,395 for the Rubicon 2-door or $46,195 for the Rubicon 4-door. With plenty of optional features and packages, it’s easy to wrack up the price of your Wrangler Sport to over $40,000.
When it comes to choosing the right Wrangler trim, it’s no easy task with 12 trim levels to choose from:
Willys Sport
Sport S
Sport Altitude
Sport RHD
Sahara Altitude
High Tide
High Altitude
Rubicon 392
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