28 Sep 2018
Jeep® and the Rubicon Trail
Jeep® and the Rubicon Trail
Jeep® is a legendary brand with an almost 80-year history of off-road capability. Part of this history was forged at the Rubicon Trail, arguably one of the most famous off-road trails in the world.
In 1953, a group of approximately 150 friends took their Jeep vehicles across the rough granite path through the Sierra Nevada Mountains on their way to Lake Tahoe, California (USA). This trek, originally conceived as a way to support the economy of the local community, was to become the first official Jeep crossing of the Rubicon Trail and the first-ever “Jeep Jamboree.”
At that moment, Jeep vehicles were making the shift from being working vehicles to becoming partners for personal adventures of discovery. Since then, tens of thousands of Jeep enthusiasts and their vehicles have traversed the famous trail.
The Rubicon Trail is a 22-mile (35 km) route, part road and part 4x4 trail, located west of Lake Tahoe. The maintained portion of the route is called the McKinney-Rubicon Springs Road, and it begins in Georgetown, California, a hamlet in the state’s Gold Country.
The McKinney-Rubicon Springs Road was originally established for stagecoaches to access resort hotels at Wentworth Springs and Rubicon Springs from the 1890’s until the 1920’s. The trail saw the first motorized travel in 1908. From the 1950’s through to today, the Rubicon Trail has been used by off-road enthusiasts for recreation.
The trailhead for the unmaintained portion of the route begins in a location adjacent to Loon Lake. The 4x4 trail portion is about 12 miles (19 km) long and passes in part through the El Dorado National Forest. Rambling over large boulders, rocky terrain and enormous granite slabs with steep inclines and sharp drops, the trail ends in South Lake Tahoe.
The trail crosses a river at one point close to Lake Tahoe. Early settlers named the river “Rubicon” after its counterpart in Italy - a small river north of Rome that Julius Caesar fatefully crossed in 49 BC.
Drawing upon that history, the term “Rubicon” now means “a limit that, when passed or exceeded, permits no return and typically results in irrevocable commitment.” Therefore, to “cross the Rubicon” means “to irrevocably commit to a course of action or make a fateful and final decision.”
The Rubicon Trail remains one of the world’s most challenging trails - rated a 10 for “most difficult” on a scale of 1 to 10 - and is known as the “granddaddy of all off-highway trails.”
The Rubicon Trail has also been used for over four decades by Jeep engineering teams to improve the off-road capability of Jeep brand vehicles and to aid in the development of new models and technologies.
Using trails like the Rubicon for Jeep brand vehicle development has led to innovations such as:
- Rock-Trac 4:1 transfer case
- Quadra-Drive II
- Tru-Lok locking axle differentials
- Disconnecting front sway bar
- Underbody skid-plate protection
- Front Dana 44 axle
- Long-travel, multi-link suspension designs
- BLD - Brake lock differential (on all JL’s)
- Steel front and rear bumpers (Rubicon high end models)
Made to Overcome
What is Trail Rated? From Argentina to Zambia and everywhere in between, the Jeep® brand’s Trail Rated certification ensures that you have the freedom to go anywhere and do anything. Trail Rated is more than a badge - it’s a methodology, a guarantee and a recognized standard for proven off-road capability.
Trail Rated Jeep vehicles are put through a series of gruelling tests designed to prove off-road performance on the world’s most demanding terrain. The Trail Rated badge certifies that the vehicle has been designed to successfully pass five performance test categories:
- Water Fording
- Ground Clearance
All Jeep Wrangler models are Trail Rated.
Trail Rated was launched in 2003 as a way to communicate to consumers the extensive level of off-road requirements that Jeep 4x4 vehicles must meet. The Trail Rated badge is now reserved for the most capable version of each nameplate and captures the Go Anywhere, Do Anything essence of the Jeep brand.
Trail Rated is an industry-leading methodology initially established by the Nevada Automotive Test Centre (NATC) and Jeep Engineering to objectively measure off-road performance for all Jeep vehicles. Through a combination of natural and controlled field tests, as well as computer-simulated evaluation tests, this methodology provides a repeatable, consistent and reliable measurement of off-road performance.
Only Jeep Vehicles are Trail Rated
Freedom, adventure, passion and authenticity have always been hallmarks of the Jeep brand around the world. It’s a reputation earned over more than seven decades as the Jeep brand continues to deliver on its promise to provide rugged, versatile and innovative four-wheel-drive vehicles.
Trail Rated reflects the criteria that guarantee the development of the most capable off-road production vehicles in the market. As the Jeep brand expands globally, the Trail Rated methodology remains a cornerstone of the brand.
The Five Categories
TRACTION: Trail Rated Jeep 4x4s have enough traction and capability to conquer some of the toughest terrain on Earth. The Jeep brand line-up offers a variety of four-wheel-drive systems to suit all kinds of off-road challenges and driving conditions.
Trail Rated traction helps maintain a controlled forward motion in snow, ice, sand and mud. Traction testing includes traction on untamed, slippery roads (wet, mud, snow) and on steep grades. Crawl ratio is a key metric used to distinguish the traction and capability of Trail Rated Jeep 4x4s.
WATER FORDING: Don’t let a little H2O get in your way. Trail Rated Jeep 4x4s feature additional electrical and body sealing along with a high air intake to help you navigate streams and flooded underpasses that stop others cold.
MANOEUVERABILITY: Trail Rated Jeep 4x4s have the capability to navigate narrow gaps, dodge emergency situations and avoid cosmetic damage thanks to precision steering and optimized wheelbases, which allow for expert navigation at all times. The smaller the turn radius, the more capable the vehicle is at negotiating narrow gaps.
ARTICULATION: Keeping the rubber on the trail helps you stay moving. When one or more wheels are elevated, good articulation allows the other wheel(s) to maintain ground contact longer - allowing for maximum available traction at all times. Trail Rated suspensions enhance off-road performance by maximizing flexibility, axle articulation and wheel travel.
GROUND CLEARANCE: Why prove that Trail Rated Jeep 4x4s can climb over obscenely large obstacles? Because one day, when you need that capability, you’ll know you have it. Jeep 4x4s are tested for their ability to drive over obstacles, and the criteria include ground clearance and approach, breakover and departure angles to ensure you can clear logs, rocks and uneven ground.
Almost 80 years ago, Jeep brand set the standard for off-road capability. Today, Jeep engineering continues to improve upon the four-wheel-drive vehicle. This experience, combined with innovative technology, is what makes Trail Rated Jeep vehicles among the most capable on the planet.