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Discussion Starter #1
I am in the market for a JKU. I am looking at a moderately lifted Sahara on 35's or a stock rubicon. Mostly this jeep will be my DD. I have also noticed that a lot of rubicons are automatic. How does that transmission hold up?

Any other thoughts or advice would be great. Plan on buying as soon as someone takes my LJ off my hands
 

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Assuming both JK's are in good shape and both have a 3.6 engine, it depends on where and how you are going to drive it. If the lift and tires are mostly for looks and moderate off roading then the Sahara is fine. It can be tempting to buy a JK that is already lifted with wheels but there are a lot options and not all of them are good. For instance, the tires may not be the best for a DD. If you want crawl rocks, really technical trails and push the JK, then the D44 on the front of the Rubi and the lower crawl ratio are a good thing to have.

The auto on the JK works fine but one of the them has a manual and you prefer a manual then go with it. Most Rubis are autos because dealers like to sell them loaded them with options.
 

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The early JK's auto trans sucks , I own one ! I'ts the Joe Biden of transmissions . It is never in the right gear for the conditions at hand . When it downshifts after pressure it screams the engine on even the slightest rise in grade . I'm getting rid of it with a LS swap+6l80e . The motor would be OK , with a trans. that worked , maybe a bit under powered , but still Chrysler still Fu-ed the JK with this combination . Every one I get into a conversation , about this , that has this 3.8 and 4sp auto says that it leaves alot to be desired .
 

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CalmerThanYouAre
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I have a 2007 jku rubi auto on 35s with no complaints for what it's worth.
 

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CalmerThanYouAre
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The Sahara would save you some bucks fwiw but I'd get the Rubi.
 

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I had to make this exact decision two weeks ago.

A really Nice Looking 2012 Sahara with Lift, tires and rims or a 2012 Stock Rubicon.

Cost was about the same. The Sahara would need Lockers and the Rubicon would need lift tires and Rims.

I spent a lot of reading on this and basically its believed to go for the less expensive option and build up your own (aftermarket parts) as you'll get more bang for the buck. I had to put time and money into both in either case to get it where I wanted.

Since mine were both within a few hundred dollars... I imagined the one I would smile the most driving home or be excited about seeing in my driveway the next day.

I went for the Sahara.
 

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Discussion Starter #8
I had to make this exact decision two weeks ago.

A really Nice Looking 2012 Sahara with Lift, tires and rims or a 2012 Stock Rubicon.

Cost was about the same. The Sahara would need Lockers and the Rubicon would need lift tires and Rims.

I spent a lot of reading on this and basically its believed to go for the less expensive option and build up your own (aftermarket parts) as you'll get more bang for the buck. I had to put time and money into both in either case to get it where I wanted.

Since mine were both within a few hundred dollars... I imagined the one I would smile the most driving home or be excited about seeing in my driveway the next day.

I went for the Sahara.

Good thoughts.... I really appreciate it. The Sahara is also 5 miles from my house the rubi 500 miles 😳
 

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If it's a '12 then I suggest you read up the issue with the heads on Pentastar engine on the early '12 Wranglers. A certain series of heads is known to have problems. Those that have the problem are serviced by Jeep and I believe Chrysler provides a 10 year warranty on the engine. Either way it's better to know up front what you're buying.
 

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Have an auto, 2009, no issues. Depends on your gearing and your environment I guess.

As for which model, what is your long range plans???

Lift
Axles
Tires
Lockers

and so on. If you are planning to throw some D60's under it then go for the Sahara. If you want the most capable stock jeep, the Rubicon.

Were discussing this the other day, if we had it to do over again we would just buy a JKU X/sport since there is just about NOTHING stock left under the jeep. Suspension wise, the rear axle housing is the only thing stock under our jeep right now. Subject to change at a moments notice.
 

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Discussion Starter #12
my long term plans would be pretty basic, moderate lift, larger tires (35's or maybe 37's). I don't have the cash for lockers and replacement axels. I only wheel a couple/few times a year.
 

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Consider this, I traded a lifted manual trans '13 Sahara for a stock/new auto '14 Rubicon. I miss the manual trans I had on the Sahara, but after the Flashpaq tune the '14 does shift much better.
 

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R.I.P. Mr. Nibbles!
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I'll add a different spin on this. Buying the sport/Sahara platform will do two things for you.

A.) Get you to negotiate obstacles with more thought and help you gain skill.
B.) Save you money in the long run.

Wheeling with open axles and crappy low ratio aids in developing skill on the trails. If you can conquer difficult obstacles in that manner, then you will walk all over them when you upgrade.

That leads me into the second reason, if you own your Jeep long enough and especially if you pay it off and keep it, you will probably gut most of the stock items in the suspension and drivetrain over time, either through failure or realizing those skills you developed eclipsed your equipment and you want more challenging terrain.

I'd be concerned about the lift, but wheels and tires are not a cheap upgrade. Neither are gears, lockers, axles, and transfer case, but, if you don't think you'll be upgrading those things over time the choice seems pretty clear.

I have a sport and it has been fun watching it transform over the past few years. I enjoy building vehicles up though.
 

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I traded my stock (not lifted) 13 Sahara for a stock (not lifted) JKU Rubicon for the transfer case, dana 44's etc... I didn't have the time nor patience nor the know how to build my own. Not sure what kind of wheelin' you do but OMG! I love the Rubicon it's amazing how awesome it feels off roading. My Rubicon is also my DD. Eventually I will lift it and add tires. Just my 2 cents.
 

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Even though I agree with his logic, I'm going to suggest a little different approach than JKCTAZ. When I saw your thread title, I thought, "Where are you going to drive it, the mall or the Rubicon?" Smartalek, I know. Sorry. But here's where I depart from JKCTAZ: how long do you want to wait?

It is true, that it will be cheaper in the long run to buy the Sahara and build from there IF you also want all the "Sahara stuff" (leather seats, nav, etc.). But as was said, if you want to start cheap and build up, then a Sport is a better way to go.

If you want the most inherently capable rig of the two, and you want to use it now, then go for the Rubicon. It will surprise you what it can do in stock form. And while I have not done this personally, it's my understanding that you can upgrade to 35s if you choose to, with little to no lift.

To me, there are really 3 things that make the Rubicon a no-brainer (I recognize that your -- or others' -- priorities and values may be different): 4.0:1 low range; front Dana 44; selectable lockers. To add those capabilities to your (potentially) Sahara will cost you a chunk o' change -- MUCH more than a set of 35s and a mild lift. The Rubicon will probably already have 4.10:1 diff gears, which should be adequate for 35s, eliminating the need (and cost) of a gear swap for 35s. (I ran 37s for a while with the stock 4.10s, and so have many others.) And if you go for the Rubicon, you don't have to wait for those capabilities until you can afford them; you can finance them right into the cost of the vehicle, and more importantly, use them straight off the lot.

Also, if you do ever decide to sell it, the Rubicon should hold its resale value better than the Sahara, all else being equal. There's certainly more to discuss here, but just thought I'd throw these out for your consideration.

Edit: Oh, the 5sp auto behind the 3.6 has been a good trans for me. I would agree with the recommendation to research the date of manufacture on either of the two rigs you're looking at, but ultimately, a 10/100k warranty covers any issue you'll have with that head anyway. That kind of makes it a moot point.
 

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I'm going to go out on a limb here, as a relatively new Jeeper, but I think a Rubicon on stock wheels no lift will:

1 - Be more capable than the Sahara on 35's for MOST trail situations. Lockers are a really really big deal.

2 - The stock Rubi will probably be a better drive than a lifted Sahara on 35's as a DD.

I'd go Rubi, but YMMV
 

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Discussion Starter #18
Man... Great info guys. I'll just be happy when I get my JKU. Leaning toward the rubi for now...
 

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if it were me and both Jeeps were the same year and same condition, I would go with the Rubicon all day long.

Rubicon's have too many advantages (stronger axle, lockers, 4:1 transfer case, factory sway bar disconnect, etc.) and lifts are not that expensive. for those that only moderately wheel, there is no reason to buy expensive long arm kits when a basic suspension lift kit can be had for well under $1k. as far as tires and wheels go, you can find them used and in very good condition for a fraction of their new cost.
 

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R.I.P. Mr. Nibbles!
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I want to point out something a lot of folks miss in this equation, that I also overlooked myself. The 4:1 is great on the rocks, no doubt. But! The 2.72 is a better transfer case for general wheeling like dirt, mud, and sand. The 4:1 will dig your ass in on the hurry if you get even a little froggy with the skinny pedal. The 1:1 won't help either. So, what kind of terrain will you be conquering is a fairly important consideration.
 
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