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ZR2 vs. Rubicon

  • 2019 Chevrolet ZR2 Bison Extended Cab V-6 8-Speed Auto

    Votes: 5 41.7%
  • 2019 Jeep Wrangler Rubicon Unlimited 2.0 4-cylinder with Etorque and 8-Speed Auto

    Votes: 7 58.3%

  • Total voters
    12
  • Poll closed .

twiget

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My 2013 Silverado is getting a little long in the tooth, and the road trip I took up to Alaska a while back did no favors to its stock suspension. I've already spent a lot of $$$ repairing the more serious damage, but it's developing new issues. I love my truck, but I don't want to continue spending $$$ to keep it overland worthy.



With that in mind, I've spent the last few days researching alternatives, and I've narrowed the field down to a 2019 ZR2 or a 2019 Rubicon Unlimited. From a price point, they are very similar. I took them both for a test drive today, the ZR2 was listed as ~$45k, and the Rubicon was ~$49k. I want something smaller and easier to handle around town with serious offroad chops. These two fit the bill nicely and at a reasonable price point. As a diehard Chevy guy, considering Mopar... at least it's not a Ford. :fearscream:



I drove the Rubicon first, so I'll start with that one. It was a black 4-door with the hardtop, the turbo 2.0 4-cylinder with Etorque. First off, the interior of the Rubicon is a lot more impressive than the ZR2. With some fiddling, I was able to find a seat position that accommodated my 6'5" 320lb+ ass in reasonable comfort. Even with the seat all the way down and leaned as far back as I could without banging my head against the roll bar, I was still looking out of the top 1/3 of the windshield.

I like all the little tweaks Jeep made to the interior to accommodate the fact that this thing is designed to be driven virtually naked, top down, doors off and windshield down. Call me old school, but I love, Love, LOVE tactile buttons and switches. The Rubicon has those in spades, and they all feel very robust and "Trail Rated." I could go on for a while more about the interior, but I'll sum it up with, I liked it. My only gripe is that it's about an 1/8 of a size too small for me. :cry: Anyone know of any easy seat mods to get me an inch or two lower?



Surprisingly, the Etorque feature works pretty well. The instant torque of the electric motor was very noticeable, and so far as I could tell from a 10-mile test drive, it completely eliminates turbo lag. From a stop, I stomped on the go fast pedal a couple of times, and it was more than enough to launch the Jeep forward. Instant rock crawling torque while running trails at 10,000ft in the Rockies, anyone? All in all, I enjoyed driving the Rubicon. The way its solid front axle handled reminded me of my old K5 Blazer. My K5 didn't have front and rear lockers or an electronically disconnecting front sway bar.



Climbing into the ZR2 was like sitting down in a well worn recliner that I've spent hours watching TV in. I was instantly comfortable with the ergonomics of the truck; there was a minimum of fiddling needed with the seat (6-way power, something the $4k more Rubicon lacked) to find a comfortable position. The My Link system is easy to use, and all the controls are familiar. The plethora of buttons in the ZR2 don't feel fragile by any means, but they don't feel as rugged as the Rubicons. While the interior is familiar, it is a sea of black plastic. The Rubicon wins on the interior.



My test rig was an 8-speed V-6, which is my preferred powerplant for this truck. The $3k premium for the turbo 4-banger diesel and the higher price of deisel, make that engine a no-go for me, even with the improved fuel economy. As for driving impressions, the electric steering pump means there is virtually no road feel transmitted through the steering wheel, that will take some getting used too. After driving the Rubicon with the E-torque, I caught myself missing the instant torque of the Rubicon. The ZR2's V-6 is responsive and the 8-speed auto shifts nice and smooth. My test drive was during rush hour traffic, so I didn't get to push the ZR2's capabilities even a little, but the DSSV shocks mean it rides better than the Rubicon. Ride quality goes to the ZR2.

I know the ZR2 Bison is available to dealers now, and if I do decide to go the ZR2 route, I'll go with the Bison. The extra $5k for the Bison package puts these two vehicles on equal footing as far as price.

On the engine front, I'm going to call it a draw. No one's ever going to confuse the characteristics of the two motors. They perform completely differently, and I enjoyed both. As for styling, ZR2 has a slight lead, IMO. Both rigs look awesome and practically scream their offroad pedigree. The more I look at the Rubicon though, the more I like it.

So, now that you've made it through my wall of text, I ask you, the greater Overland Bound community: for overlanding (and some DD duties), which would you choose? Rubicon or ZR2? Daily driver duties will be shared with my Camaro.

Vote above, tell me why below.
 

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JCWages

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The more you lean towards hard core off-road and pure overlanding I'd say the Jeep. It's super capable, can easily house much larger tires and the aftermarket options are vast including interior gadgets like tablet holders, dash organization modules etc.

The more you lean towards desert style off-road (less big boulder climbing), speed, and daily driving duties I'd say the ZR2. It is also super capable but the approach, breakover and departure angles are a lot worse than the Jeep and you're limited to 33" tires without some major fender trimming or a big lift. The ZR2 aftermarket has exploded and new products come out monthly it seems. The crawl ratio is a lot less than the Jeep but it gets the job done and acceleration with the V6 is fantastic once you get the revs up past 3k. Nitro now makes 4.10 and 4.56 gears for the GM Twins now too.
 
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Kilo Sierra

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It may be a better question to first ask yourself if a truck or jeep better fulfills what you want to do long-term with your overlanding. I say this as they both have definite pros and cons. If you lean more offroad then I'd say go with the Jeep; if you want a better expedition-style platform then I'd say ZR2.

I say this because the more I look at what I want to do (and my next vehicle), it impacts the type of vehicle I'd want to have. Not to say that both can't accomplish this, but they do it in different ways.

Also, if this might be your daily driver, are you losing utility with either choice? Is the new vehicle going to hinder some of the utility you had with your old truck, and is it something you'll miss?
 

JCWages

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It may be a better question to first ask yourself if a truck or jeep better fulfills what you want to do long-term with your overlanding. I say this as they both have definite pros and cons. If you lean more offroad then I'd say go with the Jeep; if you want a better expedition-style platform then I'd say ZR2.

I say this because the more I look at what I want to do (and my next vehicle), it impacts the type of vehicle I'd want to have. Not to say that both can't accomplish this, but they do it in different ways.

Also, if this might be your daily driver, are you losing utility with either choice? Is the new vehicle going to hinder some of the utility you had with your old truck, and is it something you'll miss?
Good point considering his other vehicle is a Camaro. That almost screams buy a truck as a 2nd vehicle. :)
 

smritte

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I have a Rubicon, a Land Cruiser and a big truck with camper (tow rig). Im selling the truck/camper because I dont really use them any more. What I realized was, I still need a truck. I do a bit of fab work as well as moving around things you just need a truck for. Im now going to buy a Tacoma for my daily driver/hauling vehicle.

Now you need to ask your self "what am I really going to use the vehicle for". Both vehicles are capable but, the jeep has better aftermarket support especially if you mod your suspension. If your going to need a truck a few times a year, go rent it from Home Depo for the day.

The biggest issue I'm going to have is, I cant leave things alone. I'll probably end up with an outfitted truck as much as I dont want to do that.

Scott
 
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wandering nomad

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I have a Rubicon, a Land Cruiser and a big truck with camper (tow rig). Im selling the truck/camper because I dont really use them any more. What I realized was, I still need a truck. I do a bit of fab work as well as moving around things you just need a truck for. Im now going to buy a Tacoma for my daily driver/hauling vehicle.

Now you need to ask your self "what am I really going to use the vehicle for". Both vehicles are capable but, the jeep has better aftermarket support especially if you mod your suspension. If your going to need a truck a few times a year, go rent it from Home Depo for the day.

The biggest issue I'm going to have is, I cant leave things alone. I'll probably end up with an outfitted truck as much as I dont want to do that.

Scott
Having a 2012 jku rubicon,2017 jku rubicon,2009 denali xl (7 kids),2010 tundra,cherokee, nissan, maxima, cobalt. These are my current vehicles, truck gets used on weekends no body wants to park a truck and hard to maneuver. denanli getting traded for a small car. I worked for gm for 20 years as a drivability tech and owned all of there cars and trucks. good call on no diesel if you go zr2 its a turd jmtc.
 

JCWages

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Having a 2012 jku rubicon,2017 jku rubicon,2009 denali xl (7 kids),2010 tundra,cherokee, nissan, maxima, cobalt. These are my current vehicles, truck gets used on weekends no body wants to park a truck and hard to maneuver. denanli getting traded for a small car. I worked for gm for 20 years as a drivability tech and owned all of there cars and trucks. good call on no diesel if you go zr2 its a turd jmtc.
Nobody wants to park a FULL-SIZE truck. The mid-size trucks are quite parking lot friendly. :)
 

Ben Cleveland

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I'm going to offer an alternative perspective. Keep your existing truck, esp if its paid off, and put some of those monthly payments you'd have to make on a new vehicle into upgrading/rebuilding your truck.
If you are still making payments on your existing truck, that is a bit less applicable, but still an approach I've grown to prefer. Buying a new vehicle is ALWAYS more expensive than keeping your existing one, if you consider the long term cost of taking on new debt.

Also, again my personal preference, but I really prefer putting more money into my existing vehicle than I do getting a new one. New vehicles only keep their shine and niceness for a short time. But if you keep your old vehicle and continue to build it and maintain it for continued reliability, I think that type of "fit" with your lifestyle and needs is something WAY better than getting a new vehicle.

On the mid-size vs full size thing. I've always driven full size vehicles, until my last tacoma and current 4runner. While I really enjoy the driving and parking ease that has come with downsizing, I miss the utility. I've tried the midsize thing and and whenever the 4runner dies, I'll be going back to a full size. It doesn't bother me enough to get rid of the 4runner, but I don't think downsizing is worth the decreased utility.

I drive a 2017 base model colorado for work, and I wouldn't buy one. It doesn't feel solid. Its a fine vehicle, but the engine has significantly changed the sounds it makes as we've taken it from new to 15K miles. Loaded down, the v6 that feels powerful when empty is just bogged down. I also wouldn't buy a jeep unless was something I was planning on making a dedicated hard core crawling rig. We all know they're great for that but they don't have the best reliability history, and that's something I value in a DD. I'm not a brand whore, I don't really care about the name on my rig, but certain brands do have strongly established reputations for a reason. Jeep isn't the most reliable of them. I'd choose Chevy or GMC over them ALL day long. Except the colorado, which just feels light and plasticy to me, and hasn't held up to even light duty work use well.
 

Kent R

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In our club we have both, the Rubicon's work best in the Sierra Foothills due to terrain, the ZR2's need to take bypasses or if none are available they either dont go or take a different route. The Rubicon's just go everywhere and are more versatile. It all comes down to what you plan to do with it I am a jeep guy but really like the ZR platform for Overlanding.
One more thing it also it has some low hanging fruit at the rear shocks but I hear there is going to be an aftermarket fix for that.
 

MazeVX

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Overlanding the zr2 because it's nearly all you need and it was more comfortable for you.
More hardcore offroad the rubicon with a lot of mods...
 
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twiget

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Thanks for all the advice guys, you all bring up great points that I have considered, in depth. My trip to Alaska was my first (and so far only) serious overlanding road trip. My favorite parts were crawling through the Colorado Rockies and up the Cascades in Washington. My Silverado acquitted itself well, but it was severely limited by its stock suspension. I saw several dozen Wranglers breezing through stuff that my Silverado was struggling to overcome.

@Ben Cleveland, you bring up a good point, a new vehicle is going to be more expensive than building my Silverado up (which is paid for). One problem with moding my truck is that there is very little overland aftermarket support for full sizes. And once I start moding my truck it opens a whole new can of reliability worms. Modern vehicles are engineered and tuned to a proverbial knives edge. Once mods start pushing the design envelope too much, that is when things start to break. Then it becomes a very expensive and irritating game of whack-a-mole. As one thing breaks, I fix that, only to have another thing break down the line. Which is why I was considering a new vehicle. The extra $$$ I would spend on a new vehicle is worth the piece of mind of knowing it was designed and tested to operate as a package.

It's all a moot point at the moment. I have decided to keep my Silverado and postpone the ZR2 vs. Rubicon decision until my Camaro is paid for, which should be in six to eight months. Two car payments are doable, but I'd rather not. Who knows, maybe the new car bug will have found someone else to pester by then.
 

Kilo Sierra

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Thanks for all the advice guys, you all bring up great points that I have considered, in depth. My trip to Alaska was my first (and so far only) serious overlanding road trip. My favorite parts were crawling through the Colorado Rockies and up the Cascades in Washington. My Silverado acquitted itself well, but it was severely limited by its stock suspension. I saw several dozen Wranglers breezing through stuff that my Silverado was struggling to overcome.

@Ben Cleveland, you bring up a good point, a new vehicle is going to be more expensive than building my Silverado up (which is paid for). One problem with moding my truck is that there is very little overland aftermarket support for full sizes. And once I start moding my truck it opens a whole new can of reliability worms. Modern vehicles are engineered and tuned to a proverbial knives edge. Once mods start pushing the design envelope too much, that is when things start to break. Then it becomes a very expensive and irritating game of whack-a-mole. As one thing breaks, I fix that, only to have another thing break down the line. Which is why I was considering a new vehicle. The extra $$$ I would spend on a new vehicle is worth the piece of mind of knowing it was designed and tested to operate as a package.

It's all a moot point at the moment. I have decided to keep my Silverado and postpone the ZR2 vs. Rubicon decision until my Camaro is paid for, which should be in six to eight months. Two car payments are doable, but I'd rather not. Who knows, maybe the new car bug will have found someone else to pester by then.
And maybe in that time we'l get a taste of what the Bronco will be like. ;)
 

Ben Cleveland

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Thanks for all the advice guys, you all bring up great points that I have considered, in depth. My trip to Alaska was my first (and so far only) serious overlanding road trip. My favorite parts were crawling through the Colorado Rockies and up the Cascades in Washington. My Silverado acquitted itself well, but it was severely limited by its stock suspension. I saw several dozen Wranglers breezing through stuff that my Silverado was struggling to overcome.

@Ben Cleveland, you bring up a good point, a new vehicle is going to be more expensive than building my Silverado up (which is paid for). One problem with moding my truck is that there is very little overland aftermarket support for full sizes. And once I start moding my truck it opens a whole new can of reliability worms. Modern vehicles are engineered and tuned to a proverbial knives edge. Once mods start pushing the design envelope too much, that is when things start to break. Then it becomes a very expensive and irritating game of whack-a-mole. As one thing breaks, I fix that, only to have another thing break down the line. Which is why I was considering a new vehicle. The extra $$$ I would spend on a new vehicle is worth the piece of mind of knowing it was designed and tested to operate as a package.

It's all a moot point at the moment. I have decided to keep my Silverado and postpone the ZR2 vs. Rubicon decision until my Camaro is paid for, which should be in six to eight months. Two car payments are doable, but I'd rather not. Who knows, maybe the new car bug will have found someone else to pester by then.
Sounds like you have a good plan....not as fun as buying something immediately, but paying off debt first is always a good priority.

I totally agree with you on the snowball effect with mods. It can happen, especially if they are being done on top of parts with 100K plus miles on them, or needed maintenance items. Out of curiosity, what are the big cost/repair items you've been chasing? Are they all suspension related or something else?
 
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twiget

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I think the Rockies are the reason for the most serious mechanical issues. I did Engineer Pass and Imogine Trail. Both were awesome, but somewhere along the way, I bottomed out the truck. My Silverado is a Z71, so he's got skid plates from the factory to protect the important bits. Well, when I bottomed out, the rear lip of skid plate that covers the transfer case got bent. This caused the edge of the steel skid plate to rub against the rear aluminum transfer case housing. By the time I got home, the skid plate had worn through the housing, and it was leaking oil. I also blew out both rear shocks.

On my way up the Dalton Highway in Alaska, I plowed through a big mud puddle that was hiding a sizeable pothole. I hit it hard enough that I bent the front left wheel and threw a belt in the tire. It also knocked my front end alignment way out. For the rest of the trip, I couldn't do more than 65mph without the front end wobbling all over the place. I know that's not the trucks fault, it's just bad luck.

As soon as I got home I went to a local shop and put him up on a lift, for a full inspection. The final butcher's bill for my Alaska trip:
  • Replace rear transfer case housing
  • Front end alignment
  • New wheels. When I bought the truck, it had aftermarket wheels on it, which I never cared for. Bending one of them so bad it couldn't be repaired was a great excuse to get new wheels
  • Two new tires. The alignment was so bad it had destroyed the front tires, which were brand new before I left.
  • New shocks on the rear
The whole trip was about 10,000 miles and took five weeks. I Air BnB'd it occasionally, but for the most part, I used iOverlander to find free/cheap camping spots. Even with the money I had to spend on repairs, I don't regret the trip. It was amazing and I can't wait to do something like it again. If you're interested, I posted some pics from the trip: New Mexico to Prudhoe Bay Alaska
 
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TnK1

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I’m going to suggest that if you’re looking to move toward top tier trails then choose the rubicon, but given you are used to ifs than I would negate my usual distaste for it off road. Where my real recommendation comes in is with their respective payload capabilities, the rubicon being 900lbs until gvwr and the Colorado at 1500lbs gvwr it’s an easy decision given that the weight of occupants has to be considered in these weights. So with the bisons higher payload yet still respectable off-road capability that would be my choice in your case.
 

twiget

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I’m going to suggest that if you’re looking to move toward top tier trails then choose the rubicon, but given you are used to ifs than I would negate my usual distaste for it off road. Where my real recommendation comes in is with their respective payload capabilities, the rubicon being 900lbs until gvwr and the Colorado at 1500lbs gvwr it’s an easy decision given that the weight of occupants has to be considered in these weights. So with the bisons higher payload yet still respectable off-road capability that would be my choice in your case.
I've had a few SFS trucks over the years, I'm no stranger to how they handle.

According to a post I found on the JLWrangler forum, the Rubicon has a 1235lb payload, which is not too far off from the Colorado . I wasn't aware that the Bison had an increased GVWR over the ZR2.

They canned it for the US. The FX4 package is the best we get for the foreable future. :(
Yup, I had my eye on the Ranger Raptor. It's a shame that truck isn't coming to the US .