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Road, Show & Trail: Rancho’s Jeep Wrangler JL is Outfitted to Perform
BY Mike Maravilla //
September 6, 2023
Photography: Provided by Rancho Suspension
  • For nearly 70 years, Rancho® has been dedicated to delivering suspension systems, shock absorbers, and accessories that deliver rugged on- and off-road performance for Jeeps, trucks, and SUVs.
  • Rancho® latest project was a stock 2018 Jeep Wrangler JL Rubicon that would undergo significant changes — including Rancho’s own offerings — to tackle the road, show, and trail equally.
  • The Jeep’s multi-purpose temperament also allowed Rancho® to test and further refine its own products before they go to market, including the 3.5″-4.5″ Crawler suspension system, RS7MT® shocks and rockGEAR® protective products.

The term “adventurists” may traditionally have negative connotations, but given the influx of enthusiasm towards the off-road and overland market, that definition needs a re-work. By modern interpretation, adventurists are excited about two things: exploring the unknown and the challenge of getting there. Rancho® has dedicated its almost 70 years of service to feeding that excitement, delivering suspension systems, shock absorbers, and accessories that deliver rugged on- and off-road performance for Jeeps, trucks, and SUVs.

Its latest project needed to achieve a well-rounded skill set, too. From the bright lights of the showroom floor to trails filled with obstacles, the Rancho® team needed a vehicle that could go from events to off-roading without skipping a beat. The Jeep Wrangler JL Rubicon was the perfect base to do exactly that and the Rancho® engineers and product specialists went to work developing or searching for the right products for this important build.


Naturally, the best place to start was with its own products. The Rancho® team threw some of the very best from its catalog onto the truck, opting to first fit its popular 2″ Sport suspension system (RS66124BR9) to test its prowess through popular testing grounds like Rubicon Trail, Drummond Island in Michigan, and Pritchett Canyon in Moab. “While it handled these tough trails, we were looking for beefier control arms and other heavy-duty components, like the track bar, to improve the ride,” said the Rancho® engineering team. “We decided to upgrade to the Crawler system to address these concerns.”

The 3.5″-4.5″ Crawler system (RS66125B) — a pre-packaged combination of coil springs, adjustable control arms, heavy-duty adjustable track bars, extended sway bar end links, bump stop spacers, and mounting hardware — was installed thereafter along with a set of Raceline wheels and 37″ Milestar Patagonia M/T-02 tires. The total package, as you see it here, offers increased ground clearance, wheel travel, and more suspension articulation to deliver even greater capability off-road, without sacrificing any on-road performance.


Of course, every suspension wouldn’t be complete without a set of matched dampers. The Rancho® Jeep currently features RS7MT® monotube shocks, which are application-tuned for precision on-road and off-road handling. RS7MT shocks feature an integrated dirt wiper sealing system that keeps dirt and debris out, a hardened piston rod that resists scuffs and corrosion, and an internal rebound bumper to smooth out hyperextensions to the shock.


Dirt and debris are part of the off-road game, but that doesn’t mean that Rancho® would be fine with letting the Jeep look wrecked. This was, after all, supposed to travel from show to trail and everything in between. To cope with some of nature’s most abrasive surfaces, the Rancho® team added more of its own high-strength, powder-coated steel rockGEAR® accessories to the Jeep. Front and rear differential covers, glide plates, and a shock and control arm skid plate deliver valuable peace of mind and help prevent catastrophic failure across wildly articulating terrain.

While all of this gear helped protect the underside of the Jeep, some Motobilt Crusher bumpers and rocker guards, and a Rhino-Rack awning and racking system took care of the more visible areas, helping improve the Jeep’s rugged demeanor alongside its resistance to bruising. The exhaust, which is actually a muffler elimination pipe, was fitted to hug the undercarriage’s contours, which helps shield it from damage during rock crawling.


There is no such thing as being over-prepared for off-roading. Because of its long-standing experience in the great outdoors, the team opted to fit the Rubicon with KC HiLiTES auxiliary lights, a Midland MicroMobile two-way radio, a Warn winch, and Factor 55 recovery gear for good measure.

Creature comforts like a Dometic fridge/freezer combo, RinseKit portable shower, and Goal Zero portable power station provide some helpful recharging opportunities, too, especially for excursions that keep you away from civilization for days or weeks at a time.


As I mentioned earlier, Rancho® wanted a project that could go from the trade show floor to rock climbing without skipping a beat. While it would’ve been undoubtedly easier to just showcase its parts on a show truck and call it a day, Rancho® prides itself on testing and vetting its products before they end up on yours.

“The Rancho® Jeep has been key in developing the Dynamic Rebound Spring (DRS) technology that is exclusively used on the RS5000X and RS9000XL shocks for the Jeep Wrangler JL and Jeep Gladiator,” said the Rancho® engineering team. “Using the Jeep was instrumental in getting the application-specific performance that is the hallmark of these shocks.”

Obviously, this Rubicon is more than a project — it’s a testament to the fidelity of Rancho® equipment — and its engineering team has gone to the ends of the Earth so you can trust that it works. In its totality, Rancho’s Wrangler walks the tightrope between on- and off-road performance with grace and it sets a worthy example for all of us who have just begun to dip our toes into the world of off-roading.

Rancho Suspension | 2018 Jeep Wrangler JL Rubicon

Exterior:Rancho differential cover, Rancho differential glide plate, Rancho shock and control arm skid, Motobilt Crusher front and rear bumpers, Motobilt rocker guards, Warn winch, Factor 55 recovery gear, KC HiLiTES lights, Rhino-Rack awning and racking on hardtop, Bestop Freedom Sunrider folding roof
Interior:Midland MicroMobile two-way radio communication system, Armorlite flooring, Power Tank 15-lb air tank, Onx off-road maps, Dometic 12V portable refrigerator/freezer, Goal Zero portable power station with solar panel, RinseKit portable shower, Bulletpoint Mounting Solutions mounts (phone, CB, tablet)
Engine/Drivetrain:DynoMax Performance Exhaust muffler elimination pipe
Brakes/Suspension:Rancho 3.5"-4.5" Crawler system - including RS7MT shocks, heavy duty control arms, D2 bushings
Wheels/Tires:Racine wheels, 37" Milestar Patagonia M/T-02 tires





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