When choosing the best Gladiator for yourself, you'll want to consider the Rubicon. The Rubicon is the Gladiator's ultimate iteration for off-roading. It has a higher ground clearance than base model Sport, but is this because it's lifted? We've looked into this topic and have the information for you.
The Gladiator Rubicon is not pre-lifted. It does have a higher ground clearance than the Gladiator Sport, but this is due to its larger wheels.
A number of lift kits are available for the Jeep Gladiator, including the Rubicon. Some of these are made by Mopar, the equipment manufacturer for Jeep. Depending on your dealer, you may be able to get a lift kit installed directly by the dealership.
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We'll take a look at lift kits for the Gladiator, as well as what you'll want to know before installing one. We'll also cover more about what makes the Rubicon the best off-roading Gladiator. Read on to learn all about it.
What Lift Kits are Available for the Jeep Gladiator?
If you're looking for a lift kit for your Rubicon, the best place to start is with ones produced by Mopar. Short for motor parts, Mopar is the parts and customer care division of the Chrysler Corporation that owns Jeep, as well as Chrysler, Dodge, Ram, and FIAT.
Mopar makes a 2-inch lift kit specifically for the Jeep Gladiator. This lift will increase your ground clearance and improve your suspension, perfect for going off-road.
If you want your warranty to cover the lift kit, you'll need to go with an official Mopar kit and have it installed by an authorized Jeep, Chrysler, or Dodge dealer.
If you want to install it yourself, know that it won't be covered by your warranty despite being made by Mopar. You can see how to do it in the video below.
Third-party lift kits are also available for the Gladiator. When buying third-party lift kits, it's especially important to research them carefully before purchase.
In some cases, they might not fit all trim levels of the Gladiator, as is the case with the 2.5-inch lift kit from Rough Country below, which does not fit the Special Edition Mojave.
What Size Tires Come Stock on Jeep Gladiator Rubicon?
The 2021 Jeep Gladiator Rubicon features LT285/70R17C all-terrain tires that measure at an impressive 33 inches. These are the same tires that come with the Special Edition Gladiator Mojave, and they are larger than those on any other trim level.
Mud-terrain tires are also available for the Gladiator Rubicon and Mojave. These have wider trenches between the tread that helps clear mud out faster. These tires are a good choice if you do a lot of off-roading in muddy conditions or rock-crawling on paths that have a lot of loose dirt among the rocks.
While mud-terrain tires are ideal for those circumstances, the standard all-terrain tires will work better in most situations. They create less road noise, last longer, and can handle snow and high-traction rock-climbing better than the mud-terrain tires.
Can you Put 35s on a Stock Gladiator Rubicon?
The Rubicon can easily fit 35-inch tires, even without being lifted. Thanks to the factory backspacing, these larger tires will still have clearance from the fender wells. You may find occasional contact with the front fender wells while turning and off-roading.
If you decide to add 35s to your Rubicon, be sure to look for sets that are compatible with the Rubicon's 17x7.5-inch rims. Most 35x12.5 tires work better with wider wheels, but 35x11.5 tires can fit nicely on the Rubicon.
The Rubicon's undercarriage spare tire storage will also fit a 35-inch tire well, so you'll still be prepared for a flat or a blowout.
Putting 35s on your Rubicon can increase your ground clearance by an inch without needing a lift kit. However, they will shave a little off your gas mileage and may occasionally rub the fender wells, which can wear down the tires faster and cause a bit of noise while driving.
You can learn more about how 35s handle when put on a stock Rubicon in the video below.
Is the Rubicon Gladiator Worth It?
The Rubicon doesn't just come with bigger wheels and higher ground clearance than the Gladiator Sport. It has a host of features that help it offroad better than most other trim levels.
The Rubicon comes equipped with the Rock-Trac NV241OR two-speed transfer case with a four-to-one low-range gear ratio. That means you'll be able to maximize torque for heavy-duty off-roading.
The Rubicon also features front and rear locking differentials, which will help you get through sticky situations when traction is at its lowest. It even has a disconnecting front sway bar and off-road winch-capable bumpers.
All of these factors combined make the Rubicon the best off-roading stock Gladiator. However, they also bump up the price you'll pay compared to the basic Sport. Whether it's worth this difference is up to you.
One key point to keep in mind is that upgrading your Sport to compete with the Rubicon off-road will cost more than just buying a Rubicon off-the-bat. It will also take time, work, and the possibility of complications during the process.
If you're looking for a great off-roading vehicle, you'll most likely be better off going for the Rubicon right away. If you mostly want a street vehicle that you'll only occasionally use for some light off-roading, the Sport may be a better option for you.
Jeeps don't come cheap, so making the right choice is key to getting the best return on your investment. You can learn more about this topic in our article, "Why are Jeeps so Expensive?"
Do Lift Kits Affect Braking?
Your vehicle will drive differently before and after installing a lift kit. When it comes to braking, you will find that your vehicle needs longer to fully brake after installing a lift kit. This happens for a number of reasons.
The first is simply that lift kits make your vehicle heavier. The size and the heft of the new wheels will mean more brake pressure will be required after installing a lift kit.
Lifting also raises the center of gravity on your vehicle. This is most important when turning, as your vehicle will be more prone to rolling over but increases the amount of pressure needed to brake as well.
How to Brake Safely After Installing a Lift Kit
The first and most important thing to do after installing a lift kit is to get some practice driving in. Go slow and take it easy at first so you can get a feel for how your Gladiator or any other vehicle handles stops and turns post-lift. It's best to stick to familiar areas so you can really notice the difference.
Getting some practice in after lifting your Gladiator goes a long way in helping you brake more safely. However, you simply won't have the same possible braking power after lifting your vehicle.
A good solution for this is to invest in a big brake kit. These kits increase the braking power of your vehicle by using larger calipers and brake pads. This increases the surface area where the brake pads contact the rotor as you brake, increasing brake functionality.
You can see a front brake kit installation on a 2020 Gladiator in the video below.
How Much Can you Tow with the Gladiator Rubicon?
Offroading isn't the only outdoor adventure you can take with your Gladiator. Whether you're towing a camper, jet ski, or ATV, your Gladiator can help you get the most out of the great outdoors.
The Gladiator has a maximum towing capacity of 7,650 lbs when outfitted with Jeep's max tow package. Unfortunately, this package is only available for Sport, Willys, and Freedom trim levels of the Gladiator.
The Rubicon still has an impressive maximum towing power of 7,000 lbs if outfitted with the automatic transmission. A Rubicon with a manual transmission will have a lower towing capacity, just 4,000 lbs.
To learn more about what you can tow behind your Gladiator, check out our article, "What Size Camper can a Jeep Gladiator Tow?" You'll learn more about towing with a Gladiator and also see some great examples of Gladiator-ready campers!
The Jeep Gladiator Rubicon is an awesome vehicle for off-roading right off the lot. While lift kits can improve your off-roading experience, you might not find them necessary when driving the Rubicon.
If you do decide to get a lift kit for your Gladiator Rubicon, you now know a little bit more about the options and issues when doing so. You'll be ready to handle whatever the road, or the terrain, throws at you.