Our Adventuremobile

Meet our Adventuremobile, a 2013 Jeep Wrangler Unlimited Sahara.

We picked up the Jeep back in March 2016, with a little over 50,000 miles. For what we were getting, it was a steal… or so we thought, we’re still finding problems a year later.

Those problems haven’t prevented us from taking this vehicle to some pretty incredible places. We’ll never forget driving on slickrock for the first time in Moab, or the time my brother Morgan and I almost put the Jeep at the bottom of a ravine in the Iron Range.

When we bought it, I don’t think Niecie or I really understood how owning a 4×4 again would do for us.

Neither of us were new to 4×4 ownership. Growing up, we’d always had four-wheel drive trucks and SUVs. The Jeep, however, was different. It was purpose built to put the most remote parts of the world within our grasp.

In a way, it’s liberating. The Jeep lets us take the road less traveled without fear of breaking down or getting stranded along the way.


Note: This page is regularly updated with new information as we continue to build our adventuremobile for even greater journeys.

Adventuremobile

Why a Wrangler?

The four-door Wrangler offered us the perfect balance between off-road capability, space and creature comforts.

Its stout body on frame construction, coil-sprung live axles and beefy tires made it a strong contender over the competition. Oh, and the doors and roof come off. What other modern vehicle can claim that? There is nothing like dropping the roof in the summer and the security of a solid roof in the winter.

Even a base model Wrangler is ready to hit the trail the moment it leaves the factory. We knew we’d be building the Jeep on a tight budget and, in our opinion, it offered us the best bang for the buck.

At almost ten years old, the third generation Wrangler has proven itself to be one of the most reliable and well-supported platforms on the market.

In the coming months, we’ll be outfitting the Jeep for longer and more rigorous off-road excursions and overland routes. When we’re done with it, the Jeep will be more than just our transportation, it’ll be our home away from home.

Adventure Mobile MotorPowerplant

At heart of our mighty adventuremobile is Chrysler’s 3.6-liter Pentastar V6 engine, which puts out a respectable 285 horsepower and 260 pound-feet of torque.

The engine is mated to a 5-speed automatic gearbox and a part-time four-wheel drive transfer case capable of multiplying the engine’s torque 2.71:1, more than enough to carry us over even the most challenging obstacles.

Tiresadventuremobile tires, Nitto Terra Grappler

For now, our Jeep is equipped with a set of 285/60R18 (31.5-inch) Nitto Terra Grapplers wrapped around the stock 18-inch rims.

These 10-ply triple-side-wall tires have proven to be more than capable of soaking up all the abuse the trail has thrown at them. Their attractive tread design, heavy siping and quiet ride has also made them one of our favorites.

adventuremobile lighting

Lights

On our Jeep, you won’t find any big spot lamps or light bars (yet). Driving off-road at night is something we always try to avoid. That isn’t to say we haven’t made some big improvements to the Jeep’s lighting.

We felt the Jeep’s stock headlamps were downright dangerous at night. Within a month of purchasing the Jeep, we swapped them out for a pair of inexpensive LED housings. The inexpensive upgrade made a huge difference whether I was cruising home after a late meeting or we were stuck on an unfamiliar trail.

If you’re considering a pair LED headlamps for your Jeep, either the new factory ones or a set of third-party ones, I can’t recommend it enough.

adventuremobile suspension Monroe Reflex shocks painted redSuspension

The Jeep rides on what is sometimes referred to as a “0-inch lift.”

Wrangler JKs come from the factory with a wide variety of coil springs depending on how they are equipped. This allowed us to achieve a modest lift by swapping out the stock suspension for a set of stiffer factory coils.

We swapped out our tired springs (16 front /58 rear) for a set that came off of a Rubicon (18 front /59 rear). This raised the front end nearly two inches and the rear by about an inch.

A pair of 3/4-inch Daystar polyurethane spacers were added to the rear coils to help keep the Jeep level when fully loaded with our gear.

We paired the stiffer springs with a set of inexpensive but proven Monroe Reflex Monotube shocks (now painted red for added horsepower). These provided adequate damping, improved handling and excellent off-road performance for less than $200.

adventuremobile solid axlesAxles

On the topic of suspension, one of the biggest reasons for choosing the Jeep over other similarly equipped vehicles, like the Toyota FJ Cruiser, 4Runner, Nissan Xterra or any other mid-size off-roader came down to suspension.

Solid live axles offer better articulation off road, are generally simpler to repair and maintain and aren’t as easily damaged as independent suspension. Solid axles do, however, have drawbacks and ride comfort is just one of many. There is a reason the industry has steadily phased them out over the last decade.

The Wrangler is the last remaining SUVs on the market still sporting live axles both front and rear.

Our Jeep is equipped with a stout Dana 30 in the front and a beefy Dana 44 rear. A factory limited-slip differential ensures we only rarely lose traction.

The Jeep’s fuel-efficient 3.21 gearing means we have the best chance of getting the advertised 20 MPG highway, but as we move up in tire size, we may need to consider regearing. When we do, we’ll be looking at installing a couple of lockers for added traction in the really slippery stuff.

adventuremobile bumper

Bumper

For added protection from animal strikes and to improve the already impressive approach angle of the Jeep, we fitted a heavy-duty E-Autogrilles winch bumper and skid plate combo.

The bumper also featured closed tow-points for recovery, a safer alternative to the stock bumper’s tow hooks. This meant there was less likelihood of a tow-strap slipping off during a recovery scenario.

In the rear, we’re still running the same plastic bumper that the Jeep came with from the factory. Because we’re not running oversized tires, we haven’t needed a tire carrier. If that changes we’ll be upgrading to something a little burlier.

adventuremobile

More to come

We’ve got a laundry list of upgrades planned for the Jeep over the next year and a half. As we make improvements to the Jeep, we’ll keep this page updated.

Coming soon:

  • Storage solutions
  • Communications
  • Navigation

Comment and Share

So, tell us in the comments

  • What do you think of our adventuremobile?
  • Are you building an overlanding rig? If so, what is your build philosophy
  • Did we miss something?

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17 Comments Add yours

  1. Great post. Love the details of the jeep. That is one nicely serious vehicle. One thing though and that is stay out of putting it in the bottom of a ravine. Gotta remember… rubber side down.

    1. tobiasmann says:

      We’ll try to remember that the tires are supposed to go on the road and not in the air. I thought the flexy axles were supposed to help with that, but I guess everything has it’s limits.

      1. The flexy axels had to cost a lot. Are they stronger then the leaf springs?

        1. tobiasmann says:

          We pay more in ride comfort than anything. The coil sprung live axles are standard on this vehicle.

          Leaf springs are less expensive and tend to be better at distributing the weight of a payload. This is why they are often found on trucks. Compared to coil springs they don’t allow for as much articulation of the axles.

          Coil springs themselves aren’t much more expensive, but require a multi-link control arm assembly that adds significant cost and complication to the suspension. Normally this isn’t a problem on trucks because they have independent suspension in the front and a live axle in the rear to make driving it feel more truck like. Hope that helped – Tobias

          1. Yes it did help, thank you. Do you do your own work?

  2. I like how you have added the details, it helps understand what you have and allows others to see some options, should they own a similar rig.
    I hope you guys have an enormous amount of fun on your adventures. Can’t wait to hear about them from both of you!

    1. tobiasmann says:

      Thanks, we’ve got a lot of fun stuff planned for this summer and Fall. We’ve had a round of bad luck this year, but we’re weathering it for the best. That means we might not get to everything we had planned but there is always next year.

  3. Nice, a bit of an American classic already.

  4. penncosect24 says:

    Nice article! Looking forward to more of your adventures — provided you steer clear of ravines and other dangerous declines!! Didn’t I tell you when you were young that all dangerous adventures were forbidden? Even so, love your articles and adventure recaps!

    1. tobiasmann says:

      I don’t plan on driving down any ravines intentionally. That being said we would do so safely if it came to that.

  5. So did it come with the doors Tobias? Louise

    1. tobiasmann says:

      Great Question Louise. Our Wrangler came with full height doors. It can also be purchased with half doors. The doors on all wranglers are removable as is the roof. The windshield can also fold flat to the hood, but most people don’t don’t do that because it is illegal most places and a lot of work to do. We have a folding soft-top for the summer and a hard top for the winter months. I hope this helped. It is a truly unique vehicle.

  6. schikimikki says:

    Uhh Jeeps are my dream cars, especially the wrangler! I was salivating over Jeeps for months until I decided I am going to stick with my super old Nissan Pulsar 1993 (!!!!) until its time comes haha.

    1. tobiasmann says:

      I have always loved the Wrangler and before it the CJs. Really I have always loved Jeeps. Jeeps, the Wranglers especially, take some getting used to and are not for everyone. They look cool but aren’t like any automobile you’ve probably driven before. I think it’s great that you are making what you have last until you can make the leap and find something that meets your needs. I drove my dad’s old 1998 Silverado Pickup for six months while I saved up for the down payment on the Jeep. Best of luck on your adventures. I’m looking forward to your next blog post.

  7. dejahgatz says:

    Love your ride! My husband and I take our FJ Cruiser out on camping/outdoor adventures but I have always wanted a Jeep. BTW, so happy to have found your blog 🙂

    1. tobiasmann says:

      I absolutely love the FJ. I really strongly considered getting one of them rather than a Jeep, but they just didn’t quite have the space I needed. The Jeep Wrangler Unlimited has just a little more space. I’m really glad you’ve found our blog. I look forward to your comments on future posts.

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