Hang on to your butts, because it's about to get nuts -- the off-road wars are here! Ford is this close to launching the new Bronco, but Jeep is trying to steal some thunder with the new Xtreme Recon off-road package for the Wrangler. Making its debut Friday, this over-the-top package includes 35-inch tires, a lift kit and an insane 100:1 crawl ratio -- and will be available on the four-door Wrangler Rubicon and Wrangler 392. We'll get our first live glimpse of the new Xtreme at the 2021 Chicago Auto Show on July 14.
Straight from the factory, the Wrangler Rubicon is pretty impressive with its 84.2:1 crawl ratio, so upping this to 100:1 is kind of bonkers. The fact that the Xtreme Recon beats the Bronco's 94.7:1 crawl ratio is the kind of oneupmanship we're totally here for.
Let's chat a bit about crawl ratios, shall we? They are a complicated mix of elements, but you can think of it simply as a representation of how much the engine's torque is multiplied through the axles before it hits the ground. If you have a high-torque vehicle with a high crawl ratio, you'll be able to creep over obstacles slowly, keeping your rig under control. To determine the crawl ratio, simply multiply the shortest transmission gear ratio -- which is usually first gear -- by the axle ratio, by the low range gear ratio and voila: crawl ratio.
To get that 100:1 crawl ratio Jeep is offering a 4.88:1 axle ratio with the Xtreme Recon. The bummer is that you won't be able to order these axles until later in 2021. The good news is that the standard upgrade on the Xtreme Recon package sports axles with a 4.56:1 ratio. Do the math and even this first-available package will have a crawl ratio of 93.6:1, just a smidge below the Bronco's 94.7:1 crawl ratio.
To get that crazy crawl ratio in the Wrangler, be it 100:1 or 93.6:1, you need to have the Jeep's six-speed manual transmission. Now, remember when I said that crawl ratio is just a representation of how much the torque is multiplied before it hits the ground? Crawl ratios mean nothing unless you know how much torque you've got from the get go. In this case the manual transmission is only available with the Wrangler's 3.6-liter V6 with 260 pound-feet of torque.
If you want the max 94.7:1 crawl ratio in the Bronco you also have to go with the manual transmission and that is only offered with the 2.3-liter turbocharged engine, so you're looking at 325 pound-feet of torque. With a slightly higher crawl ratio and more torque, the Bronco definitely comes out ahead here, at least until the 4.88s are available for the Jeep.
However, things change when we move to automatic transmissions. The Wrangler with the eight-speed auto has a taller first gear, so look for a crawl ratio of 85.9:1 with the 4.56 axles or 91.9:1 with the 4.88s. These ratios apply to the 260 pound-feet of torque out of the 3.6-liter V6 and the 295 pound-feet from the 2.0-liter turbo. The Wrangler 392 with its 6.4-liter V8 and 470 pound-feet of torque has a different transfer case, so the crawl ratio with the 4.56 axles is 58.1:1 or 62.5:1 with the 4.88s. Jeep hasn't said if the Xtreme Recon package will be available on the diesel-powered or 4xe plug-in hybrid Wranglers.
The Bronco's 10-speed automatic transmission similarly offers a taller first gear, so the max crawl ratio you can get is 67.8:1. The 2.3-liter turbocharged engine will buy you 325 lb-ft of torque; the 2.7-liter twin-turbo V6 clocks in at 415 lb-ft. That's nothing to sneeze at, but if you put a Jeep Wrangler 392 with the Xtreme Recon package in gear you likely would hardly ever have to touch the accelerator to get it to climb, automatic transmission notwithstanding.
Of course, there is more to off-roading than crawl ratios. With the 35-inch BF Goodrich KO2 All-Terrain tires and a 1.5-inch suspension lift, the Xtreme Recon has 12.9 inches of ground clearance, an approach angle of 47.4 degrees, a breakover angle of 26.7 degrees and a departure angle of 40.4 degrees. Water fording similarly increases to 33.6 inches.
As for the most beefed-up four-door Bronco with the Sasquatch package, you'll get 11.5 inches of ground clearance and 43.2, 26.3 and 37 degrees of approach, breakover and departure angles, respectively. Water fording is capped at 33.5 inches.
We don't have any pricing information yet but the Xtreme Recon package with the 4.56 axles will go into production in August. The 4.88s will be available to order later in 2021. Obviously, we can't say which one is better until we drive them back to back, but our feeling is that the Bronco is going to be easier to drive on pavement thanks to its independent front suspension. That's all we can really predict without getting behind the wheel. One thing we can be certain of, though? It's a great time to be an off-road fan.