The Jeep Wrangler Sport offers a great mix of power, comfort, and affordability. While it may not be as good for off-road driving as the Rubicon, it still allows you to venture beyond the pavement better than other SUVs. You can make the Sport better for rugged terrain by installing larger tires.
Can you turn you Wrangler Sport into a Rubicon?
Can I Put Rubicon Tires And Rims On A Sport Wrangler?
Yes, you can put Rubicon tires on a Wrangler Sport. The stock tires of a Rubicon are 285/70-17 while those of a Sport are 245/75-17. The difference between the two tires is only 0.25 inches, with the Rubicon being taller.
The difference in width is not much either, and without measuring the tires, you may not notice the difference between them. Wheels on the Rubicon and the Sport have a different design, but their sizes are almost similar – both are 17×7.5 inches.
After fitting the Rubicon tires on the Sport, you will get a ground clearance of only 0.175 inches, which you may not even notice. However, the Rubicon tires have an aggressive tread pattern that allows you to venture off the road.
Jeep Wrangler Rubicon was engineered for heavy duty off-road application. Its fender flares and suspension setup allow it to take larger tires without major system modifications. If you need larger tires for your Sport, you might need to modify some parts to ensure there is no rubbing of parts when you drive.
Can You Fit Even Bigger Tires on the Wrangler Sport?
The Rubicon fits 35-inch tires without rubbing or the need for any modifications. Some models can even take 35-inch tires with no needed modification. If you need larger, say 37-inch tires, you might have to perform a couple of modifications to make the tires operate swiftly.
The Wrangler Sport can take 33-inch tires without rubbing even when you drive off the road. However, if you experience slight rubbing issues, you can perform simple modifications on the fender flares.
Larger tires will enhance the aesthetic appeal of your SUV and allow you to drive on rugged terrain. The easiest way to fit these larger tires is to use a lift kit to increase the ground clearance of your Sport and ensure there is no rubbing.
What Else Can You Fit from a Wrangler Rubicon to a Sport?
The Rubicon is off-road focused. It is one of the most capable Wrangler models you can buy, and it comes at a higher cost. The Sport also offers sufficient capability for light off-roading, and it comes at a much lower price.
With a few modifications, the Sport can perform almost as good as the Rubicon. You can buy a Rubicon and enjoy all its off-road capability, or you can buy a Sport and build it up to a Rubicon. Some of the upgrades that will make the Sport better, except the wheels and tire upgrades, include:
The suspension system of the Rubicon is engineered to handle off-road driving. If you fit the Sport with the same size tires as a Rubicon, the Rubicon will still perform better, thanks to its advanced suspension system.
For starters, you need to upgrade the shocks and springs to make the SUV better cushion you against the bumps in off-road driving. You need to go for the factory Rubicon shocks and springs or other shocks and springs with the same capability.
Advanced shocks and springs enhance your ride quality when you drive off the road.
The sway bar on the Rubicon is special in that you can disconnect it. You can upgrade with a disconnectable or static sway bar to enhance articulation when you handle steep terrain. When shopping, choose models designed for the Rubicon as they are better for handling off the road driving.
A lift kit comes in handy when you need to fit larger tires. The Rubicon has 1.1 inches more ground clearance compared to the Sport. You can increase the ground clearance of your Sport by fitting a lift kit.
The kit will bring your Sport closer to the height of the Rubicon and allow you to add tires larger than 33 inches. When well-installed, the lift kit will help you avoid hitting the rear and front of your SUV.
A lift kit enhances the approach and departure angles. These are important when you are navigating obstacles such as boulders. The approach angle determines how steep you can climb while the departure angle determines how well you can descend a hill.
If you install a two-inch lift kit, you can have up to 2.5 inches lift for better ground clearance.
Axles and Drivetrain
Dana 44 axles make the Rubicon unique. The robust design of the axles makes them ideal when you are driving off the road. With these upgrades, your Sport will perform better in low speed crawling when you drive on rough terrain.
For starters, you can upgrade the locking axles. You can add the Dana 44 Tru-Lock axles on the front rear. The Sport comes with Dana 30 on its front and Dana 35 on its rear if you do not opt for the rear axle differential.
The Dana 44 Tru-Lock axles will allow you to crawl as a Rubicon crawls. Locking the axles allows you to place maximum traction on the ground when you drive on slippery terrain.
There are even special off-road axle assemblies. These larger axles and lower gear ratios allow you to crawl on rocks. If your Wrangler Sport has bigger tires and a lift, you can add a front-end stabilizer for enhanced off-road optimization.
Once you upgrade the axle, you need to upgrade the transfer case too. You can go for a 4:1 transfer case that offers low gearing, allowing you to crawl with ease. The Command-Trac NV241 that comes standard with the Sport is not ideal when you venture off the road.
A transfer case upgrade ensures that you get more power when you drive at low speeds and this allows you to drive up a steep climb with ease.
Because the Rubicon is engineered for off-road driving, it comes with rock rails and door sill that protect it from stones and other items when driving off the road. If you plan to drive off the road often, fitting bigger tires may not cover it.
Rock rails and door sills may add weight to your Jeep, but they ensure you never have to re-paint the Jeep every few months. The Rubicon sports a steel front skid plate while the Sport has a plastic skid plate. Upgrading the plastic skid plate ensures your Sport has more protection.
You can also go with Rubicon bumpers, which add style and capability. Your Sport will look tough, and if you have the other upgrades, it will perform tough too. If you want your Sport to look as close to the Rubicon as possible, you can go with the factory’s red hooks.
If the factory bumpers are not available, you can go with aftermarket bumpers that add clearance and enhance the approach angle. There are some aftermarket bumpers that can perform better than the Rubicon factory bumpers.
Interior and Exterior Styling
The above upgrades give your Sport the off-road capability of a Rubicon. If you want the look and feel of the Rubicon in your Sport, you might need to upgrade the Sport’s styling.
The styling starts with the bumper above. If you do not get the bumper, you can add red D-rings to complete the look. You can further add a Rubicon decal to your Sport’s exterior – this is a small touch, but it makes your Sport look more like the Rubicon.
From the exterior, you can add the distinct red dashboard present in the Rubicon. This dashboard makes the Rubicon stand out, and it can make your Sport look the part too. Instead of replacing the dashboard, you can paint the muted gray dash in your Sport.
The door sill guards add to the beauty of the Rubicon, and you can add them to your Sport too. These guards make the Rubicon look upmarket, and they also prevent scratches and scuffs.
Should You Buy a Rubicon or Upgrade a Sport Into a Rubicon?
If you want the capability of a Jeep Wrangler Rubicon, you are better off buying one. If you want an affordable off-road Jeep to take on light off-roading trips, the Sport with larger wheels will work perfectly. The best part about fitting Rubicon tires to the Sport is that there are no major modifications.
If you already have a Sport, and you want to make it drive through shallow water and small rocks, the larger tires and the more aggressive tread pattern will help. If you want more capability, you can upgrade your Sport to match the capability of your Rubicon or even offer more power.
The challenge with the upgrades is that you will void your warranty with every minor modification you make. Again, these upgrades do not come cheap and the cost of all the upgrades above may come close to that of a new Rubicon.
The Sport is an ideal SUV when you need a car stripped down to bare bones and meets most of your off-roading needs. Upgrading a Sport gives you the freedom to choose the mods you want – if you do it right, your Sport might even perform better than an original Rubicon.
Installing larger tires with no modifications should be simple if you have the tools and the technical know-how. Installing the Rubicon tires on the Sport doesn’t require you to do much. If you have never changed tires before, take your Sport to a mechanic to help you do the upgrades.
If you need to do other upgrades to make your Sport even better for off-road driving, you need to take it to a professional. This is a requirement if you need to keep the warranty of the aftermarket parts alive.
What do you get with larger tires? You enjoy more ground clearance to drive through shallow waters and over small rocks. You may need to tweak the Jeep’s computer to coordinate the sensor readings from the larger wheels.