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2012 Jeep Wrangler

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2012 Jeep Wrangler Review

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KBB Expert Rating: 6.8

"Iconic" may be an overused descriptive, but the 2012 Jeep Wrangler SUV wears it well. Some 65 years after the end of World War II, civilians continue to embrace the same basic recipe of affordable four-wheel drive, despite the Jeep's increased size, capability and – at a base price of $23K and an equipped price that can touch (or exceed) $40K – wide-ranging window sticker. And while the original Willys MA and MB established their off-road credibility in some of the worst theaters of World War II, the Jeep Wrangler has never been more off-road capable or - over the road - more comfortable. That composure is heightened by an all-new SUV drivetrain, featuring a more responsive V6 and (available) five-speed automatic transmission.

You'll Like This Car If...

If you enjoy outdoor activities, the 2012 Jeep Wrangler is your round-trip ticket to the trailhead, ski slope or beach. And if you enjoy the Jeep-specific pursuit of boulder hopping, this newest iteration of the Wrangler – and newish iteration of the four-door Unlimited SUV – won't disappoint.

You May Not Like This Car If...

The 2012 Jeep Wrangler is engineered to deliver credible off-road SUV capability. To that end, its on-road demeanor is necessarily compromised. Both its separate frame and live axles (front and rear) enhance off-road performance, while compromising on-road stability (heavier unsprung weight from live axles) and performance (heavier curb weight – typically – with a separate frame) when compared to today's pavement-specific crossover SUVs.

What's New for 2012

The improvements found in the 2012 Jeep Wrangler can be summed up with one number: 285. That horsepower figure, from a new (for the Wrangler SUV) 3.6-liter V6, constitutes a 40-percent improvement as compared to its 202-horsepower predecessor. And when connected to the Wrangler's new five-speed automatic (a six-speed manual transmission is the standard gearbox), the powertrain produces both better performance (zero-to-60 times are improved by two to three seconds) and fuel efficiency.

Driving the Wrangler

Driving Impressions The best part about the 2012 Jeep Wrangler is that it remains – in the end – a Jeep, with the aforementioned separate body-and-frame construction, live axles front and rear,...

and enough ground clearance to drive over a (large) sleeping dog without doing damage to dog or drivetrain. With that menu of perceived negatives for on-road performance, Jeep engineers have done a remarkable job of taming the beast within, endowing this newest Wrangler SUV with steering that actually steers, and a suspension that remains in regular contact with the paved surfaces beneath it. Off-road, the 2012 Wrangler is everything you want in a four-wheel-drive trail rig, given its ability to poke along at walking speed. And if the logging trail allows – or the evening's destination calls for it – you have the ability to get up-and-running in no time. Add real horsepower to the crawling, and favorable gearing for the hauling, and you arguably have the most competent Jeep Wrangler in the CJ's 70-year history.
Favorite Features

New 3.6-liter V6 Powertrain
The new 3.6-liter Pentastar V6 is the final piece in the Jeep Wrangler puzzle. And the improvement is more than just the raw power listed in the specs. In every on-and-off-road discipline, the newest Jeep is an improvement over its predecessor. And when equipped with the available 5-speed automatic, refinement goes up while losing very little – if any – capability or efficiency.

Stone-Axe Simplicity
In a world of disposable consumer goods, or those with life expectancy that goes just beyond their warranty period, the essential goodness of a Jeep Wrangler, including the 2012 Jeep Wrangler, exists within its basic simplicity. Body-on-frame construction may add weight, but it also ensures longevity and aids in ease of repair. Add in elements such as easily replaceable fenders and removable doors, and you have both an off-road tool and urban warrior.

2012 Jeep Wrangler Details
Interior

The Jeep Wrangler interior was extensively upgraded for the 2011 model year. To that end, few changes have been necessary – or incorporated – for 2012. Our test Wrangler, a Sahara Unlimited SUV trimmed in Black/Dark Saddle leather, was just this side of sumptuous. Lower in the food chain is the base Sport, whose cloth-covered perches can best be described as functional. And although the Wrangler Unlimited's folding rear seat creates a spacious – and flat – load surface, the headrests don't detach for folding, which necessitates moving the front seats as far forward as possible. Jeep's interior design team should refer to Honda's subcompact Fit for an idea of how to add "convenience" to "functional."

Exterior

With each generation, the Jeep Wrangler engineering team increases its footprint. And that was never more evident than in the 2007 redesign, when the two-door Wrangler grew and the four-door Wrangler Unlimited was first introduced. In its Unlimited form, the Wrangler SUV stretches almost 15 feet, weighing almost 4,500 pounds. That said, the 2012 Wrangler's off-road intentions remain clear, with minimal overhangs front and rear. The exterior design retains a greenhouse that provides excellent visibility of both the trail and adjacent scenery. New for 2012 is a body-colored hardtop for both the two-door and four-door Wranglers (Sahara and Rubicon), creating a more unified – and upscale – appearance.

Notable Equipment
Standard Equipment

We'd (again) mention the 2012 Jeep Wrangler SUV's 285 horsepower as most notable, but with additional power comes the need for enhanced control. Here, Jeep engineers have added a full menu of safety and security, including electronic stability control, electronic roll mitigation, Hill-start Assist, and Trailer-sway Control. Add the aggressive 4WD technology on the off-road-oriented Rubicon, and the most difficult trails become almost laughably easy.

Optional Equipment

The 2012 Wrangler's optional five-speed automatic transmission provides the driver with more efficiency, better access to the new V6's torque curve and, with a lower 1st-gear ratio, better ability to crawl those rocks. And Jeep is one of the few manufacturers providing you a choice of rear-end ratios (3.21, 3.73 or 4.10). That choice allows the owner to truly tailor the Wrangler to his or her specific driving needs.

Under the Hood

The 3.6-liter V6 in the 2012 Jeep Wrangler is truly a revelation. The new engine improves on the previous powerplant in both power (up by some 40 percent) and fuel efficiency (from 15/19 mpg (city/highway) in 2011 to as much as 17/21 in 2012). Featuring alloy construction, the 60-degree V6 is lighter and more compact than the 3.8-liter it replaces. And with 285 hp, the perceived need for a V8 is all but eliminated. With that, we continue to wish that Jeep would make available the diesel sold in many markets outside of the U.S. The diesel's uptick in torque, along with an upsurge in fuel economy, would be all the new EPA regulations – and Jeep consumers – might ask for.

3.6 liter DOHC V6
285 horsepower @ 6,400 rpm
260 lb.-ft. of torque @ 4,800 rpm
EPA city/highway fuel economy: 17 City/21 Highway (Wrangler Manual/Automatic)
16 City/20 Highway (Wrangler Unlimited Automatic)
16 City/21 Highway (Wrangler Unlimited Manual)

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2012 Jeep Wrangler Consumer Reviews

Overall Rating
8.8
Out of 10

Based on 657 Ratings for the 2007 - 2014 models.

Review this car
  • Value
    8.9/10
    Quality
    8.9/10
  • Reliability
    9.2/10
    Performance
    8.7/10
  • Comfort
    8.6/10
    Styling
    9.2/10

Awesome Jeep for tooling around.

By on Saturday, April 12, 2014

I own this car - My approximate mileage is 20,000

10 9.0
overall rating 9 of 10rating details

Reviewer Ratings

Overall Rating
9/10
Value
10/10
Reliability
10/10
Quality
10/10
Performance
6/10
Styling
6/10
Comfort
6/10

Pros: "Holds it's value extraordinarilly well."

Cons: "Tough for a 5'6" female to climb into."

Likely to recommend this car? (1-10): 7

"My second Wrangler. The full doors are great in the winter, but for summer, half doors would be better. A little difficult to get in as it is higher than the older Wranglers. No room inside for anything but sitting behind the wheel. Still, the Wrangler is for fun-the shore, the mountains, camping or hiking. Getting it muddy and sloppy is what it is made for. Definitely not recommended as an everyday car-can't get in wearing a dress (don't know if a guy is wearing a dress whether it is easier)"

1 person out of 2 found this review helpful

Awesome advancements great jeep

By on Tuesday, April 01, 2014

I own this car - My approximate mileage is 19,000

10 9.0
overall rating 9 of 10rating details

Reviewer Ratings

Overall Rating
9/10
Value
10/10
Reliability
10/10
Quality
10/10
Performance
9/10
Styling
8/10
Comfort
8/10

Pros: "Fun,exciting off-road monster"

Cons: "None for what I wanted"

Likely to recommend this car? (1-10): 10

"I had TJ prior to this and had done almost everything possible to it. I bought the 2012 Unlimited and it was like daylight to dark, the new jeeps have amazing power and off road they are equally surprising( nothing extreme) I added a full lift, detachable end links, dual steering stabilizer, exhaust, snorkel, front and rear bumpers. Control arm skid plates, front diff guard, neoprene seat covers, lights etc, too many ad dons to list. BLUF would buy another in a heartbeat, decent ride on the highway and also decent gas mileage compared to the old jeeps. If your looking for a Cadillac ride and interior comforts this is not your vehicle however if you like the outdoors and having the wind in your hair with a feeling of freedom, Jeep Wrangler is the way to go!!!"

1 person out of 1 found this review helpful

Almost perfect

By on Monday, March 31, 2014

I own this car - My approximate mileage is 23,000

10 9.0
overall rating 9 of 10rating details

Reviewer Ratings

Overall Rating
9/10
Value
8/10
Reliability
10/10
Quality
9/10
Performance
7/10
Styling
7/10
Comfort
8/10

Pros: "ENdless versatility"

Cons: "Very thirsty, poor mileage"

Likely to recommend this car? (1-10): 10

"I own a Jeep Wrangler Unlimited Sport. I have owned it for almost a year. PROS: Endless versatility, can go just about anywhere as is, Very comfortable ride, plenty of room for cargo, Lots of power. CONS: Gas hog (18 mpg on freeway), you have to gun it to pass slower traffic (torqie), heavy rooftop, need at least 2 people to remove. back seat sits too straight (common complaint from most passengers, noisy cockpit. SUMMARY: I kept my pros and cons short but overall I love it. I have never had more fun in a vehicle that I didn't have to alter myself. I recommend everyone own a Jeep at some point in their lives."

It's a Jeep

By on Saturday, March 29, 2014

I own this car - My approximate mileage is 39,000

10 8.0
overall rating 8 of 10rating details

Reviewer Ratings

Overall Rating
8/10
Value
8/10
Reliability
9/10
Quality
8/10
Performance
10/10
Styling
9/10
Comfort
8/10

Pros: "Looks, fun to drive, and not a status symbol."

Cons: "Noisy, a little rough, and not great mileage."

Likely to recommend this car? (1-10): 9

2011 sahara tan Wrangler with after market wheels...

"I love the look and "fun to drive" aspects of the Jeep Wrangler. Nothing on the road can match the rugged look and utility of a Jeep. It is not a "class" vehicle, meaning you are not projecting a status of any kind when driving a Jeep. You can be rich, poor, or anywhere in between, and if you want a Wrangler, you have one. I appreciate that about a Jeep. Bought new in 2011, removed all of the factory applied decals (Wrangler Sport, etc). There is no need to have these. Everyone knows you have a Jeep. Placed some after market wheels and black accents throughout. It looks great, and is personalized as mine. So far, not one issue!"

1 person out of 1 found this review helpful

2011 sahara tan Wrangler with after market wheels...

Wrangler 4 door Sport FUNFUNFUN

By on Tuesday, March 18, 2014

I own this car - My approximate mileage is 40,000

10 10.0
overall rating 10 of 10rating details

Reviewer Ratings

Overall Rating
10/10
Value
10/10
Reliability
10/10
Quality
10/10
Performance
10/10
Styling
9/10
Comfort
9/10

Pros: "Great ride, fun in the sun and snow!!"

Cons: "Why did they get rid of the old straight 6"

Likely to recommend this car? (1-10): 10

"This is our 3rd Wrangler, (first 4dr) and cant say enough about how improved this Jeep is. The longer wheelbase makes for a great ride, and handles very well. This one is used around town mostly. Not happy about getting rid of the bullet proof straight 6, they sure didnt improve the MPG!!! But if you want to have a fun convertible, and the most reliable 4WD for bad weather then this is the APV(all purpose vehicle) for you! Have the 3 piece hard top and safari soft top, both easy on and off. Have even used this jeep to tow the 3700lb boat, and it does so with ease, yes i know its only rated for 3500, i'm just saying. Regular maintenance always done, no major problems in 40k miles. If we get rid of this Red Jeep it will only be to get one in another color, the wife likes yellow. haha"

7 people out of 14 found this review helpful

Off road beast

By on Sunday, March 16, 2014

I own this car - My approximate mileage is 35,200

10 10.0
overall rating 10 of 10rating details

Reviewer Ratings

Overall Rating
10/10
Value
10/10
Reliability
10/10
Quality
10/10
Performance
10/10
Styling
10/10
Comfort
8/10

Pros: "Off-road capability, fun to drive, convertible"

Cons: "Fuel inefficiency , wind noise"

Likely to recommend this car? (1-10): 10

"The vehicle is fun to drive. It meets and exceeds my expectations. In the region of Fort a Drum, NY, harsh winters are a common occurrence and the Jeep Wrangler has become the official vehicle for those that live or work here."

1 person out of 2 found this review helpful

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Trading in or Selling? Know where you stand with the most up-to-date Kelley Blue Book Value at your fingertips. See your car's value

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