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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.

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 696 Ratings for the 2007 - 2015 models.

Review this car
  • Value
    8.9/10
    Quality
    8.9/10
  • Reliability
    9.2/10
    Performance
    8.7/10
  • Comfort
    8.5/10
    Styling
    9.1/10

My Jeep Rubicon is great

By on Tuesday, November 18, 2014

I own this car - My approximate mileage is 15,500

10 9.0
overall rating 9 of 10rating details

Reviewer Ratings

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

Cons: "needs spacer in front, Soft top is very complex."

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

"My jeep is really fun to drive, a little noisy, because the tops are not insulated, and the off road tires are lowd. Has more power than you need, easy to manuvere and handle. Interior is excellent, but for off road use don't get black leather, it is very hard to keep clean. You need to level the front of the jeeps, with a spacer, this makes them look better. I do get a little drift when driving slow speeds, but nothing bad. Off road incredible performance. Can't carry large items, because the back seats don't fold down far enough. Over all it is a great fun to drive and own vehicle."

I absolutely love my jeep... It's so fun to drive.

By on Tuesday, November 04, 2014

I own this car - My approximate mileage is 27,800

10 9.0
overall rating 9 of 10rating details

Reviewer Ratings

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

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

"I'm a big guy and being that it's a jeep... I fit in there pretty good. The seats go all the way back to stretch and rest on long distances. Proud to own one finally !!! The new jk penstar seems to be plenty powerful enough and the 6 speed manual adds a lot of fun to the ride and drive. It's a jeep thing and it may not be for everyone for what their purpose is but it seems like you are seeing a lot more jeep jks as everyday driver , so perhaps that says something. I go camping and hiking a lot so I would eventually like to add a off road cargo trailer to the list and some of the accessories that , jeep , mopar, quadratech and the extended list of companies out there for customizing your jeep to your liking.... Lots of fun !!!"

2 people out of 4 found this review helpful

Amazing, rugged, durable, dependable, comfortable.

By on Tuesday, November 04, 2014

I own this car - My approximate mileage is 30,200

10 8.0
overall rating 8 of 10rating details

Reviewer Ratings

Overall Rating
8/10
Value
7/10
Reliability
10/10
Quality
10/10
Performance
4/10
Styling
7/10
Comfort
7/10

Pros: "Absolutely great vehicle. durable and stylish!"

Cons: "Poor gas milage and bad with highway wind."

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

"This is a great vehicle in so many ways. its a classic icon of american styling, fun to drive durable, dependable, i could go on and on!"

1 person out of 3 found this review helpful

great multi-purpose auto

By on Tuesday, November 04, 2014

I own this car - My approximate mileage is 10,740

10 9.0
overall rating 9 of 10rating details

Reviewer Ratings

Overall Rating
9/10
Value
10/10
Reliability
9/10
Quality
9/10
Performance
10/10
Styling
7/10
Comfort
6/10

Likely to recommend this car? (1-10): 8

"Fun car, capable of quietly tooling about community or exploring primitive off-road environments. Some issues with rearward visibility in traffic while wearing the hard-top; gas mileage is poor due to the low-range gearing and power requirements necessary for off-roading. All-steel construction makes it very safe for experienced drivers, young and old."

2 people out of 3 found this review helpful

Great off road vehicle,

By on Friday, October 24, 2014

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

10 8.0
overall rating 8 of 10rating details

Reviewer Ratings

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

Pros: "Eats up off road work"

Cons: "Not so great at HWY speeds. stock shocks cheep.."

Likely to recommend this car? (1-10): 8

"Great off road, not so great on road, these Wrangler Rubicons like the dirt more than the streets. Leaves something to be desired at high way speeds."

12 people out of 25 found this review helpful

Wrangler...It's a lifestyle choice

By on Thursday, October 23, 2014

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

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
9/10
Styling
10/10
Comfort
9/10

Pros: "Value,Versatility,FUN factor,Reliability"

Cons: "Could get better MPG, but that's about it."

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

"When considering a Wrangler, you really need to list what your priorities are in a vehicle...are you looking for a smoooth ride? whisper quiet cabin? Hyper mpg? Utility/versatility? Fun factor? We've all heard over and over..."loud", "rough riding", " bad mpg". Is the Wrangler loud?...a little. But it's not like to have to shout at a passenger to have a conversation on the highway. The hard top cuts noise levels significantly over the soft top. Is it rought riding?...that's going to depend on who you ask. It rides like a vehicle built body-on-frame, so it may not ride like a Lexus, but it's not like the shocks were replaced with solid steel rods. It rides like a truck, which should be expected. MPG?...I've driven vehicles that got much worse mpg. Would it be great if it got 30mpg on the hwy? SURE! But it's not terrible. The change to the Pentastar V6 was the best move ever made for Wrangler yet. Do they leak? Not usually, but can, just need to take care when changing tops and take care of the seals. One big plus (if you plan to use the Wrangler as intended) is you can pull the carpets out, remove the drain plugs in the floor and hose out the interior. What other vehicle can do THAT? The Unlimited 4 door models have plenty of cargo space and the aftermarket has unimaginable options for more efficient utilization of available space. I like that almost every aspect of the vehicle can be customized to taste. Even the four door has a good turning radius and is quite manuverable in p-lots. Some say it's hard to see out of, but that's a matter of opinion, I've never had an issue. There are just so many things I love about Wrangler. It's a fairly practical, every day vehicle, but you also get a sweet "toy" to hit the trails, with the top down and the doors off. It's like getting multiple vehicles for the price of one. Go anywhere capability can't be beat. You'll never have to worry about getting snowed in again...unless perhaps you live in the arctic. Around the mountain, or OVER the mountain...OVER! In the end, if you think you can accept the Wrangler's minor shortcomings, you will love it, and likely never go back to living without one."

7 people out of 7 found this review helpful

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