Advertisement

Why ads?
Popular at KBB.com
  • Midsize SUV Buyer's Guide
  • 15 Best Family Cars of 2015
  • Compact SUV Buyer's Guide
  • 10 Most Fuel-Efficient SUVs
Go

2012 Best
Resale Value
Award Winner
Learn more

2012 Jeep Wrangler

Overview
Share this page
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

Buying this car?

2012 Jeep Wrangler Review

By

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)

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

Buying this car?

2012 Jeep Wrangler Consumer Reviews

Overall Rating
8.8
Out of 10

Based on 735 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

Good vehicle.

By on Monday, May 04, 2015

I own this car - My approximate mileage is 25,000

10 8.0
overall rating 8 of 10rating details

Reviewer Ratings

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

Pros: "Offroad capabilities"

Cons: "Cheap bumpers"

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

"The bumpers are my biggest complaint. Very cheap for an aggressive off road vehicle. The finish work on the interior carpet and pouches behind the seat are poor quality. Very good off road vehicle. Performs extremely well off road."

3 people out of 9 found this review helpful

excetional ride for 4 wheel drive

By on Wednesday, April 29, 2015

I own this car - My approximate mileage is 36,000

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
10/10
Styling
9/10
Comfort
9/10

Pros: "love this car, it does everything"

Cons: "the back view is limited"

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

"the exterior coating is excellent. it rides really well, especially for 4 wheel drive. good utility car and the hard top is quiet. The soft top is more noisy"

4 people out of 4 found this review helpful

Best decision I've ever made

By on Saturday, April 25, 2015

I own this car - My approximate mileage is 1,400

10 10.0
overall rating 10 of 10rating details

Reviewer Ratings

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

Pros: "Fun and my smiles per mile"

Cons: "not great on gas"

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

"I bought a 2015 rubicon unlimited on an impulse and it is the best decision I've ever made. I like most have always wanted a jeep but thought it was a stupid unpractical vehicle that I would regret immediately. Let me just tell you that owning this suv is amazing. Taking the top down after a long work day putting on your favorite music and taking the long way home has become the absolute best part of my day. I say this but if you want a jeep you must realize you give up somethings when owning one. No its not the most comfortable, no its not quiet, no its not really that convieniant but all of that doesnt matter when driving it just makes you smile. If you think you want one or have always wanted one or it sounds fun buy one now and you wont regret it. If you you arnt exactly sure and are comparing multiple "normal" cars then this may not be for you. You do have to want a jeep and everything that comes with jeep ownership. I say all that to finish with I had always wanted one but made "smart" decisions instead (honda accords) but after buying this I'll never own anything else."

13 people out of 16 found this review helpful

Great Change of Pace

By on Tuesday, April 21, 2015

I own this car - My approximate mileage is 34,000

10 9.0
overall rating 9 of 10rating details

Reviewer Ratings

Overall Rating
9/10
Value
8/10
Reliability
9/10
Quality
8/10
Performance
5/10
Styling
9/10
Comfort
7/10

Pros: "Pure fun - its a jeep thing."

Cons: "Back seat is a little hard to get into."

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

"Wanted something different after a succession of 4 door family cars. We have the two door hardtop with automatic in natural green pearlcoat. Driven mostly by my wife who absolutely loves the vehicle. No squeaks or rattles after 4 years. Air and heat are fantastic. Has the basic refinements with power windows, mirrors and locks, and interior is very nice and reasonably quiet. Gas mileage is about 18 or 19 mpg in mixed driving and 22-23 on the highway - not great but pleased that it is above what was advertised on the window sticker. Engine runs smooth and acceleration is adequate. We get a lot of complements on this vehicle , and of course other Wrangler owners wave at you on the road. The car has been very reliable. The only repair is replacement of transponder sensor that communicates with the key - taken care of under warranty. Towing and loaner were provided free of charge. The car is also easy to service, plenty of room in the engine bay and because the vehicle has a lot of ground clearance oil changes can be done without even jacking the vehicle car up."

5 people out of 6 found this review helpful

great all around car...practical, comfortable, eas

By on Friday, April 17, 2015

I own this car - My approximate mileage is 600

10 9.0
overall rating 9 of 10rating details

Reviewer Ratings

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

Pros: "Good price...very enjoyable to drive"

Cons: "None"

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

"Sit up high with a full view of traffic. Love the more vertical windshield. Nice job on the interior. Flip up rear window allows more options in hauling stuff. Solid build. Without the knobby tires the freeway ride is fine."

10 people out of 17 found this review helpful

Performs as expected

By on Saturday, April 04, 2015

I own this car - My approximate mileage is 26,000

10 7.0
overall rating 7 of 10rating details

Reviewer Ratings

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

Pros: "High level of view, 4x4 quality"

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

"Purchased the jeep wrangler for my wife to be safe if there was bad weather after she got off work at the hospital late at night. It gives her a higher view of the road and no worries in the snow and ice. However, I still have reservations to the quality of Jeep or Chrysler/Fiat products in general. But, the Sahara offered more of the upgrade comforts such as heated leather seats, hands-free phone use, navigation etc. The wife likes it so, as long as it brings her home safe, I like it too! Last of the true 4x4 vehicles until Fiat gets its hands on it."

19 people out of 30 found this review helpful

Share this page

Advertisement

Why ads?
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

Buying this car?