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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 682 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
    8.6/10
    Styling
    9.1/10

Very reliable and easy to work on yourself.

By on Sunday, August 24, 2014

I own this car - My approximate mileage is 34,550

10 9.0
overall rating 9 of 10rating details

Reviewer Ratings

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

Pros: "Solid, dependable, American Made.""

Cons: "Uncomfortable seats, poor gas mileage.""

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

""Great vehicle that is incredibly versatile. The 4 door is a great option.Don't purchase this vehicle if you are looking for comfort.""

7 people out of 11 found this review helpful

Love my Jeep Wrangler

By on Sunday, August 24, 2014

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

10 10.0
overall rating 10 of 10rating details

Reviewer Ratings

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

Pros: "Fun to drive, lots of aftermarket available"

Cons: "Can't go back to a regular car ever again"

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

"I love my Jeep Wrangler. Is it the most comfortable car? Is it the most economical car? Is it the most practical car? No, not really. Is driving it with the top and doors off the most fun I can have with my clothes on? Absolutely! I owned a Jeep CJ7 back in the mid 80's and have always wanted to pick up a Wrangler, when the 4 door version came out it became practical to own with a family. I purchased the 2012 because of the engine upgrade and I have not been disappointed. The Jeep has much better power and acceleration than previous models. I really like the interior changes over previous years. It handles well for what it is and as far as I am concerned, it is like an erector set on wheels if you like to modify/accessorize your vehicle. There may be some reliability issues in previous years, but I have had nothing but good experience with mine, although I have not had it long term yet. A Wrangler is a lifestyle vehicle. In my opinion, it is like owning a Harley Davidson motorcycle. There may be better bikes out there, but you had better not tell that to a Harley owner."

1 person out of 1 found this review helpful

Wanted One for Over 20 Years

By on Monday, August 18, 2014

I own this car - My approximate mileage is 600

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
7/10
Comfort
8/10

Pros: "Sporty, Fun to Drive"

Cons: "head restraints/floppy back seat/tail gate"

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

"I have owned this vehicle for about three weeks. I love it for the most part. I absolutely hate the head restraints on the front seats. They are not adjustable angle wise and hit you in the back of the head all the time which is not comfortable. I also don't like the fact that the back seat (I have a two door model) does not fold down flat nor does it lock down when you fold it down. It flops around when you are driving the vehicle. I would just take it out but I don't have the room to store it. I also wish the back tail gate had a button to push on the inside so that you could lock it without having to have the key."

2 people out of 4 found this review helpful

i love my jeep

By on Friday, July 25, 2014

I own this car - My approximate mileage is 72,000

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
8/10
Styling
10/10
Comfort
7/10

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

"A truck you can have fun with, depend on, feel safe in, and rely on. Sense i bought mine, 2 of my family member bought one. They to love there's."

17 people out of 37 found this review helpful

Fun, versatile, peppy, comfortable

By on Friday, July 25, 2014

I own this car - My approximate mileage is 30,000

10 9.0
overall rating 9 of 10rating details

Reviewer Ratings

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

Pros: "Best vehcile to enjoy Florida"

Cons: "Took me 25 years to be able to get one"

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

"The perfect Florida vehicle. Top on / off, back seat in / out. 4wd. Comfortable for two. Fun to drive!"

Love my Jeep

By on Sunday, July 20, 2014

I own this car - My approximate mileage is 14,000

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
9/10
Comfort
8/10

Pros: "Powerful, fun to drive, removable top and doors"

Cons: "the base package sound bar rattles some with bass."

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

"I love the 2013 Jeep Wrangler 2 door soft top. The ride is much better than older models I have driven. It is still a little noisy on the interstate but I rather enjoy the wind noise. The new engine has lots of power and love the 6 speed manual transmission. It is very fun to drive. With the top down in the summer it is just amazing. You need to drive one if you have never driven a Jeep Wrangler it is not exactly like a car so it is hard to compare it to one. The one design issue I wish Jeep would update is to tilt the windshield just slightly to help avoid the big impact of rocks on the glass if you are unfortunate enough to have the truck in front of you on the interstate kick a big one up at the glass."

9 people out of 18 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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