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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
8.7
Out of 10

Based on 755 Ratings for the 2007 - 2015 models.

Review this car
  • Value
    8.9/10
    Quality
    8.8/10
  • Reliability
    9.2/10
    Performance
    8.7/10
  • Comfort
    8.5/10
    Styling
    9.1/10

For camping, dune-buggy, around town, but leaks

By on Wednesday, August 19, 2015

I own this car - My approximate mileage is 10,000

10 8.0
overall rating 8 of 10rating details

Reviewer Ratings

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

Pros: "Fun, sun-worshipping, styling"

Cons: "door seals leak - cannot be corrected"

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

"Got the ocean blue pearl 4-door unlimited sport. I love the jeep. Love the look, the handling, the convenience of the soft top. Took it to the outer banks this summer and it did superlative in the sand dunes, never a worry about getting stuck. I did the 1" body lift so far and plan to do a 3 and 1/2 suspension lift with 35" tires soon. We take it camping and with the front seats pushed forward, my husband, my bulldog, and I sleep very comfortably with a memory foam mattress we cut to fit the back. We leave the top down and put a tarp over to keep the bugs and sunrise out, but allow plenty of fresh air in. My only complaint is the door seals leak. It is not a visible drip. It seeps in and the floor gets sopping wet. I have had it to the dealership twice so far for modifications (they put silicone in the rubber seals around the frame, but they always tell me it will never be perfect. ??? The floor will eventually rust out if this isn't corrected. For $35,000 they better be able to get it right or it will be a lemon. I know two other people with the same complaint."

3 people out of 5 found this review helpful

I love my Jeep!

By on Monday, August 17, 2015

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
9/10
Reliability
8/10
Quality
8/10
Performance
7/10
Styling
8/10
Comfort
8/10

Pros: "Great resale, Great for Off-Roading"

Cons: "Gas Mileage is so, so. Rough ride"

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

"I bought my Jeep almost 2 years ago and love it! Whether it's driving to and from work everyday or taking it on an off-road trip...I love my Jeep. It's a bit of a rough ride at times and the gas mileage could be better but overall it's a great vehicle. I purchased the Sahara for the leather & navigation and I'm happy I did. The leather is much easier to keep clean and remove dust and dirt from off-roading."

1 person out of 1 found this review helpful

Love my Jeep!

By on Monday, August 10, 2015

I own this car - My approximate mileage is 60,000

10 10.0
overall rating 10 of 10rating details

Reviewer Ratings

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

Pros: "FUN to drive! Great off road and snow."

Cons: "gas mileage but it can be reasonable."

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

"Not a cozy ride, but a very good. Have taken it on long trips and it was fine. Great Summer and Winter fun. It's always ready to go someplace, and it doesn't care where. Great for parking in large cities, especially with the awesome turn radius. Gas mileage could be better, but I've gotten 24 mpg on the highway."

1 person out of 3 found this review helpful

Nothing but trouble

By on Monday, August 10, 2015

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

10 4.0
overall rating 4 of 10rating details

Reviewer Ratings

Overall Rating
4/10
Value
1/10
Reliability
2/10
Quality
1/10
Performance
9/10
Styling
8/10
Comfort
8/10

Pros: "fun vehicle, great in snow"

Cons: "poor quaility and terrible electrical problem"

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

"Had to get a new manual transmission because it would pop out of 4th and grind...shifting forks were bend from the factory. Rusting out in the engine compartment, paint bubbling on the hinges...all in all a fun vehicle to drive, poorly made and a general piece of junk. Steering column buttons don't work, multiple pushes to get them to work...try cancelling cruise control without hitting the breaks..."

1 person out of 1 found this review helpful

ITS EVERY JEEP LOVERS DREAM JEEP

By on Thursday, August 06, 2015

I own this car - My approximate mileage is 94,000

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
7/10
Comfort
7/10

Pros: "NEW LS1 V8 AND 6 SPEED TRANSMISSION,SOUND SYSTEM,"

Cons: "30,000 IN CUSTOM ACCESSARIES. NO EXPENSE WASSPARED"

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

"I JUST GOT A CHEVY LS1 V8 WITHA 460LE GM 6 SPEED ENGINE AND TRANSMISSION PUT IN IT. IT HAS A 3INCH SUSPENSION LIFT ON IT WITH 34.8X11.9 NITTOTRAIL GRAPPLERS ON IT.THE FRONT HAS A SMITTYBUILT STUBBY,STINGER BUMPER WITH A SET OF LED LIGHTS ON EACH SIDE.THE INTERIOR HAS BLACK/RED NEOPRENE SEATCOVERS THAT MATCH THE EXT.CUSTOM GRAPHICS. IT HAS RUBICON RAILS DOWN THE SIDES FOR PROTECTION AND BLACK 18INCH RIMS.IT HAS A 8INCH SONY TOUCH SCREEN DVD WITH DVD PLAYER,SURROUND SOUND,POLK AUDIO 6.5INCH MIDS AND TWO KICKER COMP R 12INCH SUBS. SOUND CLARITY IS EXCELLENT WHILE THE BASS IS TIGHT,INT.RED LEDS.DUAL 3INCH BLACK EXHAUST EXITING THE BACK BY MAGNAFLOW. THE LS1 SMALL BLOCK 5.3 PRODUCES 300 H.P.AND THE 6SPEED IMPROVES FUEL ECONOMEY BETTER THAN THE STOCK 3.8 V6 WITH 4SPEED AUTOMATIC.ITSBEEN MY MONEY PIT TOY NOT AMISUSED MUD MACHINE.SELLING MY JEEP AND 2014 CHEVY SILVERADO 4DOOR TRUCK TO BUY A NEW CORVETTE STINGRAY.IM GOING THROUGH A MIDLIFE CRISIS!"

2 people out of 3 found this review helpful

Good buy

By on Wednesday, August 05, 2015

I own this car - My approximate mileage is 17,000

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
8/10
Styling
6/10
Comfort
6/10

Pros: "Motor, 4x4, gas mileage"

Cons: "Sound system , hard seats, side view mirrors"

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

"So far so good. AC is excellent,cools down very fast. the V-6 is an excellent motor. No problems in the snow season 2014-2015. It went through snow that was up to the bottom of the doors with no problem. No sway or skidding in snow. The 3 piece hard-top is a great idea, on and off in minutes. The automatic transmission is smooth. If you want it can mimic a five speed by pushing the shift lever to the right. Has cruise control. The speaker system is fair at best. The tweeters on the dash look awful. Seat is a bit hard. Standard side view mirrors are awful. At night light reflections are much too strong."

2 people out of 3 found this review helpful

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