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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 767 Ratings for the 2007 - 2016 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

This is my 4th Jeep - '87 YJ, '99 XJ, '01 XJ

By on Sunday, February 07, 2016

I own this car - My approximate mileage is 52,000

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
9/10
Styling
8/10
Comfort
9/10

Pros: "Dependability/peace of mind"

Cons: "BFG Mud Terrains/Cheap plastic door hinge sleeves"

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

"3.6 has plenty of power in my opinion and ithe electric locking 44's are awesome. Can't beat F & R lockers. 2 weeks ago I encountered black ice while traveling at 60 mph on a MN highway. Several cars and a tractor trailer ahead of me ended up off the road and jack knifed respectively. My Jeeps Traction Control and Anti-Lock brakes allowed me to maintain control and steer around the carnage. It was a great story to tell that morning when I got into work. The only complaints I have had so far are 1) BFG Mud Terrains (I'm a Goodyear fan) wore terribly and 2) door hinge sleeves (plastic) disinagrated. I picked up quality, Dupont replacement sleeves from TJM."

Awesome for on and off road.

By on Friday, February 05, 2016

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

Pros: "Tunrns on a dime. Fun to drive . Great climber."

Cons: "Noisy on highway (with soft top)."

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

"I own this car. I use it for off road and city driving.I especially enjoy the retractable soft top in the summer."

Hot jeep, loaded, beautiful inside & out, t-tops.

By on Wednesday, January 27, 2016

I own this car - My approximate mileage is 7,000

10 10.0
overall rating 10 of 10rating details

Reviewer Ratings

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

Pros: "Perfect for City & off road driving."

Cons: "Seats five adults, comfortable!"

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

"2014 Jeep Wrangler. Removal tee tops, gunbarrel blue with black interior, large tires, mags,crome 4-ball utility tow & hook."

heavy oil consumption

By on Monday, January 18, 2016

I own this car - My approximate mileage is 48,200

10 1.0
overall rating 1 of 10rating details

Reviewer Ratings

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

Pros: "absolutly nothing"

Cons: "uses alot of oil,, no costomer suport at all!"

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

"bought a 2010 jeep wrangler new in aug. of 2010. it has 48200 miles on it and is just out of warranty.. it uses 3-4 quarts of oil every 2000 miles. I took it to a machine shop ,very nice place and have know tem for years.. they told me the piston rings are stuck to the pistons allowing oil into the combustion chamber.. endless complaints and blogs on the internet about this issue butt when I called jeep/Chrysler they told me they have never heard of this."

5 people out of 11 found this review helpful

Best vehicle I have owned as of yet

By on Saturday, January 09, 2016

I own this car - My approximate mileage is 2,200

10 10.0
overall rating 10 of 10rating details

Reviewer Ratings

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

Pros: "4wheel drive, removable tops, ability to customize"

Cons: "Do not have a truck version"

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

"I never really understood the jeeps until I drove one. It was a must have. Love taking the tops off and going off road. The best part of a jeep is the ability to customize it however you wish so it can be as unique as I want."

very comfortable for a jeep

By on Wednesday, December 23, 2015

I own this car - My approximate mileage is 118,000

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
10/10
Comfort
10/10

Pros: "fun to drive, especially the standard model."

Cons: "none."

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

"i bought my 2008 jeep 1 year ago, had 109,000 miles, previous owner took really good care of it, i now have 118,000, and still drives great, i put 35" mud tires on it, i can go 70 on hwy, and it is smooth, and i love the sound of the mud tires. I love that this jeep wont lose its value. the 2007 thru 2015 models are identical. people think its a new jeep. and i dont offroad. i just love the look."

4 people out of 7 found this review helpful

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