2012 Jeep Wrangler Long Term Road Test


2012 Jeep Wrangler in Moab: 7-Mile Rim and Wipeout Hill

April 12, 2012

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The Superwinch bunch was all set to go out again the day after completing the Top of the World trail, and they had some open spots. This time it would be 7-mile Rim and Wipeout Hill, a route northwest of town with plenty of slickrock. With no particular desire to wipe out, I eagerly raised my hand anyway.

Bill Burke wasn't around to lead on this day, so Nena Barlow of Barlow Jeep Rentals in Sedona, Arizona stepped up. Jeep renting for those who want to try off-roading before they buy or spice up a visit to spots like this is apparently a decent business, as I saw other such companies renting out late-model Rubicons here in Moab.

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Today's group was smaller, just 6 vehicles. This is about the perfect number; the group moves along and covers ground without ever losing touch with one another, no obstacle takes much time to get past and there's enough other Jeeps to watch to add to the fun.

All but one of our party were piloting Jeep Wranglers, and all of those were lifted at least two inches. The sole holdout was the Australian-market 70-series right-hand drive diesel Land Cruiser some of you spotted in yesterday's photographs.

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Today's obstacles were no more numerous but a bit more difficult than Top of the World had been. Trail leader Nena stepped out of here Jeep to offer spotting advice because that's what trail leaders do. This un-named climb brought our vehicles up onto the slickrock from the mostly sandy desert floor below.

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Wipeout Hill was next after everyone made it onto the slickrock-level of 7-Mile Rim. That Orange Crush Jeep Rubicon, by the way, is typical of the Jeeps for rent in Moab and Sedona. It has a 2-inch lift and of course sports the Rubicon's factory lockers and stabilizer bar disconnect.

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Wipeout Hill is aptly named. It is very steep and overuse of the brakes when your front tires hit the crook at the bottom of the ledge can send you over. 

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Wipeout consists of two big drops, the second of which is a bit less stepped and a little shorter. The longer 4-door Wranglers have an easier time of it. Any angularity you see here or in the previous photo was more dramatic when our 2-door Wrangler and its stubby 95.4-inch wheelbase came through.

The other thing about Wipeout is this: it's a cul-de-sac if you plan to complete the 7-Mile Rim trail. Don't go down unless you can go back up is what I'm saying. At this point I was starting to wonder if the Superwinch bunch allowed my Jeep and it's ultra-tall 3.21 gears and 2.76 transfer case along to demonstrate their product line.

I'd have to wait until after we all ate lunch to find out.

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Speed is the enemy. You don't want to bash your way up the hill and break something. But our Wrangler Sport came with the aforementioned 3.21 gears and a 2.76 low range transfer case. In first gear I'm looking at no more than 8.86-to-1 gear reduction.

A Rubicon comes with a 4.00 transfer case gearing and either 3.73 or 4.10 final drive gears in the diffs. For a given tire size and trnasmission, one of those babies has either 14.92- or 16.4-to-1 gear reduction.

What does this mean? My "walking speed" at idle rpm is almost twice as fast as theirs. Any attempt to creep up the slope bogged the engine into a stall when I tried the gentle approach. The engine won't run under this much load at 700 rpm. With Rubicon gearing the same vehicle speed would come at 1,300 or 1,400 rpm and there would be no drama.

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I discovered something surprising when I tried to back down to the mid-level ledge for another go.

Remember the hill hold feature our Jeep has, the one that holds the vehicle stationary when you attempt a manual transmission hill start on an upslope? Turns out it works beautifully at crazy angles like this. It works so well that I had to wait a full three seconds before the Jeep would start to roll back to line up for another try. There is no reason to fear a manual transmission Jeep Wrangler for off roading of this sort.

After two stalls in the same spot I decided to approach the climb with a little more aggression and a little less mechanical sympathy than I had planned.

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The third time is, as they say, the charm, and with a slightly higher dose of steady throttle and a bit more speed I burned out across the top of the climb. There you go, Scott: a Jeep can do a 4WD burnout on solid rock.

Still, this wasn't a wide open attack. The 2012 Wrangler's Pentastar V6 makes good torque down low, and even though my gearing wasn't ideal, this was still a low speed climb at no more than 1,800 revs.

I think. Who looks at the tach at a time like this?

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After climbing Wipeout I had to wait for the rest of the group to climb out before we continued on. The monument above is either the Monitor or the Merrimac -- whichever one has the turret. The other one stands just behind it, and that's the direction we were headed.

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A tight pinch stands between the Monitor and Merrimac. Thanks to Zach at Superwinch for the photo.

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There's a broad flat slab of slickrock just beyond the pinch, which was perfect because that's where we met an official RR4W run coming the other way. I counted 29 vehicles, one of them a massive Dodge Ram Power Wagon. According to Nena this bunch wasn't destined to do the Wipeout Hill option.

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We stopped between the Monitor and Merrimac for one last group photo. From here the trail dropped back off the slickrock into sandier terrain. We all aired back up to highway pressures before saying our goodbyes and heading off in seperate directions.

For me, at least, that direction would be southwest toward SoCal and home.

You know where I'll be next year.

Dan Edmunds, Director of Vehicle Testing @ 13,319 miles 

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The Edmunds TCO® estimated monthly insurance payment for a 2012 Jeep Wrangler in VA is:

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