2012 Jeep Wrangler: Liking the Drivetrain
September 26, 2011
I got last-minute tickets to Friday's Angels-A's game (back when the Angels' mathematical wild card chances looked a little better), and waded right into evening L.A. traffic with our long-term 2012 Jeep Wrangler. Making allowances for my slightly euphoric mood (going to a baseball game with potential post-season implications!), I enjoyed my extended time in the Wrangler.
To start, this may be my favorite application to date of the 3.6-liter Pentastar V6. This engine is not big on real-world low-end grunt (doesn't matter what the actual rating is), and in some Chrysler vehicles (the minivans especially), it sounds and feels kind of rough. But I don't notice this stuff in our Wrangler, which isn't much over two tons. This engine feels much stronger than last year's 3.8-liter and at least as good as my fading memory of the 4.0-liter inline-6.
The gearing is kind of tall, so in heavy traffic, there was a lot of room to hang out in 1st gear, and when that wore out its welcome, well, there was 2nd gear. If there's a tricky part of driving the Wrangler in heavy traffic, it's the long, slow clutch engagement, which starts somewhere off the floor and finishes high. Makes sense for an off-roader, but makes it vulnerable to clumsy-footed city dwellers.
Despite the slightly tricky clutch takeup and slightly crowded footwell, heel-and-toe downshifts are possible in the Wrangler, and they are kind of fun. The Pentastar V6 responds with a nice growl when you get them right.
Erin Riches, Senior Editor @ 1,075 miles