2012 Jeep Wrangler Long Term Road Test


2012 Jeep Wrangler: Mopar Pre-Runner Shake Down

February 13, 2012

2012 _Jeep_Wrangler_Modjeska_Peak_cloudy_f34_2.jpg 

Our Jeep has a brand new stance, and I like it. As you can see, I finished installing the Mopar Pre-Runner Suspension on our 2012 Jeep Wrangler last week. You can just make out a Fox shock and its remote reservoir in the front wheel well as our JK poses atop Modjeska Peak.

I made a quick run up Saddleback, the local OC name given to the twin peaks of Santiago and Modjeska, in order to shake things up a bit. To make sure everything is tight and as it should be before I put the Wrangler back in general circulation.

It passed with flying colors, but I'm still going to put it back on our Rotary lift and go over everything once more with a torque wrench.

A full description of the installation process will be coming in the next few days, and a selection of opinions about the performance change brought about by this kit will no doubt trickle in over the next few months.

Here's my quick take:

2012 _Jeep_Wrangler_Modjeska_Peak_cloudy_r34.jpg 

It's firmer around town, but then it would be with stiffer springs and more damping force in the shocks. In many situations that's preferable to the way it was before when the stock suspension had its hands full with the 90-pound unsprung mass of these large wheels tires. That's no longer a concern as the big Mud Terrains now stay firmly planted all the time. Despite the 3-inch lift and the higher CG that results, the Jeep corners quite securely, even when mid-corner bumps rear their ugly head.

But the key word is firm, and I think there's something to be gained from a slight tire pressure drop. We're still running factory pressures, but these humungous BFG's can no doubt match the load-carrying capacity of the skinny originals at a lower set point.

As expected, the ride is hardest on pavement cracks, concrete joints and other small imperfections, but control and impact absorbtion are dramatically better over larger stuff that gets the suspension really moving. I can now roll through nearby dips, ones I had to tiptoe through last week, without slowing much at all. Generous rear rebound damping has utterly eliminated the expected donkey kick.

The change is transformative on Saddleback's fire roads, where it soaks up washboard and big water bars with equal ease. I can bomb around without feeling like a random bump or hole will send the Jeep skittering sideways.

Approach and departure angles look to be dramatically improved by the three inches of lift, and we still have to measure the "after" RTI. And I can't wait to get it out in the open desert and hunt me up some whoops.

This is a real off-road kit, make no mistake. It's probably not the best choice for those who simply like the idea of driving a high-riding Jeep up PCH to Zuma Beach, but I'm sure we'll hear more on that score from others on the team.

2012 _Jeep_Wrangler_Santiago_Peak_fog_f34.jpg 

Incidentally, I saw 7 other Jeeps during my short Saddleback run, and all of them had two doors. Three were old CJs and four were JKs like ours.

Dan Edmunds, Director of Vehicle Testing @ 8,972 miles

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

$139 per month*
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