Manual or Auto? - 2012 Jeep Wrangler Long-Term Road Test
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2012 Jeep Wrangler Long Term Road Test

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2012 Jeep Wrangler Sport: Manual or Auto?

March 13, 2012

 Jeep Wrangler 5AT.jpg

My off-roading knowledge is limited to:

  1. When you go uphill, go straight up, never diagonally
  2. Watching the Dakar Rally (if I can find it on cable)

Having said that, last night, when I rolled in a short term 2012 Jeep Wrangler Rubicon that Dan is going to test, I was pleasantly surprised to find it was fitted with a 5-speed auto transmission.

While others here love our long-term Wrangler's 6-speed MT, I don't. It's got long throws and has vague engagement of most of the gears. It's a chore in traffic. Now I'm the guy that wished for the 6MT in our Mazda 3, and prefer manual transmissions in small cars, sporty cars, and in general.

But not in SUVs, pickup trucks, or Jeeps. Isn't an AT better for off-roading anyway?  I would think an AT would have less chance to burn up the clutch and be better for crawling.

Not necessarily, I found out...

 2012 Jeep Wrangler Rubicon 4 door.jpg

I spoke with JKav, and he informed me that our long-term 6MT Wrangler Sport is equipped with Hill Start Assist and Speed Control, both standard. When climbing or descending, you just remove your foot from the brake, let out the clutch, and only steer as the Jeep takes over for you. No worries about rolling back or burning up the clutch. I knew these features existed on high-end SUVs with ATs, but was surprised they were standard on our inexpensive Wrangler.

I suppose the MT gives you better control of the Jeep for the hard-core guys, but the AT would make the Jeep more liveable in daily use.

OK you Jeep guys -- what do you prefer: Manual or Auto?

Albert Austria, Senior VE Engineer @ ~10,700 miles

  • Full Review
  • Pricing & Specs
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  • Long-Term

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Past Long-Term Road Tests