Now With U-Connect Bluetooth - 2012 Jeep Wrangler Long-Term Road Test

2012 Jeep Wrangler Long Term Road Test

2012 Jeep Wrangler Sport: Now With U-Connect Bluetooth

August 20, 2012


A couple months ago I hinted we'd be adding U-Connect Bluetooth phone and audio to our 2012 Jeep Wrangler. Our 2012 Jeep is unusual in that its base radio lacks any U-Connect buttons whatsoever. Last year that would have been game over, as previous upgrade kits only worked with base radios that had inactive placeholder U-Connect buttons built in.

Now a newly introduced $367 kit allows one to add Bluetooth phone, Bluetooth audio and a USB/iPod input (the kit is ready for USB but it's another $37 for the required cord), as well as the necessary buttons (shown above) to control it all.

The installation process, which will be detailed here in a few days, takes less than an hour. But a crucial step or two -- activation of the unit by teaching it your car's VIN -- must be done by a Jeep dealer with specific tools. Turns out the one-hour minimum they charge for this step also covers installation -- at my local dealership, at least -- so in the end the DIY approach didn't save me any money.

But does it work? 

In a word, yes. The Bluetooth audio is strong, phone calls come in loud and clear through the stereo speakers, and the iPod connection charges the iPhone while it plays my music.

The limitations of the base radio's tiny display does introduce a few limitations, of course. I'm still learning how to manipulate the iPod, for example, and I haven't yet figured out how to pause Bluetooth audio without going for the MP3 player itself. And I'm not sure there's any way to see phonebook entries. As you might have guessed from this my kit included no usage instructions, so I'm learning as I go along.

Still, I know I can select songs or artists with voice commands, as in "Play artist Pink Floyd," and I have dialed phone numbers in much the same way. I've also dialed people I know are in my phone's directory by name.

For me, the best part is I can ditch the aux cord altogether. My long trip to Moab and back was a nightmare of tangled power and stereo output cords. No more. Our base Jeep Wrangler Sport feels a little less basic and a lot more liveable.

As for those of you shouting "Crutchfield! Crutchfield!" consider this: Jeeps are ridiculously easy to break into, particularly ones that have a soft top. No one wants the factory base radio, but with this upgrade it now does everything I need it to do without drawing attention to itself.

Dan Edmunds, Director of Vehicle Testing @ 19,320 miles

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