2012 Jeep Wrangler Long Term Road Test

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2012 Jeep Wrangler: My Parents-In-Law Bought One

February 27, 2013

2012 Jeep Wrangler

My wife got a call from her mother yesterday. Apparently she and my father-in-law bought a new car.

My wife was a little perplexed. She knew they were thinking about getting one, but per tradition, they hadn't talked to me yet about what they should be looking for. I haven't steered them wrong yet.

She knew immediately why they didn't when she found out what it was: a loaded 2013 Jeep Wrangler Sahara 2-Door.

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2012 Jeep Wrangler: Rear Headrest Fail

February 25, 2013

2012 Jeep Wrangler

Some time ago one of the headrest mounts on our Wrangler's rear seat broke. The fixture which locates the driver side headrest in the seat pulled free. The headrest can still be removed and inserted, but the mount is no longer fixed to the seat. Fortunately, the other side is still attached and it locates the headrest solidly.

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2012 Jeep Wrangler: Simple Ventilation Controls

February 14, 2013

2012 Jeep Wrangler

Ask yourself, do you want a Wrangler with climate control? I don't. This is partially why I find myself liking the Wrangler's simple, three-knob, two-button ventilation controls. Simple, direct and functional like everything else about the Wrangler.

Josh Jacquot, Senior Editor @ about 27,500 miles

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2012 Jeep Wrangler: Interior Wear

February 12, 2013

2012 Jeep Wrangler

Despite the fact that our Wrangler now smells like it hosted a campfire for several nights, its interior continues to wear well. After its weekly bath yesterday, I got to looking around and noticed that, aside from a few nicks here and there, the only real sign of wear on its interior is this small deformation on the driver's seat. It's relatively insignificant considering the indifference with which we've driven it to nearly 28,000 miles.

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2012 Jeep Wrangler Sport: Headrest Discomfort

February 11, 2012

2012 Jeep Wrangler Sport

I like a lot about our Wrangler. I like its manliness. I like its raw talent in the rocks. I like leaving its top down at night. I like its unvarnished indifference to modernity.

But I don't like its headrests.

Josh Jacquot, Senior Editor @ about 27,500 miles

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2012 Jeep Wrangler: On Any Sunday

October 31, 2012

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Photographer Kurt Niebuhr told me a very funny story about choosing a ride to the test track. Only the Jeep Wrangler and our Mazda MX-5 Miata project car were available.

Niebuhr looked at the photo gear he had to carry and realized he needed practical transportation. Naturally, he said, he picked the Miata. Even as he crouched down practically to his knees so he could thread himself past the door bars and into the Miata's race seat, he consoled himself with the thought that while the MX-5 would bounce and shimmy on the freeway just like the Wrangler, it would probably spend more time going straight while doing so.

Personally I thought this was very funny, because for me there's pretty much no difference between the Miata and Wrangler at all.

   

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The Wrangler doesn't drive the same as the Miata, of course. Our Dan Edmunds has turned it into the Jeep equivalent of the desert-racing Honda CR450 he built in high school. Here in L.A., you see desert-spec toys like our Wrangler all the time. You hear this hum of off-road tires, look over into the next lane and this enormous jacked-up pickup truck with fiberglass front fenders powers by you, riding high at the front end with that typical desert-pounding suspension setup. These desert sleds are right out of the same kind of enthusiasm for the dirt that you see in the movie that made dirt bikes a cultural phenomenon back in the 1970s, On Any Sunday .

And that's the link between the Wrangler and the Miata. Like the Mazda, this Jeep is all about what you do on Sunday, whether it's road racing or rock crawling. The Wrangler is a sports car, which is to say that it is simply a street-legal high-performance car. You put up with the compromises in daily life so you'll have something really fun on the weekend.

Don't get me wrong, because the Wrangler is just barely tolerable in daily life. You need a climbing rope and pitons to climb up into the driver seat, and when you're ready to climb out again, you wish you were wearing that wacky flying suit from the Kumho tire television commercial. But then, it's just as much trouble climbing across the MX-5's racing-type door bars.

When it comes down to it, anyone who loves to drive will put up with a little impracticality in his ride just so there's a little something extra when you really want it, whether it's horsepower, tire grip, braking capacity or suspension composure. We all make compromises in the everyday practicality of our rides whenever we do something as simple as check off the box on the new-car order blank that says "sport package."

So don't think the Wrangler is any different from our Mazda MX-5 project car. It's just a sports car, that's all.

Michael Jordan, Executive Editor, Edmunds.com @ 21,139 miles 

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2012 Jeep Wrangler: Sleepy Time

February 28, 2012

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You might remember my mini adventure from a few weeks back. It involvolved driving up a rocky wash, getting stuck (sort of, on this silly hill), getting unstuck, pulling out a Ford Bronco and visiting a waterfall with a three-year-old.

That's a lot of activity for a three-year-old. And don't ever let anyone tell you a Wrangler -- even a Wrangler with big, dumb tires and a soft top --is too loud inside for a toddler to fall asleep.

Because that's exactly what happened on the way home. 

Yes, there's an entire orchestra of racket inside the Wrangler at 60 mph -- tire noise, top noise, wind noise -- but I'd guess it's still better than Wranglers from ten years ago. And she certainly didn't care. After all, she had her zebra.

Josh Jacquot, Senior editor

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2012 Jeep Wrangler: Good Seats

February 22, 2012

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They really don't look like much, but these are great seats. Providing equal parts comfort and support, they are probably the nicest part of the Wrangler's interior. I know this after spending several hours in them bouncing around in the rocks earlier this week. No off-road butt. No hot spots. No lumbar issues. They just work.

Josh Jacquot, Senior editor 

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2012 Jeep Wrangler: The Buzz

January 03, 2012

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As you already know, we swapped the factory meats with some big mudders. I did a 300 mile round trip over the New Years holiday weekend, so I've got a decent amount of seat time riding on the 33's.

Does it cause more sonic pain?

As you can tell by the video, albeit from a crappy phone camera and limited audio capability, it's really a wash. Yes the tire noise is there, but he soft top still creates more noise than the tires themselves. I'm sure the extra 2-inches of lift provided by the off-road BFG's help soften the reverberated sound.

We'll see if a lift kit will further deaden the sound.

Scott Jacobs, Sr. Mgr, Photography

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2012 Jeep Wrangler: Smoooth

October 31, 2011

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Traditionally, when Mark Takahashi is wrong in a blog, I simply walk over to his desk and ask him very politely what in the world he was thinking. Then when he tries to respond I yell, very loudly, "YOU BOUGHT A LOTUS ELISE, YOU DON'T GET TO MAKE JUDGEMENTS ABOUT NORMAL THINGS NORMAL PEOPLE DO" and walk away.

He's actually gotten pretty good at interjecting salient tidbits in the gaps when I'm breathing in for the next round of screaming. It's fun. Really.

But I couldn't let last week's transgression stand. I yelled at him in person, questioned his ability to drive (he's actually quite good) and informed him that I'm taking this one public.

You'll notice that I'm using the same picture of our Wrangler (shot by Niebs for the Wrangler's introduction) that Mark used in his offending post, but havn't ruined it with a giant page-sowing animation. Why? Because the Wrangler doesn't ride that like. (And because I want to be able to load this page.) Not if you know how to drive it.

Sure, if you hit some bumps or some asphalt undulation the Jeep's going to let you know, but Mark's complaint wasn't about that. Mark was talking about excessive driveline lash which is something I've yet to experience in our Jeep.  With a light, long-throw clutch with plenty of feel and an engine happy to loaf along under 2K rpm, I've found our Jeep to be a great companion for city driving. Easy even.

There is, however, a trick: Stay out of first.

There's not a lot of lash in first when I drive, but that's because I can feel it building and get to 2nd asap. Reader goaterguy nailed it in Mark's post "First is too high for normal driving. My solution is fairly simple, on level roads I start in second gear, problem solved."

I haven't found this necessary, but I do short shift first and I have every time I've driven the Jeep. Those of us who drive manuals know the feeling of a driveline winding up, we know when an engine is running out of breath and we know that when that whole thing winds up on a tall truck with soft springs it's going to unleash fury. Solution: don't do that.

Mark's not a short-shift guy. Mark's more of a "Alright, we're on the rev-limiter let's power shift!" type of guy. It's why

And speaking of power-shifting a Jeep, yes we've tested it and yes you'll get the numbers soon. This week.

Mike Magrath, Features Editor, Inside Line

(Mark Takahashi approved of this message.)

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2012 Jeep Wrangler: Road King

October 31, 2011

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You know, I like the Jeep.  You never know where it’ll take you.

It’s taken me plenty of places with boulders and wash-outs and water bars, but it’s also taken me down alleys in New York City, up the length of California Highway 1, around Lake Tahoe and even into a thundershower in the middle-of-nowhere western Nevada on Interstate 80 where there were two rainbows.

Turns out, the Jeep is not so bad to drive on pavement.

This Wrangler Sport doesn’t rattle. The blows absorbed at road level from potholes and the rest (there was a lamp in my lane today) are absorbed by plenty of rubber bushings before it they get to the bottom of the driver eat. The light-effort steering doesn’t have much on-center feel, but this is because the geometry is meant for off-roading, where you want to avoid as much kickback from the wheel as you can.

Once tech guys look under the Jeep and see those stick axles, their tongues start wagging and they begin doing little equations on their calculator watches and try to teach you about unsprung weight. But the truth is, the Wrangler doesn’t ride bad at all. The wheels articulate pretty decently, so the Wrangler doesn’t try to buck you off over the bumps.

You just have to get used to a fairly lively ride. The axles aren’t located very firmly in order to get wheel articulation, so you can feel the body sway back and forth, but the ride motions are managed well enough that you wouldn’t be talking about jiggle and jounce like some Oldsmobile ride engineer.

Some driving skill is called for, of course. The suspension (such as it is) will wind up when you jump too hard on the throttle (the short overall gearing plays a role here), but off-road guys know enough not to jump on the gas whether the traction is dirt or pavement. This new V6 also works very well, delivering a broad spread of torque like a four-cylinder, and it’s easy to manage the six-speed manual transmission with its rifle-bolt shift action.

Really, no matter what kind of lively adjectives you might hear applied to the Jeep Wrangler’s capability as a street car, this device is way, way nice than you realize. Sure, it's an off-road vehicle living in an alien world of concrete and traffic, so you have to get your driving act together to get the best out of it. But that's what I like about it -- no slackers need apply.

I’ve driven so many cars that are way, way worse, pricey ones as well as cheap ones.

Michael Jordan, Executive Editor, Edmunds.com @ 4,025 miles.

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2012 Jeep Wrangler: Boing

October 28, 2011

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I find it next to impossible to drive our Jeep smoothly. There's a lot of driveline lash that will have you bobbing back and forth, no matter how smooth you are on the pedals. Let off the throttle slightly and you're greeted by a significant lurch forward. Get back on it and it feels like the whole car is made of gelatin. Boing, lurch, slosh. The Jeep is not my choice for taming the urban wilds. But let's face facts, the Jeep isn't meant to. That's why I can't wait for the opportunity to try it out on some trails. Soon.

Mark Takahashi, Automotive Editor

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2012 Jeep Wrangler: She's a Jeep Date

October 03, 2011

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My wife planned a date night for us Saturday night that involved driving down to Orange County. I picked the car for our journey: the Jeep Wrangler. Truth be told, I forgot about the date, but rather than scramble to trade someone for something less "terrible," I decided to walk the walk and keep the Jeep.

Yes, the ride on the I-110 was choppy. Yes, the wind noise was deafening. Yes, I had to ask my date to lock her own door (oh the shame). But not surprisingly, we were more than happy with our Jeep date. She even pointed out that the Wrangler was the unofficial vehicle of her high school -- the car that all the cool kids got. She actually wanted one, but when her dad informed her that the automatic was lame and that the manual was the only way to go, she backed down. My kinda father in law.

People will no doubt complain that we're wasting our Wrangler by not taking it up a mountain or fording some stream every weekend, but you know what, our humble Jeep is a hell of a lot of fun even when driving on the freeway or around the city.

James Riswick, Automotive Editor @ 1480 miles 

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2012 Jeep Wrangler: Liking the Drivetrain

September 26, 2011

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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

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Edmunds Insurance Estimator

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

$237 per month*
* Explanation
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