2012 Jeep Wrangler Long-Term Road Test

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2012 Jeep Wrangler Sport: Rear Tailgate Crack

April 25, 2013

2012 Jeep Wrangler Sport

Last week I was startled by a loud and annoying pop and squeak coming from the cargo area of our 2012 Jeep Wrangler on my way to work. The sounds were largely confined to rough sections of L.A. freeway and the occasional drainage dip near my neighborhood.

I'm pretty sure I've heard a much quieter version of this sound once or twice before, but it didn't scream "problem" like it did this time.

It didn't take long to find the culprit once I decided to have a look. The hinge area of the tailgate has starburst cracks radiating out from a pair of exposed spot welds on the interior side.

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2012 Jeep Wrangler: Help Me Up, Will Ya?

March 19, 2013

2012 Jeep Wrangler

Some trucks and SUVs, such as a Ram 1500 have A-pillar-mounted grab handles. These make it a lot easier for shorter drivers and passengers to hoist themselves up and into a high-riding 4WD. The Wrangler provides a grab handle for the passenger, but it's mounted horizontally down on the dash which isn't as handy as being angled and higher up on the A pillar.

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2012 Jeep Wrangler: Am I In My Lane?

February 26, 2013

2012 Jeep Wrangler

When I look at our Jeep Wrangler, I don't feel like it's massive. Next to our Jeep Cherokee it seems relatively normal. Parked in my structure at home it doesn't seem gargantuan. When the Wrangler is stationary, it seems large but not too big to park, commute in, or navigate on normal roads.

The size dynamics of the Wrangler change dramatically the moment you drive it. It's high up, difficult to see out of in traffic and has aftermarket tires that are wider than the body. Is this all an illusion or am I running over curbs, fire hydrants and small woodland creatures everywhere I go?

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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: Built-In Bike Security

February 20, 2013

2012 Jeep Wrangler

Here's one of the overlooked benefits of removing the Wrangler's rear seat: Cargo security. The rear seat's u-shaped strikers — all six of them — offer perfect locking points for whatever costly cargo (in this case a mountain bike) you might otherwise leave unsecured inside the soft top.

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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 Sport: With Google Maps, Who Needs Factory Navigation?

January 29, 2013

2012 Jeep Wrangler Sport

One of the things our 2012 Jeep Wrangler Sport doesn't have is a factory navigation system. Heck, it didn't even come with Bluetooth, a matter we quickly rectified by installing a factory-developed U-Connect Mopar accessory.

But that didn't address navigation. Fortunately, the recent dust-up between Apple and Google has resulted in a very cheap and effective solution, an alternative to the factory nav system and the aftermarket Tom Toms of the world that make the purchase of either one unnecessary.

Apple got cocky and ditched the native Google Maps app that had always come pre-installed on their phones. The in-house Apple iOS map replacement was (and still is) a disaster, and within a matter of weeks Google came out with a fresh Google maps app that anyone could download from the iTunes store.

For free.

Thing is, Google Maps, the App is light years better than the old native Google Maps button that came on the iPhone before the infighting started. The new one reroutes, it issues turn-by-turn instructions with or without voice (through the car's speakers), it offers the choice of perspective view, the graphics are better, you can see traffic red zones along a planned route (the blue route line no longer obscures them), it displays and recalculates ETA as you go along and much more. It's better in almost every possible way, in fact.

And it's free.

This new Google Maps iOS app is especially effective in our 2012 Jeep Wrangler because an iPhone will perch comfortably atop the flat-topped steering column without obscuring the gauges. A non-skid rubber phone case helps greatly to keep it there, of course.

There are two drawbacks, however.

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2012 Jeep Wrangler: Rain Out Weekend

December 18, 2012

2012 Jeep Wrangler

My original plan was to take our Jeep deep into the Mojave Saturday morning with my dogs and go hunting, but two things changed my mind.

First was Mother Nature. The areas I was thinking of going were getting snow. And a lot of it. I'm a Southern California boy, really. I've never had to deal with snow like most of you. And I haven't had to deal with it way out in the hinterlands either. I didn't want to get stuck without some kind of support. I don't have a lot of confidence in those tires to do the snow/sludge traction thing.

Secondly was my neighbor. No seriously. As I was packing up my gear late Friday night, I watched him back out of his driveway across the street and right into my wife's car that was parked in front of our house. He then calmly drove away. Mutha Trucker. He and I were going to talk. I waited up late but he didn't come home. Hunting trip was off because he and I were going to talk in the morning.

I didn't get to use the Jeep as I had planned. It spent most of the time in my driveway getting rained on. Thankfully the neighbor came to our door first thing in the morning and gave us an apology and his insurance information. In the end, a good guy. Still a touched miffed he didn't do something right then.

What wasn't good was that when I got into our Jeep Sunday morning, I noticed several weird leaks. One even coming from the door handle! I have to hope that the abundance of plastic will mean than the Jeep won't rust out in a few years. That'd be a shame.

Scott Jacobs, Senior Manager, Photographer @ 23,416 miles

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2012 Jeep Wrangler: The Rear Seat

November 07, 2012

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There's no getting around it: The Wrangler's rear seat is a beast. It's heavy and awkward and covered with metal hooks. And, best of all, like an old hide-a-bed, it unfolds when you least expect it unceremoniously crushing your hands or toes.

Still, I'm glad it's removable.

Following is my step-by-step installation/removal process.

 

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First, as you already noticed, I don't carry it anywhere. I use a small cart to roll it in and out of the garage. It's too heavy. I haven't weighed it, but I'd guess there's a solid 75 pounds of large, awkward finger-annihilating Jeep seat here. Use a dolly. Save your back.

Then I pad the bumper for the transition from dolly to Jeep. Doing it myself is a bit of Gong Show, but I can manage with some huffing and puffing. It's a wrestling match to arrive here:

 

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It's not obvious the first time one installs the seat that the two front hooks must align with the front two floor latches like this:

 

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From here, one only needs to unfold the seatback into its upright postion as the seat bottom folds down to contact the rear floor latches. Failing to unfold the seatback will result in the rear hooks refusing to latch and the seat will return to the upright position without latching.

Josh Jacquot, Senior editor  

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2012 Jeep Wrangler: Kickin' HVAC

March 20, 2012

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HVAC, if you don't know, is a car's, heating, ventilation and air conditioning. And our Jeep's HVAC may be the very best around. 

First of all it's controlled by three very simple knobs, one for fan speed, one for temperature and one to control the direction of the air flow. This is as it should be, simple, attractive and functional.    

But what makes the Jeep's system so special is its power. It will roast you if you let it, even when the Wrangler's top is down. And its air conditioning will freeze you out on the hottest of days, even when the So-Cal sun is beatin' down on you.

Scott Oldham, Editor in Chief

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2012 Jeep Wrangler: Cool Touch Since 1941

March 19, 2012

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I think this is a very cool touch. The grab handle ahead of the passenger in our long-term Jeep Wrangler reads Jeep Since 1941. And it's not some cheesy decal or a lame dash plaque, it's carved into the fake aluminum-look plastic. Even the retro military font is cool.

Somebody at Jeep gets it.

Scott Oldham, Editor in Chief @ 10,991 miles

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2012 Jeep Wrangler: Good Small-Item Storage

February 20, 2012

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I discovered yesterday during my adventure (more on that later) that our Wrangler has many places to put the things that accompany an adventure. You know, cameras, gloves, phones, drinks...the list goes on. These elastic door nets -- one one each door -- are useful for relatively flat items.

Also, there's this cubby on top of the dash.

This one in the dash which is big enough to hold an iPhone.

These two next to the cup holders.

And another net in front of the shifter.

That's a lot of small-item storing goodness.

Josh Jacquot, Senior editor

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2012 Jeep Wrangler: It's Wet In Here

January 19, 2012

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I climbed into the Jeep this morning for some investigation unrelated to this post and noticed that, well, it stank. Literally. Smelled like mildew.

In a soft-top vehicle like this one, I was pretty sure that could mean only one thing.

 

I was right. When I opened the tailgate to dig around behind the rear seat, the problem was obvious. Water had penetrated the roof and found its way into the small cargo bin that's built into the floor behind the rear seat. This small tray was retaining maybe a half-inch of water and the floor mat which covers the bin was soaked.

Turns out, Chief Car Wrangler Mike Schmidt had, earlier in the day, found the seals between the top and the tailgate to be misaligned and straightened them out before I arrived. We're unsure if this is residual water from last weekend's brief rain or perhaps the Wrangler went through the car wash on Monday in this condition. It's likely the latter. 

Either way, this appears to be user error. However, in our defense, this is an easy mistake to make without careful attention to every seam, zipper and seal when reassembling the top. 

I took everything apart, left the tailgate open and flipped off the interior light in an attempt to let it all dry out before it goes home with Dan Edmunds tonight. I'm sure he will update the situation if it's justified. If not, I'd expect no issues once things dry out.

Josh Jacquot, Senior editor

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2012 Jeep Wrangler: At Least It Looks Like It's Put Together Well

December 06, 2011

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Forget the fact that these exposed screws could be nothing more than decoration for a moment. I like the way they look. They give the interior of the Jeep a visible sense of solidity.

Every new car interior these days covers over every nut and bolt so you can't see any of the real guts. It's fine for the most part, but sometimes you would like to know that there's something solid holding everything together, especially in a Jeep.

One of these days I'll get industrious and pull a few of these screws to see if they really do anything. Or maybe not. Sometimes it's better not to know how the sausage is made.

Ed Hellwig, Editor, Inside Line

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2012 Jeep Wrangler: Unhinged

November 17, 2011

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Not the most illustrative photo, sorry. I had to recreate the moment from the other side of the Jeep. The point is this: I reached for the glovebox in search of the Wrangler manual (missing, incidentally. Another story). Instead, I got five fingers full of glovebox. The box had literally come unhinged, no doubt shook loose by the previous driver - who shall remain nameless - feeding a steady stream of Jenny from the Block through the dash speakers at high decibels.

The plastic tabs snapped back into the plastic hinges easy enough, but it was disappointing. Not exactly the toughness you expect from Jeep. Then again, neither were the hamburger carton glovebox liners on the old CJ's, but hey, at least the door and hinges were metal. Still, worse things could shake loose when you're bouncing off boulders in Moab, I suppose.

Dan Frio, Automotive Editor

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2012 Jeep Wrangler: Basic

November 09, 2011

 Jeep Wranger window crank and door check.jpg

When I took our long-term 2012 Jeep Wrangler for the first time last night, I wasn't surprised by the old-school crank windows. I'm sure they'll come in handy when wading across streams or whatever.

But I was surprised by that door check. It's just a piece of canvas cloth. I wonder how that will hold up over a few years...

And the mirrors surprised me too. No power or remote adjust, which isn't a big deal for the driver's side. But the passenger mirror? How are you supposed to adjust that by yourself? That's a lot of iterative walking around to the other side of the vehicle. I just left it.

I suppose some people think that the absence of features is what makes a Jeep a Jeep.

How romantic.

Albert Austria, Senior VE Engineer @ 4,600 miles

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2012 Jeep Wrangler: Get Rid of the Rear Headrests

October 04, 2011

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This is the Wrangler's rear view with the rear headrests in place. It sucks, so I removed them about 30 seconds after we got the Wrangler and out they've remained until I took the above picture.

We've kept the headrests in the Jeep just in case someone tries to use the cramped back seat, but that means they otherwise fill the tiny cargo area and/or roll around. Oh well, better than not seeing anything and looking dopey. Jeep should probably use the flush-mounted headrests that dig into your back if you don't raise them like those in the third row of our Odyssey. Or perhaps drop-down ones like those in the Mustang.

James Riswick, Automotive Editor @ 1,480 miles 

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2012 Jeep Wrangler: Never Lock a Jeep

September 22, 2011

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Growing up, I spent a lot of time in Jeeps. They were cheap, tough, cool, easily modable, relatively dangerous (which ups the cool factor to a 16 year old), and dead-simply enough to fix yourself. 

As we got bored of our small town and the wooded trails it contained, we started visiting Boston and New York City more and more and, eventually, a number of my Jeep-owning friends moved to the city. 

Last night I parked our new Jeep Wrangler went to lock the door -- my laptop and the GF's laptop were in the car after all -- when I remembered rule number 1 of driving a Jeep in the city: Never Lock the Doors; Never Leave Valuables in the Car. 

Why? Easy. Leaving the door unlocked means the thieves can simply walk into the car instead of slicing open the top. A lot of convertible owners have the same thing, but Jeeps are particularly vulnerable due to, well, an extremely thin top with plastic windows. (Clever thieves will simply unzip the rear window from the outside, but, shhhhh; no need to tell them about that issue.)

So we carried our respective computer bags into the grocery store and left the Jeep alone. "I hate this thing," she said. "It's great! Every trip is an adventure!" I replied.

We're used to, for better or worse, thinking cars are a vault that keeps everything inside safe and sound with just the click of a keyfob, it's fun to get away from that for a while.

Mike Magrath, Features Editor, Inside Line @ 866 miles

(Plus, without power door locks, who has the time?)

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Edmunds Insurance Estimator

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

$142 per month*
* Explanation
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