by Dan Edmunds, Director of Vehicle Testing on January 15, 2016
A 2012 Jeep Wrangler Sport once lived in the Edmunds long-term test fleet. It still does, in a way, because I bought it for my very own. And I'm still tinkering with it, which is still relevant here because a 2016 Jeep Wrangler is essentially the same machine.
My main beef with the stripped-down Sport we bought has always been its lame 3.21-to-1 axle gearing, an overly-tall ratio meant to maximize the Wrangler's window sticker fuel economy at the expense of off-road performance. Back in 2012, a mere $50 would have netted us a 3.73-to-1 axle gear option that would have rectified that, but we didn't bite (note: the same 3.73-to-1 option now costs $695 on a 2016 Wrangler Sport, but that's a story for another post.)
The long-leggedness of the 3.21 gears was less than optimal in certain situations with the factory 29-inch tires they came with, but it became downright intolerable after we fitted taller 33-inch BFGoodrich off-road tires. And this was no longer just an off-road shortcoming.
December 12, 2014
Yes, it still exists. What used to be the official Edmunds 2012 Jeep Wrangler Sport long-term test vehicle has been my personal vehicle since I seized the opportunity to buy it after the test ended. Functionally it's the same JK Jeep Wrangler that's sold today as the 2015 Jeep Wrangler. We don't expect to see a full redesign for a couple of more years, so most of what we learned (and I continue to learn) still applies.
Just before it left the fleet it developed a couple of cracked spot welds on the tailgate that creaked and popped on rough roads. The culprit was the oversized spare tire, made up of a 285/70R17 BFGoodrich Mud-Terrain KM2 tire and AEV/Mopar aluminum wheel. The largest factory wheel and tire weighs about 20 pounds less than this combination, and the JK's factory tailgate-mounted spare tire carrier has an upper limit that we had crossed.
And that's why Teraflex devised their Heavy Duty Hinged Carrier. It's designed to carry the load of massive oversized spare tires up to 37" in diameter with the optional Spare Tire Mounting Kit. The nice part about the TeraFlex approach is you don't have to buy a new rear bumper, which is a big cost savings. A new bumper costs upwards of $1,000 before you add any swing-away tire carrier option. It can run into big bucks.
So I bought one, brought it home and installed it the very next weekend.
June 3, 2013
After an extended long-term test it was finally time to say good-bye to our 2012 Jeep Wrangler. May was its last month on the books. April saw its last hurrah as far as mileage accumulation was concerned. Most of the past month was spent parked with a "for sale" sign in the window. All lifetime fuel economy vitals are noted below.
May 29, 2013
Our long-term 2012 Jeep Wrangler has a new owner, one who frequent readers of this blog may recognize: Dan Edmunds, Director of Vehicle Testing.
May 27, 2013
We are another 8,000 miles into our test of the 2012 Jeep Wrangler. That means it is time for routine maintenance. A visit to our local dealer, Buerge Jeep, was easier than swapping out the oil ourselves this time, so we went there.
April 25, 2013
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.
April 9, 2013
By now our 2012 Jeep Wrangler Sport's fuel economy has become fairly stable. Some 31,000 miles will do that to MPG data.
It's fuel economy hasn't quite lived up to EPA estimates, but tall, wide and sticky 285/70R17 BFGoodrich Mud Terrain T/A KM2 tires have not done on-road gearing, inertia or rolling resistance any favors for the last 25,000 miles. And then there's the 3-inch lift kit and the extra aerodynamic turbulence and increased frontal area it brings to the party.
April 8, 2013
Airing down the tires is the first order of business upon arrival at any rocky trailhead such as those found in and around the town of Moab, Utah.
But the average tire gauge doesn't have a dump valve. The slightly nicer dial gauge I own has one, but it's a thumb button that needs to be held down through the entire process.
In the past this made for a long, drawn-out ritual as I walked around our 2012 Jeep Wrangler and set each tire one at a time. Large off-road tires contain more air than you think, and it doesn't drain out near as fast as a compressor can shove it in. It can take minutes to let out 10 to 15 psi — times four.
I vowed this trip would be different. Before I headed to Utah I stopped at my local four-wheel parts warehouse for some Staun "Tyre Deflators," a particularly useful Australian product.
April 5, 2013
The Easter Jeep Safari in Moab is a big deal. Jeeps and Jeepers take over the town for the week, which makes it a natural place for Jeep, the corporation, to wade in and mingle with the Jeep faithful.
Once I arrived I participated in some of these Jeep-organized Jeep activities, which means I would park our 2012 Jeep Wrangler while I Jeeped in some of Jeep's Jeeps.
March 28, 2013
It happened on the way to Moab for its second visit to the Easter Jeep Safari. Our Jeep's odometer rolled over to 30,000 miles not one mile after I crossed the Utah state line.
It's running strong, but so far the combination of 75 mph freeway speed limits, rising elevation and a fierce headwind are not adding up to a new "best tank" in the Jeep's mpg logbook.
March 27, 2013
Our 2012 Jeep Wrangler is the base Sport model, which means it doesn't have the motorized front stabilizer bar disconnect system found on the more expensive Rubicon.
Up until now I'd have to crawl underneath with a pair of 18mm wrenches and some tie wraps, spending about 5 minutes disconnecting the bar myself before I headed off into nasty territory.
But several companies sell an alternative system that replaces the bolts and tie-wraps with an easily removed pin. Teraflex makes a particularly good one, and they sell it for about $130.
Here's how the installation went. It took about 20 minutes, including photo breaks. Double everything you're about to see because the entire process is repeated on the other side of the car.
March 26, 2013
It was 9:00 am when I rolled into the parking lot to meet my friends to start our recent Arizona off-road camping trip. Our 2012 Jeep Wrangler was clean. Too clean.
The person that drove it before me took it to the car wash. It was spotless, and for that I am grateful. But the thing that had my buddies pointing and snickering was the liquid black tire shine goo the car wash had lathered onto my BFG rubber.
"That's not going to last," was the kindest thing they said.
They were right, of course. My wet licorice BFGs did look more than a little ridiculous in the face of 300 miles of dirt and rocks. It's a lot like putting on makeup before heading into a coal mine.
Or so I'm told.
A Jeep can and should be a little bit dirty. Dusty, at the very least. Extra points for mud, but not too much.
March 25, 2013
The front windshield on our 2012 Jeep Wrangler cracked long ago. Today we got around to replacing it. We recently had the windshield of our long-term SLS repaired at a local Safelite AutoGlass store. It was a good experience. And we left wondering how their mobile service compared. This was our opportunity to find out.
March 21, 2013
There's a lot of unspoiled desert out there, and last weekend a small group of us headed north from Quartzsite, Arizona in three vehicles to explore a decent-sized swath of it. We left the pavement just northeast of Q-site at a wide spot in the road called Bouse, and from there we bumped our way north as far as Meadville and Grand Canyon West.
This was expedition-style off-roading. Nothing too technical, but clearance and 4-wheel drive were necessary. A soft-road crossover, especially an AWD one without a lockable center differential, would have stood a good chance of getting stuck in any number of sandy washes and rocky streambeds. I used low range a few times.
Anyone who ventures out this way can't be averse to superficial paint and clearcoat scratches because trailside growths of mesquite, creosote bush and palo verde are common along the often-narrow trails that meander across the Arizona backcountry. You could say the Desert Stripe package comes standard at no extra charge.
March 19, 2013
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.
March 15, 2013
Lift kits on Wranglers look cool and of course increase the Jeep's already impressive off-road capabilities. But if you like to keep your vehicles garaged, or have to because there's no driveway and you live where street parking is tough, you may want to do a little homework before you jack up your Jeep. As you may know, we installed the Mopar Pre-Runner suspension kit on our Wrangler which includes a three-inch lift.
March 11, 2013
Prior to starting to work for Edmunds, the only time I had spent off-road included a few dirt bikes rides (no jumps), some time on a quad, and a trip to Lake Havasu in college where my buddies and I had ingloriously ran a Jeep Wrangler out of gas. So when an opportunity came up to take our 2012 Jeep Wrangler and leave the pavement behind with a local group of Land Cruiser owners, I jumped at the chance.
March 8, 2013
When I drive our 2012 Jeep Wrangler around town (and especially on trails) it gets a lot of attention. Jeep owners seem to be a particularly passionate group. Drivers in other Wranglers are constantly waving, giving the thumbs up, or taking a closer look at our modifications. Driving the Wrangler also makes me much more aware of other Jeeps and various off-road vehicles around me.
March 5, 2013
One of the more specialized vehicles in our long-term fleet, the 2012 Jeep Wrangler doesn't always get out as much as the more comfortable commuters.
Even with an additional 1,000 miles added to its odo in February, the Wrangler's monthly fuel economy averages remain unchanged.
February 27, 2013
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.
February 26, 2013
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?
February 25, 2013
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.
February 21, 2013
Given our Wrangler's huge tires there's no need to ever use sixth gear. At 70 mph in sixth the Pentastar V6 is turning over only about 1,850 revolutions per minute. And that's just not enough to pull even the slightest hill. Even a medium crosswind will trigger the need for a downshift. Fifth gear is only turning about 2,350 rpm at the same speed and that's a usable engine speed.
February 20, 2013
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.
February 14, 2013
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
February 12, 2013
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.
February 11, 2012
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
February 5, 2013
The same way a kid isn't a ball player until he's taken a fastball to the ribs, a Wrangler isn't a Jeep until it's cracked its windshield. Our Wrangler has proven itself a Jeep multiple times during its stay with us. This growing crack (nearly spanning the length of the glass) only solidifies it.
Dan Frio, Automotive Editor @ 25,706 miles
February 4, 2013
During the month of December we drove our 2012 Jeep Wrangler 1,524 miles, many of which were off road. During those four weeks the Wrangler averaged 15.9 miles per gallon of 87 octane fuel.