2012 Jeep Wrangler: More Meat
November 02, 2011
Love the Wrangler, but that's not news by now. Many of us have professed our adoration already. It's a bit of an adjustment for me though, coming from a decade of driving a Cherokee. The Wrangler's profile and wheelbase give me a little pause, and I realize I can't guide it through a corner nor get back on the gas as quick as I can in the Cherokee.
I'll reiterate what others have written, that the Wrangler feels a little buoyant and its steering is vague. If it were mine, I'd swap on at least some 235s for a little more footing (although looks like PLENTY of tire is in our near future). Still, the new Wrangler is more civilized than I originally thought.
Clutch action is long, but light, and the gearbox is slick. It's about as easy in traffic as the Mazda2's. I found my hand quite often just resting on the shifter. It's actually kinda fun and effortless to row this thing. Sure, you'll be surging and bucking a bit if you're creeping along at 20 mph, but it's a Jeep. That's not a pass, but getting behind the wheel does require that you suspend any deeply-held beliefs about ride quality.
And the new engine is, as everyone else has noticed, fantastic. I don't think it pulls as strong down low as the 4.0-liter in my four-speed 2001 XJ (one for the chassis code nerds). Indeed, the XJ makes less torque than the Wrangler, but makes it much sooner: 225 lb-ft @ 3,000 rpm vs. the Wrangler's 260 lb-ft @4,800. Still, the Pentastar sounds better doing it; wish the Cherokee growled like this thing. Hopefully there's an exhaust on the mods list. It'd be nice to hear more of this Pentastar rumble at cruising speed.
Dan Frio, Automotive Editor