Riding a Rubicon in Oregon's Tillamook Forest, we tackled a trail that looked impossible for an unmodified vehicle off the showroom floor. Press a button to disconnect the splined front swaybar, to allow extreme angles of articulation at the wheels. Another button locks both front and rear differential. Slip it into Low Range. You've got a final drive rear-axle ratio of 4.10 in the offroad-oriented Rubicon (3.21 or 3.73 in the Sahara or Sport), and 32-inch tires. Three skid plates protect the fuel tank, transfer case and oil pans. Ground clearance is 10.1 inches at the rear axle and 10.5 inches at the front.
With 285 horsepower and 260 pound-feet of torque, it seems like the Wrangler should feel more powerful, and accelerate faster. We ran a lot of high-speed two-lane miles, and our Wrangler had to work, using momentum to pass. We've driven a Chrysler 200 convertible with this same engine, and it seemed faster.
Pretty new colors for 2012 are Dozer Yellow (nice blend of Corvette Yellow and Porsche Mustard, and a favorite for pilots in search planes), Deep Molten Red, and Crush Orange (another search party favorite). Our Rubicon was Cosmos Blue, like French Racing Blue, a color that almost brings grace to the ol' Jeep. Standard colors are available for those who want to blend into the environment, whether suburban or bucolic. The 2012 Wrangler looks like a Jeep, and when that can't be said, it's time to worry. It may be the most recognizable vehicle in the world. Even the Unlimited four-door, whether hard top or soft top looks like a Jeep. Round headlamps, 7-slot grille, wheel flares, removable doors, bolt-on fenders, fold-down windshield. Meanwhile, the Wrangler Unlimited is the only four-door 4x4 convertible on the market.
Our Wrangler was equipped with $1035 Media Center option, and if you go off-road or take the top down much, you won't like it. The touch screen is invisible in the sun, and in a bouncing Jeep it's not easy to land your finger where you want it, even trying to tune the radio. A Jeep needs knobs you can grab. And for all the 6.5-inch size of the screen, with some functions only about 40 percent of the screen is used, tiny little radio words, the other 60 percent says JEEP. The center console was raised to make a better armrest, although now you have to raise your elbow when using the shift lever. Gears in the 5-speed automatic can be changed manually, with side-to-side movement of the lever.
The 2012 Wrangler Unlimited four-door is totally civilized, thanks partly to the smoothness of the new engine. The Pentastar block was designed to have accessories bolted to it, to reduce vibration. This pays off with a smooth and silent interior, even at 80 mph in the hardtop Wrangler. The Wrangler Unlimited corners well. The Wrangler Unlimited is built on a wheelbase that's 21 inches longer than that of the regular Wrangler.
With a terrific new powertrain, the Wrangler has fully arrived. It's win-win with improvements to comfort, handing, power, smoothness and fuel economy, while no loss to mind-blowing off-roadability with the Rubicon. Wrangler Unlimited, the world's only four-door 4x4 convertible, delivers a smooth ride and secure handling. Soft top or hard top, nice new colors. We recommend the Unlimited for families; off-road capability is nearly the same. Singles and couples might want to go for the traditional two-door, however.
Some information for this review was obtained from NewCarTestDrive.com
6500 Okeechobee BlvdWest Palm Beach, FL 33411