autonetwork

HomecatalogLifeCarsLogin
...

First Test: 2012 Jeep Wrangler


The new Wranglers easily traversed...      read full caption The new Wranglers easily traversed the rugged Rubicon trail. Upgrades have refined and modernized the old-timer.You can't tell by looking at it, but the Jeep Wrangler has undergone a transformation. The iconic shape remains -- seven-slot grille, round headlights, short wheelbase, soft or hard top -- but Jeep has made huge improvements to the off-roader for 2012. Jeep invited us to drive the 2012 JEEP WRANGLER on the Rubicon, one of the hardest 4x4 trails around, used almost exclusively by modified vehicles. We also got to drive on the two-lane asphalt roads that wind around Lake Tahoe.

 Consider this the second part of a major overhaul to the JEEP WRANGLER and four-door JEEP WRANGLER Unlimited. Part one happened for the 2011 model year, when the JK (the current generation's code name) received a new interior, plus, on the Sahara, a body-color hard top and fender flares. The hard top is of the same composite material as it was before, but what sounds like a minor change actually has a major effect on the Wrangler's appearance. In addition, the rear windows are larger as of 2011, improving visibility. For 2012, the body-color hard top and fender flares are optional on the Rubicon, too.
Style The Wrangler's styling...      read full caption
Style
The Wrangler's styling hasn't changed much overall, and there is no badge to show that the JK has a new engine. In addition, interior, engine, and hard-top changes all happened in about a year -- just not in the same model year.
Engine The new engine has...      read full caption
Engine
The new engine has 83 more horsepower and 23 lb-ft more torque. To ensure the new engine can handle the fording capabilities expected in a Wrangler, it uses a high-mounted, rear-facing alternator.
Cabin Class Higher-quality...      read full caption
Cabin Class
Higher-quality materials and redesigns of the center stack and instrument panel are among revisions to the 2012 Wrangler.Inside, welcome 2011 revisions include the use of higher-quality materials; the redesigned center stack; an all-new instrument panel; and strategically applied sound insulation that makes this the quietest JEEP WRANGLER ever. Some creature comforts never seen here before -- Seat heaters, power heated mirrors, and redundant steering wheel controls -- make this the most refined JEEP WRANGLER cabin ever.

 For part two: Prior to the 2012 model year, Jeep knew the JEEP WRANGLER would get the Pentastar engine, even if the company didn't make an official announcement. The pairing makes perfect sense: more horsepower, more torque, and better fuel economy. The previous iron-block 3.8-liter V-6 put out 202 horsepower and 237 lb-ft; the all-aluminum Pentastar has 285 horses and 260 lb-ft. And, while the six-speed manual returns unchanged, the four-speed automatic has been ditched in favor of the Grand Cherokee's five-speed. All the rest of the major mechanical features (axles, suspension, steering, brakes), the body, dimensions, and structure are essentially carryover.

 We started out on-road, driving to the Loon Lake trailhead from Squaw Valley, in the Sierra Nevadas. The route included elevation changes and sudden large openings in traffic that gave us opportunities to test out the Pentastar's acceleration. While this combination would've highlighted the weaknesses of the previous engine (universally considered a dog), the 3.6-liter V-6 shone.
Wheelbase The Wrangler...      read full caption
Wheelbase
The JEEP WRANGLER Unlimited's wheelbase is 20.6 inches longer, which makes room for five-passenger seating, plus 30 more cubic feet of cargo volume. Seventy-plus years after the first CJ, the Jeep has grown a lot. Its original wheelbase was 80 inches (now 95.4), and length was 128 inches (now 152.8).
Transmission This is the...      read full caption
Transmission
This is the only vehicle in the entire Chrysler lineup that uses a manual transmission behind the Pentastar engine. JEEP WRANGLER Rubicons with the automatic transmission come with a new stock axle: The 3.73:1 improves fuel economy while still providing plenty of capability. The 4.10:1 is standard with the manual and optional with the automatic.
Sneaky Cues There are silhouettes...      read full caption
Sneaky Cues
There are silhouettes of a seven-slot grille and round headlights at the top of the windshield, plus a rock-crawling JEEP WRANGLER at the base.The new engine offers excellent response and a noticeable improvement in power -- the Pentastar is significantly faster from a stop and when passing. Also, the engine sounds much more upscale than the coarse 3.8-liter, and the exhaust note is throatier. Paired with either transmission, it feels much more refined. Where the 3.8 feels pokey, the 3.6-liter actually makes the JK feel spry. Jeep estimates that the new engine reduces 0-60 times by 2-3 seconds with either transmission, and when we took a JEEP WRANGLER Sport manual to the track, we confirmed this estimate. The new Jeep hit 60 mph in 6.7 seconds, while all of the 3.8-liter Wranglers took between 9.8 and 10.2 seconds.

 When we reached the Rubicon trailhead, we swapped the Unlimited Sahara we'd been driving and got into a JEEP WRANGLER Rubicon. The trail is in one of the most beautiful parts of the country. It cuts through an evergreen forest and runs up and over the Sierras. The terrain varies from slick granite to dirt dotted with rocks to massive boulders that require highly technical driving to traverse or go around. The trail takes you past breathtakingly beautiful vistas overlooking crystal-clear lakes. There was also more water on the trail than in the past, thanks to the heavy winter. Puddles appeared at the most inopportune times, and there were water crossings in spots where the trail had been dry the year before. The trail is known for changing year to year, but the conditions were especially tough this time around.

 Despite the challenges, all the Jeeps survived. The new engine and trans worked well, and even though peak torque is now at a higher rpm, there was no noticeable difference when off-roading at low speeds.

Jeep's goal with this latest version of the JEEP WRANGLER is to make the vehicle more refined and better on a day-to-day basis, without sacrificing the JK's off-road ability. The new JEEP WRANGLER stays true to the model's roots, but now it's a lot more fun to drive on-road.

 The Lowdown
Talk about the two-year upgrades to the Wrangler.

Ray Durham, Vehicle line executive
The two-step evolution of the model gave us more time for the Pentastar development. Engine development was happening at the same time as the interior changes, allowing the engine to be ready to go in a short amount of time.

What did it take to ready the Pentastar for the off-road requirements of the Wrangler?

 Tony Petit, Responsible for the JEEP WRANGLER and JEEP Liberty We had to create a unique oil pan, an acoustic engine cover to reduce noise and improve appearance, optimized upper intake airflow for torque, and add equal-length downpipes to improve low- and mid-range torque response. Also unique are the front-end accessory drive and high-mounted rear-facing alternator for water fording. Its new pulse-width modulated 600-watt fan is 100-percent variable speed, not just high and low, plus it has a full face condenser for better A/C performance and a standalone transmission oil cooler.
.hdr {color:#ffffff;font:bold 12px verdana,arial,helvetica;background-color:#343434;} .hdr1 {color:#000000;font:bold 09px verdana,arial,helvetica;background-color:#aba9a9;} .hdr2 {color:#000000;font:09px verdana,arial,helvetica;background-color:#dddddd;} .hdr3 {color:#000000;font:09px verdana,arial,helvetica;background-color:#FFFFFF;}2012 Jeep Wrangler SportBASE PRICE $24,250 PRICE AS TESTED $27,760 VEHICLE LAYOUT Front-engine, 4WD, 4-pass, 2-door SUVENGINE 3.6L/285-hp/260-lb-ft DOHC 24-valve V-6TRANSMISSION 6-speed manualCURB WEIGHT (F/R DIST) 3918 lb (51/49%)WHEELBASE 95.4 inLENGTH x WIDTH x HEIGHT 152.8 x 73.7 x 70.9 in0-60 MPH 6.7 secQUARTER MILE 15.2 sec @ 89.1 mphBRAKING, 60-0 MPH 135 ftLATERAL ACCELERATION 0.70 g (avg)MT FIGURE EIGHT 28.7 sec @ 0.56 g (avg)EPA CITY/HWY FUEL ECON 17/21 mpgENERGY CONS, CITY/HWY 198/160 kW-hrs/100 miCO2 EMISSIONS 1.04 lb/mile

(Source)


Feed
First Drive: 2012 Volkswagen Jetta GLI
In the first five generations it was pretty easy to comprehensively sum up the difference between a Golf and a Jetta: One had a trunk. The sixth-generation Jetta has established its own identity in the...

read more

0
read comments 
Quick Drive: 2013 Mazda CX-5 Prototype
REYKJAVIK, ICELAND -- "Skyactiv" finally makes sense. This October, an updated, 40-mpg (highway) Mazda3 with the brand's new gas direct-injection, 2.0-liter four, and six-speed manual or automatic gets...

read more

0
read comments 
First Test: 2012 Ford Explorer EcoBoost
Last time we had our hands on the new Ford Explorer, it finished sixth out of six in our seven-row SUV comparison test. Yes, friends, dead last. But that car was a preproduction vehicle, and quite literally...

read more

0
read comments 
First Drive: 2012 Toyota Camry
Is the 2012 Toyota Camry new and special enough to vanquish the Hyundai Sonata? Is the SE model a poor man's sport sedan? Is Toyota's rebound in J.D. Power & Associates' initial quality rankings, and...

read more

0
read comments 
First Drive: 2012 Kia Rio
During the driving portion of the 2012 Kia Rio press presentation in South Korea, we visited a phallic-themed, public rest area located off National Route 44. Thankfully there weren't any live ones, ...

read more

0
read comments 
Comparison: 2012 Jeep Grand Cherokee SRT8 vs. 2011 BMW X5 M vs. 2011 Porsche Cayenne Turbo
These days, defining a sport/utility vehicle is hard. Just about anything top-heavy that necessitates the slight lifting of a passenger's leg for entry usually qualifies, thanks in part to the introduction...

read more

0
read comments 
First Drive: 2012 Toyota Yaris U.S. Spec
When the Yaris took over for the Echo as Toyota's smallest car in the U.S. in the middle of the last decade, the subcompact realm was barely inhabited. Gas prices were low, SUVs ruled the roads, and GM...

read more

0
read comments 
First Test: 2012 Jeep Grand Cherokee SRT8
The traditional performance plan for Jeeps was to unbolt, unzip, unsnap, and otherwise dismount every component that wasn't necessary, then mount the biggest knobby tires possible and head for the hills....

read more

0
read comments 
Long Term Update 3: 2011 Jeep Grand Cherokee
Associate online editor Benson Kong recently requisitioned the keys to the Grand Cherokee for a quick off-road adventure in the nearby Santa Ana Mountains, finding himself a trail off state route 74,...

read more

0
read comments