The Wrangler is Jeep's flagship, and is also one of the most recognizable vehicles on the road today. More than 70 years ago, the stalwart Wrangler began as a military vehicle and defined Jeep as the brand it's known as today. With its ability to be configured in multiple ways, the Wrangler slowly transformed from military transport to an off-road weekend get-away vehicle.
At the conclusion of WWII Jeep began selling the Wrangler under the name plate of "Willy's civilian Jeep" (CJ) before being produced by American Motors and then finally Chrysler's Jeep brand. The Wrangler made its public debut under the American Motors badge in 1987 receiving a facelift in 1997 and again in 2007. While the Wrangler has gone through many changes throughout its life, Jeep has striven to keep it an off-road vehicle at heart. The demand of a more welcoming interior by owners has forced adaptation while still keeping the off-roading persona Wrangler has become known for.
The soft top roof, windows, and doors are a feature many buyers gravitate toward the Wrangler for having the freedom of removing it all. However, the thin top doesn't do much in terms of dulling road noise and cannot provide much protection in the case of a rollover. Then again, it's a Jeep Wrangler.
Engine: 3.6-liter V-6
Transmissions: five-speed automatic, six-speed manual
Models: Sport, Sahara, Rubicon
The new 3.6-liter Pentastar V-6 engine replaces the feeble V-6 that was a hindrance to the Wrangler for years. The new V-6 produces 285 horsepower and can be mated to a five-speed automatic transmission. Every Wrangler made for the 2012 model year is now four-wheel drive, adding to the off-road lore that is the Wrangler.
The removable top has been a popular feature for as long as the Wrangler has been on sale to the public. The usual two-door Wrangler is offered while the four-door configuration is known as the Unlimited. The Sport model rides on 16-inch wheels, has front and rear tow hooks, fog lights, cruise control, and crank windows. Other features include a six-speaker sound system with auxiliary jack, air-conditioning, and a 60/40 split-folding rear-seat. The Power Convenience Group adds luxury amenities like heated mirrors, power windows and locks, satellite radio, and a steering wheel wrapped in leather. For the off-roading enthusiasts the Rubicon trim is the perfect fit offering 17-inch wheels, 32-inch tires, and heavy duty axles.
Although the interior has become more civilized over the years, it still has a rugged appeal. However Jeep still wants the driver to feel like going through mud, dust, and whatever else Mother Nature can throw at you isn't a big deal. While navigating the backwoods trails the Wrangler is capable of holding 86 cubic feet of cargo space when the second-row of seats are removed. Note that if you opt for the soft top, secure storage is limited to the tiny center console and glove box. The soft-top itself is tough to raise and lower and if you decide to do this on the go the large plastic windows can be cumbersome.
Performance & Handling
The Wrangler welcomes the new 3.6-liter Pentastar V-6 engine responsible for 285 horsepower and forcing the older V-6 out of the picture. Four-wheel drive is now a standard feature on all Wranglers and includes both high- and low-range transfer gears. You can opt for the five-speed automatic but a six-speed manual transmission with hill-start assist comes standard.
Standard safety features on the Wrangler for 2012 include hill start assist, anti-lock brakes, and traction and stability control. Roll mitigation, trailer-sway control top off other prominent safety features found on the Wrangler while front side airbags are optional.
EPA Fuel Economy
Wrangler, manual or automatic transmissions: 17 mpg city/21 mpg highway
Wrangler Unlimited, manual transmission: 16 mpg city/21 mpg highway
Wrangler Unlimited, automatic transmission: 16 mpg city/20 mpg highway
- Off-road capability
Pentastar V-6 engine
You Won't Like
- Long braking distance
Still the king of the Jeep hill
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