2012 Jeep Wrangler Unlimited

Change Vehicle

2012 Jeep Wrangler Unlimited

Search Inventory Near You


Available in 4 styles:  2012 Jeep Wrangler Unlimited 4dr 4x4 shown
Print


Asking Price Range
$24,554–$39,754

Estimated MPG

16 city / 20–21 hwy


See Photos & Videos


Expert Reviews

    Expert Reviews 1 of 2

By 

Cars.com National

I have a problem with the saying "It's a Jeep thing; you wouldn't understand." Often asserted by hardcore Jeep fans, it's part celebration, part explanation and part admonition. Sure, it's a little bitchy and defensive, but that's not why I object. The problem is that it's outdated. No longer is there much to misunderstand about most Jeep models, from the Compass to the Grand Cherokee, whose sophistication compares more favorably to competitors. The saying should be, "It's a Wrangler thing; you wouldn't understand." This I agree with. The legendary Wrangler off-roader is a singular entity. I understand it, as do many other rabid fans, but you might not.

A new drivetrain and recent upgrades make the 2012 Jeep Wrangler more appealing for the true believers — and maybe even some agnostics — but they won't be enough to sway nonbelievers.

The Wrangler is available in two body styles: the two-door and the Unlimited four-door (see the specs). Both are convertibles, though it's not always obvious to the casual observer because an optional removable hard top is available in lieu of the traditional soft-top. The three shared trim levels are the Sport, Sahara and Rubicon. The Unlimited adds a Sport RHD above the Sport. In the higher two versions, the fender flares and removable hard top are body-colored.

The Drivetrain Hat Trick
The Wrangler now comes with a new 3.6-liter V-6 engine, replacing a less powerful 3.8-liter V-6. Like the engine, the five-speed automatic comes from the Grand Cherokee, replacing the 2011's four-speed. Jeep kindly continues to offer six-speed manual transmissions. See the two model years compared.

What does all this give you? The drivetrain hat trick: More power, higher efficiency and improved noise and vibration performance.

Jeep Wrangler Mileage
(EPA-estimated city/highway - combined)
  Manual Automatic
2011 Wrangler and
Wrangler Unlimited
15/19 - 16 15/19 - 17
2012 Wrangler 17/21 - 18 17/21 - 18
2012 Wrangler Unlimited 16/21 - 18 16/20 - 18

The rough old 3.8-liter V-6 produced 202 horsepower at 5,200 rpm and 237 pounds-feet of torque at 4,000 rpm. The new 3.6 puts out 285 hp at 6,400 rpm and 260 pounds-feet at 4,800 rpm. The torque peak is now higher up the rev range, but there's also more range to work with: The new engine's redline is almost 1,000 rpm higher, at 6,600 rpm. There's plenty of grunt at lower rpm to get the Jeep moving swiftly off the line and to scramble over obstacles that would put some SUVs in an early grave. All Wranglers come with standard part-time four-wheel drive, which means you can use rear-wheel drive in normal conditions, then activate four-wheel drive when it's needed.

The regular Wrangler now hits 60 mph in about 8.4 seconds, down from roughly 11 seconds in the 2011 model. The transmission is also well-behaved, with only occasional hesitation, which is sometimes a problem among newer automatics with higher gear counts.

Odds Are You Won't Understand
Now we get to the stuff most people won't understand — aspects of the Wrangler most motorists would fairly view as inferiorities. Just stick with me … .

The Wrangler doesn't ride smoothly. It has improved dramatically over the years and is more livable than ever, especially in the relatively new Unlimited version, thanks to its longer wheelbase. But there's no overcoming its design and heavy-duty hardware. The Wrangler has non-independent front and rear axles that optimize suspension travel and thus offroad capability. Optional locking front and rear differentials and giant, aggressively treaded off-road tires (see the Rubicon trim level) make the Wrangler even more formidable in the wild — and less genteel on pavement.

Perhaps more than anything, the Wrangler illustrates the tradeoffs that accompany high ground clearance. You get your first taste when climbing in — and it definitely is climbing. Old-school SUV ride height combines with a shortage of grab handles to test your ground clearance. Tubular step rails, which are optional on lower trim levels and standard on the higher ones, aren't much help: They're nearly as high off the street as the cabin's floor, with the apparent priority of clearing obstacles, not assisting passengers. They're actually an obstacle for tall people because they widen the sills. In my time with the Unlimited Sahara, the steps proved most adept at collecting and transferring dirt and road salt to my pant leg.

You'd be better off with a step that splits the distance between the street and the interior — something you might find in the aftermarket.

Don't Look Back
Once inside, you'll find a high dashboard, which shorter drivers might not like. Thankfully, there's a standard seat-height adjustment, and the steering wheel tilts, though it doesn't telescope. Visibility is mixed: High ride height provides the usual eagle's perch, but the rear view has one obstruction after another. The spare tire eats up much of the rear window, the rear wiper mechanism encroaches and the two backseat head restraints (which don't fold down) also conspire to block your view.

Upgrades from the past couple of years have classed up the cabin, and the noise level in there is better than ever, though by no means class-leading. You'll hear low-rev engine rumble, and the other sounds vary greatly depending on tire and roof choice.

The Unlimited's longer wheelbase and extra doors make for a larger backseat than the regular Wrangler provides, but this model still reflects the norm for fully capable off-roaders: Large on the outside doesn't always equal roomy on the inside.

The backseat is snug and it doesn't slide forward and back as some do, and the backrests don't recline. They do fold forward, however, in a remarkably simple single step. The head restraints are hinged to fold back and spring-loaded to return upright along with the backrest. (It would be nice if you could keep them down to improve the rear view.)

The cargo area is a similar story. The Wrangler has 12.8 cubic feet behind the backseat and 55 cubic feet when it's folded. That's well below four-doors like the Nissan Xterra's 36.3/65.7 cubic feet and the Toyota FJ Cruiser's 27.9/66.8 cubic feet. The Wrangler Unlimited compares more favorably at 31.5/70.6 cubic feet.

The Wrangler benefits from its square shape. The longer Grand Cherokee's maximum cargo volume is 68.3. But respectable numbers don't always reflect usable space. The Wrangl Page Not Found | Cars.com

Sorry, we couldn't find that page.

Get back on track using the search box or links below.

u-turn image