70 Years and Counting: A Look at the 2012 Jeep Wrangler

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Freedom. Excitement. Purpose. Adventure. Icon.

For seventy years no singular word has more fully encompassed the impact of the Jeep Wrangler than that of “Icon”. It has carried heavy artillery through combat zones, has served as a purpose vehicle for America’s heartland, and has led expeditions into the unknown. The iconic Jeep Wrangler has entrenched itself as a symbol of freedom in all its forms and with the launch of the new 2012 Jeep Wrangler, the convergence of past and future has made the present an exciting time.[Not a valid template]

First and foremost, the 2012 edition of Jeep’s JK Wrangler has the same iconic soul but also features a new heart, mostly in the form of an available 3.6L VVT Pentastar V-6 engine borrowed from the 2011 Grand Cherokee. Upon hearing the 3.6L V-6 from the Grand Cherokee would be the replacement for the highly underpowered and often criticized 3.8L used in the previous model JK’s, I knew this vehicle would be something special. Needless to say, I was right.

My time with the venerable new Wrangler began with a discussion involving engineers and designers whose sole purpose was to deliver a completely refined vehicle. As one engineer put it, “We wanted to focus on three key items: Capability, Refinement, and the needs of our customers including fuel economy and performance enhancements.”

Capability and Performance

Out of the box, the 2012 JK Wrangler is the most capable and refined Jeep Wrangler I’ve ever driven. The 3.6L Pentastar V-6 has been reduced by more than 90lbs, compared to its 3.8L predecessor, helping to slightly increase approach angle. Also, the relocation of the alternator to a higher position on the engine helps to achieve maximum water fording.

In addition, the new Wrangler has an increase of 13% in fuel economy, nearly 40% in horsepower – up to 285hp from 202hp in the previous version – and a 10% increase in torque which delivers the Wrangler into a brave new world that actually demands respect while on and off-road. I personally drove a 2011 version of the Wrangler after spending a full day, on and off-road in the 2012, and I can attest to the night and day difference in overall performance between the two engine platforms. The new Pentastar V-6 is just that good and then some.

Additionally, the new Wrangler features a silky smooth A580 five-speed automatic transmission that not only works to improve the aforementioned increase in fuel economy but also significantly reduces interior noise, particularly while driving at highway speeds. One can actually drive this vehicle and have a normal voiced conversation at the same time!

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