I've always loved Jeep Wranglers. They are unparalleled and uncontested in off-roading ability. However, for all these years, I have had two reasons for not buying a Wrangler: the road noise on the highway and the lack of horsepower for acceleration.
With incredible new upgrades on the 2012 Wrangler, I now have zero reasons to not buy one—and lots of reasons to buy one (or at least to dream about having one in my garage). The new Wrangler's engine is incredibly more powerful, and on the highway, the new Wrangler is quieter its predecessors. As if that weren't enough, the entire interior has been made-over to be far more luxurious and comfortable.
Do all these modern comforts cost the iconic Wrangler in off-road prowess? I'm pleased to report that they don't. The Wrangler is just as capable off road. In fact, with the more powerful engine, the 2012 Wrangler is more capable off road than a 2011 or 2010.
The re-brewed Wrangler is a performance-infused off-road vehicle—an internationally known bruiser that is truly capable off road, smooth on the pavement (as of 2012), and full of "new car smell," even under the hood.
Additionally, Jeep is now offering the option of hardtop roofs painted to match the body of the Jeep. In my opinion, this option takes the look of the Jeep to another level, matching the pricey look of the boxy Land Rover Defender and Mercedes Gelandewagen.
My dream off road vehicle, as of 2012, is a hardtop four-door Wrangler with the candy shell hardtop painted to match the body. And I'm not alone in dreaming for this new Jeep. Here's why many folks are trading in their 2010 and 2011 Wranglers for 2012's.
The all-new Pentastar 3.6 liter V-6 engine enhances fuel efficiency while providing 40 percent more horsepower than previous models. It's good for 285 horsepower and a notable 21mpg. The Wrangler has also adopted a more refined and road-friendly transmission. All these changes bring its 0-60 time down to about 8 seconds, from the old model's bread-truck-like 10 seconds.
True Jeep enthusiasts may recall the Wrangler's interior was new in 2011, but it has seen more updates for the 2012 model. Available in two and four-door models, Jeep has upgraded materials, temperature controls, and convenience items such as a USB port and enough 12-volt accessory outlets for the whole family.
In typical Jeep styling we see the signature round lamps, exposed hinges for the removable doors, a uniquely slotted grill, and wheel flares.
The Wrangler shines like never before on road. And of course, it still shines off-road, too. Here, Jeep falls back on seven decades of off-road experience. This helps Jeep deliver body-on-frame design, five-link suspension, live axles, electronic locking differentials, and an optional six-speed transmission (yes please) to enhance the experience of the true "road less traveled."
If you're highly concerned about passenger safety, you'll want to opt for many of the Wrangler's additional safety options, including roll mitigation, trailer-sway control, hill-start assist and brake traction control.
Jeep claims the Wrangler is the "go anywhere and do anything" vehicle for the not-so-faint of heart. With incredible capability on and off the road, as well as comfort and surprising fuel economy, this auto reviewer agrees. Here's to finding the open road.
© 2012 John Dickerson, Horsepower Auto Reviews