Review: 2012 Jeep Wrangler Unlimited Sahara

Posted on 30. Nov, 2011 by in Auto News

Back in the day, the Jeep Wrangler was only for serious off-roaders. Posers might visit, but assaulted by sluggish acceleration of the SUV, clumsy handling, rough noisy ride, and spartan hose-out interior they were not likely to stay long (or return after leaving). But Chrysler steadily worked to overcome these disadvantages and make the Wrangler fit for everyday use. Back in 2007, the Wrangler grew in size and is available in an extended wheelbase four-door Unlimited form. Last year, its interior has been significantly upgraded. And this year the unloved 202-hp 3.8-liter "minivan" V6 has been replaced by a 285-PS-DOHC 3.6-liter "Pentastar" V6. Meanwhile, the chassis was repeated tweaked to improve on the road ride and handling. So, with all these improvements, the 2012 Wrangler Unlimited suitable as any other SUV for running the kids to school and then fall through CostCo?

The Germans are not uniquely decorated in a position to refine a legendary figure redesign after redesign, decade after decade. The current Wrangler is not a cartoonish "retro" interpretation of a classic car from the distant past. Like a Porsche 911, it is a special purpose vehicle iconic vehicle that has undergone a continuous evolution over the years. Chrysler has made many mistakes, but not the botched Wrangler styling is one of them. Unchanged since 2007 redesign, the exterior retains an unmistakable resemblance to the original Jeep. Form follows function relentlessly. Sahara chunky five-spoke 18-inch alloys, although to two inches from the base Wrangler, the wheels stay, well behind over the top. Unlike some alleged SUV, you will not bare rim protectors can be found here. There is no "DUB Edition." In view of the increased rel 2007, the four-door proportions actually better than the two-door. The Jeep may not be a beauty, but no one with any appreciation for design (as opposed to "styling" opposite) may fail to find it attractive.

The revised interior is beautiful nonetheless suitable intended use of the Wrangler. Although heated leather seats and automatic climate control are available now, you are still no luxury car cabin in a Wrangler, nor should you. Finally, it is possible to remove not only the roof, but the doors and even to fold the windshield. Functionality is the clear priority. The various buttons and knobs are large, very close, and logically arranged. Interior storage is abundant. Although the upright windshield lights, the view from the comfortable, thick, high-mounted driver seat block otherwise commanding. They are clearly no ordinary pilot vehicle. Main ergonomic slip: There is no good place to rest your left foot. The rear seat is similarly high and comfortable, but comfort is suffering from a lower cushion that stops mid-thigh. With the four-door legroom is sufficient for the average adult sitting behind the average adult. With the back seat, the Wrangler can hold 46 cubic meters of material. Fold the seat, and you can squeeze in another 36 cubes. Both figures are in competition with mid-size crossover.

Is transforming the addition of 83 hp from the Wrangler slug to rocket? Although I half expected it even by a fifth ratio in the automatic transmission, the new mill effects not support such a transformation. Instead, during the 2007-2011 Wrangler felt painfully slowly over 40 miles per hour, you feel the 2012 … sufficient. Although 60 comes in about eight seconds, when you plant your right foot to the floor, the Wrangler is not feeling it, so fast. Despite its 6400 rpm hp peak power and 4,800 rpm torque peak, the engine does not ask for tours, with an audible impact if and when the throttle is open more than half. But then neither the engine, despite its DOHC configuration and on-paper these high peaks, peaky or feel out of place in the Wrangler, where low-end torque has always priority. The new engine seems happiest ride in casual suburb where layers occur around 2,700 rpm. It is likely feels more energy, if the six-speed manual transmission, which provides a direct mechanical connection, and has much shorter first gear coupled. Update: The optional lower axle ratios would also help. The Wrangler tested had the standard 3.21 axle. For even more power, some aftermarket companies share in a HEMI and increased V6 should also be a possibility, all it takes is money. But an alarmingly fast jeep would even make sense?

Given the chassis number. The latest Wrangler not ride much better than that of the past few decades, especially in not-as-trail-friendly 116-inch wheelbase Unlimited form. And it even better controlled rear body movements as a traditional Land Rover LR4 or Toyota SUVs. But compared to almost any other similarly sized vehicle, the Jeep on-road handling, but also greatly improved, remains slow and cumbersome. At £ 4,294, the Wrangler is not very solid, but it drives over a quarter-ton heavier than it actually is. On the way, the jeep, the steering feels loose at center, rolled his body significantly (if in a well-controlled, predictable manner) easily fall, and its all-terrain tires in a muddy slide. On the positive side, in 2WD (required on the pavement, as the 4WD system is part time), the Wrangler can be easily controlled with the throttle. Noise level lower than in pre-2007 Wranglers, but at highway speeds there is wind rush over the head. EPA ratings of 16 city, 20 highway further indicated that the Jeep was not designed to cheat the wind. Instead, it is optimized for off-road driving, road behavior with a second priority.

With lots of bespoke bits, the Jeep Wrangler will not be cheap. A four-door sport starts at $ 26,345. But you decide for the plusher Sahara with an automatic transmission, and body-color hard top, like. With the tested vehicle, and you're looking at a $ 34,585 sticker without options such as heated leather seats, automatic climate control, Bluetooth and nav True Delta's Car Price Comparison Tool suggests that a similarly equipped Toyota FJ Cruiser only a few hundred dollars less than MSRP but $ 1,500 less when comparing dealer invoices. The price is not likely to be the deciding factor between these two.

Given the list of improvements for the Jeep Wrangler in recent years, culminating in the new V6 expect this year some people a vehicle, toe-to-toe with the latest crossover can go into the daily commute, then tackle the Rubicon on the weekends. This is not quite the case. Although no longer liable penalty travel over his own feet, while failing to get out its own way is the Wrangler how to drive … A jeep. The latest version of the real thing may require less heavy day-to-day hardships of the off-road enthusiasts for whom it was designed, but still continue to require sacrifice. It's not exciting fast. It is not remotely sporty driving through curves. There is something (previous enormously) loud and thirsty on the highway. Rear seat room and comfort are merely adequate. Which, frankly, is a lot like should be a Wrangler. Lost any closer suitable for everyday use and its essential authenticity would. The world needs at least a couple of cars that are on their core not intended for everyday use, and that, consequently, to drive unlike anything else. For those who do. Prepared off-road capabilities for comfort and functionality, perhaps compromise, because they never intend to, off-road features, the Jeep Grand Cherokee

Vehicle by Michael Williams in Southfield Jeep provided in Southfield, MI (248) 354-2950.

Michael Karesh operates, an online source of automotive pricing and reliability data.