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

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Another nice feature of the five-speed automatic transmission is its “fill for life” design which means the transmission requires no maintenance under normal operation. For off-road enthusiasts and Jeep “freaks” though, normalcy may be a matter of perspective. Nonetheless, I found the new transmission option to be without limits and is an excellent mate to the 3.6L Pentastar V-6.

For off-road use, the 2012 JK Wrangler is equipped with three skid plates/bars. The Rubicon model, which I test drove through a challenging course of rock and dirt in the Pacific Northwest, includes steel rock rails that provide much needed protection.

The approach and departure angles are also improved with approach angle at 44.6 degrees for the 2-door, 44.4 degrees for the 4-door, and departure angles of 40.6 and 40.7 degrees respectively depending on tire size. The Rubicon features the same 32″ tires and electronic swaybar disconnect in previous versions of the JK. These two options continue to be favorites of mine as the swaybar is quick to disengage and the tire size accommodates most off-road travel needs.

In essence, the Rubicon is far more capable and efficient than its predecessors in stock form. The enhanced powertrain, improvement of approach and departure angles, and overall drivability make the vehicle extremely pleasant to drive. Whether your travels include highway or remote backcountry destinations, the 2012 version has no problems getting you there and back again.


Compared to the 2010 version of the JK, the 2012 edition is almost a completely new vehicle.

In 2011, the vehicle saw a complete overhaul to the interior including better materials, smarter orientation of the gauge cluster and instrument panel, as well as sufficiently more comfortable seating just to name a few.

For 2012, the enhancements go further with an ergonomically designed instrument panel and plenty of storage areas – which is crucial for weekend excursions with the family or long term 4×4 travel.

Additionally, optional leather seating is available with luxuries such as:  heated seats and heated power mirrors, easy-to-use steering wheel controls for hands-free phone and radio control, use of hex-head bolts throughout to add an element of “rugged refinement”, and numerous twelve-volt accessory outlets throughout the front, middle, and rear cargo areas. There’s even an available 115-volt power outlet to provide power similar to AC outlets in a home. This is definitely useful while at basecamp.

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