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The Jeep Grand Cherokee retains Jeep's legendary off-road prowess while providing many luxurious and technical amenities.The Grand Cherokee is available in two-wheel and four-wheel drive configuration with four trims levels: Laredo, Limited, Overland, and SRT8 (four-wheel drive only). All trims (except the SRT8) are powered by a 290-hp 3.6-liter V6 paired with a five-speed automatic transmission. The V6 can be upgraded to a 360-hp 5.7-liter V8 Hemi engine matched to a six-speed automatic transmission. The SRT8 trim features an exclusive 465-hp 6.4-liter V8 Hemi engine and a five-speed automatic transmission, with steering wheel mounted paddle shifters. Both V8 engines feature a Multi-Displacement System (MDS), which seamlessly deactivates four of the eight cylinders depending on engine operating conditions. Adaptive cruise control, dual-pane panoramic sunroof, heated and ventilated leather seats, heated steering wheel, power liftgate, rear seat DVD entertainment system, rear parking camera, a multimedia infotainment system with 30-gigabyte hard drive navigation system, and UConnect wireless connectivity are available. The optional (standard on the Overland) QuadraLift air suspension features full time four corner load leveling and improved off-road performance by increasing ground clearance. Standard safety features include front six airbags, electronic stability control, active font head restraints, brake assist, and tire pressure monitoring.For 2012, a new SRT8 trim has been added, featuring a 392 cubic-inch V8 engine, unique front and rear fascias, 20-inch forged aluminum wheels, Brembo brakes, and real carbon fiber interior accents. Also a new six-speed automatic replaces the previous five-speed automatic when paired with the 5.7-litre V8 engine.
New SRT8 joins recently redesigned lineup.
The Jeep Grand Cherokee has very good road manners, five-passenger capacity, more cargo room than its predecessor and, if properly optioned, can be taken off the highway.
Grand Cherokee was thoroughly redesigned for 2011.For 2012, Jeep has made a few notable changes, brought back the SRT8 high-performance model, and added an Overland Summit to the top of the luxury range.
2012 Grand Cherokee models also get changes in packaging and pricing.While the least-expensive version appears about $3,000 less than last year's base model, it isn't really because it doesn't include power seats and other features that were standard for 2011.Every 2012 Grand Cherokee above the base model has seen a price increase.
Jeep Grand Cherokee continues to evolve toward luxury wagon and away from the utility vehicles that made the name famous.Many Grand Cherokee models come with piped leather, and the list of features includes a heated, power tilt-telescope steering column, ventilated front seats, and collision warning system.
Two-wheel drive is standard across the board.Four-wheel drive, low-range gearing, and a full-size spare tire required for genuine off-road activities are optional.And while you can get tow hooks, they're optional on most and chrome plated on the top of the line.A variety of all-wheel drive and four-wheel drive systems and suspension arrangements are available.A 3.6-liter V6 engine is standard and more than sufficient for anything but heavy towing.For that, they offer a 5.7-liter V8.A 5-speed automatic goes with the V6, and mileage has improved slightly for 2012.
The Grand Cherokee interior is stylish and made with high-quality materials.The luxurious Overland Summit model is as stitched-and-piped as any Chrysler and similarly expensive.The 60/40 rear seats recline for comfort, enabling passengers to look up at the sky through the optional panoramic sunroof that extends over both rows of seats; and the front seat folds flat for kayaks or two-by-fours.
The styling of the Grand Cherokee is uptown, with a sloped windshield and backlight, sculpted sides, and clean lines everywhere.The development of the Grand Cherokee goes back far enough that it paralleled the Mercedes-Benz M-Class.If there's a safety feature you want that isn't standard you can probably get it as an option.
The Jeep Grand Cherokee competes against a spectrum of vehicles including four-wheel drives, including the Land Rover LR4, Mercedes-Benz G-Class, Toyota 4Runner and Land Cruiser, any number of mid-size crossovers and niche models, and with the Chevy Tahoe and Ford Expedition.
The 2012 Grand Cherokee SRT8 is a street bruiser performance wagon like the Porsche Cayenne, BMW X5 and X6 and Mercedes-Benz AMG utilities.It's the fastest, most expensive, thirstiest Grand Cherokee, and the last one you want to take to a trail.
The 2012 Jeep Grand Cherokee comes in five models, all but one with a choice of two-wheel drive or four-wheel drive.
Grand Cherokee Laredo ($26,995) comes with cloth seating, fold-flat front passenger seat, dual-zone air conditioning, AM/FM/CD/MP3 stereo, separate rear glass/hatch open, fog lamps, 17-inch aluminum wheels, auto headlamps, power heated mirrors, rear wash/wipe, laminated front door glass, floor mats, tilt/telescope leather wrapped steering wheel with audio controls, cruise control, illuminated visor mirrors, trip computer and 12-volt auxiliary outlets.Laredo is available with all-wheel drive ($28,995).
Laredo options include trailer tow, all-weather, off-road and convenience packages, and a Laredo E group that essentially puts back what was removed from the standards list: keyless entry/start, 8/4-way power front seats, satellite radio and roof rails.The Laredo X ($6,805) upgrades to leather seating and shift knob, dual-zone climate control, heated power front seats, 18-inch aluminum wheels, nine-speaker 506-watt CD/DVD/HDD/MP3 audio, rearview camera, hands-free communication, 115-volt power outlet, and remote starting.
Grand Cherokee Limited 2WD ($36,795) and Limited 4WD ($39,295) go beyond Laredo X with more chrome exterior trim, panoramic sunroof, bi-xenon smartbeam headlamps, rain-sensing wipers, driver memory, heated seats front and rear, 8-way power passenger seat, and rear camera and park sensors.Limited options include V8, Quadra-Drive II 4WD, air suspension or milder off-road package, front sunroof with rear-seat DVD entertainment, power liftgate and tilt/telescope steering wheel, ventilated front seats, adaptive cruise control with collision warning, blind-spot monitors, cross-path detection, and two towing packages.
Grand Cherokee Overland ($39,495) comes with air suspension system, real wood trim and leather seating with piping, ventilated front seats, wood and leather power tilt/telescope heated steering wheel with memory, power liftgate, cargo net, navigation with voice-recognition and SIRIUS travel-traffic information, 20-inch aluminum wheels, black mesh grille and trailer tow package.Overland is available with Quadra-Drive II 4WD ($42,995).Options include V8, rear-seat DVD, advanced warning package, and off-road package.
The new Overland Summit ($43,095) and 4WD ($46,595) get a chrome mesh grille, unique paint selection, wheels and stitched saddle and black cabin with black olive wood, chrome tow hooks, and the advanced warning package.Only the V8 and rear DVD system are optional.
Grand Cherokee SRT8 ($54,470) is all-wheel drive and comes with a 470-hp 6.4-liter V8, 5-speed automatic, Brembo brakes, unique steering and suspension, Bilstein adaptive damping, paddle shifters, 295/45ZR20 tires on forged aluminum wheels, SRT specific seats and heated steering wheel, and a one-day track driving SRT experience.(We especially recommend that last bit.) Features roughly mirror a Limited, and options consist of a panoramic sunroof, conventional sunroof with rear DVD, 19-speaker 825-watt Harman Kardon sound system, three-season Pirelli P Zero tires, tow package, and a luxury group (advanced warning package, premium cabin trim and power liftgate).
Safety equipment on all Grand Cherokee models includes electronic stability control with roll mitigation, ABS with brake traction control system, trailer sway control, hill start assist, frontal airbags, front side airbags, full-length side curtain airbags, active head restraints, and tire pressure monitor.Safety options include hill descent control, active cruise control with collision warning, blind-spot monitors and rear cross path detection.
Note: All prices are Manufacturer's Suggested Retail Prices (MSRP), which may change without notice at any time.Prices do not include destination charge.
Every inch of sheetmetal was new for 2011, although it's still quite easy to identify as a Grand Cherokee.Although fancier versions have more liberal chrome and polish (except for the SRT8) the basic shape has sufficient character that we prefer the simpler entry model appearance.
The lines are more fluid than before, and are 8.5 percent more aerodynamic, with a Cd of 0.37, lowered from 0.40 after 250 hours in the wind tunnel.(Note aerodynamic resistance also includes frontal area, so the taller, wider Jeep will not be as sleek as a typical car.) This brings better economy, with less wind noise.It has a wider stance and shorter nose with less front overhang, giving it a subtle look of substance.
And it definitely has substance.This latest generation, starting with the 2011 models, is wider and longer, but most of the added length comes between the wheels for better handling and more interior space.
The seven-slot chrome grille is defined by six chrome slats over the black slots, while the headlamps sweep like winglets out from the top corners.Smooth frontal fascia with black airdam, recessed to lessen drag, and tidy small foglamps in trapezoid pockets.Aerodynamic bellypans run the full length of the chassis, chasing fuel mileage.
The sides have big rectangular concave sculpting, as if it's a place where Jeep meets BMW, and slightly trapezoidal wheel arches, a distinctive if still subtle touch.The side glass is straight and unaffected, with black B pillars, darkly tinted glass and bright trim.
Jeep says the rear styling gives a nod to the 1963 Wagoneer that started it all, and it's true (although we wonder how many besides us will remember Mom's '63 Wagoneer in high school that we snuck to the drag strip in the next state, one Sunday afternoon, and ripped off crowd-pleasing 4-wheel-drive holeshots).
The backlight balances the slope of the windshield, although, retro touch notwithstanding, the entire rear view looks like that of a thousand other full-size SUVs.That's because function rules, as it should; when SUV rear-end styling gets fancy, visibility is often lost.The taillamps are big and extend into the liftgate, with four backup lights whose beams improve the video view of the rear back-up camera, a detail where some cars are lacking.
There's an aerodynamic body-colored spoiler, level with the roof and over the sloped liftgate, and it looks good.We also like the flipper glass window in the liftgate, which has a convenient opening handle.The vehicle locks with the press of a button on the door handle, as at the tailgate.
The body-colored parts in the Laredo (mirrors, door handles, ding strip) look better than the chrome trim on the upscale Overland, whose 20-inch wheels with five thick spokes just look big and bright and unimaginative.Far more Jeeps will be Laredo models (65 percent, expects Jeep) with 17- or 18-inch wheels, which look better.
The SRT8 model has unique touches from the window-line down.A painted grille is flanked by bi-xenon headlamps and LED running lights, while a gaping maw below the bumper feeds cooling air to engine and brakes.The bulging hood has a pair of air extractors forward and you needn't worry about rain or snow given the copious amounts of hot air generated below.Clean wheel arches help cover foot-wide tires and menacing wheels, while extended rocker panels channel air and runoff.A deep rear bumper and substantial exhaust ports highlight the rear end.
No Jeep has ever felt this high-quality inside (especially when it gets rolling).The interior was totally redesigned for 2011, headlined by four more inches of legroom in the rear seat, with 19 percent more cargo space.The Grand Cherokee would make a good family vacation vehicle.
A fold-flat front seat is standard, adding to the 68.7 cubic feet of cargo space with the rear seats flat.The rear seats recline 18 degrees, and with the added legroom, life is easy back there.There's also an abundance of storage pockets and bins, including two bins under the cargo floor.A new rear suspension allows the spare tire to be stored inside the vehicle under the cargo floor, as opposed to underneath it.
The front door openings are 2 inches wider and 2 inches higher, and the rear doors open 78 degrees compared to 67 degrees on the previous (pre-2011) model.That increased convenience is just one of the many details that made the 2011 Grand Cherokee such an improvement.
We found the leather seats in our Laredo X test model to be just right, almost sigh-inducing, with excellent bolstering, not to mention total adjustability with lumbar support.We haven't examined the cloth seats, but Jeep has always done good rugged cloth.The stitching on the Overland Summit's leather dashboard straddles the fence between subtle luxury and Cowboy Cadillac.
The instrument panel features clean white numbers and needles and clear lighting.The tachometer adds a blue area, from 800 to 2500 rpm, a reminder of the best fuel-mileage range.
The three-spoke steering wheel tilts and telescopes, and includes cruise control with audio buttons at the back of the spokes.The Overland steering wheel is wood from about 10 o'clock to 2, and, with the internal heating elements, makes a very thick wheel perhaps better suited for yacht helm duty.
The LED lighting in the cabin works well, to erase the yellow harshness of the old days.There's an optional giant dual-pane panoramic sunroof that opens wide to the sky.So you can see the stars, maybe better than you can see out the rear window through the rearview mirror.The sloped backlight and rear headrests pinch the space for visibility.
The location and operation of things on the center stack, such as the electronic switchbank and HVAC controls, is all good.Except for the position of the shift lever, which does not lend itself to manual shifting in the Sport mode, because your elbow hits the center armrest.You have to cock your elbow high and bend your wrist too much.If you do much shifting like that, you'll be screaming for paddles on the steering wheel.
The SRT8 comes with a special steering wheel with paddles.The SRT8 also comes with sport seats to keep you in place working them.Gauge graphics are revised for the SRT8 and the electronic vehicle information center adds functions not found on other Grand Cherokees such as performance parameters.
Underway, the Grand Cherokee cabin is very quiet, even with the throttle floored, even over rough pavement.There are three layers of noise insulation, adding to the weight but the quiet is impressive.
We've driven several versions of the Grand Cherokee and came away most impressed with the Laredo X with the V6 engine.
The Overland with the Hemi V8, with its teen fuel economy and base price of more than $43,000 with 4WD and before options, would have been more of a hit in 2006.About the only thing you'd need that big Hemi for is its 390 pound-feet of torque for towing more than 5000 pounds beyond rolling hills (maximum is 7200 pounds with 4WD, 7400 with 2WD).And for that, the Grand Cherokee would not be our first choice.
Compared with the Laredo V6, the Overland V8 ride is firmer on 20-inch tires, steering is heavier and less responsive on the highway, and the chrome trim detracts from the cleanliness of the styling.Plus, ours had a vibration we felt in the small of our back while accelerating in second-gear Sport mode.That's the only time it appeared, but it wasn't our imagination, our passenger felt it, too.We can't say what it means, but it shouldn't be there.
There are two automatic transmissions with manual modes.The unit matched to the V6 is called a five-speed and, like most, offers a single overdrive.It is calibrated for fuel economy (up one city mpg on 2WD and one highway on all-wheel drive for 2012).As a result it is quick to upshift and frequently kicks down out of overdrive, so in rolling terrain or varying traffic we often shifted ourselves.
For the 5.7-liter V8 it's now called a six-speed automatic, but it has the same gears in it as last year's five-speed.Confused? The old five-speed automatic had two different ratios for second gear, a 1.67:1 as it up-shifted and a 1.50:1 as it down-shifted.Now that you can (for 2012) manually select either one Jeep is calling it a six-speed automatic, but we're calling that marketing; a real six-speed automatic has benefits in performance that this one won't.The 5.7 V8 does offer two overdrives and lopes down the highway but its highway economy is matched by some midivan city ratings.
Though heavy, the chassis is quite rigid, one key to the feel of overall quality.When you combine a rigid chassis with a well-executed independent suspension, the result is a vehicle that feels like a Mercedes.In fact, design of the Grand Cherokee began in Germany years ago, when Chrysler was still Daimler-Chrysler, and some components are shared with the Mercedes M-Class SUV.
We put our Grand Cherokee Laredo through the paces, on patchy San Francisco freeways, city streets, and through some curves on the Pacific Coast Highway, and the vehicle knocked off each challenge with ease, comfort and control.We were highly impressed with the chassis and suspension.
The Laredo base model has near-ideal weight balance front to rear, and its among the nicest to drive.You'll hear Chrysler say in their marketing that quality craftsmanship has returned to the Pentastar, and the Grand Cherokee backs up the boast.The chief engineer for the Grand Cherokee worked with the Mercedes engineers in Stuttgart to gain ideas for the architecture and suspension geometry.Then the Grand Cherokee went through more final testing than was done in the past to refine the vehicle to as close as perfect as they could get it.
Despite the new model's added width and wheelbase, the turning circle remains at the same 37.1 feet as the old Grand Cherokee.This is better than the same-size M-Class or most seven-seat utes, and within inches of the 4WD seven-seat Land Rover LR4 and many minivans.On or off the highway the Jeep is maneuverable, though the ever-rounder bodywork makes it more difficult to see corners on the trail.
For 2012, the V6 adopts electro-hydraulic power steering, usually an aid to fuel economy, and it has not compromised steering feel at all.
The V6 is a double-overhead cam 3.6-liter with variable valve timing, making 290 horsepower and 260 pound-feet of torque, delivering an EPA-estimated 17 city and 23 highway miles per gallon with 2WD, or 16/22 mpg with 4WD.A huge fuel tank (24.6 gallons) allows a range of 500 miles.The V6 engine feels like a winner, silky smooth and powerful.The horsepower is welcome but a shortage of torque is why it shifts out of overdrive a lot.
We went to an off-road course during our one-day drive, and, needless to say, the Jeep was fairly dazzling.We climbed over rocks and through gulleys and crept down radically steep hillsides, terrain far more challenging than owners will want to put their pretty new Grand Cherokees through.
The Jeeps we drove were equipped with the optional Quadra-Lift air suspension that adds up to 4.1 inches of lift, using controls on the console.There are five settings: Normal ride height, with 8.1 inches of ground clearance; Off-road 1, with 9.4 inches; Off-road 2, with 10.7 inches; Park, which lowers the vehicle to 6.6 inches for loading and unloading; and Aero, at 7.5 inches, for freeway driving and better fuel economy.
An important note here that the air suspension and low-range four-wheel drive are not available on the $29,000 base all-wheel drive; plan on spending nearly $40,000 minimum for that level of trail ability.The all-wheel-drive system on base models is meant for mild off-road use and inclement weather; low-range gearing is available as an option on that model, standard on V8s.
On the off-road course, Selec-Terrain electronically coordinates 12 different powertrain, braking and suspension systems, including throttle control, transmission shift, transfer case, traction control, and electronic stability control.What this means is that a monkey could have driven the Jeep over these terrain challenges.The computers did it all.For example, down the dizzying steep dirt trail, with hill descent control, all we did was keep the steering wheel straight, using no feet at all; the car's computers did it all.And all we did to get over the rocks was gently apply the gas, and wait until the sensors made adjustments to allow the slipping wheels to find their traction.Where a dead battery in the original Jeep was merely an inconvenience it will render this one a fancy umbrella.
The SRT8 uses a 6.4-liter V8 like that in the Challenger 392 and other rear-drive SRT sedans.With 470 horsepower, 465 lb-ft of torque, a crisp-shifting automatic, full-time all-wheel drive and foot-wide sticky tires it goes quickly.Acceleration lifts the bow and braking brings some nosedive, both tradeoffs for the solid roll control to keep the big, 5200-pound box stable.Don't even think of driving it off road.
Virtually every component that affects performance, be it bodywork, cabin pieces, electronic or mechanical is addressed by SRT, resulting in a package that isn't overpowered, underbraked or unable to use its power.On the contrary, the SRT8 likes to be pitched into a turn where it takes a set and you simply stand on the gas and let the all-wheel drive sort out the traction; the dynamics are impressive at this price.Like BMW's X5M and Mercedes' AMG M-Class not to mention the Porsche Cayenne, the Grand Cherokee SRT8 proves a utility vehicle can make good time on the pavement.
Like most other 2012 SRT products the Grand Cherokee gets adaptive dampers from Bilstein, meaning a choice of Touring comfort, which is fine even for unknown winding road, and Sport, in which things are buttoned up tighter.If your race car tends to break down and you want to keep running for the weekend, this might be the best way to tow the race car to and from the track.Just use your tow vehicle as your back-up race car.And since we complained at the introduction of the last Grand Cherokee SRT8 that center exhaust outlets are useless for towing they now are at the sides where they belong.Clearly, they were listening to us.
Of course the SRT8 carries penalties typical of super-sport utility vehicles.Gas mileage is usually closer to the EPA city rating of 12, and the tires, easily used up making a heavy truck work like a sports car, are more than $440 each.
The Jeep Grand Cherokee boasts a capable chassis, comfortable interior that's utility useful or fashion friendly, competitive powertrains.It offers the off-road capability that mid-size SUVs should offer.It offers serious towing capability.The new SRT8 puts the Germans on notice that there are super-ute alternatives, and this one costs a lot less.We were particularly impressed with Laredo with a V6 and think it offers the best value proposition.
Sam Moses reported from San Francisco after his test drive of the Grand Cherokee near San Francisco, with G.R.Whale reporting from the Mojave desert after his test drive of the SRT8.
Laredo X package ($6,805); Laredo E group ($2,000); Off-Road II package ($2,125); trailer package $695; Media center w/navigation ($395).
Jeep Grand Cherokee Laredo 4x4 ($28,995).
New V6 and 5-speed automatic improve streetability.
The 2012 Jeep Wrangler is a game-changer because of its new powertrain that moves Jeep out of the dark ages.It's the Pentastar V6, new last year to Chrysler, named one of Ward's 10 Best Engines for 2011.The new engine makes considerably more power with slightly better fuel mileage, an EPA-estimated 17 City/21 Highway mpg.It's smaller, lighter, and more advanced than the engine it replaces.
A smooth new 5-speed automatic transmission for 2012 replaces last year's inadequate 4-speed.The transmission is well behaved and doesn't hunt for gears.It was designed for use with Chrysler's 5.7-liter Hemi engine, so it maintains Jeep-like industrial strength.A Wrangler Unlimited Rubicon is rated to tow 3500 pounds.
The 2012 Wrangler Unlimited four-door is totally civilized, thanks partly to the smoothness of the new engine.The Pentastar block was designed to have accessories bolted to it, to reduce vibration.This pays off with a smooth and silent interior, even at 80 mph in the hardtop Wrangler.The Wrangler Unlimited corners well.The Wrangler Unlimited is built on a wheelbase that's 21 inches longer than that of the regular Wrangler.
The soft top that comes standard slides and folds horizontally on the roof, leaving the occupants further protected by door and window frames, although there's already a rollbar.The available removable hardtop comes off in 3 pieces, like T-tops and a sunroof over the rear seat.With T-tops removed, at 65 mph it beats you up; but with the top on it feels smooth at 75 and beyond.
In the popular two-door Wrangler there's very little storage space behind the rear seat, so four people with four medium backpacks is filled to overflowing.But if it's just you and some stuff, the rear seat can be removed, creating a spacious 61.2 cubic feet of cargo space.Same with the four-door Unlimited, making 87 cubic feet.
Wranglers are available with all the electronic trimmings, including a $1035 Media Center with navigation and touch screen, but the screen doesn't work well with the simple rough Jeep; for starters, with the top removed, the screen is erased by the sun.It's a challenge to tune the radio by touch-screen in a bouncing Jeep.
Even with 285 horsepower and 260 pound-feet of torque, the Wrangler has to work hard on two-lanes.But a lack of neck-snapping acceleration must be compared to what it had before.And if it weren't an aerodynamic brick, it wouldn't be a Jeep.There are seven boxed crossmembers in the chassis adding strength but weight.The Rubicon with 5-speed automatic weighs an anvil-like 4130 pounds.
Riding a Rubicon in Oregon's Tillamook Forest, we tackled a trail that looked impossible for a vehicle off the showroom floor.Later, another Wrangler Rubicon scarcely broke a sweat on rocky trails crossing peaks in Washington's Cascades.Our passenger, a former Wrangler owner, was astonished by the comfort level.
The Wrangler is no gas-mileage champ.Running it hard, it averaged 18 mpg for us.It's EPA estimated at 17/21 mpg Wrangler and 16/20 mpg Unlimited.
The 2012 Jeep Wrangler comes in two-door and Wrangler Unlimited four-door versions, each in three trim levels: Sport, Sahara and Rubicon.They all use the award-winning Chrysler 3.6-liter Pentastar V6, making 285 horsepower.All Wranglers come standard with 4x4 and 6-speed manual transmission, with 5-speed automatic available.
The Freedom Top, a three-piece modular hard top, is available for all models.The Wrangler Sport is available in right-hand drive for rural mail carriers.We don't find ourselves saying that in many reviews.
Wrangler Sport ($22,045) comes with cloth upholstery, six-speaker sound system, power steering, removable doors, roll-up windows, fold-down windshield, soft top, black fender flares, halogen headlamps, foglamps, swing-back mirrors, tow hooks, part-time 2-speed Command-Trac transfer case, Enhanced Dana 30 front axle, Heavy Duty Dana 44 rear axle, skid plates, and Goodyear Wrangler P225/75/R16 tires on steel wheels.No air conditioning, power windows, cruise control, 115-volt power outlet, or side steps.
Wrangler Sahara ($27,970) adds air conditioning, keyless entry, power windows and door locks, 115-volt power outlet, Infinity speakers with 368-watt amplifier, body-color hard top, body color fender flares, tubular side steps, heated power mirrors, Bridgestone Dueler P255/70/R18 tires on painted aluminum wheels.
Wrangler Rubicon ($29,995) is equipped for off-road.It has most of the standard Sahara comfort and convenience things (though power windows and keyless entry become optional), while adding rock rails, Tru-Lok front and rear electronic differential locking, electronic front axle locking, Heavy Duty Dana 44 front axle, 4.10 axle ratio, Rock-Trac 2-speed transfer case with 4:01 low range, and BF Goodrich Mud Terrain LT255/75/R17 tires on painted aluminum wheels.
The four-door Wrangler Unlimited Sport ($25,545) is equipped like the two-door Sport, only better.Removable doors, roll-up windows, black fender flares, halogen headlamps, foglamps, soft top, air conditioning, 60/40 split rear bench, 600 amp battery.
Wrangler Unlimited Sahara ($30,745) adds body color fender flares, power heated mirrors, tubular side steps, remote keyless entry, power windows and door locks, Sirius radio, upgraded sound system, cruise control, leather-wrapped steering wheel, 115-volt outlet, and 18-inch painted aluminum wheels.
Wrangler Unlimited Rubicon ($33,570) comes with the same extra offroad equipment as the two-door Rubicon, plus all the power equipment of the Sahara.
Safety equipment on all models includes electronic stability control with roll mitigation, hill start assist, trailer sway control, all-speed traction control, ABS with Brake assist, frontal and side airbags.
The 2012 Wrangler looks like a Jeep, and when that can't be said, it's time to worry.It may be the most recognizable vehicle in the world.Even the Unlimited four-door, whether hard top or soft top looks like a Jeep.Round headlamps, 7-slot grille, wheel flares, removable doors, bolt-on fenders, fold-down windshield.Meanwhile, the Wrangler Unlimited is the only four-door 4x4 convertible on the market.
The soft top slides and folds horizontally on the roof, leaving the occupants further protected by door and window frames, although there's already a rollbar.The hardtop is $735 option; it comes off in 3 pieces, like T-tops and a sunroof over the rear seat.We spent a summer day on Jeep trails in the Northwest in a Wrangler Rubicon with all three parts removed, and it was fabulous.The body-colored hardtop is new to the Rubicon in 2012.The soft top remains the sportiest in appearance.We think the hard top is better for hunters, fishermen or other outdoorsmen, however, because it provides better security for your outdoor gear in shopping center parking lots against thieves and better security for your food in camp against bears.Can't decide or want both? The Dual Top option allows buyers to get both.
Pretty new colors for 2012 are Dozer Yellow (nice blend of Corvette Yellow and Porsche Mustard, and a favorite for pilots in search planes), Deep Molten Red, and Crush Orange (another search party favorite).Our Rubicon was Cosmos Blue, like French Racing Blue, a color that almost brings grace to the ol' Jeep.Standard colors are available for those who want to blend into the environment, whether suburban or bucolic.
The Jeep Wrangler interior was revised and dressed up for 2011.There are no significant changes inside for 2012.
We lived in a hardtop Wrangler for a week and it was all good, comfort-wise.With the top off there was a lot of wind buffeting in the back seat, but aside from that the Wrangler 'is more comfortable than my Jetta,' said our passenger, riding shotgun on rocky trails for a day.
We also got seat time in a Wrangler Unlimited Sahara, roomy and comfortable, with leather, still every bit a Jeep.Good rear legroom, easy to climb in and out.The rear 60/40 seat folds or can be removed to create 87 cubic feet of cargo space, comparable to a Toyota 4Runner.
The Pentastar engine block was designed to have accessories bolted to it, to reduce vibration.This clearly pays off with a smooth and silent interior, even at 80 mph in the hardtop Wrangler.
The center console was raised to make a better armrest, although now you have to raise your elbow when using the shift lever.Gears in the 5-speed automatic can be changed manually, with side-to-side movement of the lever.
There's very little storage space behind the rear seat, so four people with four medium backpacks is filled to overflowing.But if it's just you and some stuff, the rear seat can be removed, creating a spacious 61.2 cubic feet of cargo space.
Our Wrangler was equipped with $1035 Media Center option, and if you go offroad or take the top down much, you won't like it.The touch screen is invisible in the sun, and in a bouncing Jeep it's not easy to land your finger where you want it, even trying to tune the radio.A Jeep needs knobs you can grab.And for all the 6.5-inch size of the screen, with some functions only about 40 percent of the screen is used, tiny little radio words, the other 60 percent says JEEP.
The navigation system in the Media Center is fairly simple in its display.It didn't make any errors on the routes we programmed, although finding the button to enter destination was maddening.We suggest you skip the Media Center, be satisfied with six speakers in the standard sound system, and get your own GPS for navigation.It's a Jeep-like choice.
We went trail climbing in Oregon's Tillamook Forest with a Wrangler Rubicon.Look ma, no doors.
We got opportunities to gather driving impressions in a number of Wranglers, from the Unlimited in SUV-like surroundings, to the Rubicon on rock-climbing trails and the Sport on fast backroad two-lanes at night.
The Unlimited Sahara, resplendent in rich brown with dark leather, is almost astonishingly smooth and quiet, totally civilized, thanks hugely to the new engine.The 5-speed automatic is well-behaved, and doesn't hunt for gears; it uses the gear it's in.It was designed for use with Chrysler's 5.7-liter Hemi engine, now refined for the Pentastar, but still Jeep-like industrial strength.A Wrangler Unlimited Rubicon can tow 3500 pounds.
The Unlimited corners well, and head sway on weaving roads is light.You can only do so much with a solid axle and tall body.The gas-filled monotube rear shocks have been retuned for 2012 for a better balance between handling and ruggedness, and we like it.
The Unlimited gets more out of its 116-inch wheelbase, 10 inches more than a Nissan Xterra.The twitchy handling that lingers in the Wrangler because of its short 95-inch wheelbase is not present in the Wrangler Unlimited.The first pleasant surprise of the Unlimited: it doesn't feel like a Jeep.
With 285 horsepower and 260 pound-feet of torque, it seems like the Wrangler should feel more powerful, and accelerate faster.We ran a lot of high-speed two-lane miles, and our Wrangler had to work, using momentum to pass.We've driven a Chrysler 200 convertible with this same engine, and it seemed faster.Oh well, if it weren't an aerodynamic brick, it wouldn't be a Jeep.After all, there are seven boxed crossmembers in the chassis.The Rubicon with 5-speed automatic weighs an anvil-like 4130 pounds, about 500 pounds more than the Chrysler 200 convertible.
Riding a Rubicon in Oregon's Tillamook Forest, we tackled a trail that looked impossible for an unmodified vehicle off the showroom floor.Press a button to disconnect the splined front swaybar, to allow extreme angles of articulation at the wheels.Another button locks both front and rear differential.Slip it into Low Range.You've got a final drive rear-axle ratio of 4.10 in the offroad-oriented Rubicon (3.21 or 3.73 in the Sahara or Sport), and 32-inch tires.Three skid plates protect the fuel tank, transfer case and oil pans.Ground clearance is 10.1 inches at the rear axle and 10.5 inches at the front.
In some spots the best technique is to take your feet off the throttle, and just steer.At idle in Low Range, the Rubicon powers up and over obstacles that would totally stop most vehicles; even though torque peaks up at 4800 rpm, it plugs along like a tractor.A new lower first gear for 2012 in the 5-speed automatic transmission gives the Jeep more capability, with a lower overall crawl ratio.
Our Rubicon scarcely broke a sweat over rocky trails that would turn back all but the ruggedest and hardest-climbing of vehicles.We ran support for a 50k trail run in the Columbia River Gorge, over two 3500-foot peaks in Washington's Cascades, and it was a hard 12-hour day.'In my old Jeep, I would have been in misery, dying to get out,' said our navigator.'But I could ride all day in this Jeep.'
On the highway at 70 mph the Wrangler can be a bit twitchy.Hopping out of an Unlimited as we did where the twitchiness is absent, the twitch in the short-wheelbase Wrangler is heightened.But as soon the driver adjusts, the turns and corrections come more smoothly.When the Wrangler is pointed straight and steady, it stays that way.
There's a huge difference in how stable the Wrangler feels with the top on and off.With T-tops removed, at 65 mph it beats you up; but with the top on it feels smooth at 75 and beyond.
Keep in mind that the Sport, Sahara and Rubicon models have different tires and shock absorbers, and this changes their character significantly.Our Rubicon was great at high speed, either in spite of or because of its heavy-duty tires and shocks.
The Wrangler is no gas-mileage champ.Running it hard, it averaged 18 mpg.It's EPA-estimated at 17/21 mpg Wrangler and 16/20 mpg Unlimited, City/Highway.
The 6-speed manual transmission, German-made, isn't as friendly as the 5-speed automatic, American-made.To accommodate the new V6, there's a new clutch with long travel at the pedal, sometimes awkwardly long.The throw is way long at the lever, too.However, real men don't drive Jeeps with automatics.
With a terrific new powertrain, the Wrangler has fully arrived.It's win-win with improvements to comfort, handing, power, smoothness and fuel economy, while no loss to mind-blowing off-roadability with the Rubicon.Wrangler Unlimited, the world's only four-door 4x4 convertible, delivers a smooth ride and secure handling.Soft top or hard top, nice new colors.We recommend the Unlimited for families; off-road capability is nearly the same.Singles and couples might want to go for the traditional two-door, however.
Sam Moses filed this report to NewCarTestDrive.com after his test drives of several Wrangler models in the Pacific Northwest.
Jeep Wrangler Sport ($22,045), Wrangler Sahara ($29,970), Wrangler Rubicon ($29,995), Wrangler Unlimited Sport ($25,545), Wrangler Sahara ($30,745), and Wrangler Unlimited Rubicon ($33,570).
Options As Tested
leather, heated front seats ($900), Connectivity Group with Bluetooth ($385), Power Group with power windows and keyless entry ($685), black 3-piece hardtop ($735), Media Center with navigation and touch screen ($1035).
The list of optional equipment below represents a mix of optional dealer or factory installed features. Some must be added by the manufacturer during the production process whilst others can be installed here at the point of purchase. Please note that this list is intended for informational purposes only. If you have any questions please contact us for clarification.
50 State Emissions
California Emissions: Includes the states of California, Connecticut, Massachusetts, Maryland, Maine, New Jersey, New York, Oregon, Pennsylvania, Rhode Island, Vermont and Washington.
NOTE: Price(s) include(s) all costs to be paid by a consumer (special prices include all current rebates), except for licensing costs, registration fees, $489 dealer administration fee and taxes. Prices include all current rebates. Some vehicles may require financing with Ally Financial. See salesperson for complete details.
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