2012 Jeep Wrangler Rubicon Price, Review & Picture – New Car Reviews, The Wrangler became almost luxurious. This year, Jeep decided to do some work under the hood. The carmaker replaced the sloth-like 205-hp 3.8-liter V6 and old-school four-speed automatic with the same 3.6-liter Pentastar V6 and A580 five-speed automatic that debuted in the new Grand Cherokee last year. And manual transmission fans can rest easy.
The NSG 370 six-speed manual is still available, but wears a new clutch assembly. The new V6 makes 285 hp and a solid 260 lb-ft of torque—that’s an improvement of 80 hp and 20 lb-ft. Also, the more powerful motor, standard 3.21:1 axle ratio (3.73:1 and 4.10:1 gears are also available), and new transmission combine for a 10 percent fuel-economy benefit.
The standard tow capacity remains at 2000 pounds, unless you get the extra tow package, which bumps the rating to 3500 lbs. These Wranglers could probably tow more, but Jeep says the towing capacity is limited by the cooling system. Along with the powertrain improvements, you can now order the 2012 Wrangler with a body color hardtop and fender flares. And Jeep has retuned the shocks too.
The new 3.6-liter V6 is all-aluminum, so it weighs more than 90 pounds less then the old cast-iron block 3.8-liter V6. The new engine is 94 mm shorter as well. That may not sound like much, but it helped engineers package an improved, higher-flow intake system. It also allowed Jeep’s engineers to raise the alternator, so the 2012 Wrangler can ford deeper water.
It’s difficult to accurately gauge the dramatic improvement in acceleration from this new V6 without sampling the previous model at the same time. So we took twin 2011 and 2012 automatic-equipped Wranglers out for a test drive. The results were dramatic. We got both Jeeps up to about 30 mph and then pinned the throttle simultaneously. The old Wrangler falls behind the new one as if it were saddled with a heavy trailer. And from a dead stop in a foot-to-the-floor drag race, the new Wrangler pulls away. Jeep says it’s a 25 percent improvement in 0–60 acceleration. We believe them.
Track improvements aside, you can’t properly test a Wranger without getting it a little dirty. So we convoyed a group of 2012 Wranglers from Lake Tahoe to the head of the famed Rubicon trail for two days of four wheeling. The heavy snowfall and recent snowmelt made the trail more difficult. Crawling up wet rocks, the Jeeps would slide around, hunt for traction and sometimes slam hard onto their skidplates as a tire would slip from a rock. Each Jeep in our group was a Rubicon model, with locking differentials, a front swaybar disconnect, low gearing and aggressive tires. Still, the progress was slow. We made less than a half a mile per hour as we snaked the Jeeps through incredibly tight boulder fields, powered out of mudholes and waded through doorsill-deep pools of water.
Price : $22,045–$33,570
Powertrain: 3.6-liter V6, 285 hp; 260 lb-ft; six-speed manual or five-speed automatic; four-wheel drive