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After putting almost 3500 miles on a brand-new 2012 Wrangler Unlimited Sport, I thought I'd share my observations as a first-time Wrangler, but long time Jeep owner.


To begin, our Wrangler is a Sport model with the S option and is equipped with a 6-speed manual, the Rubicon-styled wheels and mild Goodyear Wrangler tires. We'd elected to purchase a new model with the Pentastar motor as the older models are still commanding high resale values in Colorado. As a matter of fact, negotiating with the dealerships on these in Colorado is almost non-existent. The only hope to lower your purchase price is to shop via Costco, be in the military for a $500 discount, or use the Tread Lightly membership. All local dealers are turning over inventory at least weekly. I never see the same Wrangler in any flavor twice in a week. But due to the high-resale of the used ones and dealers not coming off the 2012's pricing even towards the end of the model year, I had to adjust my desires for a Rubicon downward. I really am not a fan of the extras on the Sahara, so the Sport made good sense for my needs.


Within 5 days of purchasing the Jeep with only 6 miles on the odometer, I set out on a trip from Colorado to Missouri to visit friends. The vehicle was extremely comfortable for the duration of the trip. The new interiors are very nice for my needs and are almost plush to my way of thinking. As comparison, I drive a 1998 Cherokee XJ daily. The new Wrangler is a luxury vehicle by comparison. I've heard some bemoan this fact, but I personally like it. The AC had no issues keeping up with the 100+ degree weather, the cruise control, iConnect phone/stereo was easy use, and the free year of Sirius was welcome in areas where the radio station selection was limited. Our Wrangler came equipped with the iPhone/USB hookup in the console and I really liked charging the phone when needed. Being one of the lower-ranked stereo systems, it sounds decent, but not fantastic. A simple upgrade of the speakers can help with that.


The most amazing part of the trip? The fact that I saw virtually no Wranglers in Missouri, and the fact that we averaged almost 22 MPG at 75 MPH. The 6-speed gets the credit for that. I do like the fact that the ECO light comes on to help you keep tabs on your driving habits. A nanny to be sure, but on the highway where I'm trying to eek out mileage, I could not care less. The new motor is extremely gutsy and fun to drive. It will accelerate in any gear practically and pulls very well.


Upon our return home, I'd been anxiously awaiting to try out the wheeling capabilities of the Wrangler. Being familiar with my XJ, I was hoping to be blown away by the Wrangler off road, even in non-Rubicon dress. We met up with family and took an afternoon to drive up Guanella Pass Road until we reached the ghost town/mining town of Geneva City, Colorado. This was not a very difficult trail, but steep in some areas with loose scree and a few narrow shelf roads. The water crossings were shallow with the deepest being about a foot deep.


I tested the Wrangler in both 4H and 4L situations during the trip. I was very happy with the traction and the ability to creep the Jeep both up and down hills. Even without the 4:1 transfer case the Rubicon comes with, I was blown away by how well the entire drive train responded to conditions. The longer wheelbase of the JKU made the trip more comfortable than I expected it to. Even the lower-end Goodyear tires did very well and never slipped on any terrain we encountered. The hill-assist is a new feature for me and I was actually very pleased with how it performed, especially when we were stopped for a few minutes on a steep incline while a pack of horse riders saddled up in front of us. Not having to worry about rolling backwards upon starting was really nice. Our Wrangler is equipped with the 3:73 gearing and I was very happy in situations where I could just “lug” the Jeep up and over an obstacle with virtually no throttle.


If I had three complaints, they would be that the vehicle didn't come with slush floor mats, roll bar grab handles, or door sill protectors. I got all of those via a Mopar parts reseller on eBay for roughly $120. While the mats and grab handles come with the Rubicon, the lower-priced Sport gets no such extra frills. Small extras that I like and wish all Wranglers came stock with.


Our plan is to put a small lift kit on as well as some rock rails for some future and more challenging trips. I'm currently researching the volumes of information on those parts as there are too many options to easily list. We like to trail ride to ghost towns and don't really do any rock crawling, so we don't plan to get crazy with the changes.


Overall, I'm tickled with our new Wrangler and look forward to customizing it and enjoying it. As long as Jeep keeps producing the Wrangler as a real off-road vehicle, I'll buy another.

 
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Good report.
If you're looking for a small lift, with better than factory ride, I'd recommend the AEV (American Expedition Vehicles) 2.5" lift. It's based upon the Nth Degree kits designed by former Jeep Engineer, Jim Fens and it's the most intelligent and versatile suspension kit out there.
Most of the other lifts on the market are, to borrow a phrase, trinkets and trash.
 

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Discussion Starter #3
Norm, I'd hoped you'd chime in on the lift. While the AEV is pricy compared to the others that are comparable in lift height, I keep going back to it and think that is the one I'll probably go with.

Thanks!
 

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Norm, I'd hoped you'd chime in on the lift. While the AEV is pricy compared to the others that are comparable in lift height, I keep going back to it and think that is the one I'll probably go with.

Thanks!
You're welcome!
It's under a $1,000, but you get what you pay for.
I know many who went cheaper and are now on their second or third lift and too proud to admit they should just gotten the AEV to begin with. :)
 

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Norm where is that lift write up we discussed a long time ago. I know you have the pictures.

dreinecke Thank you for your review. I am debating a JK purchase, but know economically it is not feasible for me. Some day....
 

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Norm where is that lift write up we discussed a long time ago. I know you have the pictures.

dreinecke Thank you for your review. I am debating a JK purchase, but know economically it is not feasible for me. Some day....
A write up that I was supposed to perform? Geeze, lost in the whirl of my schedule I suppose...
What exactly was I going to write about, installation, driving/performance impressions, or?
 

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Just a PM conversation from a thread shortly after you bought your JK. There are plenty of build/how to AEV threads out there, just none at Allpar.
 

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Just a PM conversation from a thread shortly after you bought your JK. There are plenty of build/how to AVE threads out there, just none at Allpar.
Ha! OK, I'll check it out.
 

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Discussion Starter #9
I thought I'd check in now since it has been 11k and almost 10 months since we purchased our 2012 JKU Sport. In short: we LOVE it. So much so, we just purchased a 2013 Oscar Mike edition for my bride.

My thoughts on the 2012 still hold true: it is a very awesome Jeep. Great off road, in the weather, and as a daily driver. I was averaging 22-23.5 MPG routinely going 103 miles round trip every day to Denver for work. I've recently added a 2.5" AEV lift and 33" tires, and I'm now averaging 20.5-21.5. That's at 75 MPH the entire way on the highway.

Here she is now:



And the sibling:

 

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Nice!
 

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Beautiful set of jeeps. I want one so bad but its not in my stars at the moment.
Mick
 

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Hang in there Mick - the 2012 was the first new vehicle I've purchased since 1993. Each used Jeep/Durango/Caravan we've had has been pushed to almost 200k each. I like to keep them and not have car payments. The only issue with that is at some point you end up with two main vehicles at that mileage. Took 24 years to get to that point, but I figure 4 new vehicles in a total of 24 years isn't too bad. And the first was a F$%d that didn't last 30k, so it really doesn't count ;) Well, except it pushed me into Chryco products.

Norm - thanks for pointing me to AEV - NO complaints here, and I haven't even installed the GEO brackets yet! That's this week's project.
 

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dreinecke said:
Hang in there Mick - the 2012 was the first new vehicle I've purchased since 1993. Each used Jeep/Durango/Caravan we've had has been pushed to almost 200k each. I like to keep them and not have car payments. The only issue with that is at some point you end up with two main vehicles at that mileage. Took 24 years to get to that point, but I figure 4 new vehicles in a total of 24 years isn't too bad. And the first was a F$%d that didn't last 30k, so it really doesn't count ;) Well, except it pushed me into Chryco products.

Norm - thanks for pointing me to AEV - NO complaints here, and I haven't even installed the GEO brackets yet! That's this week's project.
You're welcome!
Keep us posted.
 

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drew54 said:
Just a PM conversation from a thread shortly after you bought your JK. There are plenty of build/how to AEV threads out there, just none at Allpar.
I really intend to do this, it just seems that I've been on the go since then and now find myself as Crew Chief on a new attempt to win the King of the Hammers race next year.
From mid Feb when the 3 principals decided around a campfire, a day before last year's race, to today, we have secured 80% of the sponsors, 90% of the car, fabricated the frame and cage and mounted the drivetrain. Friday we pick up the race axles and as it sits, we have a drivetrain, cage and frame sitting on the scales at under 1500lbs. Considering that my JKU weighs in at over 6,000 lbs, we are very pleased with our progress!
I will post pics of BOTH builds as I get time. Plus my regular Jeep Shop work continues... ;)
 

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!!! Can't wai't Norm!
 
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