Used Car Review

2012 Jeep Wrangler: Used Car Review

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ADDITIONAL MODEL INFORMATION

author photo by Joe Tralongo September 2015

When it comes time to pick a rugged and reliable off-road vehicle, regardless of skill or income level, for over 50 years outdoor adventurers have been turning to Jeep. In the 2012 Jeep Wrangler, you'll find a 4x4 that wraps years of Jeep experience into a civilized package, with a modern interior and some very comfy front seats. The Wrangler remains affordable at the lower end, and even the more extreme versions, such as the off-road-ready Rubicon, are still attainable by anyone cross-shopping the Toyota FJ Cruiser or Nissan Xterra. Unlike other SUVs and off-road pickups, opting for the lowest price model doesn't sacrifice any of the Wrangler's impressive off-road ability. For 2012, the Wrangler gets a much-needed boost in horsepower from a new V6 and improved fuel economy from an available 5-speed automatic.

What We Like

Rugged off-road credentials; powerful V6; numerous configurations, including a 4-door model; Freedom Top 3-piece removable hardtop; trail-ready Rubicon trim; numerous convenience options

What We Don't

Larger proportions than previous Wranglers makes maneuvering in tight spots more difficult; poor side-impact crash-test ratings; so-so repair and reliability; average fuel economy

Fuel Economy & Engine Specs

The 2012 Wrangler is powered by the 3.6-liter Pentastar V6, good for 285 hp and 260 lb-ft of torque. Fuel economy figures are 17 miles per gallon in the city and 21 mpg on the highway. A 6-speed manual is standard, while a 5-speed automatic is optional. Fuel economy figures are identical regardless of transmission choice.

The larger Wrangler Unlimited gets slightly lower fuel economy, rated at 16 mpg city/20 mpg hwy with the automatic and 16 mpg city/21 mpg hwy with the manual. All Wrangler models come standard with 4-wheel drive and a 2-speed transfer case.

Standard Features & Options

There are two Wrangler models: the 2-door Wrangler and the 4-door Wrangler Unlimited. Both are offered in Sport, Sahara or Rubicon trim.

The Wrangler Sport features a 6-speed manual transmission, a Command-Trac 2-speed part-time transfer case, an enhanced Dana 30 front axle, a heavy-duty Dana 44 rear axle, 16-inch painted steel wheels, a manual-folding soft-top, full-metal removable doors, dual manual outside mirrors, a folding windshield, fog lights and a full gauge package including temperature, oil pressure and a voltmeter. Also standard is a 6-speaker AM/FM/CD stereo with an auxiliary input jack, a sport bar with full padding and two speakers, air conditioning (on the Unlimited), manual windows and locks, a tilt steering wheel and skid plates for the fuel tank, transfer case and automatic-transmission oil pan.

The Wrangler Sahara adds 18-in painted aluminum wheels, body-color fender flares, heated mirrors, a body-colored hardtop, a 368-watt 6-speaker Infinity audio system with a powered subwoofer, power windows, power door locks, keyless entry, tubular side steps, air conditioning, a 115-volt air-conditioning outlet, cruise control and a leather-wrapped steering wheel.

The Wrangler Rubicon features the same equipment as the Sport and then adds heavy-duty black-painted steel rock rails, Jeep's Rock-Trac 2-speed transfer case with a 4:1 low-range gear ratio, Tru-Lok front and rear electronic remote locking differentials, a Dana 44 heavy-duty front axle, an electronic disconnecting front sway bar, air conditioning, a 115-volt outlet, Infinity audio, cruise control and auto headlamps.

Optional equipment for the Sport and Rubicon 2-doors includes power windows, power locks and keyless entry (standard on the Unlimited models). Other options vary by trim and include navigation radio, side-impact airbags, the Freedom Top 3-piece removable hardtop with a rear wiper/washer, a rear defroster, Bluetooth and USB/iPod connectivity, remote starting (for the automatic only), leather seating, heated front seats and, on 2-door models, half doors with plastic zip-in windows.

Pricing

The 2012 Wrangler holds fairly good resale figures, although the Sport model's numbers are not as high as the Rubicon and Sahara trims. It might be advisable to have a good mechanic perform a thorough inspection, as many Wranglers are taken off-road and may experience body and suspension abuse. To get a good idea of the Wrangler's price range, we suggest checking the used-car values at KBB.com. You can also search the Autotrader Classifieds to see what models are currently for sale in your area.

Recalls

The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) issued the following recalls for the 2012 Jeep Wrangler:

A recall was issued for a possible fire hazard due to corrosion of the exterior heated mirror connector.

A recall was issued for a possible problem with the steering-wheel airbag clock-spring wiring assembly. In the event of a crash, a break in the circuit could lead to the airbag failing to deploy.

A recall was issued regarding the possibility that the power steering line may contact and wear a hole in the transmission oil-cooler line, resulting in a loss of transmission fluid.

Recall repairs are required by law even if the vehicle is out of warranty. Your dealer can check to see if the repairs were performed and, if not, will fix the car at no charge to you. You can also check the NHTSA website; simply enter your vehicle's identification number for a list of performed recall repairs.

Safety Ratings & Warranties

The Insurance Institute for Highway Safety gives the 2-door Wrangler a Good rating in its front crash test, Moderate in the small-overlap and head-restraint tests and Poor in the side-impact crash test. The 4-door Unlimited had its side-impact crash-test score upgraded to Moderate. It should be noted that neither the Wrangler nor the Wrangler Unlimited was tested with the optional seat-mounted side airbags.

The Wrangler left the factory with a 3-year/36,000-mile bumper-to-bumper warranty with roadside assistance and a 5-year/100,000-mile powertrain warranty.

Jeep certified pre-owned (CPO) cars must be less than 5 years old with no more than 75,000 miles on the odometer. The vehicles come with a 3-month/3,000-mile Maximum Care all-inclusive warranty, plus a 7-year/100,000-mile powertrain warranty beginning from the time the vehicle entered service. Also included are 24-hour towing and roadside assistance, car-rental allowance, Carfax vehicle-history reporting, a 3-month subscription to SirusXM radio and lifetime CPO warranty upgrade options.

Other Cars to Consider

2012 Toyota FJ Cruiser -- The FJ is a very capable off-road vehicle with a strong V6 and a better service history, but the FJ has numerous blind spots, doesn't have a removable top and is not as capable off-road as the Rubicon trim.

2012 Nissan Xterra -- The Xterra's V6 is not as powerful as the Wrangler's, but the Xterra offers a more comfortable rear seat and an enclosed steel cabin. Like the FJ, its ability to rock-crawl is hampered by its limited suspension travel and basic 2-speed transfer case.

2012 Toyota Tacoma -- When properly outfitted, the Tacoma is a capable off-road warrior with the added advantage of better fuel economy from its 4- and 6-cylinder engines, a more comfortable cabin and a big open bed for carrying gear.

Autotrader's Advice

If you are simply seeking fun-in-the-sun cruising and the ability to tackle moderate off-road challenges, a Wrangler Sport model with the Freedom Top hardtop would be our first choice. Those looking to tackle more difficult off-road courses will want the Rubicon, but be prepared to pay a higher premium.

Find a Jeep Wrangler for sale

RELATED INVENTORY
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Used 2012 Jeep Wrangler 4WD Unlimited Rubicon
Used 2012 Jeep Wrangler
$26,550
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Used 2012 Jeep Wrangler 4WD Rubicon
Used 2012 Jeep Wrangler
$17,989
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Used 2012 Jeep Wrangler 4WD Unlimited Sahara
Used 2012 Jeep Wrangler
$25,800
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Used 2012 Jeep Wrangler 4WD Rubicon
Used 2012 Jeep Wrangler
$22,498
This image is a stock photo and is not an exact representation of any vehicle offered for sale. Advertised vehicles of this model may have styling, trim levels, colors and optional equipment that differ from the stock photo.
2012 Jeep Wrangler: Used Car Review - Autotrader