The Wrangler’s ancestry dates back more than 70 years, but being on the receiving end of a series of recent improvements has kept this Jeep as up-to-date as ever. Loyalty to Chrysler’s iconic Jeep brand knows no bounds, especially the Wrangler, which some aficionados consider the only true Jeep. And despite the passage of time, it has maintained an unyielding grip on its now-classic design. In short, the Wrangler is the ultimate retro vehicle with unabashed bragging rights to history and heritage.
Jeep’s current Fiat minders have managed to tread carefully without messing with Wrangler tradition.
However, for the 2011 model year they introduced a kinder, gentler (on the posterior) interior, with better-quality materials for the updated dashboard, seats and door trim as well as the addition of climate control, heated seats and outside mirrors to the options list. Those changes were clearly well received as Wrangler sales have remained as robust as ever.
For the 2012 model year, the Wrangler is on the receiving end of a much-needed heart transplant — in the form of its engine.
It’s that more powerful engine, and attendant fuel-economy improvements that represent the key enhancements, and ones that both serious, crater-crawling Jeep fanatics and first-timers will readily appreciate.
Tossed aside for 2012 is the 3.8-litre V-6 rated at 202 horsepower and 237 pound-feet of torque. That engine had been the off-roader’s go-to motivation since the 2007 model year.
In its place is Chrysler’s recently developed Pentastar V-6 rated at 285 horsepower and 260 pound-feet of torque. That translates into a horsepower improvement of more than 40 per cent, along with a corresponding 10-per-cent gain in peak torque.
The Wrangler also offers a more efficient optional five-speed automatic transmission in place of the previous four-speed unit. Jeep says that the extra cog helps reduce fuel consumption and offers a lower crawl ratio for severe off-road use.
Still standard is a German-made six-speed manual gearbox, which is the first of its type attached to the Pentastar V-6.
Remaining unchanged are the Wrangler and Wrangler Unlimited’s maximum towing capacities of 910 and 1,590 kilograms, respectively.
The Sport B (except Unlimited), Sport S, Sahara and Rubicon trim levels carry over with the first three featuring part-time four-wheel-drive with optional limited-slip rear differentials. The trail-happy Rubicon uses the Off-Road Rock-Trac unit with its extra-low-range gearing, front-and-rear locking differentials for greater agility, and 32-inch off-road rubber.