Sometimes an item is so good that its trademarked name becomes a generic term for the entire category of products. Many of us say Kleenex instead of tissue, Xerox instead of copy, or Band-Aid instead of bandage, despite knowing the proper term. The off-roading world finds one more example in the Jeep brand. To many, it’s the word that defines all mud-bound machines and examples like this 2012 Wrangler Sport are great reminders why. With an eye-popping color, a surprisingly refined interior, and a 285hp Pentastar V6 under the hood, it’s a perfect option for daily driving or hitting the trails on the weekend. Driven just 4,699 miles since leaving the showroom floor, this is a practically new example ready for years of effortless cruising.
Based on Chrysler’s JK platform, the third-generation Wrangler is a vehicle that was essentially designed to do two things: perform great in the woods and be a blast to drive. It’s a proven choice for adventurists who enjoy everything from hardcore rock crawling to a Sunday picnic on the back roads of their favorite state park. This low-mileage 2012 Wrangler, which was purchased new from Glenn E Thomas Dodge, Chrysler, Jeep in Signal Hill, California, remains in showroom-fresh condition. It’s tough looking body is covered in original Cosmos Blue basecoat/clearcoat paint that still looks rich and presents a slick, glossy finish; and its dent free square panels present factory straight gaps which are narrow and exact. Today, looking perfectly tailored onto its high riding chassis, this Jeep radiates a top notch build quality which rivals much more expensive trail pounders.
When it comes to styling, Jeep has always been good about not ruining a good thing. At the front, you’ll find the familiar seven-slot grille framed by round headlights, amber turn signals, and driving lights integrated into a rugged front bumper. The hood is still held in place by plastic clamps and the windshield will still fold flat against that hood whenever the need arises. At the sides, bolt-on fenders and removable doors account for some of the bigger pieces while details like wheel flares, ‘Wrangler Sport’ decals, and round silver ‘Trail Rated’ badges complete the look. At the back, those wheel flares visually tie into a sturdy rear bumper while a full size spare tire hangs above. At the corners, square tail lamps are supplemented by a third brake light that extends over the spare tire. Overall, it’s the classic box shape Jeep that off-roading fans have gravitated towards since day one.
Motivation for this Wrangler comes courtesy of a new-for-2012 3.6L Pentastar 24-Valve VVT V6. Where the trusty but agricultural 3.8L turned out 202hp, the smaller 3.6L bests that figure by an impressive 83hp, creating a robust 285hp and 260lb-ft of torque. If the engine looks familiar, it’s the same DOHC port fuel-injected powerplant that’s been in everything from Chargers to Durangos but a few tweaks were made to benefit the Wrangler. For starters, the intake system was revised to help boost low-end power. The oil pan was reworked to prevent oil starvation at steep angles and the alternator was moved to the top of the accessory drive so you can ford small creeks without a second thought. Aesthetically, the engine bay of this Wrangler reflects its limited use through showroom-clean surfaces topped by original factory decals and warnings. There are no visible modifications and, with just over 4k on the clock it’s likely the engine has only seen a dealership wrench during its first oil change. Turn the key and the 3.6L fires to life with ease, ready for action.
With 10.2 inches of ground clearance, a 44.3 degree approach and 40.4 degree departure angle, this buff SUV can crawl up most trails drama-free. Behind the brawny V6, a six-speed manual transmission offers full control of the situation. The transmission is a carry-over from earlier models but features a new-for-2012 clutch, clutch damper, and flywheel while maintaining its excellent crawl ratio. During normal operation, power spins back to a Next Generation Dana 44 heavy duty rear axle packed with 3.21 gears. Engage the Command-Trac shift-on-the-fly 4WD system and the transfer case divides a portion of the spinning force to a Next Generation Dana 30 solid front axle. The rest of the suspension includes front and rear stabilizer bars, skid plates, a built-in stability control system, and traction control. Power steering is a welcome addition out on the trail as are four-wheel disc brakes that bring the compact Wrangler to an authoritative halt. There are also bonuses like hill start assist and electronic roll mitigation that further reduce the intimidation factor for novice or even experienced off-roaders. At the corners, stylish 16-inch steel wheels wrapped in P225/75R16 tires offer grip in or outside of the paved world.
If you’ve followed Jeep for awhile, you’re probably familiar with the interior overhaul the Wrangler received in 2011. All the hard lines and cheap plastics were exchanged for something a little more refined complete with unseen upgrades like extra sound deadener. It’s not luxury-car posh, but it’s certainly not a space you would clean with a garden hose anymore. Climb in to find a pair of comfortable bucket seats and a matching rear bench wrapped in resilient black fabric. Molded black trim anchors tough black carpet while the transmission tunnel is topped with a center console with multi-tiered storage and cup holders. In front of the driver, a handsome gauge cluster keeps an eye on the Pentastar’s vitals while a sturdy three-spoke steering wheel pairs with a trio of pedals and a shifter to offer total control. The center stack hosts optional air conditioning as well as a media center which sends signal through six speakers throughout the space. Overhead, a roll bar offers some additional safety while giving the removable top a place to rest.
Documentation included with this Jeep consists of an original owner’s manual, original warranty booklets, and the window sticker.
This 2012 Wrangler is a very capable SUV that mixes all the functionality of its predecessors with a list of technology which has made it a favorite among suburbanites and outdoor adventurers alike. With only 4,697 miles on its odometer, it’s a showroom fresh bargain which barely has any break-in miles. If you’re looking for a tough daily driver that can also provide a little weekend fun, this Jeep is for you!