2012 Jeep Wrangler has a new heart, same soul

Wrangler Unlimited Rubicon continues with classic round headlights, seven-slot jailbar grille, trapezoid wheel flares, removable doors and upright windshield.

Jeep fans have been clamoring for the 2012 Wrangler Unlimited Rubicon for years; it’s a stretched version of the iconic off-road vehicle that holds on to the legendary capabilities and functionality.

Just don’t judge the Rubicon by its performance on a smooth, paved road; that’s not its primary purpose. The Rubicon is made for rugged terrain. It comes with electronically- locking Dana 44 front and rear solid axles and a suspension system designed for maneuvering over gravel roads and rocky mountain paths where most mechanical vehicles never go. You can still commute to the office in a Rubicon, but it’s just not the most comfortable highway traveler you’ll find.

The Unlimited Rubicon is just one level in the Jeep Wrangler trim; it starts with the base Sport ($25,545) and tops out at the Call Of Duty: MW3 Edition ($40,455). It’s the most capable of the Wrangler Unlimited models and the name is derived from the Sierra Nevada Mountains’ Rubicon Trail.

The Rubicon continues with the basic Jeep styling that began back in 1941 when it was designed as a general purpose or GP (Jeep) transport vehicle for the U.S. Army. Over the years, the Wrangler has evolved and gained some sophistication, rounded edges and technological advances. But the sevenbar jailhouse grille, upright windshield and oversize fender flares are staples and continue today. In 2007, the four-door Unlimited model was introduced and the wheelbase was stretched to accommodate the longer look.

For 2012, the Wrangler Unlimited Rubicon gets an all-new six-cylinder 3.6-liter Pentastar engine (16/21 mpg) that makes 285 hp and 260 pounds-feet of torque. It’s mated to either a five-speed automatic or a sixspeed manual transmission, and four-wheel drive is included. With the new engine, this Rubicon is a lot quicker than the 2011 edition, about three seconds faster in the 0-60 mph clocking.

Like all Wranglers, the Unlimited Rubicon has a removable soft top, an available hard top and side doors that can be removed completely to allow for better access and vision of the terrain. The top is a bit of a pain to remove and replace. It comes apart in three sections and it’s difficult to fold and stow to clear the second row for seating. The plastic rear window is also difficult to see through.

But overall, the Jeep Wrangler Unlimited Rubicon is a blast to drive. It has many of the things that today’s consumers want in a vehicle — cruise control, steering wheel controls for the stereo system, big dials on the instrument panel, automatic climate control, navigation system, Bluetooth, multiple entertainment options, comfortable seats and lots of legroom for rear seat passengers. The Rubicon also comes with several 12-volt outlets scattered around the interior, as well as a 115-volt AC outlet for powering small devices such as a laptop.

Base price on the 2012 Jeep Wrangler Unlimited Rubicon is $33,770.

Grant Miller is the publisher of Community Newspapers. He may be contacted by calling 305-662-2277 or by addressing email to Grant@CommunityNewspapers.com

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