Over the last week we have been driving around a 2012 Jeep Wrangler Unlimited Sahara edition. Like the large majority of the people who will buy, own, and drive one, we spent most of our time with the Jeep on paved surfaces. We have split this video review into three parts; the first part covers driving a Wrangler on the street. In the second, we take the Wrangler to an off road park to have some fun. In the third and final video, we show what’s involved in removing the Wrangler’s roof; it requires far more than just pushing a button.
On the road, the Jeep is busy, bouncy, and generally indirect. The good news is that while those traits continue in this model, they are less noticeable than they were in the past. This particular Wrangler model is the most street-friendly in the lineup. If all you had ever driven was a mid-nineties YJ and stepped directly into this, you would not believe the improvement. If, on the other hand, you spent all of your time in a CR-V you would be surprised at how crude a $37,000 Jeep Wrangler remains. It really is a direct descendant of the original World War II-era Jeep (if not being twice the size of its ancestor).
In a Wrangler, on-road travel is not particularly noteworthy, and as a result, it’s easy to fall into the trap of creating a review that is uncomfortably close in format to a lot of the other reviews out there. Because of this, we had a little fun with the introduction in our video piece – enjoy the poor acting! Without further ado, here is the on road portion of our Jeep Wrangler review:
Hopefully you caught the important sentence in the thirteen minutes of video. If you are planning to buy a Jeep Wrangler to drive it only on paved roads, you are making a mistake. If you want to buy one and are honestly going to take it off road, you can’t do much better. If the question is whether to buy a Wrangler rather than a Toyota FJ, hold that thought. We are actively bothering Toyota for the keys to one to test in the same manner.
Where the Jeep compromises comfort on the road, you immediately understand the reason for the trade-offs when you find yourself tilting over at 35%, nose down in a rut. The Jeep was simply fantastic off road. On rutted and rocky dirt, the Wrangler comes alive. The capability of this long wheelbase, non-Rubicon, heated and leather covered box of Jeep sacrilege is amazingly capable off road. Take a look at the video below to see what I’m talking about.
The weather that we had to drive the Wrangler for a week was wonderful. That is, it was until the moment we had planned to remove the hard top on video. At that moment it decided to rain. We attempted to persevere and were able to get the top off of the Jeep for a moment…
It’s important to reiterate a thought that I expressed at the end of the final video. Jeep has managed to keep the Wrangler true to its heritage, which still works well as an image product. My time with the Wrangler was met with an unusual number of positive reactions and unsolicited questions. I would have expected this type of reaction driving a hard-core black, two door Rubicon, but not a bright (you can’t get a color more red than this) red four door Sahara edition.
That does say something, and it’s a snapshot into why the Wrangler continues to sell so well. After a week with a Wrangler, would I seriously consider buying one? No. But, I have to admit that I now have a glimmer of envy for those people brave enough to make one their every day driver.
Jeep provided the vehicle, insurance, and a tank of gas for this review.