The Everyday JK's Final Review
The Jeep Wrangler Rubicon is known as one of, if not the most capable, factory 4x4 on the planet. Taking top prize in the 2012 Four Wheeler of the Year competition only added to the Wrangler’s lore and legacy. For roughly a year now, we’ve pushed the 2012 FWOTY-winning 2012 Jeep Wrangler Rubicon two-door to, and sometimes beyond, its limits. Acting as a family shuttle, cross-country explorer, and a rough-and-tumble wheeler, our long-tern '12 Wrangler has had to wear many hats. In this final testing quarter, we hit the open road again for some more backcountry exploring and sightseeing.
As the miles roll on, the Jeep continues to run strong, though we have noticed a bit more slip from the knobby cleats—especially over wet roads. While more spirited driving will break the lugs free faster, the ESC (electronic stability control) works well to keep the Jeep in check. Are the electronic nannies annoying at times? Yes. But you’ll feel much better about those safety features when your kid or significant other borrows the Jeep to run up to the store.
Driving the Jeep daily, it’s easy to forget how impressive and competent off-road the vehicle actually is. It isn’t until you spend a weekend playing in the dirt and using the Rubicon features like the locking differentials, mud-terrains, and disconnecting sway bar that you remember how much wheeling prowess the Rubicon has. We managed to find ourselves in some mud recently and while the 4:1 low range is a bit much for serious bogging, the six-speed manual provides a nice gear selection to keep the wheelspeed up.
We still feel that the backseat is better left in storage until needed and wouldn’t mind a fold-and-tumble passenger-seat feature similar to what was found on pre-JK Wranglers. With the exception of the Jeep’s top and fenders looking more sun-faded and scratched these days, the Jeep is holding up great. Sure, we could nitpick and say we want more power, onboard air, and a bigger factory tire. But the truth is that the Wrangler Rubicon works great in its current form to deliver a Jeep that is just as home off-road as it is on.
2012 Jeep Wrangler Rubicon
Report: 4 OF 4
Previous reports: Sept.’12, Feb. ’13, April ’13
Base price: $29,995
Price as tested: $32,900
Four-wheel-drive system: Lever-actuated part-time, two-speed
Miles to date: 15,748
Miles since last report: 5,749
Average mpg (this report): 17.26
Test best tank (mpg): 21.15 (downhill mountain driving)
Test worst tank (mpg): 12.59 (off-road around Hollister, CA)
This period: None
Problem areas: Crack in front windshield getting longer
What’s Hot, What’s Not
Hot: Still fun to drive on- and off-road, point-and-shoot wheeler, ESC makes it safer and smarter than us at times
Not: Sun-faded fenders, bumpers, and top
“Great suspension that works well on- and off-road”
“I forgot the Jeep even had a rear seat”
“Delivers on most needs, but we’ll always want a little more”
“4-Lo is where the Rubicon comes to life.”