Well, its been one year and just over 17,000 miles since I purchased my 2012 Jeep Wrangler Unlimited Rubicon. In short, I’m extremely happy with my decision.
In the past year my Jeep Wrangler Unlimited Rubicon has served me well as daily driver, family truckster, off-roader, road-tripper, mall-crawler, grocery getter and general-homeowner-stuff-hauler. The hardtop and the soft top have been cycled on and off at least once. Both still seal up tightly, with no leaks. I have not noticed any degradation in materials, fit or finish. There are no new, annoying squeaks or rattles. The electronics continue to work well, with no new “undocumented features” or glitches. When given the proper attention, the paint and interior still look brand new. The stereo flat out ROCKS!
On-Road – On-Road, my 2012 JKUR is downright FUN to drive!
Power – The new for model-year 2012 Pentastar engine and 5-speed automatic trans deliver plenty of power for merging onto highways, passing, blasting down the straightaways, and getting your adrenaline pumping. Personally, I wouldn’t purchase a Wrangler without the new drivetrain. (This is especially true for the Unlimited, or if you ever plan to run larger tires, even on the 2 door.)
Ride & Comfort – My Wrangler Unlimited is predictable and comfortable to drive. It isn’t Pop-Pop’s Caddie, but anyone coming from an SUV, an older Wrangler, a truck based vehicle, or even a sports/touring vehicle will find the ride comfortable. The longer wheelbase of the Unlimited helps the Unlimited Wrangler track more predictably than it’s shorter wheelbased (2-door) brethren. That added length also helps smooth-out bumps in the road. (This isn’t just a comfort thing, its a safety issue. Tracking predictably and handling bumps in a controlled manner become more important as speeds increase. Maybe something to keep in mind if you plan to regularly go 85+ down the highway…)
Hell, as long as I’m selling the virtues of the Unlimited, those extra doors are great! The benefits are obvious for ease of passenger ingress & egress, but the extra room afforded by the Unlimited, and the set of extra doors are very nice when hauling stuff, and when accessing that stuff. (Again, this becomes more important when you throw on lift and bigger tires.)
Out in the snow – As you would expect from a Jeep Wrangler, it’s outstanding in the snow. Not only is it capable, but it’s fun. Whether in traditional 2-wheel drive (rear-wheel), or in 4-hi, the traction control nannies do a great job keeping the Wrangler controlled and pointing in the right direction. (This is despite some of my best efforts.) Turn off the the traction control aides and she’ll drift as much as you dare. (Ain’t America great!!)
When it rains – I have to admit, I wasn’t sure at first how the Rubicon factory BFG Mud-Terrains would handle the rain. All my previous experience with similar mud-terrain tires (big lugs, large voids, no siping) had me nervous. After 17K miles, I can tell you these tires perform well in the rain. I’ve noticed minimal hydroplaning and minimal loss of traction, even under hard acceleration and hard braking, and none of the traditional floating experienced with similar tires in the past.
Mileage – With mixed country-and-highway driving, lots of rush hour traffic and a heavy foot, I average high-16s to low-17s. Most recently, I crept into the 18s by avoiding rush hour. It won’t win me any EPA awards, but I’m happy with it. (I intentionally chose options that sacrifice mileage for better off the line power, and to minimize modifications necessary when I jump to 35″ or larger tires.) You’re mileage may vary.
Maintenance – I change the oil every 3,000 miles, and for now I use the conventional stuff. I rotate the tires every 6,000 miles. I changed the differential and transfer case fluids after break-in, and change them after so many off-road trips, dependent on deep water crossings and mud holes. I’ve had no warranty issues. I have not been affected by any recalls to-date. (Knock-wood.)
Off-Road – The Jeep Wrangler Rubicon is amazingly capable, and extremely difficult to beat!!
Capability – I’ve taken my JKUR off-road three times; once in the water logged, sandy trails of the Pine Barrens in NJ, once in the deep, sandy, rutted-out beaches of Delaware, and once to Rausch Creek Off-Road Park in PA. Those trips gave me a chance to test the Jeep in a variety of conditions. As expected, the Jeep Wrangler Unlimited Rubicon handled all off-road conditions without issue. Honestly, the biggest question I had was if the Rubicon’s 4-low was too low for deep sand. It’s not, but in the sand isn’t where the Rubicon really shines.
The real secrets to off-roading are (1) low tire pressure and (2) going as slow as possible, but as fast as necessary. The second point is all about controlled momentum. Not just momentum. Controlled momentum. The ability to engage and disengage front and rear lockers on-demand, with the flick of a switch, and the 4:1 low range give the Rubicon the edge over just about everything else out there because those features enable controlled momentum. So, it’s on those more technical, challenging, rock crawling type trails where the Rubicon really shines. This really has to be experienced to be understood.
Mods (An Ounce of Prevention…) Originally I was sure that by now I’d have her lifted and be running at least 35″ tires. It hasn’t happened, so I’ve focused on prevention. If you’re wheeling a vehicle on stock suspension with stock tires you have to protection those delicate, sensitive areas – which are also very expensive to fix. To-date I’ve installed ARB differential covers front and rear, the AEV Rear Differential Skid, a Poison Spyder Evap skid and the Rock Hard 4×4 Oil Pan, Transmission and Cat skid. It’s peace of mind and cheap insurance, especially while wheeling on the stock tires and stock suspension.
Biggest Gripe: It’s a mid-size SUV. It’ll never hold as much, or be as comfortable as a full-size. No way around it.
Best Features: Top Down, Doors Off driving! Selectable Lockers. 4:1 Low Range.