JEEP Wrangler Facelift Review

OUR TEST CAR: JEEP Wrangler Facelift 2.8 CRD 200 HP Sahara 2012

JEEP Wrangler Facelift - Page - 1
We have to start by handing the Jeep Wrangler a trophy for entering the all-time automotive hall of fame. This is one of those cars that remain in the history books, a vehicle that has done for off-roading what, for example, the MINI has done for urban transportation.

But while many motoring icons were born out of dreams, the Wrangler came to the world to serve the army. The Wrangler’s roots take us to the origin of the Jeep designation, which comes from the G.P. abbreviation that stands for “General Purpose”.

Like any good soldier, the predecessors of the Wrangler were created with blood, sweat and tears, as the US army required quite a large number of prototypes to be built and tested against another carmaker’s offer, so basically the two companies had to supply the army with many examples of their cars, refine them so that they pass the various stages of the testing process, all without having any guarantee that they’ll get the contract.

Fast-forwarding to contemporary times, the Wrangler has been gifted with modern features, but still keeps its basic hardware, which offers it an aura of invincibility. Long story short, this was a military vehicle that, over the years, has made more an more compromises in order to also be suitable for road use. But can you really drive a Wrangler everyday?

We set out to answer this question by inviting a two-door Wrangler fitted with a 2.8-liter turbodiesel engine to visit our test drive section. We asked the Wrangler to do just about everything for us, from shopping in a crowded city to taking us past some mountains so that we could get to the beach that was waiting to see how well it gets along with the sand. Let’s see how it coped with all this.

We’re pretty sure that the designers that created the original Wrangler were more interested in winning the bet (about increasing the off-road angles of the car) with their colleagues from the engineering department than the actual looks of the thing, but, amazingly, modern times have turned the Wrangler into a styling icon.

If you drive one of these in a modern city, you’re aiming for a cool image and thus many customers will also venture into the styling part of the aftermarket brochure Mopar (the Chrysler Group’s parts and accessories division) offers for the car, not just the technical one.

We think we know how the Wrangler’s styling cues were created. The designers used a Willis body as a starting point. They drove the car over a mine field and created those humongous wheel arches. Next, they took a beam from under the chassis and used it as a front bumper.

When the creation process was almost completed, they reminded that they had forgotten to add taillights to the car, so they strapped in a pair from an agricultural machine. Oh and they also placed a rollcage inside the car, just to make sure that it’s ok to drive with the top off. The result? Something we love. A timeless design that reminds us of a 44 Magnum revolver.

The Wrangler is one of those cars that pleases the eye in any color, but some shades are more special than others and the metallic orange of our test car really turned the Wrangler into a declaration of coolness. The beefy tires show you that this is a car that means business, but the fact that they’re fitted to rather stylish alloy wheels doesn’t take things too far down the utilitarian pathway.

The Wrangler definitely stands out wherever you take it and is a car for the extroverts from this point of view, but it doesn’t come with the flashiness of a Range Rover, for example, so you’ll never be regarded as a guy that’s trying too hard to look cool. The car also comes with rugged details that help with this, such as the hood, which uses old-school clamps to be kept in place.
n a modern car, the interior is a very important side of the project, being designed from the first moment when the development starts in order to offer comfort to the occupants. In the Wrangler, the cabin is a compromise that the car makes as it has to transport humans in order to exist.

This means that the car was designed with a set of requirements in mind and it seems that the interior was left at the bottom of the list, so you’ll have to make due with limited cabin space, relatively small doors, extremely difficult access to the rear and a only a little soundproofing.

However, the ergonomics are good and every move, from a gear shift to touching the buttons of the air conditionig system, feels natural. However, there are a few issues in the ergonomics chapter two. The window switches are not placed on the doors, but on the center console, and the same goes for the speakers, which sit on a funky plastic console placed above your head. In addition to that, the doors have no mechanism to keep the open, so, you've got to hold them open if the car is parked on an uneven surface.

But wait, all these have a purpose, one that deserves your full attention. The Wrangler still follows the classic Jeep recipe, so you can pretty much take away every panel from the body. It all starts with the two freedom panels (this is how Jeep calls them) above the heads of the driver and the front passengers. These are easy to unlock and can be regarded as some sort of targa top.

Then, the entire remaining upper part of the car, one single element which comprises the side rear windows, the rear window and the roof section that covers the rear bench and the luggage compartment, can be removed. However, I norder to do so you’ll need to remove a few screws remove the liquid and electrical connections for the rear wiper and you also need two people to take it off or place it back on the car.

Once you’ve done this, you’re left with an open top offroading machine that comes with a thick rollbar (this does use padding) and gives you an unique feeling which you quickly become addicted to, whether you’re actually using is on difficult terrain or inside the city.

However, if you’ve got a tattoo that spells “hardcore”, you can also fold down the windscreen and remove the doors – this is why the speakers and the window switches are not placed on the doors. The car is also gifted with a manually-folding soft-top, which does help you in the event of sudden rain, but is pretty difficult to install and occupies most of the space in the luggage compartment - we’re pretty sure there are touring bikes that offer more luggage space.

Our test car came with a few nice touches, such as a leather wrap for the steering wheel, which did make life aboard more pleasant. As for the cliché that tells you the Wrangler’s interior can be washed using a hose, we really wouldn’t do that.

The Wrangler’s interior manages to offer a decent experience and nothing more. Basically, it gets the job done, so we can’t complain that much about the lack of space or the difficult access. However, the recent facelifts have brought more equipment, which helps improve the experience. More importantly, this car really comes alive once you remove the top and this is when you forget about every drawback and just enjoy the ride.
We don’t even need to explain this one: just climb aboard in the driver’s seat and you’ll immediately feel that the Wrangler doesn’t belong on urban roads. You’re standing extremely high and you don’t have too many clues about where the vehicle’s extremities are and if we ad the extra-long front bumper to the equation, you won’t be too happy to drive this car around town.

However, it does come with rather compact dimensions and, in the case of our test car, with a diesel engine that, also helped by the new start-stop system, doesn’t give you pump dependency, so you can get used to rely on the Wrangler to get from street A to street B.

The oil burner has more than enough pulling power for urban traveling and the feeling you get once you get accustomed with the car is one that translates the “king of the hill” gaming experience into reality. Unfortunately, you can’t get parking sensors, not even at the back, where the tailgate-mounted spare wheel ruins any hope of visibility you had left, so you’ll have to be in constant alert when you park.

There’s no feeling in the world like the one you get when you remove the top and drive the Wrangler through the city, riding the torque in 3rd gear. The fact that you can combine the pleasure you get when you drive a convertible, with that of being in a off-road machine, offers you a feeling of Hollywoodian action.

We’re not too sure about the shopping part however, at least not when you think about using the boot. The luggage compartment is extremely small, as the soft-top and the subwoofer of he premium sound system take most of the space, so you’ll have to rely on the rear bench to swallow your bags.

Whenever we test drive an SUV, we have to split this chapter in two, but the Wrangler takes this to a whole new level, as it offers the exact opposite on the scale of pleasure, depending on what you place under its wheels. Since it’s an off-roader, we’ll start with this part.

Once you leave the tarmac behind, it’s best to switch to four-wheel drive (select 4H from the lever next to the gear shifter) and disengage the stability control (if you’re an experienced driver). At the touch of the button the front anti-roll bar is also sent to sleep (this is an optional feature we didn’t have on our test car) and you’re free to enjoy off-roading.

The live axles mean that, even for a rough terrain machine, the ride is on the bumpy side, but the car feels solid and the power delivery of the engine, together with the gearing are excellent for this kind of play.

The car comes with an active safety called electronic roll mitigation, which keeps you from getting the rollbar in contact with the ground. Obviously, this won’t help when you’re talking extreme passes with scary steering angles as the laws of physics must have their way, but in most situations it does its job.

We tested the Wrangler on all sorts of terrains, from rocks to mountains, mud and sand, both with the top on and off and the car was a constant source of joy. For those of you who are curious, you can drive the car in two-wheel drive mode (which means rear-wheel drive) on unpaved roads and you will convince the back to step out if this is what you want, but the live axles and the no-feeling steering wheel don’t make powersliding too easy to control, so this kind of maneuver is not necessarily pleasant in a Wrangler.

As for the part where you share the roads with cars that have much imposing values for the ground clearance, the car can be used for long distance travel, but only if you stay within or close to the legal speed limits. If the speedometer needle climbs higher, the wind speed starts acting like a whip master that wants to dominate you and the handling during high speed bends is not safe, due to the use of live axles, which creates a bouncy ride.

The leather-covered seats are soft, but they can’t really compensate for the unsettled ride – another reason to keep the speed at a reasonable level. However, now that the engine has received a bit of extra muscle, it really offers decent pulling power, even at overtaking speeds and you’ll be able to match the pace of an average road car.
60user rating 93 votes
Rate this car!
autoevolution Jul 2012
In the city
Open road
Tech facts
60user rating 93 votes
Rate this car!
Photo gallery (86)
Jeep Wrangler Facelift night time photographyJeep Wrangler Facelift at nightJeep Wrangler Facelift at workJeep Wrangler FaceliftJeep Wrangler FaceliftJeep Wrangler FaceliftJeep Wrangler Facelift high speedJeep Wrangler FaceliftJeep Wrangler FaceliftJeep Wrangler FaceliftJeep Wrangler Facelift highway drivingJeep Wrangler FaceliftJeep Wrangler Facelift highway drivingJeep Wrangler Facelift open road drivingJeep Wrangler FaceliftJeep Wrangler FaceliftJeep Wrangler FaceliftJeep Wrangler Facelift on fieldJeep Wrangler Facelift hood mechanismJeep Wrangler FaceliftJeep Wrangler FaceliftJeep Wrangler FaceliftJeep Wrangler Facelift in mudJeep Wrangler Facelift offroadJeep Wrangler Facelift Jeep Wrangler Facelift diesel engineJeep Wrangler Facelift open road drivingJeep Wrangler FaceliftJeep Wrangler FaceliftJeep Wrangler FaceliftJeep Wrangler Facelift offroadJeep Wrangler FaceliftJeep Wrangler FaceliftJeep Wrangler FaceliftJeep Wrangler FaceliftJeep Wrangler Facelift front seatsJeep Wrangler Facelift leather interiorJeep Wrangler Facelift leather interiorJeep Wrangler Facelift dashboard handleJeep Wrangler Facelift speakersJeep Wrangler Facelift leather seatsJeep Wrangler Facelift doorJeep Wrangler Facelift interiorJeep Wrangler Facelift front seatsJeep Wrangler Facelift dashboardJeep Wrangler Facelift rear benchJeep Wrangler Facelift rear seatsJeep Wrangler Facelift dashboardJeep Wrangler Facelift steering wheelJeep Wrangler Facelift multifunctional steering wheelJeep Wrangler Facelift dialsJeep Wrangler Facelift climate controlJeep Wrangler Facelift sound systemJeep Wrangler Facelift luggage compartmentJeep Wrangler FaceliftJeep Wrangler Facelift at sunsetJeep Wrangler Facelift mountain drivingJeep Wrangler Facelift driftingJeep Wrangler Facelift mountain drivingJeep Wrangler Facelift in the mountainsJeep Wrangler Facelift in the mountainsJeep Wrangler Facelift POV drivingJeep Wrangler Facelift soft-roadingJeep Wrangler FaceliftJeep Wrangler Facelift hooningJeep Wrangler Facelift powerslideJeep Wrangler Facelift hooningJeep Wrangler FaceliftJeep Wrangler Facelift on beachJeep Wrangler Facelift drift on sandJeep Wrangler Facelift offroadJeep Wrangler Facelift live rear axleJeep Wrangler FaceliftJeep Wrangler FaceliftJeep Wrangler Facelift front grilleJeep Wrangler Facelift VINJeep Wrangler FaceliftJeep Wrangler FaceliftJeep Wrangler FaceliftJeep Wrangler Facelift on sandJeep Wrangler Facelift bootJeep Wrangler FaceliftJeep Wrangler Facelift on the beachJeep Wrangler FaceliftJeep Wrangler Facelift soft-roadingJeep Wrangler Facelift in mud