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2012 Jeep Wrangler Gets Engine Reduction?!

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On: Wed, Aug 24, 2011 at 12:09PM | By: Chris Salamone

2012 Jeep Wrangler Gets Engine Reduction?!

We’ve waited, and waited, and waited. Since the Wrangler’s inception, some of the vehicle’s strongest characteristics have remained its greatest weaknesses for everyday driving: low-end torque and gear ratios meant for off-roading. That potent mix of rock-crawling power has historically meant terrible gas mileage and unfortunate off-the-line acceleration times. Finally, as of 2012, Jeep has decided to rework the Wrangler’s engineering to try to maintain the vehicle’s legendary off-road prowess while improving fuel economy and quickness.

The devout Jeep driver may recall how the company has reduced engine size offerings over the years, fearing their beloved overlander would become just another ‘soft-roader’. But really, Jeep’s recent decision to utilize the 3.6-liter Pentastar engine over last year’s 3.8-liter makes perfect sense. Other than an ego-slashing drop in physical size, the latest Pentastar offers more torque, more horsepower, and greater fuel efficiency (up to 21 mpg).

Last year’s 3.8-liter V6 produced 202 horsepower and 237 lb ft. of torque, while the 2012 aluminum Pentastar creates 285 horsepower and 260 lb ft. of torque.

Other than engine modifications, the 2012 Wrangler is virtually identical to the outgoing model. The only caveat is last year’s four-speed automatic transmission which has been upgraded to the Grand Cherokee’s five-speed version.

What do new mechanics mean for the track—no matter how unlikely a Jeep Wrangler drag race is? The 3.6-liter Wrangler marks drastic cuts in the vehicle’s 0-60 time over last year’s 3.8-liter. While the outgoing model sluggishly crossed over 60 mph between 9.8 and 10.2 seconds, the 2012 JK meets the finish line at 6.7 seconds. Coincidentally, a sub-seven 0-60 time creates some interesting prospects for flatter, more loosely packed terrain.

Watching The Car Show, Jeep fans may be concerned by the fact that the 2012 Wrangler actually creates peak torque at a higher rpm than last year’s model. While a legitimate concern, next month’s Motor Trend magazine provides broader perspective: “The new engine and trans worked well, and even though peak torque is now at a higher rpm, there was no noticeable difference when off-roading at low speeds.” Rather than criticism from a comfy Hollywood sofa, Motor Trend took their Wrangler to the trail—the Rubicon trail, that is.

This phenomenon is most likely attributable to the fact that the 3.6-liter actually has more torque than the outgoing model and can produce similar torque at a lower rpm, while achieving greater glory at a higher rpm.

Jeep’s intention to create a more diversely applicable vehicle, and to maintain proper Jeep capability, seems to be well embodied by the 2012 Wrangler. Buyers can expect a truck with significantly improved day-to-day practicality with all the grit and moxie to summit the same boulder-laden challenges of Jeeps past.

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dwalter | 4:28PM (Wed, Aug 24, 2011)

seems like an impressive motor

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