The Jeep Geek

The Jeep Geek's Blog
Jun 2011

2012 Wranglers are Close

The Jeep Geek was poking around the tool that enables the Jeep store (where he works) to order vehicles from the factory. Lo-and-behold the 2012 Wranglers are available for order. Oh happy day. Barely able to contain himself, he had to check to see if the Bill of Materials showed the long awaited new engine. More on that subject in a minute.

Scarcely a day goes by when The Jeep Geek is asked about the new 2012s. This has gone on since last summer...when we were getting our first 2011s. What changes will be made...the answer...we just don’t know. Wranglers have been the top seller for Jeep as long as The Jeep Geek can remember...2011 stands in contrast. The 2011 Jeep Grand Cherokee has taken top spot. Two factors have contributed to this reversal. First, the Grand Cherokee was completely redesigned for 2011 and Chrysler did a stunningly good job. Every automotive magazine and reviewer agreed. It has won so many awards that it is hard to keep up with all of them. But this is not the chief reason for the reversal. The Jeep Wrangler sales have fallen dramatically. The market was ready for the new Pentastar engine in 2011 but Chrysler was not ready to ship this powerful engine, in the Wrangler, at that time. Potential customers decided to wait and see if the 2012 model would have this engine. Wrangler sales slowed significantly...for no other good reason. Yup, they slowed in a rising market.

The 2011 Jeep Wrangler market did not fall to zero, there were (and still remain) good reasons to purchase this very capable machine. One reason is to get out on the trails where the difference in horsepower is not an issue. The 200 horsepower of the current model is sufficient to move the Wrangler through almost any obstacle one might find out there...remember that speed on the trail is not a virtue.

The Hummer Recovery Vehicle (The Jeep Geek’s main ride) is a 2 door Rubicon. The Rubicon gearing together with the adaptive engine controller allows for very good acceleration and is able to handle highways, hill roads and the like just fine. The Jeep Geek is able to get his yayas out.

So why all the pent up demand for this new engine? Everyone wants just a bit more power from time to time in their vehicle. The Jeep Geek doubts that anything short of infinite power would satisfy everyone. Some forums’ users have labeled the 2011 Wrangler as severely underpowered...this just isn’t true. This is not a modified fuel racer...it is an off-road beast...the best on the planet for off-roading. In fact, nothing is better in bad weather on the road either. This is a mighty capable vehicle and should not be dismissed just because it might be better somehow. What vehicle can’t be improved? Do people use that same criteria when talking about other vehicles?

So back to the subject. The Bill of Materials list the 3.6L VVT engine and a new 5 speed automatic transmission as included in the new 2012 Wranglers. The 6 speed manual transmission is still an available option. The Jeep Geek can’t tell if there is any other change to the Wrangler based on the Bill of Materials. But in all likelihood there is not much else that has changed. The 2011 had a pretty extensive interior refresh in 2011, so it is unlikely that much will change here. The exterior won’t change much since the appearance of the Wrangler is iconic. Will a couple of body panels change shape? Possibly slightly, but uncertain.

Additional changes are that the Rubicon can be ordered with matching body colored hard top and body colored fenders (similar to the Sahara model). Colors that are available are White, Sahara Tan, Flame Red, Cherry Red, Natural Green, Cosmos Blue, Silver but at this time no Black...although that may change. Chrysler had a pigment supplier that was located in Japan and their production was halted due to the earthquake and tsunami earlier this year. More colors may become available once their production is restored.

So what should you do? Wait for the 2012 to get the new engine? Or purchase the 2011? Well the answer is, it depends. If you have a JK today...you might want to wait to upgrade. If you don’t, then the 2012 won’t be on lots until late September or October. This is the end of the off-road season...most Jeep trails are only open from July to October due to snow and snow melt. If you want to get off the pavement this summer, the 2011 Jeep Wrangler is a very satisfying vehicle that will let you get out and have fun in the great out doors.

Late September or October? Do you really have to wait that long to get one of the 2012s? No, you can order one today and it will probably be delivered in late August or early September. Dealers probably won’t see Wranglers in their inventory til later because of the pent up demand. Customer orders are prioritized over stock units. So most of the units that will be built in August will be customer (pre-sold) orders. It is likely that stock units will not be built until September. Those won’t arrive at dealers until late September or October. You can order today and be one of the first to receive these new units. The only hitch is that you won’t be able to test drive one before you order.

What can you do if you want the horsepower of the new units before the 2012s are available. Buy a 2011 and upgrade the engine power via one of the methods that The Jeep Geek wrote about earlier. You can read these articles in the archive section of this website.

As The Jeep Geek has written about, the key is getting torque to the wheels. The current 3.8L engine is a very torquey engine, even at low RPMs. The delivered torque can be improved by changing gear ratios, adding cold air intake and free flowing exhaust, or by bolting on a supercharger. All this can be accomplished easily and without voiding the factory warranty...of course, you can also swap the 3.8L V6 engine with a 5.8L VVT Hemi conversion that Pollard Jeep has done a number of times. This conversion will give you much more power than even the new Pentastar engine will provide.

Or you can just wait and see what the new units will be like. If it was The jeep Geek’s decision, he would buy now and enjoy the trails and see what the new engines were like next year.

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AEV is In the House

The Jeep Geek has always been impressed with Mopar upgrades for Wranglers for the simple reason that they are well thought through and just work well. He has not changed his mind despite this article. The Jeep Geek likes to have options, choices, you know...like most jeepers, he likes to break the rules sometimes and do something totally different.

A week ago, The Jeep Geek tested a wrangler that had been outfitted with a 3 1/2” lift, Hemi engine, off-road bumpers, heat reduction hood, side armor, 35 inch tires, off-road wheels. It was quite eye-opening.

Of course the Hemi engine provided a good deal of head snap as expected, The Jeep Geek still feels that this is a bit of overkill. What really impressed him was the suspension kit. The AEV 3 1/2” SC lift performed beautifully on the road. Most do not. Even the Mopar lifts show a bit more stiffness on the highway...not really uncomfortable, but noticeable. The engineering on the AEV lift allowed for a very smooth ride on the highway. The way the arm brackets are dropped, allow for the feel of a very long arm suspension, which puts the energy absorption of bumps into the springs and shocks, rather than the trailing arm link. Very clever. This combined with the progressive rate springs yields a ride that is as close to unmodified as The Jeep Geek has experienced. On the trail these lifts have proven themselves to be as capable as any on the market.

What The Jeep Geek appreciates is that this lift has the best ride on highway of any lift he is familiar with, and is as capable as the best off-road. It is able to use all the Electronic Stability Program functionality...just like the factory suspension. Another virtue of this lift is the price. While this lift is priced in the premium portion of the market, it is about the same price as the Mopar 2” lift, and the 4 1/2” version is much less than the 4 1/2” Mopar lift. It would not surprise The Jeep Geek if Mopar assigns a part number to this lift soon, as they have done to many of the other AEV products.

So, AEV is in the house. For all of you in the Boulder Colorado area, we are having a big event on Saturday June 18th. AEV, the JK krawlers group, and Pollard Jeep are putting on a Jeep show, swap meet, and various informational presentations. Come out and join in the fun. Meet other off-roaders so you can connect to some of their outings and get the most out of your rig.

If you are new to jeeping, this is a great opportunity to see what is going on, test drive some rigs, and get the information you need to make this hobby safe and fun. The Jeep Geek will see you there.

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