Make us your home page
The Daily Drivers | By Peter Couture and Lyra Solochek, Times Staff Writers

The Daily Drivers: 2012 Jeep Wrangler Unlimited Sport 4x4

The world is divided into two types of people: those who love Jeeps and everyone else. This was reinforced to Peter while driving the 2012 Jeep Wrangler Unlimited Sport when a proud Jeep owner — it even said so on his personalized plate — pulled up next to him at a light. So would we become converts?

Appearance: Seven-slot grille. Round headlights. Clamp-down hood. Rear-mounted full-size spare. No mistaking it, this is a Jeep. Our tester — bright Flame Red — was the Unlimited Sport, which is the entry level of a half-dozen trims. By removing its Sunrider soft top, you're left with a padded sport bar/chassis frame, but this is no easy convertible. It's a job for two, requiring a lot of unzipping, tucking and folding. Don't try it if you're in a hurry. Oh, and watch your fingers. Lyra's got pinched in the top frame when folding it back. Ouch. Our tester was the four-door version, and the doors are removable for a completely open feel. The towing capacity is 3,500 pounds. There are two front hooks and one to the rear.

Performance: The Wrangler has Chrysler's 3.6-liter Pentastar V-6 engine with a 5-speed automatic and Command-Trac shift-on-the-fly 4-wheel-drive system. We didn't have the opportunity to take it for a serious off-road test, but Lyra did take it for a spin near the Gandy Bridge, where sand and bumps were no problem. The 285 horsepower and 260 pound-feet of torque seem moderate on paper, but the new V-6 provides plenty of pickup. Says Lyra: "What a fun ride!" Peter thought the brakes took a long time to bring the Jeep to a stop. It has a reputation of being noisy, but what do you expect with 17-inch off-road tires and a soft top? The chassis and ride felt solid, but you will feel the bumps. If you want quiet or have a bad back, this is not the vehicle for you.

Interior: The reclining cloth seats are comfortable, offer good support and absorb some of those bumps. The interior is made to get dirty and has a lot of plastic. The floor is washable and there is a drain plug. You don't have to give up creature comforts with this off-roader: AC, heated mirrors, USB port, Bluetooth connection, Sirius satellite radio, media center with six speakers (some mounted overhead) and steering-wheel-mounted controls. Major nit: The interior is not well-lit enough. At night, the console controls can be hard to see. The cargo space is decent, with 46.4 cubic feet behind the second row.

Our 3 favorites

Peter Couture

Bold look: With no more Hummer, nothing says macho better.

Front bumper: It's big, with integrated fog lights.

Features: Lots of options you might not expect in an off-road vehicle.

Lyra Solochek

Tradition: Maintains the iconic Jeep traits and personality.

Top down: Perfect for a ride to — and on — the beach.

Cure for boredom: Go topless and doorless, and enjoy Florida. Don't forget the sunscreen.

The bottom line: It's probably not the best daily driver, especially if you have to go to work in a suit or heels. Road noise is significant and, yes, the ride is a bit rough. But it sure would make a fun get-away-from-it-all vehicle.

2012 Jeep Wrangler Unlimited Sport 4x4

Price: $25,545 base, $30,295 as tested

Powertrain: 3.6-liter V-6 Pentastar, 5-speed automatic transmission, Command-Trac shift-on-the-fly 4WD system

Horsepower: 285 at 6,400 rpm

Torque: 260 pound-

feet at 4,800 rpm

Curb weight: 4,100 pounds


in inches:

Wheelbase, 116

Length, 173.4

Width, 73.9

Seats: 5

Fuel economy:

16 miles per gallon city, 20 mpg highway

Safety features: Electronic stability control, ABS, brake assist, electronic roll mitigation, hill start assist, traction control, airbags


The Daily Drivers: 2012 Jeep Wrangler Unlimited Sport 4x4 04/20/12 [Last modified: Friday, April 20, 2012 4:30am]
Photo reprints | Article reprints

© 2017 Tampa Bay Times


Join the discussion: Click to view comments, add yours

  1. Apple Scales Back Its Ambitions for a Self-Driving Car


    SAN FRANCISCO — As new employees were brought into Apple's secret effort to create a self-driving car a few years ago, managers told them that they were working on the company's next big thing: A product that would take on Detroit and disrupt the automobile industry.

     In this Monday, April 10, 2017 file photo, Luminar CEO Austin Russell monitors a 3D lidar map on a demonstration drive in San Francisco. Russell, now 22, was barely old enough to drive when he set out to create a safer navigation system for robot-controlled cars. His ambitions are about to be tested five years after he co-founded Luminar Technologies, a Silicon Valley startup trying to steer the rapidly expanding self-driving car industry in a new direction. Apple says it will scale back its amitions to build a self-driving car.  [AP Photo/Ben Margot]
  2. Groundbreaking today for complex on old Tampa Tribune site

    Real Estate

    TAMPA — A groundbreaking is slated for 10 a.m. today for a 400-unit apartment complex planned on the site of the former Tampa Tribune building in downtown Tampa.

    Renderings for a high-end apartment complex that will be built on the Tampa Tribune site in downtown Tampa. 
[Courtesy of Related Group]
  3. Walmart announces delivery partnership with Google


    Walmart announced a new delivery partnership with Google to make online shopping easier for customers.

    People walk in and out of a Walmart store in Dallas. Walmart announced a new delivery partnership with Google.  [Associated Press]
  4. Insurance regulators fret over a spike in auto glass claims


    TALLAHASSEE — Three months ago, state regulators weren't tracking a surge in broken auto glass claims, particularly in Tampa Bay.

    The issue has their attention now.

    The Office of Insurance Regulation is taking on assignment of benefits abuse in the 2018 legislative session. Pictured is Florida Insurance Commissioner David Altmaier. | [Times file photo]
  5. Proino Breakfast Club owner charged with not paying state taxes


    LARGO — Just before noon on a recent Sunday at Proino Breakfast Club, the dining room was bustling as owner George Soulellis chatted with a customer.

    Proino Breakfast Club at 201 West Bay Drive in Largo. The owner was arrested last month on a theft of state funds charge, according to court records. JIM DAMASKE   |   Times