The first time I ever drove a stick shift was when I was 15, in Mexico, on an off-road trail somewhere near Puerto Vallarta, my weapon (poison) of choice? A powder-blue early '90s Wrangler with no top, my dad in the passenger seat yelling "the clutch is your friend!!" and my hysterical mother and sister in back...needless to say I didn't learn much that day.
It would be 12 years before I got behind the wheel of a Jeep again.
Yesterday, it finally happened, my fiance and I are car shopping and, for lack of a better word, are the "Outdoorsy Type". We've been looking at all the usual suspects (Subarus, Xterras, etc.) but had largely written-off the idea of getting a Wrangler mainly due to all the usual reliability, mileage, and power complaints. This is of course because until yesterday, as we had been forming our opinions of Wranglers using sources such as Consumer Reports - whose relentless focus on reliability, mileage, and other "practical" concerns has led it to completely write off the Wrangler over the years. As we were driving by the Jeep dealership on our way home from test driving an Xterra, we had some extra time, and for kicks, decided to give a silver '09 Sport Auto a spin.
The '09 was fine (didn't wow me but it was cool to drive a Jeep again), but that's not why I'm writing this post. It was the blacked out, hard top, '12 Sport S 6 speed that really got our blood pumping. After hopping in and realizing it was a stickshift, we happily assumed the infamous Jeep owner openminded free spiritedness and decided to "go with the flow" and take it for a drive anyways. She drove first (yes, she can drive stick like a champ, I'm a lucky guy), and by the time we had gotten two blocks away from the dealership she was giggling in delight as the 285hp catapulted us through 2nd gear. The fine touch finishes, the generous power, and the smooth ride were all welcome surprises to both of us. During my time behind the wheel, I was equally as giddy. But what really kept us smiling was something that doesn't get listed on window stickers and brochures. Something it sounds like many of you are deeply familiar with. It was what I can only call the Jeep Magic - the indescribable feeling of freedom, giddiness, and energy that a Jeep has. I'm no wordsmith, so I'll leave it at that - we simply can't describe it, but we fell in love.
We went home and we found ourselves swapping stories about our childhood experiences in Jeeps - hers in the topless Wranglers of San Diego with surfboards sticking out the back. Mine in the doorless Willys that circulate Lake Tahoe, CA on beer runs and beach days.
However, it all came to a crashing end when we saw the now infamous "ticking issue" posts on this forum and many others. We're now stuck, not wanting to drop $30k on a car that will require significant shop-time shortly after purchase, we're not sure if we should give up the allure of the extra 80hp and go back to the trusty '09 with the 3.8 (or some other pre-'12 model), or if we should hold out and wait for the 2013 to see if Chrysler announces any changes or addresses any questions around the ticking problem.
I've read most of the ticking threads, and at this point would love to hear all of your thoughts - does anyone know how many 2012s seem to have the ticking issue? 5%? 50%? 95%?
And what would you do? Buy a nicer model with more features from an older year with the 3.8? Say screw it and buy the 2012 with the 3.6 because mashing the pedal in was just THAT fun? Or wait around for the 2013 (we don't want to, but we can) knowing that Chrysler will probably not address the issue?
Thanks, and sorry for the long post!