Unbiased comparo '12 Rubicon vs '11 Rubicon - Jeep Wrangler Forum

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Old 08-13-2011, 05:36 PM   #1
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Unbiased comparo '12 Rubicon vs '11 Rubicon

Hello all, first time poster, long time reader.

Little info about myself. I just sold my '09 Ram Crew Cab 4x2 Hemi two weeks ago. My wife drives an '06 Grand Caravan with the 3.8 V6 so I'm very familiar with it. I got the bug for a JK about a year ago and have been looking, reading, and dreaming ever since. I've been frequently visiting this forum along with two others for a few months now following the release of the 2012 model. I decided to head down to my local dealer to do some comparisons. Now mind you, I've never driven a JK other than in the Jeep Experience held in a parking lot. So this would be the first time on the road and at speed in one.

We load up the family in the van and head down to the dealership and give it to them for an oil change. While they are doing that, we went up and took a look at what they had. An all white Rubicon caught my eye with color matched fenders and top. I knew this was a '12 model as color matched top wasn't offered on the Rubi in '11 (at least I don't think). Sure enough it was a '12, fully loaded. I spoke with a salesman named Jim. I told him I was interested in a '12 Sport with auto and 3.73. We looked around but all they had was the one Rubi with 4.10 and three Saharas all with 3.21. I told Jim that I wanted to drive both a '12 & '11 but they had to be equipped similar. So he sent me in the '12 Rubi first while he picked out an '11 Rubi.

The '12 was all white, auto, 4.10, connectivity, leather, nav, pretty loaded but no trailer tow group. My wife and three small girls; 3, 6, & 8 all jumped in. The leather was a little firm, more so than her van or my Ram's. I fired it up and it quickly dropped to a pleasant idle. We adjusted the a/c and looked it over to get familiar with all the controls and such. I put it in gear and slowly drove through the parking lot. I pulled out on the road and didn't hammer it but laid into it a bit. It accelerated nice and smooth and the transmission shifted nice and quiet. It felt flighty at first and seemed to dart quickly with minor input from the steering wheel. I quickly got use to it and commented how quiet it was. I approached the interstate which has a 180 degree uphill onramp. It felt as it had plenty of power as it got up to the posted 70 mph. We then merged onto another bypass and got trapped behind someone going 60 up a long hill. I got in the left lane when possible and stepped down in it a bit. The transmission dropped a couple of gears and it pulled with authority quickly reaching 80. I got back in the right lane and set the cruise on 70 which was an indicated 2400 rpm. The next hill was a little more steep and most of our vehicles have to downshift to hold speed with the JK no different. The rpms jumped to 3000 and it held 70 with ease. We got off at the next exit, made a left, then turned to get back on. I got in it on the onramp. It has a nice pull in the upper rpms with an aggressive sound. My wife commented on the whistling noise the motor made which I thought to be odd for a non-turbo motor. My '06 2500 Cummins had the faint whistle stock but became a scream after a few mods. Anyway, we ran up on a Mercedes E350 which was running about 60 when it merged into the first lane. There was still onramp left so I got back into the throttle and quickly got around him jumping up to 75. I then slowed back to 70 and set the cruise once again. The rest of the drive was pretty basic, we got off the interstate and went back to the dealership.

Jim then had an '11 Rubi waiting for us. This was a red one with auto, cloth, and hardtop. No where near as decked out. We loaded up the family and my wife's first comment was how comfortable the cloth seats were compared to the leather. He already had this one running so we adjusted the a/c and set off. The initial pull out on the road seemed about the same. The 3.8 has a deeper sound to it, I thought. The transmission seemed to have widely spaced gears as the rpms dropped quite a bit at each change. We followed the same route as before to give the best comparison. In town, it drove very similar. I was playing with the trip computer screen which this one didn't have the connectively group so it was limited in what it showed. I noticed there wasn't an ECO light on the '11 either. Now this is where the difference was evident, we circled the same onramp to merged onto the interstate. The 3.8 and four speed had to be pushed more than the 3.6 to gain the same speed. By the top of the onramp I was only at 50 where I was at 60 in the '12. I got on the other road and set the cruise again at 70 this time the rpms read 2100. We approached the same long hill again and the '11 downshifted just as the '12 did. But I noticed the '11 started loosing speed as it slowed about three miles per hour during the climb. at the top we were running 67 where the '12 was still at 70. Since both the four speed and five speed each dropped one gear, they should both be in a 1:1 gear. This along with both having the 4.10 made it a perfect comparison of the difference in power the motors made. Each one was turning right around 3000 rpms but the 3.8 lost speed performing the same task. We again got off at the same exit and got back on going the other way. Again, I got into it getting on the interstate. The 3.8 howls when it revs, our van does the same thing. It also seems to not want to upshift but drag out the gear changes. We had nobody to pass this time so we just merged and set the cruise again at 70 and headed back.

My impressions. While the 3.8 and four speed are good, I'll wait for a '12. I told Jim exactly what I was looking for and asked him to call me if he finds one or wants to order one. I'm not in a huge hurry and really haven't decided on a color. I'm curious to see what Crush and the others look like. I saw the image of Dozer and think it looks too much like a school bus for me. Anyway, below is what I'm holding out for.

2012 JKU Sport
S package
Dual top group
Max tow with 3.73
Limited slip rear
Side air bags
Connectivity group
Infinity stereo

Thanks for reading and hope I didn't bore you too much.
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Old 08-13-2011, 05:39 PM   #2
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Superior engine and trans will do that.

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Old 08-13-2011, 05:51 PM   #3
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Sounds like the 2012 is the way to go. I think most dealers here are hiding the 2012's or they are going to be stuck with 2011's and have to offer some insane discounts to get rid of them. I would not want to be a Jeep dealer with a lot of 2011 Wranglers in my inventory. JMO
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Old 08-13-2011, 06:43 PM   #4
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Nice review
Thanks for posting. This makes me glad I waited
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Old 08-13-2011, 07:02 PM   #5
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Same experience as me. 2011s are fine vehicles, but 2012s are simply superior and worth the wait and little bit more money. I'm estimating 2-3 mpg better than a 2011 so you'll save $300-$400 per year and make back any extra that you spend.
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Old 08-13-2011, 07:58 PM   #6
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Especially with the new auto trans, the 2012s sound like they're really knocking it out of the park.

It'd be interesting to see a similar write up with the manual trans. That's truly a one-change-only review.
2010 JKU "Mountain" Edition
TeraFlex 2.5" Coil Lift : Old Man Emu Nitrocharger Shocks : 33x12.5R15 Goodyear DuraTracs : 15x8 Black Rock 909s : Other Stuff . . .
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Old 08-14-2011, 10:07 AM   #7
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Originally Posted by ranjr

2012 JKU Sport
S package
Dual top group
Max tow with 3.73
Limited slip rear
Side air bags
Connectivity group
Infinity stereo

Thanks for reading and hope I didn't bore you too much.
Sounds nice, I love the howl of my 3.8 with my intake and exhaust. If you don't know already, check out the tread lightly discount. And welcome to the forum.
1977 CJ5
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Old 08-14-2011, 09:32 PM   #8
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Nice write - up..but no photo(s) ????

I have yet to see a 2012 on a lot. I love my 2011/ At the time I was looking, I really wanted a Mountain 2010, but the price for the 2011 it was just worth picking up the 11.

My local dealer told me as soon as they get 1 one their lot, I will get a phone call. They love my rig, and what I have done to it, and likely a trade would not be an issue. Unless it is a major power difference, I will likely wait 1 more year to see what effects this motor overall has. This was my first Jeep, my whole family loves it...

here is a photo of the 2012- motor !
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Old 08-14-2011, 09:36 PM   #9
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Looks nice Roxbury29. I am personally waiting for a diesel for "supposedly" the 2013 model, we'll see.

BTW, OP: nice write up, and thanks very much for the unbiased writeup.
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Old 08-15-2011, 12:43 AM   #10
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Not sure about the gear ratios, but my '11 is turning under 2K RPM when cruising at 70, maybe even faster. I pointed this out to my wife that last time we had a road trip, as I was amazed that the vehicle was not working very hard. I have the Sahara model. Not sure if that makes a difference.

The 3.8 is a bit sluggish off the line for sure. But it just makes me feel like I used to feel when driving vehicles in the military. Slow and steady, but can run over anything. Love it...
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Old 08-15-2011, 01:17 AM   #11
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Sweet. I haven't really read up on the 2012 mainly because I'm not in the market. Nor will I be for awhile. I am excited to see how the 3.6L runs on a dyno. Has anyone posted ant dyno sheets?
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Old 08-15-2011, 05:59 AM   #12
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I want the 2012, but things aren't looking as good as they did a few months back. My fingers are crossed that the engine and 5 speed AT stay exactly the same for 2013, with minor tweaks to address any problems that "might" arise with the 2012. Otherwise I'll buy a 2012 after the first of the year if rumors are floating of changes I'm not fond of, like DI and a 6 speed AT. I think Jeep really nailed it with the 2012!
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Old 01-02-2012, 11:07 PM   #13
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I am on my second Rubicon...2010 and now the 2012...the difference is the gearing. 3.73 in yours...better gas mileage. Things are always a trade off. I love my 2012 and there is not a good comparison with all the changes in body in 2011 and then the drive train for 2012. It is remarkable. I love my Jeep. I know it is just a machine, but it has given me nothing but pleasure. I loved the 2010. It had limitations when you wanted to pass someone, or get out in traffic quickly and there was such a throttle delay. That was most of it. In the 2012 the leather seats...larger windows,, the drive train...The only thing that still sucks is the horn....why cant Jeep put a decent horn in or at least make it easier to get to to modify. That is the worse thing about it. Mine is Dozer and it turns lots of heads and there is not another one in this part of the state. Love it. Get the 2012 if there is some doubt in your mind.
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Old 01-03-2012, 01:21 AM   #14
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I too love my 12 JKUR. It is used as a DD and also beat the S*@% out of her. first scratch was on day two and almost rolled on on day four.

Jeeps are truly the best.
12 JKUR White, Auto, Teraflex 3" S.A., JE Reel Driveshafts, Rock Hard Front & Rear Bumper, Warn M8000, sPOD, Black Rock Yuma wheels, Rigid 10" LED & KC 130w windshield lights.
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Old 01-03-2012, 05:30 AM   #15
Really liking the Jeep...

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Originally Posted by oakley View Post
I too love my 12 JKUR. It is used as a DD and also beat the S*@% out of her. first scratch was on day two and almost rolled on on day four.

Jeeps are truly the best.
Yep. my first mod was custom "Pinestriping" as the trees actually bent in to embrace her on her way through...and hey, can you blame 'em?

2012 Unlimited Rubicon - Natural Green
Every Day Driver
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