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Unread 12-26-2011, 09:33 PM   #1
chilipeppered
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Join Date: Dec 2011
Location: washington, dc
Posts: 2
Unlimited Sport - LJ versus 2012 JK

My first Jeep Wrangler was a 99 Sport (TJ) with a 5 speed in chili pepper red. The only negative to this vehicle was a lack of cargo space in the rear. I replaced it with 04 Jeep Wrangler Unlimited (LJ) in flame red. The only negative was that it was only available in a automatic and that chili pepper red was no longer offered. Its longer wheelbase made it ride less choppy than the TJ, but it still felt like I was driving a TJ. I recently had to retire it and decided to look for a replacement Wrangler.

First, I took a look at the 2011 Wrangler Unlimited (JK) Sport, but immediately found it to be underpowered. So I attempteded to locate a used 05 or 06 Unlimited (LJ) Sport with a manual transmission and low mileage in my color of choice - flame red. Those that met all my criteria were rare and really high in cost ($19 to 21k at Carmax for example). About that time, I heard the 2012Wrangler Unlimited now had 285 hp, and since I could buy a 2012 for only about $5 to $6 k more than a used LJ, I figured I would revisit the JK platform. The first 2012 Unlimited I drove was a Sport with the stock 3.21 rear axle ratio. I found acceleration had improved, but it just did not feel as powerful or torqued up as my 99 TJ, 04 LJ, or any the of the manual 05 and 06 LJs I had test driven, epecially in 1st gear and then in 2nd gear. Jeep told me the 3.73 would have better acceleration and the 3.21 better fuel economy (but according to the window stickers, it made a 1 mpg difference or less). Since my 04 LJ came stock with a 3.73, that made sense. However, it was not easy to find a 2012 manual with the 3.73 to test drive, but I did. Frankly, I could not tell the difference between the 3.21 and 3.23. Since I was happy with my 04 LJ (except for the auto trans), I figured I would seek out the same equipment which was standard with and available on the 2012 JK Unlimited. These included the 3.73 axle ratio, mentioned above, and the antispin differential, both standard on the 04 LJ but optional on the 2012 JK Unlimited. I also decided I wanted my next Jeep to have a hard top since I had a few tops cut by theives over the last several years (since I am thinking the MOPAR frameless softtop will be enonmical). According to my dealers, there are no vehicles available in flame red with this equipment and will have to be ordered, very few being willing to charge less than MSRP either,

I am not planning on rock crawling with this vehicle, so I think a Rubicon may be redundant (and pretty much out of my price range for a new 2012, but I probably afford it in the LJ if I can find one). I figure I will take it offroad a little more than occassionally (on weekends) and drive on the road in every single snow storm. I am planning on joining a local Jeep club and attending a Jeep event in the future, so my off road use may increase.


The above background and the following questions have been extended to the Jeep itslelf and its dealers with no clear answers. My questions are offered to any of you veteran Jeep owners who care to chime in:

(1) Does the 2012 JK Unliimited seem to ride and accelerate more like a mid 1990s Ford Explorer than a LJ or TJ? If so, can you explain why?
(2) Do you recommend the 2012 JK Unliimited or the LJ, even considering current market prices?
(3) In the 2012 JK Unliimited, which gear ratio, 3.21 or 3.73, do you recommend and why?
(4) In the 2012 JK Unliimited, is the antispin worth having (I heard that more than occassion offroad use will ruin it, but I have no clue what the implications would be to it if did).
(5) Do you recommend buying the dual top or the hard top or the soft top? What do you think of buying with the hard top only and then the MOPAR frameless softtop aftermarket?

Thanks.

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Unread 12-27-2011, 04:17 PM   #2
chilipeppered
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(5) Would you recommend the engine block heater, especially if I have to have this jeep built? If I continue to drive where I live, it may not be necessity, but how knows
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Unread 12-27-2011, 04:34 PM   #3
whatevah
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Join Date: Mar 2006
Location: Wilmington, Delaware
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Quote:
Originally Posted by chilipeppered View Post
(1) Does the 2012 JK Unliimited seem to ride and accelerate more like a mid 1990s Ford Explorer than a LJ or TJ? If so, can you explain why?
(2) Do you recommend the 2012 JK Unliimited or the LJ, even considering current market prices?
(3) In the 2012 JK Unliimited, which gear ratio, 3.21 or 3.73, do you recommend and why?
(4) In the 2012 JK Unliimited, is the antispin worth having (I heard that more than occassion offroad use will ruin it, but I have no clue what the implications would be to it if did).
(5) Do you recommend buying the dual top or the hard top or the soft top? What do you think of buying with the hard top only and then the MOPAR frameless softtop aftermarket?
(6) Would you recommend the engine block heater, especially if I have to have this jeep built? If I continue to drive where I live, it may not be necessity, but how knows
1. It's a V6 motor with a much different tune and torque curve than the TJ/LF motor. Haven't driven an Explorer enough to know what that's like, but the 2012 3.6L motor is nice. Very smooth.

2. LJ vs JK depends a lot on what your intentions are... going to beat it up offroad, or expect a lot of city fender benders? The JK will have a nicer ride and interior, more quiet as well. Plus, a fresh warranty.

3. If you're not planning to lift it or go mudding and rock crawling, the 3.21 gears will be best for gas mileage.

4. The limited slip/anti-spin differential probably wouldn't be missed if you don't move north of DC. The stock 4x4 system is fine for most snow situations that DC will get. If you're one of those people required (and permitted by law) to drive to work in snow storms, then you might consider getting it, it really doesn't add that much to the final vehicle cost. Also helpful if you want to goto the beach (OBX or something?).

5. For a city Jeep, the hard top is nice because you get added security (thieves can't just unzip or cut your windows to get in). Plus you get a rear wiper and defroster. The soft top is cool because you can go top-less very quickly, but you'll need a place to store the hard top... And it'll cost you an extra grand.

6. Block heater isn't needed for DC.
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