Certified Benz & Beemer Compares 2012 Jeep Wrangler VS 2012 Ford Explorer Near Phoenix, AZ

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2012 Jeep Wrangler

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2012 Ford Explorer

Safety Comparison

To allow off-road and deep snow capability, Four-Wheel Drive is standard on the Wrangler. But it costs extra on the Explorer.

Both the Wrangler and the Explorer have standard driver and passenger frontal airbags, height-adjustable front shoulder belts, four-wheel antilock brakes, traction control, electronic stability systems to prevent skidding, available front seat side-impact airbags and head airbags.

Warranty Comparison

Jeep’s powertrain warranty covers the Wrangler 40,000 miles longer than Ford covers the Explorer. Any repair needed on the engine, transmission, axles, joints or driveshafts is fully covered for 5 years or 100,000 miles. Coverage on the Explorer ends after only 5 years or 60,000 miles.

Reliability Comparison

The Wrangler has a solid front axle with a floating power axle for durability that the Explorer 4x4’s independent front suspension and exposed front driveshafts don’t offer.

Engine Comparison

The Wrangler’s 3.6 DOHC V6 produces 45 more horsepower (285 vs. 240) than the Explorer’s optional 2.0 turbo 4 cyl. The Wrangler’s 3.6 DOHC V6 produces 5 lbs.-ft. more torque (260 vs. 255) than the Explorer’s standard 3.5 DOHC V6.

Fuel Economy and Range Comparison

The Wrangler Unlimited’s standard fuel tank has 3.9 gallons more fuel capacity than the Explorer (22.5 vs. 18.6 gallons).

Tires and Wheels Comparison

The Wrangler has a standard full size spare tire so your trip isn’t interrupted by a flat. A full size spare isn’t available on the Explorer, it requires you to depend on a temporary spare, which limits mileage and speed before replacement.

Suspension and Handling Comparison

The Wrangler offers an active front sway bar, which helps keep it flat and controlled during cornering, but disconnects at lower speeds to smooth the ride and offer greater off-road suspension articulation. This helps keep the tires glued to the road on-road and off. The Explorer doesn’t offer an active sway bar system.

For a smoother ride and more stable handling, the Wrangler Unlimited’s wheelbase is 3.4 inches longer than on the Explorer (116 inches vs. 112.6 inches).

For better maneuverability, the Wrangler 2dr’s turning circle is 4.8 feet tighter than the Explorer’s (34.9 feet vs. 39.7 feet).

For greater off-road capability the Wrangler Sport Unlimited has a 1.1 inches greater minimum ground clearance than the Explorer (8.7 vs. 7.6 inches), allowing the Wrangler to travel over rougher terrain without being stopped or damaged. The Wrangler Sahara 2dr’s minimum ground clearance is 2.7 inches higher than on the Explorer (10.3 vs. 7.6 inches).

Chassis Comparison

The Jeep Wrangler may be more efficient, handle and accelerate better because it weighs about 200 to 600 pounds less than the Ford Explorer.

The Wrangler Unlimited is 1 foot, 11.7 inches shorter than the Explorer, making the Wrangler easier to handle, maneuver and park in tight spaces.

The Wrangler is 5.2 inches narrower than the Explorer, making the Wrangler easier to handle and maneuver in traffic.

Cargo Capacity Comparison

The Wrangler Unlimited has a much larger cargo area with its rear seat up than the Explorer with its rear seat up (46.4 vs. 21 cubic feet). The Wrangler Unlimited has a much larger cargo area with its rear seat folded than the Explorer with its rear seat folded (86.8 vs. 80.7 cubic feet).

Ergonomics Comparison

The Wrangler’s available front power windows lower with one touch of the switches, making it more convenient at drive-up windows and toll booths, or when talking with someone outside of the car. The Explorer’s power windows’ passenger windows don’t open automatically.

The Wrangler offers an optional locking fuel cap. A locking fuel door helps prevent vandalism, such as sugar in the tank and fuel theft. The Explorer doesn’t offer a locking fuel door.

Economic Advantages Comparison

Insurance will cost less for the Wrangler owner. The Car Book by Jack Gillis rates the Wrangler with a number “8” insurance rate while the Explorer is rated higher at a number “10” rate.

The Wrangler will cost the buyer less in the long run because of its superior resale value. Kiplinger’s estimates that the Wrangler will retain a greater percentage of its original price after two and four years than the Explorer.



Four Year

42% to 47%

33% to 34%

Two Year

58% to 65%

53% to 54%

According to The Car Book by Jack Gillis, the Wrangler is less expensive to operate than the Explorer because it costs $49 less to do the manufacturer’s suggested maintenance for 50,000 miles. Typical repairs cost much less on the Wrangler than the Explorer, including $91 less for a water pump, $368 less for an alternator, $42 less for a starter, $77 less for a fuel pump, $304 less for front struts, $461 less for a timing belt/chain and $70 less for a power steering pump.

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