By KBB.com Editors
KBB Expert Rating: 6.7
Although it is larger and safer than past models wearing the CJ and Wrangler nameplate, the 2013 Jeep Wrangler is still true to its heritage as America's best-loved off-road escape artist. A wide model range spans the spectrum, from the basic 2-door soft-top Sport, to the maxed-out trail-blazing Rubicon. The Wrangler Unlimited includes a stretched wheelbase and four doors, as well as an available removable hard top with configurable roof panels. Powered by Chrysler's new Pentastar V6, the Jeep Wrangler for 2013 delivers an excellent balance of power and fuel economy; the Wrangler is also one of the last off-road vehicles still to offer a manual transmission.
Whether your outdoor passions rest at the top of a mountain, near the ocean's surface, or someplace in between, the Wrangler can get you there without breaking a sweat. Open-air devotees will love the 360-degree view.
The same suspension and wheel/tire combo that allows the Jeep Wrangler to venture over rough terrain also creates a rather rough and unsophisticated on-road driving experience. If your off-road needs are light-to-moderate, a Subaru Outback or Toyota 4Runner might make a better choice.
Improvements for the 2013 Wrangler include new seats with larger side bolsters, additional interior lighting and an available Alpine speaker system. Changes to the soft top make it easier for one person to operate, and there is a new premium cloth option that is easier to clean and triple-layered for better sound deadening.
Driving Impressions What we like best about the Jeep Wrangler is that it still delivers the things that make off-roaders happy. Among those attributes are separate body-and-frame construction, live axles front and...rear and enough ground clearance to drive over a (large) sleeping dog without doing damage to dog or the Jeep. Despite the tall center of gravity, oversized tires and rudimentary suspension, Jeep engineers have done a remarkable job of taming the beast within, endowing this newest Wrangler SUV with precise steering and a suspension that keeps the tires in secure contact with the paved surfaces beneath it. Off-road, the 2013 Wrangler is everything you want in a 4WD trail rig, given its ability to poke along at a walking speed. Add real horsepower to the crawling, and favorable gearing for the hauling, and you arguably have the most competent Jeep Wrangler in the brand's 70-year history.
3.6-LITER PENTASTAR V6
Jeep's Pentastar V6 is the final piece in the Wrangler puzzle. With ample power, smooth operation and decidedly improved highway fuel economy, this engine suits the Wrangler like a well-worn glove. And, when equipped with the available 5-speed automatic, refinement goes up while losing very little – if any – capability or efficiency.
ELECTRONIC DISCONNECTING SWAY BAR
When the off-road trail gets seriously treacherous, the Wrangler's front sway bar can be electronically disconnected, which allows greater wheel travel. Once back on paved roads, a push of a button reconnects the sway bar.
Our test Wrangler, a Sahara Unlimited SUV trimmed in Black/Dark Saddle leather, was just this side of sumptuous. Lower in the food chain is the base Sport, whose cloth-covered seats can best be described as functional. And although the Wrangler Unlimited's folding rear seat creates a spacious – and flat – load surface, the headrests don't easily detach for folding, which necessitates moving the front seats as far forward as possible when you're in a hurry to increase cargo space.Exterior
With each generation, the Jeep Wrangler engineering team increases the vehicle's size. That was never more evident than in the 2007 redesign, when the 2-door Wrangler grew and the 4-door Wrangler Unlimited was first introduced. In its Unlimited form, the Wrangler SUV stretches almost 15 feet and weighs almost 4,500 pounds. Still, the 2013 Wrangler's off-road intentions remain clear, with minimal overhangs front and rear and the highly-familiar Jeep shape. The exterior design retains a greenhouse that provides excellent visibility of both the trail and adjacent scenery. New for 2013 is the Moab Special Edition that adds gloss black wheels, Trak-loc anti-spin and electronically-locking rear differential.
The 2013 Jeep Wrangler SUV's 285 horsepower is among its most notable features, but with additional power comes the need for enhanced control. Jeep engineers have added a full menu of safety and security, including electronic stability control, electronic roll mitigation, Hill-start Assist and Trailer-sway Control. Add the aggressive 4WD technology on the off-road-oriented Rubicon, and the most difficult trails become almost laughably easy.
The Wrangler's optional 5-speed automatic transmission provides the driver with more efficiency, better use of the new V6's torque curve and, with a lower 1st-gear ratio, better ability to crawl those rocks. And Jeep is one of the few manufacturers providing you a choice of rear-end ratios (3.21, 3.73 or 4.10). That choice allows the owner to truly tailor the Wrangler to his or her specific driving needs. Comfort and convenience options include Bluetooth, navigation, Alpine speakers, leather trimmed seats and heated front seats.
The 3.6-liter V6 in the 2013 Jeep Wrangler is truly a revelation. Featuring alloy construction, the 60-degree V6 is lighter and more compact than the previous 3.8-liter found in the 2011 Wrangler. And, with 285 horsepower, the perceived need for a V8 is all but eliminated. With that, we continue to wish that Jeep would make available the diesel sold in many markets outside of the U.S. The diesel's superior torque, along with an increase in fuel economy, would be all the new EPA regulations – and Jeep consumers – might ask for.
3.6 liter V6
285 horsepower @ 6,400 rpm
260 lb.-ft. of torque @ 4,800 rpm
EPA city/highway fuel economy: 17/21 mpg (Wrangler), 16/20 mpg (Wrangler Unlimited, automatic), 16/21 mpg (Wrangler Unlimited, manual)
By Tj on Monday, December 22, 2014
I own this car - My approximate mileage is 18,000overall rating 10 of 10rating details
Pros: "Well built, comfortable and fun to drive."
Likely to recommend this car? (1-10): 10
"Retired to Northern Arizona and realized a 4 wheel drive was a great toy. Never owned a Jeep and really did not want to. Ended up buying a '04 cheap Jeep and really enjoyed it. Decided to move up and bought a used '12 and really fell in love with Jeep. A/C, auto, nice V6 and trans. Very comfortable and, so far, reliable. Seems to be very well built and it is comfortable. It really has no competition for true off road capability. My wife has claimed it as hers......oh well."
By Michle on Monday, December 22, 2014
I own this car - My approximate mileage is 13,700overall rating 10 of 10rating details
Pros: "Fun to drive"
Likely to recommend this car? (1-10): 10
"I bought this Jeep one year ago new, and i love it.I put over sized mud terrains on it, and it even drives better than stock tires.I am so thrilled with the power it has compared to the older models.So fun to drive, i love being in the Jeep family now.."
By dew on Friday, December 19, 2014
I own this car - My approximate mileage is 19,900overall rating 9 of 10rating details
Pros: "Great Engine"
Cons: "Needs a metal oil filter housing or spin on filter"
Likely to recommend this car? (1-10): 9
"Todays Jeep Wrangler has to do more than ever before. It goes down the highway at 70 all day long with ease with the 285 HP it tows my trailer loaded with my atv and camping gear. It Plows through snow, rain, muddy roads, Over small obstacles with ease. And it looks GREAT. I opted for the 6 speed manual and three piece hardtop. The ride is smooth and the fuel economy is awesome. My 07 Rubicon only pulled 14MPH but with the new 3.6Ltr I can get 25 MPH when I baby it back and forth to work. I have the 3.21 gears and 225/75/16 stock tires this puts going 70 at only 2000RPM. And at 55 in 6th gear it just cruises. Id give this wonderful version of the Jeep Wrangler a 9.9 of 10. I simply love it and hope to heck they keep the manual transmission available. I LOVE rowing through the gears."
2 people out of 4 found this review helpful
By jkoffroader on Wednesday, December 03, 2014
I own this car - My approximate mileage is 1,500overall rating 10 of 10rating details
Pros: "Fun to drive, comfortable, off-roading"
Cons: "Not cheap!"
Likely to recommend this car? (1-10): 10
"I have owned Wranglers for 7+ years now and I have to say my 2014 Jeep Wrangler Rubicon is the best one yet. It's very comfortable and I love to power of the 3.5l pentastar engine. I really like the 430N stereo--easy to use and the navigation is garmin based. Yes Jeeps are expensive but they hold their value really well. When I traded my 2013 in, I got almost what I paid for it new. It's a great vehicle and you will not be disappointed one bit."
5 people out of 11 found this review helpful
By Dark angel on Sunday, November 23, 2014
I own this car - My approximate mileage is 25,900overall rating 8 of 10rating details
Pros: "Looks great inside and out, good price"
Cons: "Not a city or highway ride"
Likely to recommend this car? (1-10): 8
"Best looking Jeep ever, inside and out. That being said? Wish the 4.0 was back or I'd waited for the 3.6. The ongoing leaking roof that took the better part of 2 years to fix with multiple visits was my only major turn off. I expect to bail water in a boat, not in my vehicle. I'm a Jeep fan, especially liked seeing 98% American made, a huge selling point. That alone would keep me buying Jeeps. That it looks good doesn't, hurt either."
6 people out of 10 found this review helpful
By Greg on Saturday, November 22, 2014
I own this car - My approximate mileage is 15,000overall rating 1 of 10rating details
Pros: "4 doors, good stereo, better door handles, comfort"
Cons: "everything else. TJ is a much better value"
Likely to recommend this car? (1-10): 1
"This vehicle is a pavement pounder plain and simple. It has all the fancy gadgets and performance mods that make it perform great off-road, but overall it is built very fragile. There are also several little things that could have been designed better. There is a gap between the front fenders and bumper, and when rocks get caught in tire tread it bounces off the bumper and goes flying up to hit the windshield. Mine is already cracked from this. Jeep designed this thing for comfort, not to be the most capable factory available off-road vehicle. The roof leaks and has since it was new. There is no side protection beyond the fenders, so rocks fly up the sides and chip the paint. It is over 1000 pounds heavier than the TJ. The only things that were improved is the comfort, stereo system, the door handles, and having 4 doors. Not worth the extra $14,000."
3 people out of 8 found this review helpful