KBB Editors' Overview
By KBB.com Editors - Updated Date: 9/1/2012
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.
You'll Like This Car If...
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.
You May Not Like This Car If...
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.
What's New for 2013
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.
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.
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.
Notable Standard Equipment
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.
Notable Optional Equipment
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.
Under the Hood
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)
Jeep's Wrangler for 2013 continues to be the most democratic of off-road SUV choices, with a Manufacturer's Suggested Retail Price (MSRP) starting around $23,000. The Wrangler Unlimited is some $3,500 more expensive, and an upscale Sahara or Rubicon can easily approach – or exceed – $40,000. To the Wrangler's credit, it enjoys historically high resale value, with three-year-old examples projected to return almost 60 percent of their original window sticker. Should you consider a Wrangler for aggressive off-roading, a fully-loaded top-of-the-line Rubicon, even with a window sticker around $40,000, is an absolute steal when comparing its investment to that of upgrading a lesser Wrangler through the 4WD aftermarket. To make your best deal, be sure to check our Fair Purchase Price to see what others in your area typically pay for the Jeep Wrangler.