Full 2013 Jeep Wrangler Review
What's New for 2013
The 2013 Jeep Wrangler gets more comfortable, easier-to-use seats, a new tire pressure monitoring system that displays individual tire pressures, and a premium Alpine sound system. Unlimited models get a soft top that's easier to raise and lower and an available premium soft top. A limited-edition 10th-Anniversary Rubicon model includes upgraded off-road features and a special "Anniversary Red" interior. Finally, the new Moab Edition package bundles a variety of standard features with special exterior and interior styling details.
The 2013 Jeep Wrangler proves you don't have to follow trends to achieve sales success. Today's SUV class is populated by car-based, city-friendly crossovers, but back when the segment first launched, those first models were rough-and-tumble rock climbers ready for anything. The Wrangler remains a rare holdout that still ascribes to this original formula, and its uniquely rugged personality has won it a consistent and fiercely loyal following.
The Wrangler is a purpose-built machine that exudes a certain stark charm. Its off-road skills are second to none; the Wrangler is a veritable mountain goat, ready to tackle whatever mountain or ravine you throw its way. Removing the doors and roof brings you closer to the elements, and though the ride is rough, this Jeep can be an entertaining companion around town. With its upright stance and angular silhouette, the Wrangler oozes boxy machismo in a sea of curvy crossovers.
Still, Wrangler ownership comes with notable drawbacks. That rugged ride quality can grow tiresome if you drive the Jeep daily. Nor is a soft-top Wrangler built with tranquility in mind, so prepare to speak in your outside voice if you want to converse with passengers. The soft top can be a pain to install and remove (but gets easier with repetition) and makes the Wrangler vulnerable to theft. An optional hardtop solves both of these problems, but adds cost. Finally, braking distances and side crash-test ratings are also disappointing.
If the Wrangler's idiosyncrasies are unacceptable and you'd prefer a more livable take on the outdoorsy SUV, consider the Nissan Xterra or Toyota FJ Cruiser. But for many, as evidenced by its status as one of Jeep's top sellers, the 2013 Jeep Wrangler's rustic appeal cannot be denied.
Body Styles, Trim Levels, and Options
The 2013 Jeep Wrangler is a convertible SUV available in two-door Wrangler and four-door Wrangler Unlimited versions. Each comes in Sport, Sahara and Rubicon trims.
The Sport comes sparsely equipped with 16-inch steel wheels, front and rear tow hooks, foglamps, a removable soft top, crank windows, manual locks and mirrors, cruise control, a tilt-only steering wheel, a height-adjustable driver seat and a six-speaker sound system with an auxiliary audio jack, CD player and steering wheel controls. The Unlimited gets a bigger gas tank, four doors, more backseat and trunk space, air-conditioning and a 60/40 split-folding rear seat. The Power Convenience Group adds heated power mirrors, an auto-dimming rearview mirror, power locks and windows and keyless entry. Air-conditioning (two-door), satellite radio, a leather-wrapped steering wheel and 17-inch alloy wheels are also optional.
The Sahara adds the above options plus 18-inch alloy wheels, an upgraded suspension, under-hood insulation, side steps, automatic headlamps, body-colored fender flares and a six-speaker Alpine sound system.
The Rubicon is not the most abundantly equipped trim level, but rather the trim that boasts the most robust off-road credentials. On top of the base Sport equipment, the Rubicon adds special 17-inch wheels, 32-inch tires, heavy-duty axles and transfer case, electronic front and rear locking differentials, a disconnecting front sway bar, rock rails, air-conditioning, a leather-wrapped steering wheel and satellite radio. The Power Convenience Group is optional on the two-door, but standard on the Unlimited.
The limited-edition Rubicon 10th Anniversary Edition model, new for 2013, features a 0.5-inch increase in ride height relative to the standard Rubicon model, special off-road tires, front and rear steel off-road bumpers, Mopar rock rails, taillamp guards, unique badging, red leather upholstery and a unique gauge cluster.
The Connectivity Group is available across all trims, and adds Bluetooth, a USB/iPod interface, an upgraded trip computer and a tire pressure monitoring display, as well as a leather-wrapped wheel on the Sport.
The Freedom Edition package is offered on Sport models and bundles most of that trim's optional features along with rock rails, unique front and rear bumpers and body-colored fender flares. Sahara models are eligible for the Moab package, which similarly bundles a variety of optional features plus upgraded body add-ons.
Across all trims, a multi-piece removable hardtop with a rear defroster and wiper is optional with or without the standard soft top. It comes standard in textured black, but can be had in body color on the Sahara and Rubicon.
Optional on the Sport and two-door Rubicon are a limited-slip differential and half doors that include plastic side windows. The Sahara and Rubicon can be equipped with leather upholstery and heated front seats, automatic climate control and a navigation system that includes a touchscreen interface, digital music storage and real-time traffic. A premium black soft top is available across all trims.
Powertrains and Performance
The 2013 Jeep Wrangler comes standard with a 3.6-liter V6 that produces 285 horsepower and 260 pound-feet of torque. Four-wheel drive is also standard and includes high- and low-range transfer case gears, though the Rubicon features an upgraded transfer case with extra-low gearing. A six-speed manual transmission with hill-start assist is standard, while a five-speed automatic is optional.
In Edmunds performance testing, a manual-equipped two-door Wrangler went from zero to 60 mph in a surprisingly quick 7.1 seconds. A heavier Wrangler Unlimited with the automatic transmission did it in 8.8 seconds. EPA-estimated fuel economy for the two-door is 17 mpg city/21 mpg highway and 18 mpg combined regardless of transmission. The Unlimited is 16/20/18 with the automatic and 16/21 with the manual.
The 2013 Jeep Wrangler comes standard with antilock disc brakes, traction and stability control, and hill start assist. Front side airbags are optional. In Edmunds brake testing, both two- and four-door Wranglers came to a stop from 60 mph in about 140 feet.
It should be noted that the Wrangler's doors do not provide the same level of protection as regular doors do in a side crash. As such, it won't surprise that the Wrangler doesn't fare well in the Insurance Institute for Highway Safety's side crash test. Without side airbags, the two-door Wrangler earned the worst rating of "Poor," while the Unlimited got the second-worst "Marginal." The Wrangler did, however, get the best possible rating of "Good" in the frontal-offset test.
Interior Design and Special Features
Though the Wrangler has been refined and civilized over the years, there's no hiding the fact that, at heart, the interior prioritizes function over comfort. Lean and durable, the cabin can be easily cleaned after a day spent in the dirt and dust. It's also fairly attractive, with rounded lines that give it a fluid, organic look.
With the two-door, you'll find a backseat that seats just two passengers. Leg- and foot room in back are also pretty limited. If that isn't sufficient, the Unlimited offers room for three and its extra set of doors provides easier access. The four-door also offers a substantial 86 cubic feet of cargo space with the second row folded.
This year, Unlimited models get a revised soft top that's slightly easier to use, although raising and lowering the top still remains a challenge. This is true of all soft tops in the Wrangler lineup. Storing cargo within the vehicle is risky, since the soft top is easily compromised by thieves and only the meager glovebox and center console can be locked. The optional hardtop, which features removable T-top-style panels over the front seats, is a smart solution for those who don't intend to routinely go completely al fresco.
If your mission is to blaze trails off-road, you won't do much better than the 2013 Jeep Wrangler. The Rubicon trim is especially capable, thanks to its specialized hardware. The Wrangler Unlimited four-door isn't as nimble on tight trails as the shorter two-door model, but more generous cabin space means you can carry additional gear. The four-door also feels more stable around corners and on the highway. Nonetheless, all Wranglers suffer from tippy handling, a rough ride and steering that is kindly described as nebulous. Road and wind noise are also excessive.
While the Wrangler won't win any drag races, its V6 is capable and gets the heavy SUV moving briskly. The standard six-speed manual features precise but long throws and an easily modulated clutch. The five-speed automatic, meanwhile, offers decent power delivery and good fuel economy.