2013 Jeep Wrangler Unlimited Sport 4X4 Review
Spending a week with Jeep's old-school rock crawler.
Web2Carz Contributing Writer
Published: March 11th, 2013
There are some vehicles that just make no sense. The Jeep Wrangler and its four-door Unlimited version is in that category.
Sure, the Wrangler makes sense to some people--those who want to spend their weekends boulder-bashing on off-road trails or who have an emotional attachment to nostalgia. But as a daily driver, well, it wouldn't be our first choice.
That's the point, of course. Jeep--and many Jeep buyers--will happily trade creature comforts for the Wrangler experience. It's why Jeep still even bothers to build the Wrangler, despite Jeep offering more civilized models--like the Grand Cherokee--in its own lineup and rising fuel-economy standards. That doesn't mean living with a Wrangler always matches up to its rugged image.
On the Road
Jeep has made improvements to the Wrangler's overall performance in recent years. The 3.6-liter V-6 that first appeared in 2012 models provides solid acceleration, unlike the underpowered engines of yore, and the steering no longer feels completely disconnected from the road.
That's not shocking, of course, since the Wrangler wasn't built for that kind of driving. But it does itself no favors in sedate commuting, either. The ride is truck-like, the mushy brakes are noticeable even in normal driving, and at 16 mpg city/20 mpg highway, it sucks gas in a hurry. Even when taking a corner slowly, the Wrangler demands concentration, as it feels tippy while turning.
It's clear that the Wrangler has one mission: to go off-road. There are SUVs that strike a good balance between utility and on-road comfort, but the Wrangler isn't one of them.
The classic Wrangler look hasnâ€™t changed much over the years, meaning it's still instantly recognizable. It looks as rugged as ever, and adding two more doors doesn't harm the look one bit. We can see why Wranglers get sold on image, no matter how much they leave to be desired as a daily driver.
Jeep has tried to bring the interior up to modern standards while keeping it off-road ready, but there's still some things missing. A dead pedal (also known as a footrest) for the left foot would be nice, and the exposed door straps rubbed up against our ankles while driving. Legroom was tight up front for our tallest tester, and the stereo still has the look and feel of older Chrysler units. Additionally, it refused to play music from our iPhone after we hung up from a Bluetooth hands-free phone call.
The interior isn't entirely primitive, since there is satellite radio, the aforementioned Bluetooth, and an iPod connection. Plus, the simplistic controls are easy to use. Just don't expect lots of luxury here.
The Wrangler is one of the few single-purpose machines left on the market. Most cars, trucks, and SUVs try to cover as many bases as possible. Only hard core off-roaders and the most performance-oriented sports cars throw that pretense to the wind, as the Wrangler does.
If you like your nostalgia with easier rear-seat access and entry, the Wrangler does what it's supposed to. And while this version is a much better daily driver than Wranglers of yore, it still doesn't work well as a commuter.
The Wrangler may be great on an off-road trail. But it's not fun to live with on the drive there.
Specs, Features, Prices
Engine: 3.6-liter V-6
Transmission: Five-speed automatic
Drive Wheels: Four-wheel-drive
Fuel Economy: 16 mpg city/20 mpg highway
Base Price: $25,695
As-tested price: $32,310
Available Features: Bluetooth, USB port, auxiliary port, UConnect voice recognition, skid plates for fuel tank and transfer case, hill descent control, heavy duty front and rear axles, power heated outside mirrors, power door locks, remote keyless entry.
• For more information such as specs, prices, and photos of the 2013 Jeep Wrangler Unlimited, click here: 2013 Jeep Wrangler Unlimited.