It has been a lot of years since I have had a Jeep Wrangler. The truth is, they change so infrequently that a review is good for a decade or longer. My review vehicle for the week is 2013 Jeep Wrangler Sport, sort of the bottom of the line of the Wrangler models. Since the 2012 model year, all Wranglers are 4-wheel drive.
Also for 2012, Chrysler put their much-heralded Pentastar V6 in the Wrangler, a move that was long overdue. The 3.6-liter V6 produces 285-horses, a big jump from the older Wranglers, and my tester has a 6-speed manual transmission. The Pentastar engine gives the Wrangler the feeling that it could climb anything, and that is probably not too far from reality.
The 2-door is more capable in off-road situations than its 4-door cousins, especially in tight turns and really steep grades. The down side is the 4-door feels more stable and has a smoother ride. The Jeep-purist that uses the Wrangler for its original purpose will probably want the 2-door Wrangler.
The interior of the Wrangler Sport, even this down-the-line model, is much nicer than I remember from the last one I had. The seats are comfortable and easy to adjust. As always, nothing is complicated in a Jeep, and it is clear the interior is made for fighting off dust and mud. The radio is easy to operate, as is the air conditioning system and it is all within easy reach.
While it is cool that you can take the canvas top off the Wrangler, you can even take the doors and windshield off for the full effect, it also creates some challenges. The top is not easy to get off by any stretch. You also have to be careful what you keep in it, the soft top keeps you from securing anything that won’t fit in the glove box or center console.
Wrangler has stayed true to its roots and philosophy of basics, yet the changes from 2011 loom large. The 2013 certainly is improved under the hood, and on the inside for comfort. The Gecko Pearl (lime green) Wrangler I have has Bluetooth, power windows and locks, power heated mirrors, and even keyless entry system. It has a back seat, but you better be small.
Driving in the city reminds me of why I always tell first time Jeep Wrangler owners to take a long test drive before buying one, they aren’t for everyone. The Wrangler soft-top is loud, you get wind noise, the Wrangler 2-door rides extremely rough, and they are not cheap. It is nothing I would want to drive except on weekends, but the people that love the Jeep Wrangler, REALLY love it.
What I liked most: Its off-road capability and the new engine.
What I would change: There has to be an easier way to get this top off and on.
MSRP: $22,000 base price, $28,125 as tested.
Fuel Economy: Rated at 17 in town, 21 on the highway.
Warranty: 3 year/36000 bumper-to-bumper, 5 year/100,000 on the powertrain, with roadside assistance.
2013 Wrangler in a few words: Not for everyone, but if you go off-road, there is nothing more capable for the money.