• Sign in
  • |
  • Sign up

Car Review

2013 Jeep Wrangler: New Car Review

See all Jeep Wrangler articles
Jeep cars, trucks and SUVs Ford cars, trucks and SUVs Toyota cars, trucks and SUVs Honda cars, trucks and SUVs Chevrolet cars, trucks and SUVs Nissan cars, trucks and SUVs Hyundai cars, trucks and SUVs Mercedes-Benz cars, trucks and SUVs
Acura cars, trucks and SUVs Alfa Romeo cars, trucks and SUVs Aston Martin cars, trucks and SUVs Audi cars, trucks and SUVs Bentley cars, trucks and SUVs BMW cars, trucks and SUVs Buick cars, trucks and SUVs Cadillac cars, trucks and SUVs Chevrolet cars, trucks and SUVs Chrysler cars, trucks and SUVs Dodge cars, trucks and SUVs Ferrari cars, trucks and SUVs FIAT cars, trucks and SUVs Ford cars, trucks and SUVs Freightliner cars, trucks and SUVs GMC cars, trucks and SUVs Honda cars, trucks and SUVs Hyundai cars, trucks and SUVs Infiniti cars, trucks and SUVs Jaguar cars, trucks and SUVs Jeep cars, trucks and SUVs Kia cars, trucks and SUVs Lamborghini cars, trucks and SUVs Land Rover cars, trucks and SUVs Lexus cars, trucks and SUVs Lincoln cars, trucks and SUVs Maserati cars, trucks and SUVs Mazda cars, trucks and SUVs McLaren cars, trucks and SUVs Mercedes-Benz cars, trucks and SUVs MINI cars, trucks and SUVs Mitsubishi cars, trucks and SUVs Nissan cars, trucks and SUVs Porsche cars, trucks and SUVs RAM cars, trucks and SUVs Rolls-Royce cars, trucks and SUVs Scion cars, trucks and SUVs smart cars, trucks and SUVs Subaru cars, trucks and SUVs Tesla cars, trucks and SUVs Toyota cars, trucks and SUVs Volkswagen cars, trucks and SUVs Volvo cars, trucks and SUVs

author photo by Joe Tralongo November 2012

Pros: Open-air cockpit; great off-road ability; wide variety of trims and price ranges; it's a Jeep

Cons: Average fuel economy; marginal side-impact crash tests; lots of plastic bits; uncomfortable rear seat

What's New: For 2013, Jeep has improved on the Wrangler's folding roof design, making it easier to operate and offering a triple-layer soft-top for a quieter interior. Additional interior lighting is added, as is an available Alpine speaker system. The 2013 Jeep Wrangler introduces a limited edition Moab trim with Rubicon-style wheels, Trak-loc rear diff and a premium soft-top. New wheel designs for Rubicon and Sahara round out the changes.

What does it say when a vehicle not known for its outstanding safety features, excellent gas mileage or sophisticated suspension is also one of the best known, best loved vehicles on the road today? It says that sometimes fun and freedom trump caution and logic, and no vehicle says it better than the 2013 Jeep Wrangler and its elongated sibling, the Wrangler Unlimited.

The freedom to roam, to go where you want when you want and not worry about getting stuck, is what Wrangler owners love most about their four-wheeling friend. The Wrangler offers freedom to travel topless, doorless and even windshieldless, if you choose. Jeep's philosophy seems to be that if you have to drive, why settle for a boring 4-door sedan when you can have a Wrangler instead?

The Wrangler comes in a number of flavors, all adept at handling off-road adventures, so opting for the most affordable Wrangler only requires sacrificing creature comforts, not capability. Although its shape still strongly resembles the original CJs of the 70s and 80s, the 2013 Jeep Wrangler is much larger in both length and width. In addition to the 2-door model, the 4-door Unlimited expands the Wrangler's fun to growing families who need the extra space. Regardless of which you choose, both are available with removable soft-top or hard-top shells.

For 2013, Jeep continues to offer a Wrangler trim to fit just about every need, niche and income bracket. The Jeep Wrangler is available in Sport, Sport S, Sahara and Rubicon, as well as special edition packages that include the Moab.

Comfort & Utility

The Wrangler is still a rugged beast, but it has been tamed over the years to become a rather civilized 4x4. You won't find a highly useful interior space or a whisper-quiet cabin, but many things once thought of as luxuries are considered necessities for the modern off-roader. Thus, the Wrangler now has power windows, a GPS navigation radio and Bluetooth hands-free cell phone connectivity. Heated seats, leather upholstery and automatic climate controls are options.

The Wrangler's front seats are actually quite comfortable, with tall backs and wide seat bottoms, but the rear seats are a bit upright and narrow; however, the rear seat does feature a fold-and-tumble feature that makes it easy to increase the cargo bay without having to pull the seats out and store them. The interior gets a heavy dose of hard plastic--good for durability but not terribly attractive or comfortable for resting one's arm.

Saving this vehicle to yourMy Autotrader account
Are you sure you want to delete?
Used 2013 Jeep Wrangler 4WD Unlimited Rubicon
Used 2013 Jeep Wrangler
Saving this vehicle to yourMy Autotrader account
Are you sure you want to delete?
Used 2013 Jeep Wrangler Sport
Used 2013 Jeep Wrangler
Saving this vehicle to yourMy Autotrader account
Are you sure you want to delete?
Used 2013 Jeep Wrangler Sahara
Used 2013 Jeep Wrangler
Saving this vehicle to yourMy Autotrader account
Are you sure you want to delete?
Used 2013 Jeep Wrangler Sport
Used 2013 Jeep Wrangler

Four-door Unlimited models ride on a longer wheelbase that offers more rear-seat legroom and space for more gear. But the Wrangler's greatest versatility is found in its numerous roof options. Opt for the soft-top and you'll get a sliding front panel that can be retracted to create a sunroof-like opening; the top can also be folded back completely and stowed behind the rear seat or removed. The Freedom Top option includes a hard shell top with removable roof panels, a glass rear window with wiper and full metal doors. For a custom look, both Sahara and Rubicon trims can be ordered with a body-color hard top.


Although the Wrangler isn't exactly a paragon of technology, it does offer some fairly advanced electronics. The UConnect option brings with it Bluetooth, Sirius satellite radio, iPod and USB integration and on-board navigation radio with maps by Garmin. Audiophiles will be thrilled by the 368-watt Infinity sound system that includes an overhead speaker bar so you can take your music with you even when you leave the top and doors behind.

On the Rubicon model, the standard Command-Trac 4x4 system is replaced by the Rock-Trac option that includes lower gear ratios for slower rock crawling, electronic locking differentials and an electronically disconnecting front sway bar. Also standard on the Rubicon is a Dana 44 front axle, additional skidplate protection and 32-inch BFGoodrich Mud-Terrain tires.

Performance & Fuel Economy

Chrysler's Pentastar 3.6-liter V6 engine is standard on every Wrangler and Wrangler Unlimited. With 285 horsepower and 260 lb-ft of torque, the Jeep earns decent fuel economy with an Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) mileage rating of 17-mpg city and 21-mpg highway, regardless of whether you choose the 6-speed manual or 5-speed automatic transmission. This engine has excellent low-end torque, is powerful and smooth and is a perfect match to the Wrangler's new image as an upscale upstart.


Despite its removable top and doors, the 2013 Jeep Wrangler has performed well in crash tests. The Insurance Institute for Highway Safety (IIHS) gave the Wrangler Unlimited a "good" rating in its frontal offset crash test, with a "marginal" rating in the side-impact test for models without the optional side airbags. Standard safety equipment for all Wranglers includes electronic traction and stability control, electronic roll mitigation, Hill Start Assist and Hill Descent Control.

Driving Impressions

Considering its solid front and rear axles, 10-in ground clearance and off-road tires, the Wrangler can't be expected to handle well by modern SUV standards. But the Wrangler is easy to manage under normal driving conditions, with good feedback from the steering and fairly level cornering at reasonable speeds. The ride is still rough, and there's not much shelter from wind and road noise, but that is to be expected.

Where the Wrangler shines is off the pavement. The base 4x4 system is remarkably adept at tackling snow, mud and sand. Unfortunately, unlike more modern 4WD systems, the Wrangler cannot operate at highway speeds with its 4WD system engaged. Serious off-road enthusiasts will love the Rubicon, which features an electronically detachable front sway bar, allowing for maximum wheel travel, a Dana 44 front axle and a 73:1 crawl ratio that lets you crawl at speeds as low as half a mile an hour.

Other Cars to Consider

Toyota FJ Cruiser - The FJ Cruiser is a fairly competent off-road vehicle, but it's not as flexible as the Wrangler, comes only in a 2-door version and has a fixed roof with plenty of blind spots.

Nissan Xterra - A nicely equipped Xterra is less expensive than the Wrangler, and it is pretty good for modest off-road adventures. But the Xterra lacks the adept suspension and the slow rock-crawling capability of the Rubicon, and like the others in this group it doesn't offer the option of a removable top.

Jeep Grand Cherokee - If you're looking for great off-road ability in a vehicle that carries the legendary Jeep name but offers better safety and a more carlike ride and interior, you might be happier in a well-equipped Grand Cherokee Laredo.

AutoTrader Recommends

If all you need in a vehicle is the basic 4x4 ability and the open-air cockpit of the Wrangler, you can't go wrong with the Sport S trim. It has a very reasonable sticker price, comes nicely equipped and can take you anywhere the more expensive Sahara can. If you're serious about off-roading, there is only one choice: the Rubicon. Short of a HUMMER H1, there is no vehicle we'd rather take off-road.

This image is a stock photo and is not an exact representation of any vehicle offered for sale. Advertised vehicles of this model may have styling, trim levels, colors and optional equipment that differ from the stock photo.
2013 Jeep Wrangler: New Car Review - Autotrader