Winner: Jeep Wrangler Unlimited Moab
Based on the premium Sahara model, the Moab comes equipped with a Dana 30 front axle, Dana 44 rear axle, standard Trac-Loc differential (the Tru-Lok electric locker is optional), Command-Trac transfer case, and 31.5-inch Goodyear Wrangler SilentArmor tires. Exterior features include black-painted Rubicon aluminum wheels (measuring a conservative 17-inch diameter), premium winch-capable front bumper with foglights, premium rear bumper, Power-Dome hood with Moab decals, standard premium soft top, and black fender flares, fuel filler door, and tail lamp guards. The interior sports a black dash, black leather-wrapped steering wheel, black leather seats, new electrochromatic rearview mirror with LED interior lamps, premium individual tire pressure monitoring and Electronic Vehicle Information Center, the Connectivity Group, Alpine seven-speaker audio, slush mats, and much more. Our tester was outfitted with several options including 3.73 axle gears (replacing the standard 3.21 axle gears), rear Tru-Lok electric locking differential, body-color three-piece hardtop, and Uconnect 430N head unit with SiriusXM satellite radio and GPS navigation. Our tester's Pentastar 3.6L V-6 was bolted to the NSG370 six-speed manual transmission. Also new to the Wrangler since it competed in our 2012 FWOTY competition is re-contoured front and rear seats.
Ramp and track
The Moab crawled 45 inches up ORE's 30-degree RTI ramp. At the track, the Pentastar V-6/six-speed manual combination threw down a best 0-60 mph time of 8.5 seconds. For reference, that's a blazing 4.58 seconds faster than the 3.8L V-6/four-speed automatic-equipped '07 Wrangler Unlimited Rubicon we tested at that year's FWOTY test. In the quarter-mile, the Moab turned a best 16.7-second run at 82.7 mph. Braking was also impressive, with a best 60-0 mph stop of 142.5 feet, which is a tad less than the Trailhawk and on par with the two-door Wrangler Rubicon we tested in 2007. That number is also 4.24 feet shorter than the measurement we got from the Wrangler Unlimited Rubicon at last year's FWOTY test. We have to surmise that the new-for-'13 11.9 x 1.1-inch rear brake rotors (replacing the 12.44 x 0.47-inch rear brake rotors) were partially responsible for the decrease in stopping distance.
The Moab traversed all of the sand we threw at it, and it threw plenty back.
The inside of our Moab was a study in contrasts. On the one hand there were luxurious leather seats, a 6.5-inch touchscreen display, and a quality feel to the switchgear. On the other hand, there were thick Mopar slush mats at our feet and a Moab logo staring at us from the passenger-side grab handle. Is this Jeep ready for the country club or the trail? That question haunted one of the judges, causing him to note, "The inside is getting almost too nice for a Wrangler." In the end we all agreed that the contrast is one we can live with because none of the "luxury" items detracts from the Wranglers functionality. Another thing we can live with is the recontoured, new-for-'13 seats, which have larger bolsters. The judges were in agreement that the new seats, front and rear, are a vast improvement over the previous seats. Other interior features that impressed us was the sound quality of the audio system (which does a good job of drowning out wind noise at highway speed), the strong heat and air conditioning output, and the easy operation of the swing-open tailgate and lift glass. Complaints included a rubbery-feeling shifter that vacillated wildly on rough roads and a poorly placed rear locker button.
We dig the two-color approach to the Moab. Ours was Gecko Pearl Coat and black, and the simple, chrome-free look works for us and we think that Moab buyers will be happy that their new rig will stand out from the other Wrangler models visually. The judges were split on the design and color of the new Rubicon aluminum wheels. One judge wrote, "Nice five-spoke wheels, too bad they are black." Another said, "I prefer more traditional wheels, but they look good and modernize the overall look of the Jeep." The busy Power-Dome hood received mixed reviews as well. Unanimous praise was heaped on the new winch-ready front bumper, not only for its winch-readiness, but also for its ruggedness. One tester noted that it's a "bumper that means business." We think it's awesome.