The overall ride quality of the coil-sprung Moab was quite good, though "darty" was the term often used to describe the Moab's directional stability and handling. Judges were impressed with the power of the 3.6L V-6, though lead-footed drivers longed for more power than the engine could give in the mountains and one commented that he "wished for more bottom end." Overall, the Moab is a very street-capable machine, which says a lot considering that first and foremost it's designed to be one of the best factory off-road machines built. And speaking of off-road…
The Moab dominated almost all of our off-road testing. It "effortlessly" conquered our nasty hill climb, was "point-and-shoot" on the rocks, and "impressive" on washboard terrain and whoops. "Great shock valving and bumpstops," wrote one judge after blasting over whoops. "Feels very stable in the rocks. It's no Rubicon, but it's pretty close," wrote another. And speaking of the Rubicon model, testers were in agreement that the Moab's NV241 transfer case with its 2.72 low-range gearing was more suited to a variety of terrain than the Rubicon's 4:1 gear ratio T-case, and they were pleased that the Moab was fitted with the higher ratio T-case. The only terrain that seemed to challenge the Moab was deep sand, which caused some front axlehop and challenged the engine. Nonetheless, with the T-case in 4-Lo and the transmission in Third or Fourth gear the engine rpm's were in their happy place. The Moab traversed all of the sand we threw at it, and it threw plenty back. Strong rocker protection, lots of skidplating, and a lever-actuated T-case added to the Moab's functionality and appeal. One area we'd like to see addressed are the closed towhooks, because using them requires packing along a shackle. Not a big deal, but not everyone packs a shackle (even though they should).
In the end, the Moab dominated the Trail Performance category of scoring, which helped give it the win over the very capable Trailhawk. If you're looking for a vehicle you can comfortably commute in all week and then wheel on the weekend, the Jeep Wrangler Unlimited Moab would serve you well. Strong power, an array of comfort features, and good fuel mileage make it easy to drive daily. The flexible suspension, grippy tires, and locking rear diff help make it easy to wheel. It's a well-rounded machine with incredible off-road capabilities, and it's our 2013 Four Wheeler of the Year.
What's hot: Electric rear locker, solid axles, dialed-in suspension, fuel mileage
What's not: Closed tow hooks, darty on-road
Our take: The 2013 Four Wheeler of the Year
"I do wish the Moab had an electronic sway bar disconnect."
"This is the Wrangler I would buy."
"Great clutch pedal feel and engagement."
"Surprisingly good fuel economy considering the shape and weight."
"Great daily driver/weekend wheeling machine."
"Fun to drive, with great control and visibility."