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2013 Jeep Wrangler Unlimited Moab - Long Term Report part 1 of 4

Posted in Vehicle Reviews on October 28, 2013
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It’s been a little over seven years since Jeep launched the four-door Wrangler Unlimited platform. Fast forward to today and the family-friendly wheeler continues to evolve and maintain the off-road performance level that people expect from a Wrangler. As the winner of our 2013 Four Wheeler of the Year competition in February 2013, we have the duty to test the ’13 Jeep Wrangler Unlimited Moab edition. This Wrangler Unlimited is the exact one that we pushed hard during our initial FWOTY shootout and the one we will be putting through the paces in the next 12 months.

While theme vehicles can sometimes seem gimmicky, Jeep has proved with the Rubicon that the company is more than capable of building an extremely capable rig that is much more than a flashy sticker package. With Jeep’s Rubicon model catering to more hardcore wheeling enthusiasts, the Moab takes its place in line as a slightly tamer model that’s well suited for the average trail explorer. Named for the wheeling mecca that is Moab, Utah, (site of the annual Easter Jeep Safari), the Moab edition is a blend of luxury, performance, and durable components.

Part of the Moab’s goodies includes a winch-ready steel front bumper (that’s right, steel!), steel rear bumper, Power Dome hood, fuel filler door, and rear taillight guards. A Dana 30 front with an open differential, Dana 44 rear with a Trac-Loc, 31.5-inch Goodyear Wrangler SilentArmor tires, and 17-inch painted-black aluminum wheels are also standard on the Moab. Some of our tester’s options include a Tru-Lok electronic rear locker, 3.73:1 gear ratio, and an eye-popping Gecko Pearl paint coat and body-colored three-piece hardtop.

Jeep is a brand that is great at giving buyers what they want. The Moab edition is a case in point. No, your eyes are not fooling you. Each Moab is fitted with a heavy-duty winch-ready steel front bumper. Complementing the front is a steel rear bumper and a Moab-specific set of rock rails. Not too shabby for a “stock” Jeep.

Our tester’s 3.6L V-6 and NSG370 six-speed manual is unchanged from the ’12 model year, and still provides a nice balance of power and control. Sure, we’ll likely always complain about wanting more power, but let’s be thankful that the 3.8L days are behind us. And for those who think 285hp isn’t an impressive figure, consider this. During the 2013 FWOTY 0-to-60 evaluations against the 5.7L V-8 Hemi-powered Grand Cherokee Trailhawk, the Moab Wrangler Unlimited beat it with a time of 8.5 seconds (the Grand came in at 9.3). Both are impressive Jeeps in their own right, but the 3.6L is turning out to be a solid powerplant.

Mounted to the six-speed gear box is a NV241 transfer case that’s fitted with a 2.72:1 low range. The 45.3 crawl ratio makes it a very versatile wheeler, but there are times where a bit more torque would be nice in the rocks. We suspect this wouldn’t be as much of a need on models equipped with the automatic transmission. Our tester will spend the majority of its time in the southeast, where wheelspin is often needed. The 2.72:1 low range and manual transmission should give us plenty of gearing options.

All-new and ultra-comfy leather seats (with a heated option), Uconnect 430N satellite radio with navigation, and an extremely informative Electronic Vehicle Information Center bring the ’13’s interior up a peg. We like the interior refinement, and have learned to really appreciate the creature comforts on both long and short drives. Sure, the auto settings on the HVAC could be better, but on a rig that is designed with a removable top and doors, we didn’t expect them to be flawless.

While we try not to get too caught up on a rig’s looks (since beauty is in the eye of the beholder), it’s worth noting them on the Moab. We’re not sure if it’s the bumpers and black wheels, or the Gecko Pearl paint job, but over the past few months we have had more people approach us about the Jeep than nearly anything else we’ve ever driven. We don’t mind at all, but are blown away at how much this stock green Jeep is a people magnet. At first we were torn as to whether the green was a bit much, but most people seem to dig it! At least we will never lose the Jeep in the parking lot!

So far we’ve managed to log over 1,500 miles of on- and off-road driving in the first quarter. Hitting the road with heated-leather seats, satellite radio, and clean interior trimmings almost makes you forget that the Wrangler was designed with a removable top and doors. With the weather finally warming up, we will be engaging four-wheel drive more often, especially at the coastal beaches along the Carolina Coast. Be sure to check back for our second quarter installment, where we’ll have even more time spent in the dirt and behind the wheel of one brightly colored Moab Wrangler.

We give the Moab’s Power Dome hood a big thumbs up for styling, but two thumbs down for practicality. Our tester is parked outside the majority of the time, which means nature tends to make the hood a birdbath after a rain storm. Any tree droppings or droppings in general will fill the hood as well. For those with previous generation JK Wranglers that experience a slight hood flutter at highway speeds and gusty days, don’t worry, the ’13 edition does it as well. We know the hood isn’t going to fly up, but it is a little funny to watch it move while cruising down the road.

Options As Tested
Customer Preferred Package 23M ($5,300), 3.73:1 rear axle ratio ($95), Tru-Lok locking rear axle ($1,500), air conditioning with automatic temperature control and air filtering ($155), body-color three-piece hardtop ($1,395), Uconnect 430N CD/DVD/MP3/HDD/NAV ($1,035)

Report: 1 OF 4
Previous reports: None
Base price: $31,195
Price as tested: $41,600
Four-wheel-drive system: Lever-actuated part-time, two-speed

Long-Term Numbers
Miles to date: 1,573
Miles since last report: 0
Average mpg (this report): 17.16
Test best tank (mpg): 19.32 (all highway between 65-70 mph)
Test worst tank (mpg): 14.89 (off-road/in-town driving mix)

This period: None
Problem areas: None

What’s Hot, What’s Not
Hot: Ultra-comfy front seats, great look, real bumpers and heavy-duty sliders
Not: Hood fills with water and debris, look-at-me green paint, hood still flutters at highway speed

Logbook Quotes
“Most comfortable Wrangler seats by far.”
“No, they didn’t have a brighter green available.”
“It doesn’t feel like a Wrangler on the inside, but it still works like one.” “This Jeep is a people magnet.”

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