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Jeep Wrangler Moab - 2013 4x4 Of The Year Winner Wrapup

Posted in Vehicle Reviews on October 17, 2014
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The 2013 Jeep Moab Wrangler won our 2013 4x4 of the Year test for a reason—it deserved it (Feb. ’14). Our test is heavily weighted on off-road capability, and the Moab trounced the competition. Jeep let us hold onto the winner a while, giving us the chance to wheel it for a long-term evaluation.

Named after one of the most famous 4x4 areas in the world, the Moab is positioned between the Sahara and the Rubicon Wranglers as a vehicle intended for most trails of average to medium difficulty—and a whole lot of adventuring. Fitted with a winch-ready front steel bumper, great side rails, and an efficient rear bumper (without a receiver hitch) the Moab looks the part of a 4x4 adventure rig. Fortunately it is also equipped with a selectable rear locker and 3.73 axle gears to give it the off-road chops needed to wrangle most trails. The Moab isn’t going to cruise over such hardcore trails as the Rubicon Trail, but with careful spotting and a good amount of driving skill it could make it.

Our mileage figures averaged 15-20, and that’s with tires on the low side for a better ride and more traction. We kept trying for that mythical 21 mpg. But even hyper-mileing while drafting a Prius couldn’t break the barrier.

The Moab Wrangler is positioned in the marketplace for the more upscale wheeler who wanted more than stock Sahara capability but without all the hardcore bells and whistles. Unfortunately those upscale doodads drive the cost of the Moab above a base Rubicon to the point where if it was our money head to head, we would buy the Rubicon. But as is, in a year when we compared two tough trucks to one Jeep, the Moab Wrangler came out on top. For the complete 4x4 of the Year, check out fourwheeler.com/vehicle-reviews/131-1302-2013-4x4-of-the-year.

After a year of commuting, trail riding, testing, and not towing, we can clearly say that we made a good choice. The Moab is our fun go-to rig for nearly any foray, from home to beach to rock trail to desert, and even some mud. The NSG 370 six-speed transmission coupled to the NVG241 transfer case gives the Jeep enough power in most situations—just shifting down does the trick. A lower crawl ratio like the Rubicon would be advantageous in the rocks, but deft driving can make up for most of the 2.72 ratio’s shortcomings.

On the highway we consistently got over 15 mpg on our 100-mile daily commute, and long distance drives at 80-plus mph even netted us over 20 mpg. With comfortable seats and a cushy yet firm ride often overlooked by most car-based journalists, the Moab made its mark as one of the “keepers.”

There’s just no room for gear in a two-door Moab. We usually take the backseat out and leave it at home because our cooler seems more beneficial to carry than more hungry passengers. A four-dour Unlimited would solve the problem, except then you would have to take even more people with you.

Not everybody will like the Moab. It does have its shortcomings. Being short is one of those, as there isn’t any room for a fullsize rucksack or duffle bag behind the rear seat. Load it up with camping gear and recovery items and you’ll wish you bought a four-door Unlimited, and then you’d be wishing for more power. The 3.6L V-6 is adequate and far better than the dark days of the 3.8L engine. The intrusive nannies designed to keep you safe come on far too suddenly when you least expect it (as in sidehilling a sand dune) and quickly can get you into worse trouble. If they could be turned all the way off, it would be better for an experienced wheeler, but apparently the Chrysler lawyers worry a bit too much and won’t let that happen

If you need a competent 4x4 rig with more than stock capabilities with an eye toward future upgrades, and you have a penchant for having fun, then a Moab Wrangler should be on your radar.

The interior is comfortable and efficient. A simple transfer case lever, manual transmission, and a single locker button round up this Moab Off-Road edition— it even says so on the dash. The nimble size of the Jeep and two solid axles put the Moab ahead of any competitive offering in the local 4x4 world, except its sibling the Rubicon.

Specifications
General Manufacturer Jeep
Model Wrangler Moab Edition
Base Price $27,965
Price As Tested $36,705
Options As Tested $8,740

Engine
Type V-6, liquid-cooled
Displacement (L/ci) 3.6/220
Bore & Stroke (in) 3.78x3.27
Compression Ratio 10.2:1
Fuel Req. (octane)/Capacity (gal) 87/18.6
SAE Peak Horsepower 285 @ 6,400 rpm
SAE Peak Torque (lb-ft) 260 @ 4,800 rpm

Transmission
Type 6-speed manual
Model NSG 370
Ratios First: 4.46:1; Second: 2.61:1; Third: 1.72:1; Fourth: 1.25:1; Fifth: 1.00:1; Sixth: 0.79:1; Reverse: 4.06:1

Transfer Case
Type 2-speed, part-time
Model NV241 Command-Trac
Low-Range Ratio 2.72:1

Axles
Front Type Dana 30 (Next Generation)
Front Diff Open, brake-based
Rear Type Dana 44 (Next Generation)
Rear Diff Selectable electronic locker (Tru-Lock)
Hubs N/A
Ratio 3.73:1
Traction Aid Brake-based

Suspension Front Live axle, leading arms, track bar, coil springs, gas shocks
Rear Live axle, trailing arms, track bar, sway bar, gas shocks

Steering
Type Recirculating ball, power- assisted w/ steering damper
Lock-to-Lock/Ratio 3.5/16.7:1
Turning Circle (ft) 34.9

Wheels
Size (in) 17x7.5
Material Aluminum

Tires
Size P245/75R17
Brand Goodyear Silent Armor OWL on/off-road

Brakes
Front Vented disc
Rear Disc
60-0 (ft) 144.43

Acceleration
Standing 1⁄4-mile (seconds @ mph) 16.94 @ 80.26

Weight (lb)
Curb Weight 4,314
Advertised GVWR 5,000

Mileage (mpg)
EPA Estimate (city/hwy) 17/21
As Tested 15.17

Dimensions (in)
Wheelbase 95.4
Overall Length 164.5
Overall Width 76.75
Overall Height 70.9
Front/Rear Track 61.9/61.9
Front/Rear Overhang 29/39.5
Min. Front Ground Clearance 8.8

Not everyone appreciated the Funky Power Bulge hood. Cool maybe, but mostly a dirt and leaf catcher. We hope it’s for Jeep’s upcoming Hemi-powered V-8 edition but couldn’t get any verification, and Jeep declined to comment.

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