2013 Jeep Wrangler Unlimited Moab - Long Term Report Part 4 of 4

A Year in Review

Ali MansourPhotographer, Writer

We often get asked why one vehicle won Four Wheeler of the Year over another. Typically, people get worked up about their favorite brand not winning and can’t believe that brand “X” was even a contender. We sometimes receive angry emails typed in all caps, so we are sure those readers are extra agitated. While the high cost of the ‘14 Range Rover Sport, which won our last Four Wheeler of the Year award, has sparked a bit of a protest, the 2013 Four Wheeler of the Year winner, the ‘13 Jeep Wrangler Unlimited Moab, makes sense on all fronts.

Equipped with a winch-ready steel front bumper, heavy-duty steel rear bumper, 31.5-inch Goodyear Wrangler SilentArmor tires, rocker guards, and a selectable rear locker, the Moab edition puts off-road prowess at the top of its list. The overall package is visually appealing and creates an extremely functional all-around vehicle. Based off of the more up-fitted Sahara, the Moab blends interior niceties such as leather and in-dash navigation with usable off-road hardware. For someone who wants to explore the great outdoors, but doesn’t have the time to modify a stock Sahara, the Moab is an excellent turnkey option.

Over the course of the past year, we’ve logged numerous on- and off-road adventures covering thousands of miles. We’ve enjoyed a leak-free hardtop, ultra-plush front seats, and an overall combined economy of 16.46 mpg. These figures aren’t terrible, but we hope future models become more efficient. The fact that the Jeep Wrangler can handle a weekend trail ride and still retain reliability for the weekly commute speaks volumes to the time and energy Jeep has invested into the platform. In a world dominated by fully independent suspensions, the fact that the Jeep Wrangler continues to sport a multilink suspension with solid front and rear axles is pretty amazing. To put things in perspective, the only other four-door SUV offered with solid front and rear axles in North America is the Mercedes G-Class Wagon, which has a jaw-dropping starting price of $114,200!

"Great balance of rugged exterior and refined interior."

If we had to point to one fault on this specific Wrangler, it would be the sometimes noisy and clunky six-speed manual transmission. Sacrilegious as it sounds to want an automatic in a Wrangler, this platform simply performs better with the auto. Another item that is worth mentioning is the 3.6L Pentastar engine. Despite the lack of a powerful bottom end, the 285hp V-6 can get the job done; you just can’t be scared to run the rev cycle. Keeping it in lower rpms will net you better economy, but it won’t up your driving experience.

Overall, we’ve enjoyed the Jeep Wrangler Unlimited JK and stand behind it’s well deserved title as Four Wheeler of the Year.

Report: 4 OF 4
Previous reports: Dec ‘13, Mar. ‘14, May ‘14
Base price: $31,195
Price as tested: $41,600
Four-wheel-drive system: Lever-actuated part-time, two-speed
Miles to date: 8,171
Miles since last report: 692
Average mpg (this report): 15.39
Test best tank (mpg): 19.50 (all highway around 70 mph w/4 adults and gear)
Test worst tank (mpg): 14.89 (off-road/in-town driving mix)
This period: None
Problem areas: None
Hot: Rear locker, great interior, durable body armor and bumpers
Not: Noisy manual transmission
“A great builder’s platform.”
“Unbelievably smooth ride on- and off-road.”
“The Power Dome hood needs a drain plug.”

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.
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