2013 Jeep Wrangler Moab 4X4Posted on September 5th, 2013
Special edition celebrates the Mecca of off-road adventure
By Nina Russin
I suppose there’s a resident of Moab, Utah who doesn’t own a Jeep Wrangler, but I’ve never seen or heard of him. Nor can I imagine why anyone living among the red rocks would want to drive anything else. The synesthesia that occurs when a person drives the ultimate off-road vehicle on the ultimate off-road trails is pretty awesome.
For 2013, Jeep celebrates Moab’s off-road heritage with a special edition of the Wrangler. On the base Sahara 4X4 test car, the Moab edition adds a heavy-duty front bumper and winch cable, heavy-duty rear bumper, a special hood and badging, 17-inch black wheels with Goodyear Silent Armor off-road tires and an available locking rear differential.
Base price on the test car is $27,795 excluding the $995 destination charge. The Moab package adds $5200. Other options include a five-speed automatic transmission, the locking rear axle, and Uconnect infotainment with navigation, bringing the final MSRP to $37,650.
Love the Gecko
I had a thing for Geckos long before one become an insurance company’s mascot. What other lizard can lick its eyeballs to clean them’ Geckos have superior night vision and are exceptional climbers. They are also the most species rich variety of lizards, with about 1500 varieties worldwide.
So the retina-burning Gecko pearl coat paint on the test car had my name written all over it. I love driving a car I look good in.
The Jeep Wrangler has always been a polarizing vehicle. There are those who love it for its heritage dating back to the Willys-Overland military vehicles and its exceptional off-road capability, while others are turned off by the Wrangler’s rather crude on-road performance and somewhat Spartan interior.
I happen to belong to the former camp. There are plenty of vehicles that do a little bit of everything well but nothing exceptional. We need more that do one thing exceptionally well, even if it means compromising in other areas.
In 2012, Jeep introduced a new version of the Wrangler utilizing Chrysler’s Pentastar V-6 engine. It made a tremendous difference in the car’s on-road performance, reducing its zero-to-sixty acceleration time by a full three seconds. Still, the Wrangler is the Wrangler. Engineers have maintained features such as the recirculating ball steering gear simply because nobody wants to break a rack in the middle of nowhere.
Live front and rear axles don’t offer the cushy ride of a four-wheel independent suspension, but the setup is much more durable on extreme off-road trails. The soft top doesn’t provide much sound insulation on the highway, but it’s great to be able to remove it and enjoy the wilderness in the open air.
The Wrangler windshield flips down and the doors are removable to make it easier for the driver to see the wheels. The Wrangler’s large approach and departure angle, crawl ratio and locking axles all contribute to the vehicle’s reputation as king of extreme off-road trails. The Jeep is also exceptionally maneuverable due to its short wheelbase. Its turning circle is 34.9-feet: smaller than most sedans.
Test drive in Phoenix
I spent part of the past week behind the wheel of the Wrangler Moab 4X4. It’s an appealing, if slightly pricey package. Jeep’s designers have done an exceptionally good job of integrating heritage cues throughout, such as the grille decal on the windshield and the grab bar for the front passenger. The seven-slot grille, round headlamps and angular fenders are timeless design elements that work as well in a modern format as they did decades back.
The new engine makes a tremendous difference in both drivability and fuel economy. I would like to see an available six-speed automatic transmission in place of the current five-speed unit simply because it would extend gas mileage even further, but the current box works just fine in terms of performance.
The Wrangler is at its best when the soft top is removed. The top restricts visibility to the sides and back of the vehicle. I had to be careful about monitoring vehicles on adjacent lanes on the highway. The hardtop is a more practical alternative, in that visibility is better and there is more noise insulation.
Steering takes some getting used to for buyers who are used to rack and pinion systems. It feels loose, but it actually functions fine at all speeds. I found it refreshing to have a break from the electric power steering systems that appear on most new models.
The live axles make for a bouncy ride on the highway, which I found more noticeable as a passenger than as the driver. Again, this is part of the character of the car. The Wrangler was never intended to be a limousine.
Large four-wheel disc brakes stop the car in firm, linear fashion.
Designers added a few extras to the Moab interior that deserve mention. One is the floor mats: items that normally go unnoticed. But these are really cool with a tire tread design that speaks to the car’s mission. The monochromatic black scheme is also appropriate, although not particularly practical at the height of a Phoenix, Arizona summer.
For those who truly are outdoor types, features such as the compass and ambient temperature gauge come in handy. So does the 115-volt power outlet that can inflate bicycle tires or serve as a plug-in at a campsite. The optional Uconnect system with satellite radio brings all the comforts of home into the wilderness.
The cargo area is not particularly large with the soft top in place. There’s room for a couple of small duffle bags, groceries or small camping equipment. Those who want to carry their bicycles will need to add an external hitch.
The Jeep Wrangler comes with front airbags, antilock brakes, traction control, electronic stability control, tire pressure monitoring, hill start assist and trailer sway control. Downhill descent control comes with the automatic transmission option.
Jeep’s three-year/36,000 mile bumper-to-bumper warranty includes complimentary roadside assistance.
Jeep builds the Wrangler at its Toledo, Ohio assembly plant
Like: The Jeep Wrangler is the ultimate off-road vehicle for people who like to venture far off the grid. The stylish Moab edition adds some appealing extras including heavy-duty bumpers for winching, special wheels and off-road tires and information pages in the gauge cluster that give the driver important information about fuel economy, range, coolant temperature, oil pressure etc. An available locking rear axle further enhances traction on extremely uneven terrain.
Dislike: It high price tag makes the Wrangler Moab unaffordable to some members of the target market.
Model: Wrangler Moab Edition 4X4
Base price: $27,795
As tested: $37,650
Horsepower: 285 Hp @ 6400 rpm
Torque: 260 lbs.-ft. @ 4800 rpm
Zero-to-sixty: 8.4 seconds
Antilock brakes: Standard
Side curtain airbags: N/A
First aid kit: N/A
Bicycle friendly: No
Fuel economy: 17/21 mpg city/highway2013, Best Value Offroad 2013, Active Lifestyle Vehicles, auto review, Jeep, performance, pricing, standard safety
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