May 22, 2014
2013 Jeep Wrangler Sahara & 2013 Jeep Wrangler Sahara*. Click image to enlarge
Review and photos by Justin Pritchard
Vehicle Type: 4×4 SUV
History/Description: This long-lived Jeep 4×4 has been in its current generation since 2007 – meaning numerous copies of the four-wheel drive, mud-ready, off-road superstar are available in the used vehicle market.
Some housekeeping notes, first. Jeep Wrangler is not a soccer-mom crossover based on a compact car platform built to spend most of its time on pavement while tackling the occasional gravel road or icy Starbucks drive-through with its four-wheel drive. It’s a body-on-frame off-roader that’s tough as nails and designed primarily for performance on the road less travelled. For that reason, it’s compromised in a few areas – so if you’re after something a little more forgiving or civilized, you may want to look elsewhere.
Feature content included power windows and mirrors, various removable top options, Bluetooth, navigation, premium audio systems, and off-road specific features like sway-bar decouplers and locking axles on select models.
The so-called JK generation of this Jeep underwent several updates, the largest of which kicked in from model-year 2012 on with a considerably improved interior, new powertrain and new features.
Engines / Trim: Pre-2012 models came with a 3.8L V6 engine tuned for 202 horsepower and 237 lb-ft of torque. It’s no pinnacle of efficiency or refinement, but the 3.8 was quiet if driven gently and provided enough low-end torque to make gentle driving possible. A four-speed automatic or six-speed manual gearbox could be had, depending on driver preference. A multi-speed transfer case with 4-high and 4-low settings was included.
From 2012 and on, Wrangler’s new power plant became a 285 hp version of the Pentastar V6 that generated 260 lb-ft of torque. A manual transmission remained available, and a new five-speed automatic could be fitted, too.
Nearly 20 inches longer than the standard Wrangler, the Wrangler Unlimited was designed to appeal to shoppers after Wrangler’s full off-road capability but with the added convenience and space of a four-door model.
Jeep Wrangler, 2007-2014. Click image to enlarge
Trim grades saw Sport or X models starting the Wrangler model range, with Sahara representing the high-volume mid-range model. The Rubicon was the top-dog Wrangler, adding features like Tru-lok locking axles in front and rear, special 34-inch off-road tires, performance suspension and sway-bar decouplers – all of which help ensure the Rubicon can confidently tackle the most challenging trails on the planet while doing its “Trail Rated” badge proud. A 4.10 axle ratio turns in pure rock-crawling power for the tough stuff, and the Rubicon is loved by avid 4×4 enthusiasts the world over. Shoppers are advised to make sure they’ll benefit from a Rubicon’s capability if considering one, as the model is likely overkill for the average shopper.
What Owners Like: Most Wrangler owners rave about all-season, all-terrain capability, the unique sense of community that comes from driving a Wrangler, affordable access to a roof-optional motoring experience, and the slew of available upgrades and accessories available. The handy Unlimited model offers an added degree of flexibility and versatility for some shoppers, too. A tall driving position, solid, heavy-duty feel to the ride rounds out the package.
What Owners Dislike: Common complaints include wind noise, road noise, less-than-agile handling, excessive fuel consumption, and the lack of door hinges (since the doors are removable), which can cause frustration when the doors don’t stay open on their own. Limited cargo space, and limited rear-seat head and legroom round out the typical owner complaints.
Here’s what some owners are saying about their Wranglers on www.autoTRADER.ca
2013 Jeep Wrangler Sahara. Click image to enlarge
The Test Drive: Approach your used Wrangler assuming it’s been used as an overgrown man-child’s off-road plaything and subjected to abusive turf-tossing, sinking, mud infiltration and neglect until you, or a mechanic, confirms otherwise.
Pull the carpeting away in the interior, looking for signs of dust, dirt, rust, moisture, or anything else that might indicate the vehicle in question had ever been deeply submerged in a stream or mud-hole. Pulling away the weather-stripping on the lower segments of the doors may reveal similar evidence. Check a model with a soft-top for leaks, particularly around the front A-Pillar.
Beneath the Wrangler, look over the frame and floorboards for signs of rust and rot. Many owners suggest inspecting the area where the body mounts meet the frame, possibly having a light tap around the area with a small hammer to look for ‘soft spots’. Though rust doesn’t seem to be a widespread issue for the Wrangler, it is a possibility.