June 3, 2013

2013 Jeep Wrangler Sport Unlimited

"No Regrets" is a motto that so many graduating high school seniors are going to try and take into their collegiate years.  It’s BS, though.  We all have regrets.  I don’t always want to admit them, but I have some.
Regret can be a funny thing.  Do I regret not staying up late to watch my favorite sports team pull off an amazing come from behind victory?  No.  I have responsibilities.
Are there other things I might regret?  Maybe.  I never kissed my high school crush, but I’ve replaced her with the girl of my dreams.  I didn’t repel down a 15 ft. wall in Boys Scouts, and I’ve since climbed multiple mountains over 14k feet and really enjoy walking along the edges of tall things.   

Do I regret trading in my 2004 Jeep Wrangler? 

Articulation- where one wheel is extended and the other is compressed.

                The ’04 Wrangler was the first brand new car that I purchased by myself.  It was a magical, masculine, “do anything” convertible.  I owned it while in Florida.  I took it off-road, on road, on beach, to the club (yes, I really did!), on dates with college co-eds (I was young!), and just about anywhere I could that looked fun. 

I made it to the top without the winch.
The Wrangler & I drove from Florida to New Jersey, New Jersey to Kansas City (in one night), Kansas City to Charlottesville, NC then back to KC, and finished with a trip down to Austin, TX that wasn’t complete till I got back to my place in Florida; a grand total of 6,286 miles.  I did it all in a two door, four wheel drive, Jeep Wrangler in less than a month.  It was a perfect union. 

Except for the fuel consumption…

My ’04 struggled with the mpgs.  The 2013 Jeep Wrangler has changed part of that.  The mpg rating on the highway for the Wrangler now begins with a 2 (listed at 20 hwy). With my ’04 it used to begin with a 1 and not one that was close to being a 2 either…  My 19 gallon tank was being filled twice a week with my daily commute and the trips to see My Lady (She’s my wife now; totally worth it!). 

The mpgs were so bad that I traded my Wrangler in a for a Toyota Highlander…  Again, I was young.  We make mistakes, but I have learned from that mistake.

If my '04 had been a 2013 Wrangler Sport Unlimited, it would have been a very different story for my Jeep.  The 2013 is vastly better than the '04.

Base Price: $25,695
As Driven: $32,310
Engine: 3.6L Pentastar V6, 285 hp
Transmission: 6 Speed Automatic
Curb Weight: 4075 lbs.
Wheelbase: 116 in.
MPG Rating: 16 city/21 hwy

It is and forever will be a classic Jeep interior; functional, durable, and ready for anything.  The style and functionality of the interior is the same.  Offer some small comforts, but be ready to do it all in the worst conditions, but just keeping doing what is needed.  

The best part of my old Jeep interior was how ready it was to get dirty and how quickly you could get it clean.  The ’13 keeps all of the old philosophy and improves on it.  The seats were higher quality without raising the price of the interior.  The seats in the ’13 are 1000x more comfortable. 

Also noticed inside the Wrangler is how much better the longer wheelbase rides.  The suspension hasn’t changed much from the coil overs, but the added length helps to smooth out a lot of the rough ride.  It’s still a Jeep and is stiff, but much more capable as an on-road passenger vehicle.

The rear seat in the 4 door Wrangler is also very functional.  I had both child safety seats installed with ease.  The LATCH system was more readily accessed.  It was so simple, that I fit the boys’ seats in more securely than normal.  Usually there’s about half an inch to an inch of wiggle room with their seats; there was none in the Wrangler.  The seats were like stone statues, only cuter since they held my boys.

The power interior is noticeable.  The power door locks and windows are a nice feature.  20-something me would think they are posh and “over the top” for a Wrangler, but 30-something me enjoyed the crap out of them. 

It rained while I had the Wrangler Sport and I expected the hard top roof to sound like the symphony of corrugated tin getting assaulted by a tropical thunderstorm.  I expected it to be loud.  I was wrong.  The hard top is much better than the old ones.  I could hear the rain, but you can hear it in most vehicles.  Cars like a Rolls, Jags, and Bentleys are design to have interiors that are devoid of noise. The hard top did not make the interior silent, but it was much quieter than I was expecting from a Jeep; a pleasant surprise.

The 2013 Jeep Wrangler Sport Unlimited looks like a classic Jeep.  It’s a classic look since the redesign in 2007 that brought the four door Wranglers. 

This Sport came with the modular hard top roof.  It’s modular because it can come apart in three different sections.  You can remove the single piece above the driver, or the single piece above the front passenger, or both at the same time to create the best sunroof ever.  It worked very well for me with the boys in the backseat in the shade and me in the front sun bathing.

                There are two pieces up front and then a third large piece covers the rear seat and cargo area.  This third piece requires help to take it off.  The front pieces are some clasps and one screw, while the back is a little more complicated.  More screws and clasps, but it’s a big awkward piece to remove and put back on.  If you are planning on buying a Jeep and putting the top up and down often, then I vote soft top.  If you plan on keeping it on for a quieter cabin, then the hard top does a good job.

               The Wrangler has two tow hooks on the front bumper and one below the back bumper.  The hooks are very helpful for getting unstuck while off-road.  Plus the front ones look intimidating and will cause more damage to whoever you rear-end than the damage that will occur on your front end; metal > plastic.

               A major change I noticed from my ’04 TJ is that the fuel tank has moved.  It used to be located at the very rear of the vehicle under the back bumper.  This was the first skid plate I installed.  It covered the fuel tank on the bottom and all four vertical sides.  One of the smartest purchases I’ve ever made.  I dropped the whole vehicle on the fuel tank while at Camp Jeep in Charlottesville.  The skid plate took all the force, didn’t yield, and we keep rock crawlin’ our way out of the woods.  
                The ‘13’s fuel tank is now located down the passenger side under the front passenger and rear passenger seats.  It is a more difficult place to drop all of the vehicle weight, but it’s still possible.  If you plan on any type of off-roading more serious than driving through a grass field at 2 mph, then skid plates are a must.  The Wrangler does come with 3mm think steel skid plates on the fuel tank, transfer case, and the automatic transmission oil pan, but you can never be too safe.

                The technology that I’m the most happy about in the Wrangler is the modular roof system, improved engine power, and better mpg.  Those are all technological advances that benefit the modern day Jeep enthusiast. 

                There are no large satellite navigation screens or multimedia infotainment systems.  The Wrangler does have the optional UConnect® and it is a little harder than most systems to setup and use.  To sync your phone, you have to look up your phone on a particular webpage on Jeep.com.  Then speak the pin number for your particular phone model to the UConnect° system…  Needless to say, my phone didn’t get synced.

In my old Jeep I’ve hit the governor; twice, allegedly.  I was allegedly at 95mph and my ’04 TJ would cut out the acceleration.  That is as fast as you could go.  As long as you were already doing 75 as you began a nice steady downhill.  The front is so un-aerodynamic, that it’s easier to drive a brick wall.
The 2013 has the same overall shape to the front, except the lines are softer around most of the front end.   

The best improvement for all of the 2013 Jeep Wranglers happened in 2012.  The 3.5L Pentastar V6 is the best engine in a Jeep ever.  “Ever,” you ask?  Yes, E.V.E.R.  This engine destroys the engines of the past.  The 3.6L V6 makes 285 horsepower.  That’s 80 more than the ‘11 model’s V6 and 92 more than my ’04’s inline six.  Don’t forget that the added power comes with slightly better fuel economy as well.  Now do you see why it’s the best engine ever in the Wrangler?

I averaged 17.4 on Day 1 and then 19.3, 19.1, 20.7, 22.2, and 21.8 to finish out my week.  The last couple of days were more highway miles.  I had the cruise control set at 65mph and dominated the slow lane.  Doing a little math, I averaged for the week 20.1 mpg.  That includes my daily commute that measures 28 miles on combined conditions and my second job commute, which is 73 miles round trip and mostly highway miles. 

The off-road capabilities of the Wrangler have only gotten better.  The Unlimited version is longer than the standard body style.  That means you have a better shot of getting a tire to the place it needs to be to get you enough traction to get out of the mud bog and up the hill.  The standard Wrangler body style is a capable machine, but the Unlimited is just better. 

This Jeep is outstanding in its field!  Did you see what I did there?

Overall, I love the Jeep Wrangler Sport Unlimited.  The longer wheelbase really improves the ride and capability of the Jeep.  I would definitely have the 6 speed manual transmission.  You might be able to squeak a little better mpg out of it, you get to drive a manual, and you would save the $1,125 that the automatic transmission costs.  Plus Hill Start Assist is standard, so you don’t have to worry about uphill starts with the manual.

I miss my Jeep.  I don’t have the thirty grand to drop on a four door Unlimited.  I can promise that in my fantasy garage there’s one there.  

 I’m going to go cry myself to sleep now.  

 I miss my Jeep.


  1. I like the Jeep brand. I always have. I see nothing wrong with carrying it on a date. I think it is well suited to some of the environments that couples could enjoy together.

    Not everyone likes to be in a club all the time. The outdoors is pretty fun too. Where you need to go, the Jeep can take you there. Plus it is pretty study, so you don't have to worry about it breaking down on the road.

  2. nicely written but confusing- do you now own a jeep unlimited? or did you borrow/rent one for a week so you could write this?

    1. G-Man, I owned a Wrangler in 2004, but the Sport Unlimited was a press car that was dropped off for a week by Jeep.