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2013 Jeep Wrangler Performance Review

Note: This performance review was created when the 2013 Jeep Wrangler was new.


Performance: 7.9

With its exceptional off-road performance and powerful V6 engine, test drivers agree that the 2013 Jeep Wrangler is equally adept on- and off-road. However, the Wrangler’s go-anywhere capability also means that it doesn’t offer the car-like ride or composed handling of rivals like the Chevrolet Equinox or Ford Escape.

  • "Bumpy pavement can trigger bouncy feel and wayward body motions." -- Consumer Guide
  • "Powered by Chrysler's new Pentastar V6, the Jeep Wrangler for 2013 delivers an excellent balance of power and fuel economy; the Wrangler is also one of the last off-road vehicles still to offer a manual transmission." -- Kelley Blue Book 
  • "Driving the Wrangler, there's never a sense of sacrifice. First, it can do everything, if not more, than all of the Wranglers from years gone by." -- Detroit News (2012) 
  • "Even an unscrupulous attorney would have to stipulate that the Wrangler is one of the most proficient off-road vehicles on the planet. There are few places it cannot go." -- Milwaukee Journal Sentinel (2012) 

Acceleration and Power

The 2013 Jeep Wrangler comes with a 3.6-liter V6 engine that generates 285 horsepower and 260 pound-feet of torque. A six-speed manual transmission is standard and a five-speed automatic is optional. Regardless of which transmission you choose, all Wranglers come standard with four-wheel drive. The EPA reports that the 2013 Wrangler gets 17/21 mpg city/highway with either transmission. Wrangler Unlimited models get slightly lower estimates. Rivals like the Toyota FJ Cruiser and Nissan Xterra earn similar ratings, though affordable crossovers like the Mazda CX-5 and Subaru XV Crosstrek use considerably less fuel.

Whether you’re commuting to work or navigating a rocky trail, reviewers maintain that the Wrangler’s V6 engine offers more than enough power. A few test drivers also comment that both transmissions seem refined and well-matched to the engine.

  • "The 3.6-liter V6 provides sufficient power off the line and for highway passing; generous throttle input is only needed during hill climbs." -- Consumer Guide
  • "With ample power, smooth operation and decidedly improved highway fuel economy, this engine suits the Wrangler like a well-worn glove." -- Kelley Blue Book 
  • "The manual transmission is extremely smooth, and a few times during my test-drive I forgot to put the Jeep in the fifth or sixth gear because the Wrangler was so responsive. The automatic was equally as responsive, never hunting for a gear." -- Detroit News (2012) 
  • "The five-speed plays well with the V6, blipping the throttle before downshifts and letting it brush redline under a full boot." -- Jalopnik (2012) 

Handling and Braking

While the 2013 Wrangler offers a powerful V6 engine and unparalleled off-road ability, reviewers say that if you’re looking for a car-like ride the Wrangler comes up short. They write that the Wrangler’s handling is less refined and that its ride comfort trails most compact SUVs'.

  • "Wrangler exhibits body lean and noseplow in even moderate-speed cornering. The steering is light and slow in directional changes, and these SUVs are subject to crosswind wander." -- Consumer Guide
  • "The same suspension and wheel/tire combo that allows the Jeep Wrangler to venture over rough terrain also creates a rather rough and unsophisticated on-road driving experience." -- Kelley Blue Book 
  • "The suspension, while created for all of that crazy wheel articulation off-road, provides a smooth ride on the highway and county roads. Even the Rubicon model felt comfortable on the road." -- Detroit News (2012) 
  • "The weakest link is the brakes; soft as a deep-fried butter stick, you find the pedal down a few inches before the orders arrive to the wheels." -- Jalopnik (2012)


While rival compact SUVs may offer more car-like handling, test drivers maintain that few are as capable off road as the Wrangler. All Wranglers come with a part-time four-wheel drive system with a two-speed transfer case. Rubicon models offer even more capability, thanks to suspension and drivetrain upgrades.

  • "Off-road testing shows Wrangler in its best light. Its suspension design and array of traction-assisting technology subdues most obstacles." -- Consumer Guide
  • "Off-road, the 2013 Wrangler is everything you want in a 4WD trail rig, given its ability to poke along at a walking speed. Add real horsepower to the crawling, and favorable gearing for the hauling, and you arguably have the most competent Jeep Wrangler in the brand's 70-year history." -- Kelley Blue Book
  • "What a hoot. We crawled over rocks, forded creeks and generally tackled the most treacherous of terrain without breaking a sweat. Well, we did, but the Jeep was universally composed." -- AutoWeek (2012)
  • "To the uninitiated, the path would appear impossible, yet the Wrangler crept up and down the steep, rocky, log-strewn, rutted pass littered with sinkholes the size of Kias without even breathing hard." -- Edmunds (2012)

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