It's a Jeep Thing... Jeep has definitely done an amazing job of maintaining a product in their lineup while retaining the tasteful styling that defines their own heritage.
It’s no secret that I think Jeeps as a whole are absolutely bad-ass (save for almost-Jeeps such as the Compass). Jeep as a brand has a very cool and unique heritage. They stand out amongst the rest of the cookie-cutter SUVs on the market; Jeep is also amongst the pioneers of the SUV, to a point where those who aren’t car buffs often synonymize “Jeep” and “SUV”. The 2013 Jeep Wrangler Sahara Unlimited is nothing ‘new’, but it is certainly exciting.
My personal favourite of the Jeeps so far is the 2013 Grand Cherokee Overland; not only did that one have the V8 rumble I adore but a plush, luxurious interior to accompany it. When I found out that I would be driving another loaded-up Jeep product, the “JK” Sahara, I was ecstatic.
My tester came with an awesome Commando Green paint job. Not unlike the traditional colour on military-use Jeeps, the colour stands out and is incredibly rare. I have yet to see another one in the same colour, as was the troop of Canadian Forces trucks that I ran into while filling up my Wrangler. Jeep has definitely done an amazing job of maintaining a product in their lineup while retaining the tasteful styling that defines their own heritage.
The all-season Bridgestone Dueler A/T tires that my Wrangler was equipped with work brilliantly on dry roads and even muddy off-road conditions. Unfortunately though, deep snow is a limitation for this rubber. Trying to venture into an empty field with 8” of snow on the ground led the Jeep to nearly getting stuck. In 4-LO mode, the Jeep was a bit better at grabbing traction, but the tires’ lack of grip made it tough to bring the behemoth out of the condition it was in. That being said, driving through 2-3” of snow and ice is absolutely no problem for the Wrangler. I have no doubt in my mind that in the mud and even dry rock, the Sahara Unlimited with this tire combination would be nothing short of amazing.
As all the other Wranglers, my Sahara was equipped with the 3.6L “Pentastar” V6 found in many other Chrysler applications. In the Jeep, it puts out a healthy 285 horsepower and 260 lb-ft of torque mated to a 5-speed automatic. While I’d personally prefer the 6-speed manual in off-road conditions, the automatic is less tedious and more liveable on an everyday basis.
One day last summer while having a few steaks and drinks with the Double Clutch team, a rule was established that every vehicle capable of venturing off-road should be tested through some mild trails out of Burlington that we know best. Fast forward to the present and here we are; presented with the 2013 Jeep Wrangler Sahara Unlimited and a bunch of snow. As stated previously, the Wrangler’s all-terrain tires give it some limitations in deep snow, but there’s no stopping it through mud or grass. Our 15-minute endeavour through the snow turned into 14 minutes of trying to get it back out of the snow it got itself stuck in.
Fuel efficiency for me is a bit important, as the last few vehicles I have tested have struggled to give me fuel economy numbers below 11L/100km. That seems wonderful now that I’ve lived with the Wrangler’s combined average of 15.3L/100km. On a highway haul to Niagara Falls, my colleague managed to hypermile and get 13.9L/100km, but that’s the absolute best we saw. I found myself not getting very far at all on a tank of gas, and my wallet had nasty words to say to the Jeep.
I do have to say though; interior quality has improved steadily over the Wranglers of the past. Now with the optional hardtop, it’s actually possible to have an audible conversation with a person in the rear seats. Naturally, this will disappear once the summer comes around and the roof and doors are off. Ride quality is a huge question though; I found the Wrangler feeling unstable at higher speeds. Going 100 km/h feels as though I was doing 120-130. In a sense it’s a blessing in disguise; there’s no need to worry about impending speeding tickets.
With an as-tested price of just under $45,000, the Sahara Unlimited came equipped with luxury features such as remote start, 18” wheels, leather, and navigation. The UConnect 6.5” touch screen is a bit dated, but actually functions very well. It’s quick to respond, easy to use, and has no issues navigating me to wherever I need it to go.
Despite contrary belief, the audio system in the Wrangler isn’t horrible at all. In fact, the sound quality was a lot better than I had anticipated. I had expected lackluster, low quality sound; especially since the intent of this vehicle is not to provide audiophile-levels of audio. I mean, isn’t the point of a Jeep is to have the radio off and listen to the sound of the wind and the trees as you maneuver the Rubicon Trail?
I know, I know, “it’s a Jeep thing”. If I were to ever purchase a Wrangler though, it would be a two-door, 6-speed manual version. It would also have beefier tires and a winch. I wouldn’t bother with the leather seats; I’d stick with the cloth and Scotch-Guard the living daylights out of it. Overall though, $45,000 for an off-road toy just sounds ridiculously high. The Wrangler Sport on the other hand…
2013 Jeep Wrangler Unlimited Sahara Gallery
2013 Jeep Grand Cherokee Overland Review – by Krish Persaud