While the TJ platform hasn’t been used for the Wrangler for half a decade, the spirit of this All-American ride has been engrained in this auto writer’s mind since childhood, which speaks to the strong nostalgic value this brand has held over the years: the jump-in-and-go mentality which has defined the Wrangler lineup as capable, versatile and, above all else, a fun ride.
Utilizing a 3.6-liter Pentastar VVT V6 engine, the Wrangler produces roughly 285 horses of power at an impressive 6,400 RPM. Shifting the six-speed manual transmission into overdrive, it’s apparent how much juice this engine is willing to give, and at almost 2000 kg for the Sahara trim level, that’s a lot of bulk to move around. But of course, we’re in a goddamn off-roading Jeep, so naturally there’s nary a protest from the engine with 260 pound-feet of torque.
In spite of our previous experience with driving convertibles and manually lowering soft-top roofs, trying to put down a Jeep Sunrider roof without reading the instructions turned out to be more difficult than we’d anticipated. After a few soft top windows stacked in the garage and a roof in various states of collapse, we gave in and consulted the tiny paper diagram, which seemed like it was for the two-door model rather than this four-door. Enter Google, which helped us track down Jeep’s helpful video tutorial. All in all, that first time may have taken half an hour, but after a few practice sessions we had it down to under 5 minutes.
The 2013 model is pretty tricked out when it comes to tech, as you would expect at least a few creature comforts out in the wilderness. Among them was the UConnect HDD System with 40 gigs available for tunes, Garmin navigation and an Alpine speaker package. While a heads-up display could be useful considering the size of the dashboard, ultimately you’re not going to be concerned with speed once engaging the off-road Command-Trac transfer case for all-wheel drive.
Overall, both highway and what we’re going to describe as “light off-roading” was extremely smooth, competent and definitely an enjoyable experience that was only enhanced by the stick shift. While it may not have gotten the gas mileage we’ve become accustomed to (rated at 17/22 mpg city/highway), there is some leniency that comes with the territory. Nonetheless, this is one fun drive and comes recommended for your summer adventures.