One of the great things about the Jeep Wrangler, even the $43,400 2013 Wrangler Unlimited Rubicon 10th Anniversary Edition you see here, is that it's extremely honest. The second you lay eyes on it, you know exactly what its for and have a damn good idea of what it will do and what it wont. Despite being in its seventh model year, the JK Wrangler seems to only get better -- and more popular, with the vehicle enjoying its third year of increased sales in a row, with 2013 likely to be another record year (so far, sales are up 11%).

Part of the Wrangler's rise in popularity can be credited to the facelift it received for 2012, which fitted a redesigned and higher-quality interior and replaced the aging 202-hp and 237-lb-ft 3.8-liter V-6 with the new 285-hp and 260-lb-ft 3.6-liter Pentastar (a five-speed automatic and six-speed manual remain the transmission choices). More powerful and more fuel efficient, the new engine allows the Wrangler Rubicon to shave precious time off its acceleration performance, propelling it to 60 mph in 8.4 seconds and through the quarter mile in 16.4 seconds at 82 mph. For comparison, our 2007 long-termer needed a full 10 seconds to hit 60 and 17.3 seconds to finish a quarter mile. The 2013 also needed 20 feet less to come to a complete halt from 60 mph, doing so in 128 ft instead of the 2007's 148. As for handling performance, it's a Wrangler Rubicon. The less said, the better, because just looking at it tells you that it can be best described as "nautical."

Plenty of ink, both real and digital, has been spent on the Wrangler's extensive off-road capability, so we'll save you from another paragraph about just how awesome it is in the dirt -- partly because we weren't able to get any on it. Thanks to balmy weather, we were able to spend plenty of time with the top down and thus settle the hard top vs. soft top debate. In the case of the Wrangler, the soft top wins handily because it stays on the vehicle and can be put up or down at will. The hard top, in turn, has to be stored, so you're forced to make an up or down decision when you head out.

On road, the Wrangler is loud with loose steering and disconnected-feeling controls. What, you were expecting a sports car? The five-speed automatic definite shows its age and doesn't aid the velocity-challenged SUV. It's also a $1125 option, so skip it and get the stick (if you don't know how, the Wrangler is a good choice for learning). The 6.5-inch navigation screen is certainly not Chrysler's latest and greatest, but it's been improved and works well enough. The standard Alpine audio system does an admirable job of pumping in tunes, but the Wrangler's minimal NVH isolation makes for an "I'm giving her all she's got captain" situation. That said, the Wrangler's cabin is now a much nicer place to be than it was in 2007, with softer and higher-quality plastics replacing the hard and cheap ones. With the 10th Anniversary leather seats in place, it's almost too nice for a Wrangler.

Speaking of the 10th Anniversary Package, in addition to the seats, it adds a premium soft top, package-specific 17-inch wheels, Mopar Power Dome hood, steel front and rear bumpers, grab handles, heated seats, slush mats, the connectivity group, and various cosmetic details. The package costs $5400 and the important bits can be had separately, so you've really got to want the cosmetic details. That said, it does look really damn good.

Unless you're serious about off-roading, we once again recommend going with a non-Rubicon Wrangler. Not only are the lower trims cheaper and better on-road, you'll save a lot of money on new tires. If you are serious about off-roading, this Rubicon is certainly the prettiest one you'll find (which means it'll be a damn shame if you have a Whoops! on the trail) and also the most expensive, pre-off-road shop visit, of course. In the end, it's a Wrangler. It knows what it is and you know what you're getting, you just have to pick the right one.


2013 Jeep Wrangler Unlimited Rubicon 10th Anniversary Edition
BASE PRICE $35,190
PRICE AS TESTED $43,400
VEHICLE LAYOUT Front-engine, 4WD, 5-pass, 4-door SUV
ENGINE 3.6L/285-hp/260-lb-ft DOHC 24-valve V-6
TRANSMISSION 5-speed automatic
CURB WEIGHT (F/R DIST) 4672 lb (52/48%)
WHEELBASE 116.0 in
LENGTH x WIDTH x HEIGHT 173.4 x 73.7 x 70.9 in
0-60 MPH 8.4 sec
QUARTER MILE 16.4 sec @ 82.0 mph
BRAKING, 60-0 MPH128 ft
LATERAL ACCELERATION 0.66 g (avg)
MT FIGURE EIGHT 30.2 sec @ 0.53 g (avg)
EPA CITY/HWY FUEL ECON 16/20 mpg
ENERGY CONS., CITY/HWY 211/169 kW-hrs/100 miles
CO2 EMISSIONS 1.10 lb/mile
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