January 22, 2019

So, its been a little while since Ive posted. A bit’s happened since i sold the Smurf. The week after the smurf left my ownership, I found myself with a couple grand in my pocket, and no Wrangler. I knew this state could not last. I hit up a few Jeep dealers, and found a deal I could live with on a 2013 Wrangler, 2-door. Traded in the XJ. A few weeks later I had a business trip to North Carolina. So I drove, of course, about a thousand miles worth of road trip. On top of that I have about 80 miles round trip commute for work every day. I car pool, so that helps, but any given week i put between 160 and 320 miles on my vehicle just to get to and from work.

I ended up with a 2013 JK Sport. Black, hard top, about as base as they come with the addition of UConnect, a hard top, manual transmission, and a tow hitch. I took delivery at the end of April. Here we are November 2nd, and I’m finally writing about it. I’ve already logged about 9,000 miles (yea, I know the title says 10,000, sue me) on the thing.

So, let me say two things. First, I’ve been driving wranglers for 15 years. YJ’s, until now, but i’ve seen plenty of TJ’s up close, and even driven a few. This is my first up-close experience with a JK. Second, this is the first NEW car I’ve ever owned.

As wranglers go, this thing is a luxury car! I went with manual locks and windows. Partially because I don’t like the bulk of the remote keys, and partly because its just one less thing to worry about when I take the doors off. Which I knew would happen. Even with the lack of such amenities driving the JK, to me, who’s used to the utilitarian interior of a YJ, is a freaking dream. Directional vents! AIR CONDITIONING!

First impressions

Here are some of the first things I noticed about my new JK.

On the lot, before I even took it on a test drive, I noticed that in the black screening around the windshield, Jeep has cut a little Jeep in the lower passenger side corner, and a Jeep grill above the rear view mirror. I thought that was a neat touch.

I hadn’t driven a manual for a while, So i had to re-learn a tad. It didn’t take long to get the niche back. The 6-speed manual is actually really nice. First feels pretty low, I’ve actually been able to skip first gear and start from second in some circumstances. If I’m on a hill, I can get the clutch all the way out, and let the jeep creep up the hill without hitting the gas. It’ll just pull itself right up the incline.

Hill Start Assist sucks. Luckily you can turn it off. I’m apparently not the first one to think this. I found that I was stalling a lot when on an incline. I didn’t know about HSA, but i noticed that it felt like there was something holding the brakes when i was on an incline starting out. A quick google search revealed Hill Start Assist. I checked my window sticker and there it was. So i found a set of directions online on how to disable it. Turning it off improved my ability to drive without stalling dramatically. Funny how that works.

There’s a nice feeling of forethought put into the vehicle, it seems like the engineers at Jeep really tried their damndest to build a vehicle that can fill both the daily driver role, and the off-road prowess role. Its easy (relatively) to get the top and doors off, and the vehicle does all sorts of neat things depending on where you have the 4wd selector. Throw it into 4-low and it disables ESP, and even disables the clutch-press to start.

Off-Road

So it’s a Wrangler right? To me, that means one thing. It needs to be capable off-road, and it needs to be liveable on-road. This vehicle does both! I’m still completely stock, now, I haven’t done any crazy crawling, but I have had the chance to get off-road with it. It crawls like a jeep, and it fits in tight spaces like a jeep. Overall, I’m happy with it. It has taken some getting used to, as the dimensions are different than the YJ’s I’m used to driving, but the base is more than adequate for an off-road vehicle. I do not intend to turn this Jeep into a crawler. It’s my DD, and I intend to keep it that way. But it’s very nice to know that I can take it hunting, or out for a weekend on the trails (within reason) without having to dump a ton of money on top of the sticker price into it.

On-Road

I hinted at this before, but here’s some more detail. The JK is a very nice on-road Jeep. It handles my commute well, and gets around 20MPG on my trip, which is a mix of highway and local driving. With the dinkey stock tires, and a manual transmission, I’ve seen reports from the onboard computer that i’m getting up to 24mpg at highway speeds, and as low as 18-19 if I get hard on the stupid-pedal. The 3.6l does not disappoint. I loved the 4.0l, and I was worried that I was going to end up missing it’s torque, but the 3.6l is a really well-rounded motor!

It’s also comfortable. To me anyway, I’ve never owned an honest luxury car, mostly SUV’s and trucks have been in my driving history. So, as SUV’s go, the wrangler is nice. My car-pool buddy is pretty tall, over 6 feet, and i’m relatively short, around 5′ 10″ or so. Neither of us finds the wrangler uncomfortable. move to seat to where you’re comfortable, and you’re good.

I have had a few little issues with uConnect. I work in IT, so i’m not your average user. I find uConnect to be buggy. This could easily be due to my phone. I run an android phone, running CyanogenMod, so it’s not exactly run of the mill. Cyanogen is an open source build of android, it has bugs, it’s very possible that the problems I have are due to CyanogenMod bugs, and not uConnect’s fault at all. The major issues are these.

Bluetooth Audio drops. From time to time, uConnect will just drop it’s BT connection to my phone. It usually reconnects after about a minute.

Call issues. Sometimes, when i make a phone call, right as the recipient picks up, uConnect tells me that the call has ended. It doesnt hang up the phone though. I’m left in this state where the audio on the call is broken, and uConnect thinks it’s not on a call. I have to hang up, and re-call.

Both of these issues are infrequent. Maybe a few times a month. They may even be related. Some bug in Cyanogen’s Bluetooth subsystem or something. Who knows.

Would I buy another?

YES! In fact, we did. In September, we replaced my Wife’s Patriot with a 2013 Wrnagler Unlimited. Very similar to my own, but with an Auto, and 4-door, of course. Anyone who wants a nice comfortable, capable, Jeep, should consider one of these. They catch a lot of Flack from some of the oldschool enthusiasts, but I just want to say, that’s unfounded. These are still very much Jeeps.

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