Like a good hunting dog, the Jeep Wrangler gets antsy when it’s kept out of the woods for too long. For model year 2013, Jeep engineers focused mainly on ergonomics inside the cabin, but the iconic Wrangler still longs to go where the pavement ends.

Last year, the Wrangler got a new engine that boosted its performance on the road. This year, the Wrangler gets new seats front and rear, re-contoured to be more comfortable on the ride to the deer camp. The front seats have larger bolsters help keep you in place while bouncing down old logging trails. More interior courtesy lighting is installed, and a new Alpine premium speaker system is available for standard and navigation-equipped audio systems. A new premium soft top is also available on all models, and Jeep says the mechanism for raising and lowering the top is easier to use.

Our test Wrangler this week was the Sport model in a color called Gecko Pearl. Call it what you want – green, chartreuse or lime – this color is bright. I was temped to leave it in the sun all day, then drive it inside a warehouse with no windows to see if it glowed in the dark. Jeep’s color palate has historically been, well, colorful. I really liked the bright Gecko color, but I thought it would get mixed reactions from others.

With one exception, everyone who saw the vehicle agreed with me (the one exception said he liked the Wrangler, but not the color). One friend even wanted the test Wrangler’s VIN number so he could have his motorcycle painted in a matching color.

The 2013 Wrangler is powered by the 3.6-liter V6 introduced last year. The engine cranks out 285 horsepower and 260 lb.-ft. of torque. Our tested Wrangler Sport had a Dana 30 front axle and Dana 44 rear axle, with a two-speed transfer case. An optional Trac-Lok limited-slip rear differential provides extra grip in low-traction conditions. The approach angle is a class-best 44.3 degrees, the breakover is 25.5 degrees, and going away it’s 40.4 degrees.

Admittedly, we don’t have a lot of rock-climbing hills in south Louisiana. But we do have deer camps at the end of some long, rutted logging trails, and that’s where the Wrangler excels. Jeep also introduces a new 2013 Wrangler Moab edition based on the Sahara, with hardware that is popular with off-roading enthusiasts.

Inside, the Wrangler is versatile and easy to maintain. Standard equipment includes intermittent wipers, a padded sports roll bar, a tilt steering wheel, wheel mounted audio controls, 6 speakers, and audio jacks for mobile devices. Our test Wrangler had the optional customer preferred package ($2,200) that added 17-inch aluminum wheels and upgraded tires, as well as a leather-wrapped steering wheel. The base price for the 2013 Wrangler Sport 4x4 is $22,195.

Other options including Uconnect connectivity, a power convenience group and an assortment of ergonomic and sound system upgrades brought the bottom line to $28,185, including freight. The 2013 Wrangler has not yet been safety tested by the Insurance Institute for Highway Safety.

General Dwight Eisenhower famously said after World War II that the Jeep was one of three tools that helped win the war. The Dakota airplane and the landing craft were the other two.

Unfortunately, we didn’t have a chance to take our test Wrangler in the woods this time, but the 2012 model handled some serious trails when we tested it back in the spring. Hunting season is getting under way now in south Louisiana, and with more than 70 years of Jeep heritage backing the Wrangler, this dog will hunt.

2013 Jeep Wrangler Sport

  • Engine: 3.6-liter V6
  • Transmission: 6-speed manual
  • Horsepower: 285
  • Test model base price: $22,195
  • EPA mileage rating: 17 mpg city / 21 mpg highway