The iconic Jeep Wrangler has been many things to its American faithful over the years. But one thing it generally hasn’t been is diesel-powered. That all changes, as FCA is now making the RAM 1500’s EcoDiesel V6 widely available in the four-door Wrangler. Is it a better choice for serious off roaders, or just a bunch of clatter?
It seemed the Jeep Wrangler’s "go anywhere" reputation and the long haul abilities of a diesel engine would go hand-in-hand. But, as we know, things can happen slowly in Jeepland, where change move with an 84:1 crawl ratio. Well, that marriage has finally come to American with the 2020 Jeep Wrangler EcoDiesel.
The Ram 1500’s Italian-built 3.0-liter V6 turbo-diesel has been slightly modified to fit the Wrangler’s engine bay, but outputs the same 260–horsepower. Though torque is down slightly to 442 lb-ft., compared to the RAM’s 480. But that’s still almost 150-lb-ft. more than the previous Wrangler top torque rating of 295 from the 2.0-liter gas turbo.
Everyone in the parking lot will hear you fire it up; but sitting inside, it’s actually fairly quiet, well at least as far as Jeeps go.
To handle all of that additional torque, the RAM’s heavier duty TorqueFlite 8HP75 8-speed auto comes over as well; you can’t get a manual with the diesel. Also, it’s 4-door Unlimited models only; so as of now, the ultimate in macho setups… 2-door, diesel, manual trans, remains a dream.
If you’re looking for the downside, about the only one you’d find is the additional weight that comes with the iron-block oil burner; otherwise, it’s all thumbs up.
All diesels get the Dana 44 axles front and rear, with 3.73 gearing. And yes, you can get it in the Rubicon as well, which of course, comes with the Rock-Trac 2-speed transfer case, while Sport and Sahara models get the Command-Trac 2-speed unit.
Trail-Rated regardless, and as capable as ever. Nothing changes with ground clearance, departure angles, or any of that important off-roady stuff. But due to some slight repackaging underneath, skid plates are unique. Instant torque for climbing anything in the Wrangler’s path is much appreciated, but some additional driver smoothness with the throttle is now required.
Tow rating is the same 3,500-lbs. of other Unlimiteds, but the diesel should allow you to stretch your time between fill ups close to 500-miles, provided you keep it on the highway.
Fuel capacity is actually scaled down from the 21.5-gallons of other 4-doors to 18.3; and inside, there’s a new DEF gauge to monitor the added 5.1-gallon diesel exhaust fluid tank; which should be good for about 10,000-miles.
The rest of the cabin is all typical current JL fare. Flat dash with controls close at hand, front seats that are just comfortable enough, and ubiquitous logos.
Driving around, you immediately realize this diesel is a big step up from the gas V6, feeling much peppier in all driving conditions; and the coolness factor is undeniable. It’s hard not to fall in love with it.
Ride is as rough-and-ready as always, and to compensate for the additional 400-lbs. or so of weight, the suspension is upgraded front and rear.
All the normal Unlimited configurations are available; soft tops, hard tops. Our Sahara-trimmed tester sporting a black 3-piece hard top.
Adding the Cold Weather Package will get you all-terrain tires mounted on the stock Sahara 18-inch wheels, though there are other wheel designs to choose from.
Government Fuel Economy Ratings are 22-City, 29-Highway, and 25-Combined. We averaged a great 28.5 miles-per-gallon. Still, that’s a slightly below average Energy Impact Score of 15.3-barrels of yearly oil use, with 6.8-tons of CO2 emissions.
As for pricing, nothing in life is free; and yes, those rules still apply in Jeepland. Technically, the Diesel is a $4,000 option, but you also have to pay 2-grand for the upgraded 8-speed automatic, bringing a base Sport to $39,290. That puts a Sahara at $46,140, and top line Rubicon at a fairly stiff $49,815.
Bottom line, the Wrangler faithful have been clamoring for a diesel option for some time now, and just as with the recent Gladiator pickup; all of sudden Jeep seems to be in a giving mood, finally delivering what their people want.
So, to our original question, is it a better option? Well, the 2020 Jeep Wrangler Unlimited EcoDiesel is not for everyone; it’s certainly not going to save you much money in the short term. But, if you’re as big a fan of torque as we are, always up for some long distance adventure, or just enjoy the soothing clatter of a diesel engine in the morning, it’s certainly the proper tool for the job.
Engine: 3.0 liter
Torque: 442 lb-ft.
EPA: 22 mpg city / 29 mpg highway
Energy Impact: 15.3-barrels of oil/yr
CO2 Emissions: 6.8 tons/yr