When the fourth-generation Jeep Wrangler (JL) debuted for the 2018 model year, the big news was the announcement of a diesel engine for the U.S. Though diesel powertrains have been available for European-spec Wranglers for some time, this is the first time they’re being offered stateside. The 2020 Wrangler and its Gladiator pickup sibling will have a diesel option, albeit with some compromises.
“Diesel power will be offered in response to overwhelming consumer demand with a 3.0-liter EcoDiesel V-6 with ESS” (engine stop-start) Fiat Chrysler Automobiles confirmed in a press release last September. The motor produces 260 horsepower and 442 pound-feet of torque. The engine was manufactured by FCA EMEA (Europe, Middle East, Africa) and adapted by FCA US to meet NAFTA (North American Free Trade Agreement) regulations.
The diesel V-6 is borrowed from the Ram 1500 EcoDiesel, which was first introduced for the 2014 model year. That was the first light-duty truck to offer a diesel powertrain in more than a decade, and that engine is now in its third generation. The engine uses a watercooled turbocharger. It is produced at the FCA Cento facility in Ferrara, Italy.
And now the bad news
The introduction of a diesel Wrangler is all well and good, but you may want to curb your enthusiasm. It will only be available on the four-door Wrangler Unlimited models equipped with a ZF TorqueFlite eight-speed automatic transmission. If you want a two-door Wrangler and/or a 6-speed manual, you’ll have to opt for the turbocharged 2.4-liter I-4 or 3.6-liter V-6 engines. Diesel Gladiator customers must also stick with the automatic, which is “designed to handle the increased torque output.”
What’s the cost?
Pricing starts at $37,795 for the Unlimited Sport Ecodiesel. Step up to the Sahara Limited and a diesel will set you back $44,645. The off-road powerhouse Unlimited Rubicon diesel enters the fray at $48,125.
All EcoDiesel Wranglers are built with third-generation Dana 44 front and rear heavy-duty axles with a 3.73 axle ratio. The Rubicon comes with a Rock-Trac two-speed transfer case with a 4.0:1 low-range gear ratio, while the Sport and Sahara diesels use the Command-Trac part-time two-speed transfer case with a 2.72:1 low-range gear ratio.
The EPA recently released its estimates for the Wrangler EcoDiesel‘s fuel economy. The numbers read 22 mpg in the city, 29 mpg on the highway, and 25 combined city/highway. The next most efficient Wrangler is the two-door model with the 2.0-liter four-cylinder turbocharged engine and automatic transmission. This little truck gets 22 mpg in the city, 24 mpg on the highway, and 23 mpg combined.
Compare the Wrangler’s figures to the 2020 Ram 1500 EcoDiesel, which costs $4,995 over the base V-6 and $3,000 over the 5.7-liter Hemi V-8 eTorque. The official Ram website states that the 3.0L EcoDiesel V6 engine gets up to 22 mpg in the city and 32 mpg on the highway.
Earlier this month the Jeep Wrangler Unlimited Rubicon EcoDiesel was named the Four Wheeler 2020 SUV of the Year. It is the 47th vehicle to receive this distinction.
The introduction of a diesel Wrangler is all well and good, but you may want to curb your enthusiasm
The 2020 Jeep Wrangler is also adding a new mild hybrid option for the V-6 engine. The eTorque upgrade was previously only available for the four-cylinder powertrain. Now buyers will be able to choose the hybrid eTorque setup for either engine, but once again with a catch. The 3.6-liter hybrid engine is exclusively available on Wrangler Sahara models and all eTorque engines require an automatic transmission.
Other Wrangler news includes the edition of two special-edition models. The off-road focused Jeep Wrangler Willys features a hood decal, limited-slip rear differential, Rubicon rock rails and shocks, heavy duty brakes, 32-inch Firestone mud terrain tires, and black accents. The Black & Tan edition adds a premium tan soft top, Machine Granite wheels with all-terrain tires, side steps, and low-gloss black exterior badging and accents. On the inside you get a Wizard Black painted instrument panel and Heritage Tan cloth seats.
The new North Edition Wrangler, Cherokee, Compass, Renegade, Gladiator, and Grand Cherokee models feature winter performance tires, remote start, heated steering wheel and seats, and include a Jeep Trail Rated kit.
Update notes: Added price for Wranglers equipped with the EcoDiesel engine, in addition to the EPA’s fuel economy estimates. Also added information on special edition models.
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