It’s hard to improve upon a car like the 2020 Jeep Wrangler. Its iconic design and combination of creature comforts and off-roading capabilities make it one of the most unique SUVs on the market. To many diehard fans, the only thing that could make the Wrangler better would be a diesel engine. Why a diesel? Well, diesel engines return better fuel economy than gasoline-powered engines. More importantly, they provide great low-end torque. That makes it easier to tackle steep terrain and climb out of deep sand or mud.
Jeep has listened to its fans. The 2020 Wrangler finally has a diesel engine. Was the wait worth it, though? Does a diesel engine really change all that much about the Wrangler? To find out, continue reading for an inside look at the 2020 Jeep Wrangler EcoDiesel.
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Visually, the 2020 Jeep Wrangler EcoDiesel looks no different than its gas-powered stablemates. The Wrangler is still as boxy and modular as ever, with a removable roof, door panels, and a windshield that folds down. Even if you couldn’t take it apart piece-by-piece, the Wrangler would still be one of the most eye-catching SUVs available. In a segment that’s full of curvaceous bodywork and increasingly upscale designs, the Wrangler’s boxy and rugged look stands out.
There’s really no in-between here. You either love the way the new Wrangler looks or you hate it. One other thing worth noting is that the Wrangler EcoDiesel is only available as a four-door model. At least for now.
Engine and Performance
The only available diesel engine is a 3.0-liter turbocharged V6 rated at 260 horsepower and 442 lb-ft of torque. This engine is down on horsepower compared to the Wrangler’s gasoline engines. The standard 3.6-liter V6 is good for 285 horsepower and 260 lb-ft of torque. There’s also a turbocharged four-cylinder rated at 270 horsepower and 295 lb-ft of torque. Of course when you’re talking diesel engines, horsepower takes a back seat to torque. In that regard, the Wrangler EcoDiesel has plenty to spare.
All 442 lb-ft of the diesel Wrangler’s torque is available at 1,400 rpm. What does that translate to? If you spend a lot of time sitting at stoplights, all this low-end torque means you’ll experience a burst of speed when you hit the gas. For those who like to off-road, the EcoDiesel Wrangler’s gobs of torque make it easier to get unstuck and climb steep surfaces, since the engine’s full power is available at lower speeds.
Purists won’t be happy to hear that the only available transmission is an eight-speed automatic. While there’s no stick, Jeep has said that the EcoDiesel’s shift points have been specifically calibrated for fuel economy, performance, and off-roading. In their review, Car and Driver recorded an unofficial 0-to-60 mph time of 6.7 seconds. That’s pretty good, seeing as how the outlet’s tester (an Unlimited Sahara) weighs in at a portly 4,863 pounds.
Trim and Prices
The Wrangler’s diesel engine can be had across any of the four-door “Unlimited” trims. Regardless of the trim you choose, the diesel engine adds an extra $6,000 to the Wrangler’s price tag. It’s $4,000 for the engine and $2,000 more for the automatic transmission that goes with it. This means the EcoDiesel Wrangler can get expensive quickly. The cheapest model, the Unlimited Sport, starts at $39,485. The range-topping Unlimited Rubicon checks in at an eye-watering $49,485.
So what trim level is the best buy? That all depends on what you’re looking for. When it comes to the Wrangler, spending more gets you increased off-roading capabilities like bigger tires, a more capable suspension system, and a wide-track lockable axles. You will also add creature comforts like leather seats, a larger Uconnect infotainment screen, and additional safety tech.
If you’re looking for off-roading capabilities, the Willys is the trim level we’d recommend. The diesel Willys starts at $44,985 and comes standard with heavy-duty brakes, a limited-slip rear differential, Rubicon shocks, and 32-inch mud-terrain tires. If you want a bit more luxury, then go with the Sahara. It starts at $46,140 and features a 7-inch Uconnect touchscreen with Apple CarPlay and Android Auto, 18-inch wheels, side steps, and dual-zone climate control standard.
Unlike other SUVs, the Wrangler doesn’t offer much in the way of luxury features. Base models feature cloth seats, but leather seating is available if you want. So are heated front seats, a leather-wrapped steering wheel, and a leather-wrapped shifter and parking brake. Edmunds said the front seats were “livable” on long trips. They also noted that while the rear bench seat was firm, it did recline somewhat.
Full-sized adults sitting in the rear seats may feel a bit claustrophobic. The 2020 Wrangler, like its predecessors, features a narrow body designed for off-roading. That said, the boxy design of the Wrangler ensures that only the tallest of passengers will bump their heads.
The four-door Wrangler offers 31 cubic feet of storage space with the rear seats up. That expands to 72 cubic feet of storage when the second row of seats is folded down. These figures put the Wrangler near the top of the compact SUV segment for total storage space.
One big thing to note is that the Wrangler’s cabin is noisy, especially if you opt for the soft top. This is largely due to the fact that nearly all the body panels are removable. Car and Driver said that the diesel engine’s noise can be heard within the cabin, which could be good or bad depending on how much you enjoy engine noises. On the other hand, if you’re in the market for a rugged off-road vehicle, you’re probably not concerned with a whisper quiet cabin. Especially one that you might drive without the doors attached.
Features and Equipment
While the EcoDiesel Wrangler doesn’t feature a ton of luxury options, it’s a different story on the tech front. A 5.0-inch Uconnect touchscreen is standard, although 7.0 and 8.4-inch upgrades are also available. Apple CarPlay and Android Auto are also available, as is a WiFi hotspot and navigation. Audiophiles will be happy to hear (pun intended) that a nine-speaker Alpine sound system can be optioned.
Standard safety tech includes a back-up camera and… well, that’s it. The Wrangler EcoDiesel does offer a variety of optional safety tech though. For a price, you can add blind-spot monitoring, emergency assist braking, and forward collision warning with active brake assist. Optional convenience technology includes adaptive cruise control and park assist. The 2020 Wrangler doesn’t offer the same amount of bells and whistles as other SUVs, but it packs just enough technology and optional safety equipment to stay competitive.
Fuel Economy and Warranty Coverage
The EPA estimate for the 2020 Wrangler EcoDiesel is not yet available yet. However, in its review, Car and Driver reported an average of 25 mpg over the course of a 700-mile road trip. The EPA estimate tends to be higher than what reviewers report. Regardless of the discrepancy, the EcoDiesel should be the most-fuel efficient Wrangler available, besting the turbocharged four-cylinders mpg split of 22/24/23 (city, highway, combined).
The EcoDiesel Wrangler has a three-year 36,000-mile basic warranty and a five-year 100,000-mile limited powertrain warranty. That limited powertrain warranty is miles ahead of the one offered in the gas-powered Wrangler, which caps out at five years and just 60,000 miles.
- More torque than most pickup trucks.
- Increased off-roading prowess.
- Improved fuel economy.
- The $6,000 extra price tag for the diesel engine.
- No manual transmission on offer.
- Only available on four-door models.
The Last Word
The 2020 Jeep Wrangler EcoDiesel isn’t for everyone. If your goal is to go off-roading without going broke at the fuel pump, then the turbocharged four-cylinder Wrangler might be a better option. It costs thousands less than the diesel (the turbo-four comes paired to an automatic transmission that costs an additional $1,500). If you fancy yourself an off-road purist, you might find yourself wondering if the EcoDiesel’s extra grunt is worth the premium price tag.
That said, there is a specific group of people who have been clamoring for a diesel-powered Wrangler –some of them for decades. There are also some who don’t consider themselves diehard Jeep fans, but like the idea of taking their off-roading adventures to the next level. Finally, there are folks who will see the specs and want to know what all the fuss is about. For these three groups of people, nothing will come close to the 2020 Jeep Wrangler EcoDiesel.