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2020 Jeep Wrangler EcoDiesel First Drive Review

How about some diesel torque for your rock-climbing adventures?

Jeep Wrangler Full Overview

ZION NATIONAL PARK, Utah—According to Jeep, the 2020 Wrangler JL diesel will satisfy the number-two demand it hears from its enthusiasts. (The top demand, a pickup, has been filled by the Gladiator, while the number-three request is for a new Grand Wagoneer. That's coming.) Never mind that there isn't much U.S.-market historical precedent for such a Jeep engine—Willys offered a 3.2-liter British Perkins diesel four in the CJ5 and CJ6 from 1961-65, while a 2.2-liter diesel can be had in European-market Wranglers—truck fanatics, and by extension off-roaders, love them.

And why not? The low-end torque, even accounting for inevitable turbo lag, makes rock climbing easier. It also was one of two solutions developed to help Jeep meet the now-suspended 54.5-mpg 2025 Corporate Average Fuel Economy standard in the U.S., which loomed as this engine was under development. Now that it's here, it will be available only in the four-door Unlimited's Sport, Sahara, and Rubicon trims, and mates only to an eight-speed automatic transmission.

The EPA has not published the EcoDiesel Wrangler's official fuel-economy numbers just yet, although they should come soon, as the first deliveries are expected by early December. Still, Jeep's North American head Jim Morrison says to expect well over 500 miles of range with the Wrangler Unlimited's 18.3-gallon tank, as well as a 7-to-8-mpg gain over the 3.6-liter gas V-6's 22-mpg EPA highway mileage. If the Jeep Wrangler Unlimited EcoDiesel's EPA highway number doesn't hit 30 mpg, it certainly will hit 29. The EcoDiesel is a $3,250 option over the 3.6-liter gas V-6, with pricing starting at $39,290 on the Sport.

2020 Wrangler Diesel: EcoDiesel Version III

Unlike the Ram 1500 that also offers an EcoDiesel V-6, the Wrangler is built for tough terrain and fording water, so the 3.0L turbodiesel in the Jeep is a "complete redesign," which began by raising the oil sump's location from the bottom of the engine, says Mauro Puglia, Fiat Chrysler's North American senior manager for diesel engines. The realigned oil sump knocked over a row of dominos, forcing Puglia's team to make a number of other changes that results in EcoDiesel III. The '17 Jeep Grand Cherokee got EcoDiesel I, while II is what's in the latest Ram 1500.

EcoDiesel III has redesigned lightweight aluminum pistons with thinner rings and low-friction diamond-like carbon coating on the pin and compression ring to reduce parasitic losses. The piston pin is offset by 0.3mm from centerline for better noise, vibration, and harshness (NVH). In addition, the engine also has a new-generation water-cooled turbo, redesigned cylinder-head intake ports, updated exhaust-gas recirculation, high-pressure 29,000-psi direct-injection fuel-injector nozzles, and a 16.0:1 compression ratio (down from 16.5:1) for better fuel economy and reduced engine noise. The Rubicon EcoDiesel comes with the Rock-Trac two-speed transfer case with a 4.0:1 low-range gear ratio, while the Sport and Sahara trims come with the Command-Trac part-time two-speed transfer case with a 2.72:1 low-range gear ratio. As mentioned, all transmit power through the TorqFlite 8HP75 eight-speed automatic.

The diesel itself contributes approximately 375 pounds to the Wrangler EcoDiesel's 400-to-425-pound weight gain, Puglia says. There's also more sound attenuation, and a 5.1-liter diesel exhaust fluid tank just behind the fuel tank. It's refilled via a port under the same driver's side flap as the fuel filler, and a message on the dash indicates when it's time to refresh the tank, generally in 10,000-mile intervals.

The most important number for Jeep enthusiasts is this, however: 442 lb-ft of torque at 1,400 rpm. Horsepower, if you're interested, is 260 at 3,600 rpm and the engine tops out at a 4,600-rpm redline. (The 1961-65 Jeep CJ5 and CJ6's optional Perkins engine was rated for 62 horses and 143 lb-ft according to our sister publication Diesel Power.) This all adds up to a quiet, fun-to-drive modern diesel. It's quiet when the windows are rolled up, the top is closed and you're inside. Roll the windows down or crack the optional power canvas top open, especially in a tunnel, and it's like you've driven into a truck stop full of idling semis. Every modern diesel makes a similar amount of noise, though.

2020 Wrangler Diesel: Driving On- and Off-Road

The windows were up and the power canvas top closed most of the time until after our drive through beautiful Zion Canyon, whose red and tan Navajo sandstone contrasted beautifully with our Ocean Blue Metallic Unlimited Sahara. This national park is one big speed zone with a solid double stripe splitting the two-lane, so the on-road drive on the twisty ribbon of blacktop was at the moderate speeds befitting a Wrangler wearing BF Goodrich K02 all-terrain tires.

The V of NVH fame were present, but only just and with none of the H. Diesel engine vibration is a constant and steady low-grain feel that comes through the steering wheel and floorboard. It's of the level you'll find in virtually any new diesel, including the engines that come in more refined luxury SUVs.

On pavement and in rear-wheel-drive 2Hi mode, the EcoDiesel's tip-in feels soft. It's typical of a diesel engine's turbo lag and not an issue in this traffic, though in heavier urban traffic I'd be more reluctant to roll the Jeep into a close gap. A diesel's lag is more pronounced than a gas engine's—a difference we grew intimately accustomed to with our recent long-term Land Rover Discovery 3.0-liter diesel. Once underway and with the turbo spooled up, though, the power is healthy in the mid-range, offering progressive acceleration befitting the smooth feel you'd want from a tall off-roader on knobby tires.

Perhaps even more so than with any of the gasoline engines, the EcoDiesel Wrangler's on-road compromises ride off into the sunset once you get this beast moving up and down tall, narrow rocks. In this part of Utah, that would be at Sand Hollow State Park, where Jeep outfitted us with a Sting-Gray Rubicon, its tires deflated to 20 psi from the recommended 37.

Once through the sand and up to the rocks, we switched from 4Hi to 4Lo, made sure the lockers were locked, and detached the electronically actuated anti-roll bars. We were fourth in a row of four Unlimited Rubicon EcoDiesels, with spotters regularly waving us to positions pointed toward the clouds with no view of anything but sky.

Here, the EcoDiesel shines. With the turbo boost several hundred rpm away from the 800 to 1,200 we were conjuring, it took just the slightest tip of the throttle pedal to smoothly inch the Wrangler across the rugged terrain. Sometimes it took a deliberate blip to step up a tall obstacle; we covered the brakes as the Jeep leveled on the rocks, the underbody making the sort of scraping noises that usually make us cringe. Those are the skidplates doing their job. That low-hum diesel vibration feels tactile here, too, and almost reassuring in this setting.

The four-Jeep convoy eased down the final rock of our journey and headed out to deep sand dunes, the driveline in 4Hi with the rear differential unlocked. It was sunny and warm, the driver's window down and the power folding top half open, and the idling Jeeps again brought to mind a truck stop. We drove through the sand at maybe 30 mph, the chassis getting a bit loose and requiring a bit of opposite steering lock to stay on course.

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Jeep will sell plenty Wrangler Unlimiteds with the EcoDiesel option, and plenty more Gladiator EcoDiesels when that model makes its debut next year. This should push the four-door versus two-door Wrangler mix up past its current high of 90 percent/10 percent (versus about 75/25 for the old JK model). But Jeep has another fuel-mileage trick up its sleeve, a plug-in hybrid under development. That powerplant, potentially with max torque at 0 rpm, will probably go to the European market first, where stringent new CO2 emissions standards take effect in January. We'll leave it to the Jeep aficionados to decide whether they'd prefer to climb rocks with gobs of low-end torque to a soundtrack featuring a diesel's hum or no noises at all.

Looks good! More details?
2020 Jeep Wrangler Unlimited EcoDiesel Specifications
ENGINE3.0L turbocharged DOHC 24-valve V-6 diesel; 260 hp @ 1,400 rpm, 442 lb-ft @ 3,600 rpm
TRANSMISSION8-speed automatic
LAYOUT4-door, 5-passenger, front-engine, AWD SUV
EPA MILEAGE22/30 mpg (est)
L x W x H188.4 x 73.8 x 73.6 in
WEIGHT4,825-4,875 lb


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Jeep's icon, the Wrangler, is set to receive a diesel engine in the near future, but ahead of then, it appears the upgrade cost has leaked.

According to the Wrangler gurus at the JL Wrangler Forum, dealers are starting to alert owners that the 3.0-liter EcoDiesel V6 is available for order on 2020 Wrangler models and it comes with a $6,000 price tag. When contacted for comment, Jeep did not speak to the diesel engine's cost, but a representative did confirm this oil-burner will only be available with an automatic transmission.

In the process, that confirms part of the cost. Having a look at the posted dealer order sheet, it shows the eight-speed automatic is a mandatory $2,000 upgrade. At the same time, put any dreams of rowing your own gears in a diesel-powered Wrangler to bed. Looking at the V6 engines on offer in an apples-to-apples, it costs $3,250 more than the 3.6-liter gasoline-powered V6 with an automatic transmission.

The engine spins out 260 horsepower and 442 pound-feet of torque, which even with an automatic, sounds like quite a bit of fun off-road. Start/stop is standard here, but you won't find a mild-hybrid version. The 48-volt electrification tech is still only present on the 2.0-liter turbo-four and the 3.6-liter V6.

The other major factor is how frugal the diesel will be. The EPA hasn't release fuel economy estimates yet, but the engine is quite efficient in the 2020 Ram 1500. Look for the engine as an upgrade on Rubicon, Sahara and Sport trims when it does launch as a late-2020 option.

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The Jeep Wrangler has been America’s dominant choice for off-roading fun for decades. The popularity surrounding the capable Wrangler has only grown more and more in recent years, and Jeep continues to answer the call by designing better and better Wranglers. In fact, anticipation for the 2020 Jeep Wrangler’s new EcoDiesel engine within the industry reached astronomical levels. But now that the new diesel engine is here, is it worth its cost in the Rubicon trim level?

The 2020 Jeep Wrangler Unlimited Rubicon EcoDiesel: a review of the new diesel engine

With the arrival of the new 2020 Wrangler, buyers now have the choice of a new, turbo-diesel 3.0-liter V6 engine over the standard 3.6-liter six-cylinder gas engine. According to, the Jeep Wrangler’s new EcoDiesel engine is only available on four-door models but delivers better numbers than any other Wrangler in the bunch.

The new EcoDiesel engine makes an impressive 260 hp and 442 lb-ft of torque, making it powerful, quick, and efficient. Jeep’s new diesel engine earns an EPA-estimated 22 mpg in the city and 29 mpg on the highway, which equates to a 45 percent increase in efficiency over the standard engine’s 18 mpg in the city and 23 mpg on the highway.

Even with the extra weight added to the Wrangler’s body by the diesel engine, the Unlimited Rubicon has the quickest acceleration time of all models, as well as throttle response that’s more than adequate for off-roading. In fact, experts most admire the balance between the EcoDiesel’s ability to deliver “smooth and seamless power,” while still being able to continue the Wrangler’s “off-road reign.”

Rubicon models come standard with manual transmissions and the Rock-Trac heavy-duty four-wheel-drive system, although the available eight-speed automatic transmission is required when opting for the EcoDiesel engine. Other standard features of the Rubicon trim include performance suspension, electronic roll mitigation, hill-start assist, rock protection side rails, skid plate shields, and a 7.0-inch touchscreen display.

How much extra will it cost you to own?

RELATED: Which Jeep Wrangler Is Right for Me?

The Jeep Wrangler used to offer very minimal choices in its configurations, offering buyers choices between hard and soft tops, as well as two- and four-door body styles. But with the Wrangler’s popularity only continuing to grow and its position as quite arguably the greatest symbol of the Jeep brand’s heritage, available options in new Jeep Wranglers are almost endless. But this also means that the price can vary greatly. 

According to Jeep, base two-door Wrangler Sports come with a base price of around $28,000, while opting for four-door (Unlimited) models automatically increases the base price an average of around $5,000. This increase rings true across all 13 trim levels.

Base prices of all 13 four-door Unlimited Wranglers range from $32,000 for Sport models to nearly $50,000 for the top High Altitude model. The Rubicon nears the top of Wrangler Unlimited trim levels with a base price of more than $42,000.

Is the Jeep Wrangler EcoDiesel worth its price?

The Jeep Wrangler Unlimited Rubicon’s base price of around $42,000 isn’t too affordable, but it isn’t exceptionally high given the quality Jeep Wrangler buyers are willing to pay for either. The impressive Jeep Wrangler Rubicon EcoDiesel tested by MotorTrend experts, however, had a final sticker price of more than $62,000 – proving that owning an EcoDiesel Rubicon could be costly. According to those experts, that’s the “Wrangler EcoDiesel’s biggest problem.”

In addition to the model’s many added features, opting for the EcoDiesel engine over the standard gas engine proves expensive. It costs around an additional $6,000 to get the Wrangler Rubicon with Jeep’s EcoDiesel engine, as buyers must pay extra for both the engine and the automatic transmission that it must be paired with. While the diesel engine is certainly more efficient, it may not be a big enough difference to justify its price.


The Jeep Wrangler is a lot like a Subway franchise. It's a common sight at strip malls, regular malls, and gas stations. It comes in long and short sizes. And it offers a number of toppings, both soft and hard. With its various powertrains, door types, and streetable and/or off-road pretensions, the Wrangler has a combo for nearly any buyer. And now Jeep is introducing yet another flavor: the 2020 Jeep Wrangler EcoDiesel, which borrows its turbo-diesel from the 2020 Ram 1500. And with it comes a promise of improved fuel economy. All the taste. Fewer calories.

HIGHS: Torque where you need it, efficient diesel, surprisingly quick.

Wranglers have always paired well with the low-end grunt of a diesel engine. In the 1960s, the CJ-5 offered a four-cylinder diesel with 62 horsepower and 143 lb-ft of torque. For 2020, Jeep has bolted in a third-generation turbocharged 3.0-liter diesel V-6 made by VM Motori. It's mechanically the same as the Ram's engine, though the alternator and injection pump have been relocated to maintain the Wrangler's 30 inches of water-fording ability. Its 260 horsepower and 442 lb-ft of very lovely torque are the special sauce.

As the engine whirs to life, there's no mistaking that you bought the diesel. Jeep made an effort to quiet the pitter-patter of the powertrain, adding sound-deadening material to the engine-bay side of the firewall as well as foam to the back of the infotainment screen. But Jeeps are noisy creatures even without a diesel engine. After all, the doors and roof are removable. So, we largely enjoyed the clatter and thrum. The diesel is an expensive fixin'; we want to hear what we paid for. Would you spend thousands on a Hellcat engine and not listen to it? No. No, you would not.

Around town, the Ecodiesel supports big-rig fantasies. There's no manual gearbox, but there's a certain amount of joy that comes from locking the ZF-sourced eight-speed automatic into a high gear and standing on the accelerator. As the turbo spools up, its whistle drowns out the clatter as the intake gets stuffed with 31.9 pounds of boost. Peak torque arrives at 1400 rpm and stays flat all the way to 2800. Get out of it and the blow-off valve lets loose with a characteristic whoosh.

LOWS: Pricey, slightly compromised ride, no manual gearbox.

At the track, this 4863-pound Wrangler Unlimited Sahara recorded an impressive 6.7-second dash to 60 mph. The quarter-mile happens in 15.2 seconds, with the Jeep crossing the line at 89 mph. While it isn't the quickest Wrangler we've run through the numbers, the difference is so negligible that it will go unnoticed. Plus, the diesel's off-the-line acceleration never fails to result in a grin.

On the road, the Wrangler drives very much like an off-roader; two live axles and the quickest recirculating-ball-steering gear available in a Wrangler (at 14.3:1) isn't a recipe for apex hunting. On the skidpad, there's a meager 0.64 g of grip. To compensate for this ute's additional 394 pounds over a similarly equipped V-6 model, Jeep increased the front and rear spring rates by 10 percent and added diesel-specific dampers, making the ride noticeably firmer. The huskier Wrangler also needed 198 feet to stop from 70 mph. That's 22 more than the gasser Sahara V-6.

In the dirt, the diesel-powered Rubicon model earns its stripes. We ventured to Utah's spectacular Sand Hollow State Park so we could experience what Wranglers do best: Jeep things. With the Rubicon-specific front anti-roll bar disconnected and the front and rear electronic differentials locked, it climbed sandstone walls. The diesel shrugs off the weight of the truck, needing barely any accelerator input. Jeep's most serious Wrangler used up every one of its 10.8 inches of ground clearance, its skid plates dragging across the rock like fingernails on a chalkboard.

In deep sand, the Rubicon's off-road tires toss up earth as the engine churns away at full tilt. Sport and Sahara models are equipped with an open front differential and a limited-slip rear unit. Depending on the trim level, two transfer cases are offered: Sport and Sahara models are equipped with a 2.72:1 low-range ratio while the Rubicon is fitted with a 4.00:1. Unlike gasoline-powered Wranglers, a full-time all-wheel-drive transfer case isn't offered on the diesel.

Aft of the rear axle is a diesel-specific skid plate that protects the 5.1-gallon tank for diesel exhaust fluid. The reservoir does not have any negative impact on the Wrangler's departure angle and, by Jeep's claim, should need to be refilled only every 10,000 miles under normal operation. However, after drinking 2.5 gallons of tailpipe-cleansing juice with 1700 miles on the odometer, we're skeptical of this claim.

The diesel is more than just a power story. This powertrain is also about efficiency. Though EPA figures are not available at this time, we recorded a commendable 25 mpg during our 700-mile drive from Utah to Southern California.

The power efficiency comes with a hefty price, though. The engine alone is a $4000 option and requires a mandatory $2000 upgrade for the eight-speed automatic. At launch, the engine will be available only in four-door Unlimited models. Our well-equipped Sahara stickered at an eye-watering $57,940, and fully kitted Rubicons can climb into the mid-$60s. For bargain shoppers, the diesel can be had on the value menu for under $40,000 in the Wrangler Sport. We see this as the sweet spot in the range, as the savings can be spent on a lift kit, LED lights, and overlanding items. We'll have to wait a year for the diesel to appear in the Gladiator pickup, but it's presence in the Wrangler is the sandwich of the day.



2020 Jeep Wrangler Unlimited Sahara EcoDiesel

front-engine, rear/4-wheel-drive, 5-passenger, 4-door convertible

$57,940 (base price: $46,140)

turbocharged and intercooled DOHC 24-valve diesel V-6, iron block and aluminum heads, direct fuel injection
182 cu in, 2987 cc
260 hp @ 3600 rpm
442 lb-ft @ 1400 rpm

8-speed automatic

Suspension (F/R): live axle/live axle
Brakes (F/R): 13.0-in vented disc/13.5-in disc
Tires: Bridgestone Dueler A/T RH-S, 255/70R-18 113T M+S

Wheelbase: 118.4 in
Length: 188.4 in
Width: 73.8 in
Height: 73.6 in
Passenger volume: 108 cu ft
Cargo volume: 32 cu ft
Curb weight: 4863 lb

Rollout, 1 ft: 0.3 sec
60 mph: 6.7 sec
100 mph: 21.1 sec
110 mph: 30.6 sec
Rolling start, 5–60 mph: 7.6 sec
Top gear, 30–50 mph: 3.8 sec
Top gear, 50–70 mph: 5.2 sec
¼-mile: 15.2 sec @ 89 mph
Top speed (governor limited): 113 mph
Braking, 70–0 mph: 198 ft
Roadholding, 300-ft-dia skidpad: 0.64 g

Observed: 25 mpg

Combined/city/highway: 26/23/30 mpg


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Ecodiesel price jeep

Yep, 2021 Jeep Gladiator diesel starts at $41,040

When Jeep announced the 2021 Gladiator would get an EcoDiesel option, we expected pricing similar to the Wrangler — the third-generation VM Motori 3.0-liter V6 oil-burner is a $4,000 option, with the required ZF eight-speed automatic another $2,000. That formula would put a base Gladiator Sport EcoDiesel at about $41,000. Cars Direct got eyes on an early dealer guide, and Jeep has indeed followed the Wrangler template, the new Gladiator Sport diesel costing $41,040 after a $1,495 destination charge. The second engine option for the Jeep pickup will also be available on the Overland and Rubicon trims. According to the order guide, a 2021 Gladiator Overland diesel will cost $47,890, the Rubicon $51,370. As with the Sport trim, both those prices are exactly $6,000 above the base MSRPs after destination.

Any sticker shock at the prices is tempered by the only midsized diesel pickup competitor being more expensive, in the forms of the Chevrolet Colorado and GMC Canyon, both powered by a 2.8-liter four-cylinder diesel. A 2020 Colorado crew cab short box with compression ignition and four-wheel drive starts at $41,275, a similarly equipped GMC Canyon starts at $42,540. The Jeep wins the output competition, getting 260 horsepower and 442 pound-feet of torque from its mill, versus 181 hp and 369 lb-ft in the Chevy and GMC. We don't have hauling specs yet, but the GM products are rated to pull up to 7,700 pounds. The Gladiator is rated at 7,650 pounds when fitted with the 3.6-liter Pentastar V6. We wouldn't expect that change with the diesel, the new truck simply making a better go of hauling its loads.

Fuel economy specs also need to wait, but we can look at the Wrangler diesel's improvement for guidance. The EPA rates a Wrangler Unlimited with the mild-hybrid 3.6-liter gas V6 and eight-speed auto at 19 miles per gallon in the city, 22 mpg on the highway, 20 mpg combined. With the diesel, those numbers jump to 22 city, 29 highway, 25 combined. The Gladiator with the Pentastar gasser is EPA-rated at 17 city, 22 highway, and 19 combined. The diesel, then, should get the pickup to around 19 city, 29 highway, and 24 combined. The Colorado and Canyon both return 19 city, 28 highway, and 22 combined. 

The order books are open now for the Gladiator diesel. It is predicted to appear in showrooms in the third quarter of this year.

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