• 3.0-liter EcoDiesel available across Wrangler 4-door lineup
  • Best fuel efficiency and range
  • 442 lb ft of torque boosts on- and off-road drivability
  • Offered for the first time in North America

Long-desired by Jeep customers in the U.S., the Wrangler EcoDiesel finally arrives, available on all 4-door models from the base Sport to the top Rubicon trim levels and starting at about $39,000 including destination charges.

What kind of power does the third-generation 2020 Jeep Wrangler EcoDiesel produce?

OK, let’s talk numbers. Jeep’s new 3.0-liter V6 EcoDiesel makes 260 hp at 3,600 rpm and 442 lb-ft torque at 1,400 rpm. With those numbers this engine takes the crown for the most powerful of all Wranglers. Handy in numerous applications, especially rock crawling or driving up steep inclines, that low range, low gear power comes quickly in Wrangler’s latest engine with even a small tip of the throttle.

Add that torque to, say, the off-road juggernaut Rubicon’s other numerical assets, including 44-degree approach, 22-degree breakover and 34-degree departure angles, its 11-inch ground clearance and 30-inch fording capability, 33-inch BFGoodrich KO2 all-terrain tires, front and rear locking differentials and the Rock-Trac two-speed transfer case with a 4.0:1 low-range gear ratio, and you’re looking real good.

How does that power translate in off-road driving?

In Jeep’s presentation, representatives boasted that the Wrangler diesel could do in 4WD-high what some other Wrangler’s couldn’t do in 4WD-low. Challenge accepted. As a test out on the red rock trails of Sand Hollow State Park just outside of Zion National Park in Utah, I decided to keep the Wrangler Rubicon diesel I was testing in 4-high as long as humanly possible. Just to see what that extra torque can do as far as getting over obstacles.

Serious inclines between 25- to 28-degrees proved no problem for the gutsy engine that put down enough force to easily churn the Wrangler across slippery Utah slick rock. Its low-range power feels readily present, substantial and confident.

Across loose sand that torquey power was the difference between digging out of dunes or gracefully gliding atop it.

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The EcoDiesel’s excellent 70:1 crawl ratio helps tackling tough terrain that might otherwise feel intimidating to less experienced off-roaders such as me. Imagine what a driver can do in four low with lockers on.

How does it do on pavement?

While some folks drive their Wranglers over big rocks most are likely to only drive them over countless miles during their daily commute.

The same torque that appears off road definitely makes its presence known on pavement as well. At cruising speeds, a little tap in on the throttle produces plenty of juicy torque in the form of acceleration. There is a tiny bit of noticeable lag as the turbocharger spools up, but it’s nothing egregious, especially in an application such as the Wrangler where 0-60 times aren’t paramount.

The EcoDiesel mates to an excellent 8-speed TorqueFlight automatic transmission that feels well behaved and finds gears you want with efficiency. On the road this shows up in the form of more cash in your wallet when you get to pass gas stations. Off road when you’re, say, driving on sand and need the right gear to get you out of trouble, it knows where it should be.

Overall, the on-road driving experience is as comfortable as you’ve come to expect the modern JL Wrangler to be. It’s neither floaty nor harsh, but rather a measured balance of truck/car feel wrapped in a fun-loving, capable body-on-frame vehicle.

Diesel sound signature

The first thing one notices is the engine noise. Despite extra sound damping efforts in the engine compartment, that telltale diesel sound, especially with the windows open, robustly reminds you it’s there especially at idle and in the lower gears. However, once cruising at highway speeds the road noise and most likely your radio or the passenger next to you will drown out anything unbearable.

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The EcoDiesel comes equipped with two new skid plates, one rear of fuel tank and the second midway between wheels and driver’s side. It’s 5.1-gallon diesel exhaust fluid (DEF) tank should last about 10,000 miles according to Jeep with oil changes also necessary at that 10,000-mile mark.

How efficient is the 2020 Jeep Wrangler EcoDiesel?

An excellent feature of the EcoDiesel that might make up for its cacophony is the extra mileage you get out of your tank. While EPA numbers aren’t immediately available, Jeep confirmed that the Wrangler diesel’s estimated numbers will be similar to the current 2020 Ram 1500 diesel, which enjoys a healthy 29 MPG combined number.

Whatever those final numbers end up being, Jeep claims there will be an over 30% improvement over the current Wrangler’s best fuel economy, and owners will get an approximate and impressive 500-mile per tank range.

EcoDiesel is specifically Jeep engineered

The EcoDiesel engine in the Jeep Wrangler isn’t exactly the same as the one found in the 2020 Ram 1500, but Jeep calls it a cousin. The Wrangler’s need for increased water fording depth, its engine compartment constraints, as well as Jeep’s desire for more power and greater fuel efficiency required engineers to rethink the powerplant.

Changes include a new water-cooled turbocharger with low-friction bearings and blades that helps with fuel economy. New intake ports with higher flow capacity and low-friction pistons as well as the engine stop/start, which the driver can disable if desired, also assist in the efficiency equation.

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Using new aluminum alloy materials in its updated architecture, this third-generation diesel lost 15 pounds over the second-generation engine that once powered Jeep’s Grand Cherokee.

The EcoDiesel also boasts a new fuel and exhaust system and is secured via new engine mounts and retuned for the increased energy the diesel produces. As a result, spring rates in the suspension are stiffer and the suspension tuning was adjusted accordingly to offset that.

What’s the tow rating of the diesel Jeep Wrangler?

The only thing the EcoDiesel doesn’t get you is increased towing capacity. That number maintains at a 3,500 pounds max, the same as in the gas-powered Wranglers. Chalk this up to a rear suspension that simply can’t handle increased weight. If you want more towing but still want a Jeep, the Gladiator might be a better option.

What’s the price of the 2020 Jeep Wrangler EcoDiesel?

Jeep’s EcoDiesel engine will be available on all 4-door model which includes Sport, Sport S, Sahara and Rubicon trims. It won’t be offered on 2-door models because, according to Jeep, take rates on their short wheelbase SUV only accounts for 10% of Wrangler sales, and they’re not anticipating demand.

Base price on the Sport EcoDiesel starts at $37,795 not including a $1,495 destination fee. For the Sahara, entry-level cost comes in at $44,645, and the über-capable Rubicon slides upward of $47,795. The Jeep Wrangler EcoDiesel is in dealerships now.

This story originally ran on KBB.com.

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