by Matt Konkle
Quadratec Channel Editor
With all the news out there about a new plug-in hybrid electric Wrangler coming later this year, it is certainly easy to forget Jeep has something else starting to reach dealerships that is generating plenty of excitement.
The diesel Jeep Wrangler.
But that vehicle won’t be bumped aside for long because, after all, what is not to like about something pushing out nearly 450 pound-feet of torque, along with a fuel efficiency topping out at 29 miles-per-gallon. That makes for some great towing ability, as well as solid off-road performance.
In fact, FOUR WHEELER recently named it ‘2020 SUV of the Year’ following a week of intensive tests over 1,000 miles of gravel, sand, dirt, rocks, mud and snow driving. Hill climbing, water crossing and night driving were also included in the testing.
"The Wrangler is a truly exceptional machine both on- and off-road, and the new-for-2020 EcoDiesel engine option complements the outstanding JL platform," said FOUR WHEELER Editor Ken Brubaker. "The EcoDiesel's power and efficiency raise the bar for the already incomparable 4x4, making it even more extraordinary."
For those who haven’t yet seen the vehicle’s specs, all Wrangler EcoDiesel models feature a 3.0-liter EcoDiesel V-6 engine, which offers 260 horsepower and 442 lb.-ft. of torque, along with engine stop-start (ESS) technology. They also rate out at 29 mpg highway and 22 mpg during city driving.
Because of its higher torque rating, the Wrangler’s diesel engine connects to a new eight-speed TorqueFlite transmission that is specially designed for low RPM shifts, as well as the harder stop-start reality of off-road driving.
Additionally, the vehicle will come with an 18.3-gallon fuel tank, as well as a 5.1-gallon diesel exhaust fluid tank that the automaker says only needs refilling around every 10,000 miles.
"Our customers have been asking for a Wrangler with unmatched fuel economy, incredible driving range and the legendary off-road capability they've rightly come to expect, and our new Jeep Wrangler Rubicon EcoDiesel delivers on that ask and then some," Jim Morrison, Fiat Chrysler Automobiles’ North American Head of Jeep., said in a company statement. "I've even driven the new Jeep Wrangler Rubicon EcoDiesel on the Rubicon Trail and can attest that our customers knew exactly what they were asking for: the perfect combination of off-road capability, fun-to-drive on-road performance and 29 mpg."
Because of the diesel Wrangler’s special transmission, all trim levels will only be available in the Unlimited series, and that diesel option will run an additional $6,000 ($4,000 for the engine and $2,000 for the transmission).
FCA began production of a limited quantity of EcoDiesel Wranglers at its Toledo, Ohio facility back in December. However, the automaker has not said when it will begin full-scale production of the diesel.
FOUR WHEELER'S SUV of the Year award—now in its 47th consecutive year—is an invitation-only competition that is open to all-new or significantly revised SUVs for the upcoming model year.
Besides the Jeep Wrangler EcoDiesel, other category competitors included the Wrangler 3.6L eTorque and Land Rover’s Range Rover Sport HSE P3600.
Testing was held in a variety of environments, including RTI ramp performance, pavement acceleration and braking, road noise, fuel consumption, cabin comfort, headlamp performance, as well as sand, ice, rock, mud and snow off-road driving.
Award judges included experienced staff from various truck and 4x4 brands within the MotorTrend Group, including Diesel Power, Four Wheeler, 4-Wheel & Off-Road, Truck Trend, and JP.