The Jeep Wrangler’s New Engine Will Make It Even Better for Overlanding

September 15, 2019 Cars By
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Let’s jump right to it:  At long last, Jeep is giving the Wrangler a diesel engine. The company just released details on the 2020 model year lineup, which sees the Wrangler finally adding a 3.0-liter EcoDiesel V6 producing 260 hp and 442 pound-feet of torque to its powertrain options. That latter figure means this engine should be a popular option — especially for those interested in overlanding and heavy-duty off-roading.

Wrangler enthusiasts have wanted a diesel for a while. Low-end torque is the grunt that helps a Jeep clear off-road obstacles, after all, and the diesel gives the Wrangler a lot more of it. The 442 lb-ft from the diesel is 147 more than the next highest output Wrangler, the turbocharged inline-four (which makes 295 lb-ft).

The diesel should be significantly more efficient as well. The most efficient JL-generation Wrangler gets 22 miles per gallon combined; the EPA has not released a rating for the new engine yet, but given diesel generally gets better mileage than gasoline, it should push the range a good bit higher combined. That improved efficiency should increase the Wrangler’s range dramatically.

There are a couple drawbacks enthusiasts won’t like. The first is that the diesel only comes with an eight-speed automatic; you can’t pair the manual gearbox with it. Also, Jeep will not offer diesel engines on the two-door Wrangler, for the few people still interested in that shorter version.

We don’t know yet how much the EcoDiesel will cost, but for comparison, it’s a $4,995 option on the Ram 1500. We also do not know when this engine will become available. (Jeep’s press release simply says “late availability.”)

Diesel engines have been much less prevalent in the U.S. than the rest of the world. There are a few reasons for that: Diesel engines have something of a bad reputation here, due to the wimpy, dirty models of ages past. Diesel is not available at every fuel station. Emissions cheating scandals (including one recently settled by FCA) have thwarted reintroduction attempts over the past decade. And American fuel taxes keep the price of diesel higher than gas and the relative cost of fuel low when compared to Europe.

Expect Wrangler buyers to buck all those anti-diesel trends, though. Greater efficiency and extra torque will be too exciting to turn down, even if it means giving up the manual.

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Tyler Duffy

Tyler Duffy is Gear Patrol's Motoring Staff Writer. He used to write about sports for The Big Lead and The Athletic. He has a black belt in toddler wrangling. He's based outside Detroit.

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