First Drive: The 2020 Jeep Wrangler EcoDiesel Has Finally Arrived, But Was It Worth The Wait?

It’s a Jeep we’ve been anticipating for years.

While the Jeep Wrangler JL has been out for a little while now, one powertrain has been sorely missing — at least for some — from the lineup. The venerable 3.6-liter Pentastar remains as does the new 2.0-liter turbo, but now the 3.0-liter EcoDiesel V6 engine joins the lineup for 2020. The 2020 Jeep Wrangler EcoDiesel promises to be the most fuel efficient engine with the best range of the bunch, and it also has the most torque. But how does it actually feel in the real world? Was it worth the wait? To find out, FCA invited us out to Utah to give the EcoDiesel an off-road shakedown.

In the video above, we’re also going to take the 2020 Jeep Wrangler EcoDiesel on the road, and go over some of the pros and cons for what is, to a lot of Jeep folks out there, the holy grail of Wranglers.

This isn’t the exact same layout as the Ram EcoDiesel

Let’s start with some of the facts on the 2020 Jeep Wrangler EcoDiesel. While it is the same fundamental powertrain that you’ll also see in the 2020 Ram 1500, Jeep made some crucial changes for the Wrangler’s off-road application. Here, it puts out 260 horsepower and 442 lb-ft of torque — a slightly lower torque figure than you see in the Ram. However, it is by far the torquiest engine in the Wrangler, beating the 2.0-liter’s 295 lb-ft torque number by a wide margin. Being a diesel, the torque also comes on early at just 1,400 RPM.

2020 Jeep Wrangler EcoDiesel

Like the other Wranglers, this 2020 Jeep Wrangler EcoDiesel does still mate up to an eight-speed automatic transmission. However, the six-speed manual is not available with that diesel engine, leaving those who want to row their own gears stuck with the base 3.6-liter engine. That’s also the case if you want a two-door model as well, as the diesel is only available in the Unlimited versions.

Apart from different engine tuning, Jeep also moved the alternator so the Wrangler could ford 30 inches of water, and they also moved other parts around to handle its specific off-road purposes, rather than the Ram’s application that focuses more on hauling, though you can also get an EcoDiesel in the 2020 Ram 1500 Rebel. Engineers have also updated the engine significantly from the previous generation unit in the Grand Cherokee EcoDiesel, changing just about everything.

How does it feel in the real world?

This diesel Wrangler brings low-end grunt into the equation, which makes it particularly useful off-road. Yes, it is a $4,000 option compared to the base engine. Pair the torque with the Wrangler Rubicon’s 70:1 crawl ratio, though, and you have a combination that really can pull itself through most off-road obstacles without really needing to get on the power to push through.

As with the gas-powered Wrangler Rubicon, you still get front and rear locking differentials as well as an electronic disconnecting sway bar. This model also has additional skid plates to protect the DEF tank.

Switching over to the Sahara, Roman gets a chance to test out how the Wrangler EcoDiesel feels on the road. This is where the diesel’s fuel economy starts to shine, as it should be much more efficient as the 2.0-liter turbo. Official EPA figures aren’t available yet, but we expect the EcoDiesel to manage around 30 mpg on the highway. Jeep says this car should manage about 500 miles for each tank of fuel, which should make it a worthy commuter or, more importantly, a good choice for a long-distance overlanding rig.

Pretty soon, the Wrangler will face off against the Land Rover Defender and the new Ford Bronco.

Will it be the king of the hill in the near future?

The 2020 Jeep Wrangler EcoDiesel goes on sale in December, meaning you can order one through your dealer right now. It’s not cheap — the top-end Rubicon we tested came out to $60,745 — but you can also get the EcoDiesel on the Sport and Sahara trims.

Pretty soon, though, the Wrangler is going to face some stiff competition. The Land Rover Defender is returning next year after a nearly three-decade hiatus from the U.S. market. So, too, will we see the brand new Ford Bronco emerge with its sights set squarely on the Wrangler. Will this 2020 Jeep Wrangler EcoDiesel still be king of the hill in a year’s time? We’ll have to get all three together to really see how they compete.

Stay tuned to for more Wrangler EcoDiesel updates, as well as the other off-road SUVs that are launching in the near future.


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