The legendary Jeep Wrangler is an American icon. With roots going back to World War Two, this 4×4 has inspired a modern lineup of Jeep trucks and Jeep SUVs. Many fans wonder, “does Jeeps have a diesel engine?” The truth is that Jeep offered the Grand Cherokee with a diesel V6 for years, but discontinued the option recently. In 2020, it added the same diesel V6 engine to the Jeep Wrangler powertrain choices. This year, the Jeep Gladiator joins the diesel Jeep club.
Jeep’s 3.0-Liter V6 turbocharged diesel “EcoDiesel”
It’s a historic first: the United States market Jeep Wrangler now offers a diesel engine. This option is badged as the EcoDiesel Jeep. It is sure to be a popular engine, even with so many available Wrangler powertrains. For 2022, the EcoDiesel will even be available in the Gladiator Jeep truck.
The engine in question is a 3.0 liter V6. It is actually the same as the EcoDiesel that Ram has offered in the 1500 for years. It is also the same diesel that Jeep put in the Grand Cherokee until 2020. The Wrangler and Gladiator 3.0-liter Jeep EcoDiesel is not to be confused with the 3.0-liter EcoDiesel in the Ram ProMaster, which is a completely different engine.
Fiat Chrysler Automobiles (FCA) originally tasked its Italian engine designer, VM Motori, with developing the powerplant. Its internal Stellantis name is L630 DOHC.
In addition, Jeep modified this turbodiesel engine so it can ford up to 30 inches of water. For the Wrangler, the company is only offering the EcoDiesel in four-door models with an 8-speed automatic transmission and 4WD. In the Gladiator, the EcoDiesel will be available in select trims, and only with the 8-speed automatic.
Jeep’s diesel engine makes 442 lb-ft of torque
In the Wrangler and Gladiator, this diesel engine only makes 260 horsepower. But 4×4 fans know torque is king; the V6 is off-road-ready with 442 lb-ft of torque. That’s more torque than the 5.7-liter HEMI engine makes.
The result is a (relatively) quick Wrangler. MotorTrend found the EcoDiesel Wrangler can accelerate to 60 MPH in 7.5 seconds. It finishes the quarter-mile in 15.8 seconds at 86.3 MPH. In a straight line, it is actually one of the fastest four-door Wranglers ever made. The Diesel Jeep Wrangler’s 5,000+ pound curb weight makes it a bit more sluggish than the average Wrangler in the twisties.
Equipped with this EcoDiesel, the Jeep Wrangler is rated with a maximum towing capacity of 3,500 lbs. The Ram Truck with the same EcoDiesel engine is rated to tow 12,560 pounds, so what gives?
Firstly, the truck version is tuned to make 480 lb-ft of torque. Secondly, the full-size truck has beefier axles while base Wranglers ride on a Dana 35 in the rear. Thirdly, tow ratings are based on towing in all conditions. The most difficult towing conditions are moving slowly, uphill, in extremely hot weather. In these conditions, a vehicle with a larger radiator and better cooling system (say, a full-size pickup) will earn a better tow rating.
When you equip the Jeep Gladiator EcoDiesel engine, the truck’s tow rating increases to 6,500 pounds. The Gladiator EcoDiesel makes the same 442 lb-ft as the Wrangler’s EcoDiesel. They also share transmissions. That said, the Jeep Gladiator benefits from heavy-duty Dana 44 axles front and rear. It presumably also has a more efficient engine cooling system.
With better fuel mileage than most Jeeps, the EcoDiesel earns its name
This diesel leverages a double overhead camshaft (DOHC) and four valves per cylinder to make its power efficiently. Fuel injection is direct, thanks to a common-rail system. In addition, it uses start/stop technology to avoid idling at stoplights. The result is 22 city/29 highway MPG (25 combined). This makes the EcoDiesel Wrangler more efficient than any Wrangler besides the new 4xe plug-in hybrid.
Though the EcoDiesel Jeep Wrangler gets excellent mileage on paper, MotorTrend drove it for a week and found its mileage lagging. It was still better than the eTorque 4-cylinder Wrangler (the next most efficient option). But its heavyweight drivetrain weighs the SUV down and without regenerative braking, city driving can be costly.
Is the EcoDiesel right for your next Jeep? This diesel engine upgrade is a $3,500 option on a Wrangler, a $4,000 option on a Gladiator. You can also search for a used, diesel-powered Jeep Grand Cherokee.
An EcoDiesel Jeep is a very different vehicle than a regular Jeep. It will have plenty of torque for mudding and rock crawling. In addition, it is slightly more efficient and faster in a straight line. But as a heavier Jeep, it will handle differently. Whether the EcoDiesel Jeep is right for you depends on how you plan to drive it.