It used to be that if someone wanted a diesel powered Jeep, they had to physically swap their engine with a Cummins unit in one trim level or another. While this certainly is not the most difficult engine swap ever attempted, it certainly can be a very time consuming and a costly endeavor. But with the recent introduction of the EcoDiesel V6 to the Grand Cherokee and Ram 1500 line, it looks like the upper crust of the Jeep brand and the entry-level Ram workhorse have finally gotten the torque they rightfully deserve. But that’s not all, because from the looks of things there could possibly be even more diesel powered trucks in the works for the world-famous, off-road ready manufacturer Jeep.
A recent report by Autoblog speaks of an anonymous tip sent to them from someone hidden deep within the folds of Fiat Chrysler; and in this report it clearly states that,”… the next-generation Jeep Wrangler will come to market with both a 3.0-liter, EcoDiesel V6 and ZF’s critically acclaimed eight-speed automatic transmission.” While this certainly is not a bonafide guarantee by any means, such news still managed to send the automotive world abuzz with excitement as this would be a first for the Wrangler in both departments. For many, a torque-heavy diesel engine mated to an eight-speed automatic gearbox is just what the Wrangler needs to keep up with the likes of its diesel-powered Grand Cherokee cousin and distant uncle, the Ram 1500.
All of this hype surrounding a diesel Wrangler began two years ago, when company CEO Mike Manley admitted that a diesel version was definitely “on the radar,” Autoblog noted. And while there was quite a bit of commotion back in November about the eight-speed automatic transmission being available for the 2018 Wrangler, there were still no confirmed reports that when this happens, the drivetrain would be paired up with the EcoDiesel powerplant. So in order to get a better feel for what the Wrangler might be capable of with this set-up, it is best to review the gains found in the Grand Cherokee.
According to Jeep’s official website, the 2014 EcoDiesed-powered Grand Cherokee churns out 240 horsepower along with a solid 420 pound-feet of torque, and Jeep claims it has consistently covered 730 miles of road on a single tank. In a separate test conducted by Edmunds.com, the EcoDiesel version of a 2014 Grand Cherokee averaged an impressive 27.4 miles per gallon in a mix of city, mountain and highway driving, and received high marks for its ability to handle terrain where large amounts of torque was necessary.
With its EcoDiesel V6 engine offering Best-in-Class Towing Capability — with up to 7,400 pounds — this torque-heavy 4×4 easily out-powers Ford’s Explorer, the Toyota Highlander, Honda’s Pilot, and the Nissan Pathfinder by a long shot. Put that next to the aforementioned 730 highway mile range under ideal conditions, and an EcoDiesel-powered Wrangler is really starting to look like a solid contender for the average outdoor enthusiast, especially if they want to be environmentally conscientious as they make their way toward another rock crawling adventure eight states away.
Final thoughts on a diesel-powered Wrangler are a bit of a mixed bag. First of all, we love the idea of a more emissions-friendly Wrangler crawling its way through a wooded forest. But why has it been such a long time in the making? Everyone knows that Cummins diesel engines have long been a cornerstone in the Dodge and Ram family, so why didn’t they equip a Jeep with this powerplant decades ago?
There is a lot to be gained if this diesel-powered platform does indeed reach production. The added torque alone makes the notion of an oil-burning Wranger ideal for anyone who enjoys off-roading, or simply needs a vehicle with a hefty allotment of tow capacity for its size. The aerodynamics of the Wrangler certainly have never helped its insatiable thirst for fuel, so the efficiency of a diesel engine will undoubtedly be a welcome option for those who purchase this Jeep for daily-driven purposes.
There also is the whole aftermarket side of the equation, where undoubtedly a multitude of power and drivetrain upgrades will morph into existence in the even that this vehicle starts hitting showroom floors across America. So regardless of whether or not a diesel-powered Jeep Wrangler reaches production, this truck’s undeniable off-road capabilities and rugged styling are always going to have a strong following. Which is exactly what we were looking for in a Jeep in the first place.