It’s an exciting time to be a Jeep Wrangler fan. This iconic brand offers five engine options and the latest EcoDiesel. The team at Motor Trend took a 2020 Jeep Wrangler Unlimited Rubicon equipped with the new EcoDiesel engine out for a test run. Does the new EcoDiesel live up to the hype? Is it the most efficient engine in the Wrangler lineup?
The Wrangler EcoDiesel
The EcoDiesel is a 3.0-liter turbodiesel V6 engine that Ram 1500 fans have gotten to know already. In its third generation, it was modified particularly for the Wrangler. Now it can handle up to 30 inches of water, which would be important in an adventurous Jeep. Like the Ram engine, it gets 260 horsepower, but the lb-ft of torque is 442, down 38 lb-ft from the pickup truck engine.
In the Wrangler, it’s paired with an eight-speed automatic transmission standard with four-wheel-drive. You can only get the EcoDiesel in the four-door Unlimited Wrangler models. Jeep explains that they couldn’t justify the diesel engine’s investment or a manual transmission in the two-door models.
Is it fast?
Neither Jeep Wrangler nor diesel engines are famous for speed. Still, the Motor Trend team was impressed with the performance of the 2020 Jeep Wrangler Unlimited Rubicon EcoDiesel at the track for testing. It managed 0-60 mph in 7.5 seconds. According to Motor Trend, it’s the second-fastest JL Wrangler, with its 15.8-second quarter mile at 86.3 mph.
It beat the team’s long-standing Jeep Wrangler Unlimited Rubicon equipped with the 2.0-liter turbocharged eTorque inline-four engine that gets 270 horsepower and 295 lb-ft of torque. Their in-house Wrangler and the diesel model were close in performance in other tests on the track. Wrangler managed the figure eight in 29.3 seconds at 0.55 g average and a 0.70 g average on the skidpad for the 60-0 mph stop.
The diesel Wrangler pulled it off in 0.66 g average, and the figure eight at 0.54 g. According to the Motor Trend team, the faster times for the four-cylinder engine were in large part due to the weight. The four-cylinder engine’s curb weight was 4,766 pounds, as opposed to the 5,061-pound diesel.
The EcoDiesel provides a smooth ride with the torque coming in early to provide powerful acceleration with no lag. It delivers 240 horsepower linearly through the narrow powerband, according to Motor Trend.
It even manages to pass other vehicles on freeways, which isn’t something you can do in many diesel vehicles. Shifting is just as sharp here as it is in the four-cylinder and V6 models.
How is the fuel economy?
While the Motor Trend team found the Jeep Wrangler EcoDiesel to be the most “satisfying” engine in the Jeep Wrangler lineup, they also had to take a look at fuel efficiency.
The Motor Trend team determined that the EcoDiesel is the most efficient Wrangler variant in the lineup. It’s EPA ratings have it at 22/29/25 mpg for city/highway/overall. That’s around 14% greater overall efficiency than the four-cylinder Wrangler engines with ratings of 22/24/22 mpg. EcoDiesel is a whopping 45% more efficient, according to Motor Trend, than the standard V6 engine models equipped with an optional eight-speed automatic transmission with ratings at 18/23/20 mpg.
Conducting their real-world testing, the Motor Trend team found the fuel economy’s difference between the four-cylinder eTorque and the EcoDiesel to be closer. Testing the EcoDiesel against their long-term Wrangler that gets 20 mpg in and around LA, they found the same circuit gets 22 mpg.
If you can swing the extra investment, the EcoDiesel is a smooth, powerful, and fast engine that’s the most efficient in the current Jeep Wrangler lineup.