The Jeep Wrangler has been around since 1987, but it hasn’t had a diesel engine option in North America until now. The Wrangler comes standard with a 3.0-liter V-6 engine, and most trims have a 2.0-liter four-cylinder engine available. Since 2018, however, buyers in Europe have had access to a diesel engine. The wait is finally over, and a diesel option is now available in North America on the 2020 Jeep Wrangler. Here’s a look at the new engine.
The 2020 Wrangler’s diesel engine
The 3.0-liter diesel engine, made by VM Motori, is finally available for the four-door Jeep Wrangler. This powerful engine generates 260 horsepower and 442 lb.-ft. of torque. It’s created from aluminum alloy materials, making it 15 pounds lighter than the older Jeep Grand Cherokee diesel engine.
All this power, though, doesn’t come with increased towing capabilities. The diesel Wrangler can still tow up to 3,500 pounds, which is the same as Wranglers with other engines. Kelley Blue Book explains that the rear suspension isn’t able to handle any additional weight.
There are some design differences between the diesel and the gas-powered models. For one, picking the diesel engine does bring extra noise. Jeep added sound-dampening materials along the firewall and the back of the infotainment touchscreen, but the diesel engine still makes a recognizable noise, especially with the windows open and in idle or lower gears.
In addition, the diesel Wrangler comes with an eight-speed automatic transmission, which Kelley Blue Book liked and called “well behaved.” This version of the Wrangler also features a new fuel and exhaust system, new engine mounts to handle all the power, and a stiffer suspension.
The diesel Wrangler has great fuel efficiency and range. The EPA found it gets 25 MPG combined, with 22 MPG in the city and 29 on the highway. The diesel option was expected to be similar to the 2020 Ram 1500 diesel engine, which gets 29 MPG combined.
Jeep also says the diesel will have 30% better fuel economy than other Wrangler engines and let owners drive 500 miles on one tank. The diesel Wrangler has engine stop/start, which helps with fuel efficiency. Owners can turn this feature off if they want to.
While the Wrangler’s diesel engine is similar to the Ram 1500’s, they aren’t exactly the same. The alternator and injection pump have been moved to make sure the diesel Wrangler can still ford through 30 inches of water. It also has more power and better fuel efficiency.
The diesel Wrangler’s capabilities
The Rubicon trim already has great off-roading capabilities. It’s designed with a 10.8-inch ground clearance and an electronic locking differential. It truly is one of the best off-roading SUVs you can buy.
Kelley Blue Book tested out the diesel Wrangler in Sand Hollow State Park just outside of Zion National Park in Utah. They found it had no issues driving over steep inclines, slippery rock, and loose sand. Kelley Blue Book also found that the diesel Wrangler drives well on the road. Its power gives it plenty of acceleration, although there is a slight bit of lag.
The starting price to include the diesel engine is roughly $39,000 (including destination charges). Of the 12 total Wrangler trims and packages, the diesel engine is available on four-door Wranglers in seven of the trims: Sport, Sport S, Sport Altitude, Willys, Sahara, Sahara Altitude, and Rubicon. It costs $4,000 to upgrade to the diesel engine plus $2,000 for the matching transmission. These extra costs are on top of the base price, which ranges from $31,795 for the Sport to $42,320 for the Rubicon.