The Jeep Wrangler is a wonderful paradox.
The World Warfare II-inspired car of yore is now the halo automotive for the best-known lineup of household SUVs in peacetime. It’s coveted by youth, but has sticker costs solely well-heeled grownups can afford. Its newest, the fourth-generation JL mannequin (launched in 2018), is so rugged it might probably run via brick partitions, however boasts the nameplate’s most refined electronics to this point with Uconnect infotainment, Apple CarPlay connectivity and eight-speaker stereo system.
Now comes the primary diesel-powered Wrangler. Maintain the paradoxes. This can be probably the most harmonious marriage of Wrangler and drivetrain ever.
The three.0-liter V-6 EcoDiesel supplied on the Wrangler joins the usual 3.6-liter V-6 and a pair of.0-liter hybrid turbo-Four that hit the market a yr in the past. The three.6-liter engine is a dependable outdated nail that has been pushing Wrangler over boulders since 2012. The “eTorque” mild-hybrid (so-named as a result of it will get 48-volt battery help) turbo-Four was launched to impress Washington’s fuel-economy nannies.
If gasoline economic system is your factor in an off-road Wrangler, then get the diesel. It should use much less gasoline whereas pulling stumps out of the bottom.
With a jaw-dropping 442 pound-feet of torque, the turbodiesel is similar oil-burner that powers the hulking Ram 1500. However the place the pickup has turn into a ridiculously refined ocean liner (discover vehicles as of late are as quiet inside as luxurious vehicles?), the Wrangler continues to be at coronary heart a musclebound, gravel-voiced Military dude.
Certain, the Jeep’s been refined with all of the digital gizmos I listed up prime — however that is nonetheless a car designed to shed its doorways and flatten the windshield so you will get near nature. You may solely insulate an inside a lot when its doorways are hanging off detachable screws and the roof is a plastic cowl clipped on to a large rollbar.
I used to haul my race vehicles behind an outdated Ram 3500 diesel that sounded prefer it was chewing nails for breakfast. The Wrangler diesel reminds of that outdated bull (absent the idle rattle that has been properly refined).
Not like the 2020 Ram, which purrs so quietly it could be known as the 2020 Kitty, the Wrangler’s diesel grunt is obvious as quickly as you nail the throttle. Solely wind noise over 70 miles per hour will drown it out. It feels real. Jeep-like.
It additionally sports activities severe torque. Regardless of weighing 10 p.c greater than the V-6 gasoline mannequin, my 4,862-pound Wrangler diesel porker had 70 p.c extra torque. It jumped out of stoplights. All that twist will actually come in useful off-road when you’ll want to claw up a hill, churn out of a muddy gulch or pull a buddy out of a ditch.
However given the diesel’s stiff price ticket, I’m betting it’ll see extra use on tony suburban filth roads than in back-country off-roading.
So I did a day’s grunting across the tony, rutted roads of Oakland County, Mich. It looks as if the dirtier the roads, the extra polished the houses. These wagon roads should appear daunting for people on the finish of the lengthy day.
I obtained my Cadillac XT5 detailed this morning, and — dang! It’s rained and I gotta slog the final half-mile dwelling via mud!
That’s the place my four-wheel drive, $60,000 Wrangler Rubicon diesel is available in. It appears to be like even higher soiled. Loaded to the gills with all of the goodies, it prices $6,000 greater than the gas-powered V-6-equipped mannequin.
One mansion-lined muddy street specifically caught my fancy — it was being groomed by a backhoe. The dirty path was alternately piled with recent filth or pocked with watery potholes from the winter season.
No matter. The Wrangler didn’t thoughts.
True to Jeep’s uncooked heritage, I finished to mechanically choose four-wheel drive by way of a second shifter within the console. Then the little tank fortunately chewed up the terrain, its 10.8-inch ride-height effectively away from floor nuisances.
The diesel’s 442 pound-feet of torque can also be effectively past the 295 pound-feet of the hybrid turbo-4, which is $4,500 cheaper. You’ll by no means get again the diesel’s value premium over the turbo-Four in gasoline financial savings, however dang if the diesel growl doesn’t match the Wrangler’s tough-guy trucker temper higher than the widespread gurgle of the four-cylinder.
Sadly for passengers, the Wrangler rides like a truck. Based mostly on a ladder body, it may be unforgiving — even in comparison with its Gladiator pickup sibling which shares the Ram 1500 diesel’s more-sophisticated five-link rear suspension. The Ram additionally provides an air-ride choice.
Fortunately, the Wrangler’s stereo audio system are cleverly positioned within the rear ceiling so passengers can hear the wonderful UConnect radio. And air vents assist hold the rear local weather beneath management.
For Wrangler homeowners who wish to discover the woods past their ZIP code, the diesel provides a wholesome 500-plus miles of vary. It ought to simply haul 3,500 kilos if you wish to carry alongside filth bikes.
Lengthy journeys will be tight, particularly for the broad of shoulder. In your 6-foot-5 basketball-playing tester, the Wrangler is slim inside. And with the rollcage overhead, getting out and in requires care.
Driving the Wrangler is a visceral expertise. The outside oozes macho with huge hood vents to higher flow into engine air. The traditional spherical lights and seven-slot grille are proper out of a World Warfare II historical past e book. Drop the windshield, doorways and roof — and throw on Rubicon’s 33-inch knobby tires — and it has a character all its personal.
Combine in diesel to the recipe and the off-road package deal is full.
The widespread SUV has come a great distance within the final three many years, from truck-based haulers to at present’s comfortable unibody-based household wagons. The draw back is that five-door, four-cylinder utes can seem like cookie-cutter lookalikes.
Enter the Wrangler. Truck-based and diesel-powered, it’s an old school icon. The diesel choice is offered on all Jeep trims — Sport to Rubicon — although not out there as a two-door.
There may be one paradox price mentioning, nonetheless. The all-American Wrangler will get its diesel engine from Italy.
2020 Jeep Wrangler EcoDiesel
Automobile sort: Entrance engine, all-wheel drive, 5-passenger compact SUV
Worth: $39,290 together with $1,495 vacation spot cost ($60,815 Rubicon Limitless as examined)
Powerplant: 3.0-liter V-6 turbodiesel
Energy: 260 horsepower, 442 pound-feet torque
Transmission: 8-speed automated
Efficiency: 0-60 miles per hour, 6.7 seconds (Automotive and Driver); towing, 3,000 kilos
Weight: 4,862 kilos (as examined)
Gasoline economic system: EPA 22 metropolis/ 29 freeway/ 25 mixed
Highs: Growly diesel matches powerful Wrangler picture; 25 miles per gallon
Lows: Noisy every day driver; dear
Total: Three stars
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