2020 Jeep Wrangler Unlimited Sahara EcoDiesel
Class: Compact SUV
Miles driven: 180
Fuel used: 7.7 gallons
Real-world fuel economy: 23.3 mpg
Driving mix: 60% city, 40% highway
EPA-estimated fuel economy: 22/29/25 (city/highway/combined)
|CG Report Card
|Room and Comfort
|Power and Performance
|Fit and Finish
|Report-card grades are derived from a consensus of test-driver evaluations. All grades are versus other vehicles in the same class. Value grade is for specific trim level evaluated, and may not reflect Consumer Guide's impressions of the entire model lineup.
|Big & Tall Comfort
|Big & Tall comfort ratings are for front seats only. "Big" rating based on male tester weighing approximately 350 pounds, "Tall" rating based on 6'6"-tall male tester.
Fuel type: Diesel
Base price: $38,645 (not including $1495 destination charge)
Options on test car: Leather-trimmed seats, parking-brake handle, shift knob, and upgraded dash trim ($1495); Cold Weather Group ($995); LED Lighting Group ($1045); 8.4-inch Radio and Premium Audio Group ($1695); Dual-Top Group ($2295); Safety Group ($895); Advanced Safety Group ($795); soft top window storage bag ($75); 8-speed automatic transmission ($2000); 23.0-liter V6 turbo diesel engine with ESS ($4000), remote keyless entry ($495)
Price as tested: $55,925
The great: Off-road capability; torque of diesel engine
The good: Respectable fuel economy for a heavy-duty off-roader, control layout
The not so good: Hard-to-access cargo area (soft top), intrusive engine stop/start feature, options (some of which you’d expect to be standard equipment) really drive up bottom-line price
Way back in its Willys days, the Jeep CJ did folks who needed—or wanted—to drive far off the beaten path a favor just by being around. Today, in its FCA days, the Jeep Wrangler does like-minded folks a favor by adding a turbodiesel engine option for 2020.
The beauty of the 3.0-liter V6 built in Italy by VM Motori is its torque. The 442 lb-ft of twist is far and away the most provided by any of the three engines available in a Wrangler. That’s a handy commodity to have when plowing through sand or picking out a path over rocks, as was borne out in Consumer Guide’s First Spin report on the Wrangler EcoDiesel. It also doesn’t hurt that the diesel is frugal with fuel, which translates into impressive driving range.
However, CG’s subsequent test of an EcoDiesel Wrangler—the subject of this report—was carried out on urban streets and expressways. In that setting, the diesel V6 still operates well, but with the advantages it brings to off-road driving not demanded of it in traffic, the value of this $4000 option is somewhat blunted.
Push away from a full stop with some intent and the tachometer sweeps up to around 2500 rpm (and an accompanying upshift from the required 8-speed automatic transmission) before the engine feels like it‘s fully flexing all its muscle. That kind of controlled force will perform good service in places where the term “road” does not apply. Back home on the street where you live, however, it might come across as a little sluggish.
At the point where the 260-horsepower turbodiesel V6 does feel like it’s coming into its own, it is by then squarely in the best part of its torque band, and performs with authority. There’s little of the clatter usually associated with diesel engines—which has been true of the EcoDiesel since it first entered FCA’s orbit in 2014 for use in Ram 1500 pickups—and beefed-up insulation methods help keep things that way. Engine stop/start is rocky and noisy at engagement, and we could hardly wait to turn it off. The EPA projects that a turbodiesel Wrangler will average 22 mpg in city driving, 29 on the highway, and 25 combined—all considerably better than the standard gasoline V6. With a little more than half their driving in city conditions, CG testers slightly surpassed 23 mpg.
The turbodiesel option can only be had in four-door Wrangler Unlimited models, and even then it is restricted to seven of the 12 available versions. CG sampled it in a Sahara that starts at $40,140 with delivery, but spiked to $55,925 with copious extras. The powerplant is actually part of a package that includes a smaller 18.3-gallon fuel tank, Dana M210 front axle, antispin rear differential with a 3.73:1 axle ratio (replacing the standard 3.45 gears), and 255/70R18 all-terrain tires (in place of all-season rubber). The less-street-friendly tires negate some of the ride improvement we’ve praised in the current Wrangler generation that dates to 2018.
As we tested gas-engine Saharas from 2018 and 2019, we’ll refer you to those reviews for our evaluation of features and accommodations, none of which are fundamentally altered for ’20. Our turbodiesel tester maintained the standard-equipment Command-Trac part-time four-wheel-drive system, but got much plusher and tech savvy with its many options. Leather draped the seats (with Sahara-logo headrests), steering wheel, shift knob, and parking-brake handle; front seats and steering wheel were heated. Full LED lighting and the choice of two tops—soft Sunrider or hard 3-piece cap—were visible from the outside. The Premium Audio Group added the Uconnect 4C with GPS navigation, 8.4-inch touchscreen, and Wi-Fi hotspot, while a couple of safety packages brought in things like blind-spot and rear cross-traffic alerts, adaptive cruise control with stop function, and full-speed forward-collision warning.
The new turbodiesel V6 might not be the perfect choice for every Jeep Wrangler buyer. However, having it in the mix will definitely help many of them better tailor a Wrangler to their needs.
Jeep Wrangler Unlimited EcoDiesel Gallery
Jeep Wrangler Unlimited EcoDiesel