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2020 Jeep Wrangler Unlimited Rubicon EcoDiesel First Test: Is the Diesel Worth the Wait?

Not too long ago, you only really got four choices when buying a new Jeep Wrangler: two doors or four, soft top or hardtop, manual or automatic, and color. But with Wrangler sales through the roof and the full might of FCA behind the latest JL Wrangler , current buyers of the iconic Jeep are truly spoiled for choiceespecially when it comes to engine options, with no less than five engine options available across the lineup. The latest to hit the streets is the highly anticipated diesel engine, and we hit the test track in a 2020 Jeep Wrangler Unlimited Rubicon EcoDiesel to see if the wait was worth it. Jeeps new EcoDiesel engine is actually one that Ram 1500 buyers have been familiar with for a couple years now. Now in its third generation, the EcoDiesel 3.0-liter turbodiesel V-6 gets some Wrangler-specific modifications (like the ability to withstand up to 30 inches of water) and makes the same 260 hp as it does in the Ram, but only 442 lb-ft of torquedown 38 lb-ft to the pickup. An eight-speed automatic comes standard with the EcoDiesel engine, as does four-wheel drive. The new diesel is only available in four-door Wrangler Unlimited modelsJeep says the take rate would be too low on two-door Wranglers to justify the investment. Same for a manual transmission. How Fast Is the Wrangler Diesel? Diesels arent known for being quickand neither are Jeep Wranglers, for that matterbut our 2020 Wrangler Unlimited Rubicon EcoDiesel actually impressed us at the track. Its 7.5-second 060 mph time and 15.8-second quarter mile at 86.3 mph makes it the second-quickest four-door JL Wrangler weve ever tested. Thats a tenth of a second quicker to 60 mph and two-tenths quicker through the quarter mile than our long-term Wrangler Unlimited Rubicon, which is equipped with an eTorque 2.0-liter turbocharged I-4 making 270 hp and 295 lb-ft of torque. Our gas-powered long-termer starts making up the difference in our other performance tests, though. The diesel Wranglers best 600 mph stop was 139 feet (2 feet longer than our long-termer), and it only managed 0.66 g average on the skidpad and 29.8 seconds at 0.54 g on the figure eight. Our mild-hybrid long-term Wrangler averaged 0.70 g and lapped the figure eight in 29.3 seconds at 0.55 g average. The four-cylinders faster time can largely be chalked up to its 4,766-pound curb weight, compared to the similarly equipped Wrangler diesels 5,061 pounds. The quickest four-door Wrangler weve tested was a Wrangler Sahara equipped with the standard 3.6-liter 285-hp and 260-lb-ft V-6 and an eight-speed automatic. Without the heavy-duty off-road hardware of the Rubicon models and weighing just 4,391 pounds, it accelerates from 0 to 60 mph in 6.9 seconds, through the quarter mile in 15.3 seconds at 89.9 mph, and, thanks to its more street-oriented tires, stops from 60 to 0 mph in 128 feet and runs the figure eight in 28.3 seconds at 0.58 g. How Does the Wrangler EcoDiesel Drive? Just like it is in the Ram, the EcoDiesel feels impossibly smooth in the Wrangler. Its 442 lb-ft of torque come on early in the Jeeps powerband, giving you a satisfying, lag-free shove back into your seat as the Wrangler accelerates. Unlike the eTorque turbo-four Wrangler, which has a touch of turbo lag when accelerating, the EcoDiesel mill delivers its 240 horsepower linearly throughout its narrow powerband, even managing to have ample passing power at freeway speedssomething many diesel engines lack. As it does in V-6 and four-cylinder models, the Jeeps eight-speed automatic shifts quickly and smartly, with a well-spaced gear ratio spread. While the diesel engine is certainly the headline change to the 2020 Wrangler lineup, theres another less publicized one thats been made to all 2020 model year Wranglerssteering feel is now improved. One of the few complaints weve had about our long-term Wrangler is its heavy, wander-prone steering, which could make long drives both on- and off-road exhausting. For 2020, Jeep made both steering gear valve tuning and pump calibration changes that result in lighter, lower-effort steering. The steering feels both worlds better on-road, where it weighs up nicely through bends and doesnt require constant corrections on highways, and off-road, too, as the steering wheel doesnt snap back as harshly on rough obstacles. Is the Wrangler Diesel Good on Gas? All things being equal, the EcoDiesel engine is by a hair the most satisfying engine in the Wrangler lineup. But thats before we take both efficiency and price into consideration. Lets start with the former. Until the Wrangler 4xe plug-in hybrid arrives later this year, the EcoDiesel is the most efficient Wrangler variant available, rated by the EPA at 22/29/25 mpg city/highway/combined. Thats about 14 percent more efficient combined than the four-cylinder Wranglers 22/24/22 mpg rating, and 45 percent more efficient than Wranglers equipped with the standard V-6 and optional eight-speed auto, rated at 18/23/20 mpg. In real-world testing, we found the fuel efficiency difference between the EcoDiesel and four-cylinder eTorque engine to be much narrowerduring the average week, our long-term Wrangler achieves around 20 mpg running around Los Angeles , while the EcoDiesel, on the same duty cycle, achieved around 22 mpg. How Much Is a Jeep Wrangler EcoDiesel? The waters get muddier when you take pricing into consideration. The EcoDiesel engine is effectively $6,000 more than the standard V-6 ($4,000 for the engine, and $2,000 for the required automatic transmission), and $4,500 more than the turbo-four (the engine is baked into the price, but the required transmission is $1,500). I highly suggest reading our First Drive of the Wrangler EcoDiesel where Scott Evans breaks down the cost-per-mile differences between the three engines, but the math doesnt look good for the EcoDiesel. The CliffsNotes version is this: Itll take 203,125 miles of highway driving to recuperate the cost difference between the base V-6 and the diesel engine, and 281,250 highway miles to make up the difference with the four-cylinder Wrangler. Ultimately, therein lies the Wrangler EcoDiesels biggest problemits price. The Wrangler is already an expensive SUV (our near-loaded Rubicon tester started at $49,290 and stickered for $62,345), and $6,000 is a large investment for an engine thats more efficient, yes, but not enormously so. The EcoDiesel is smooth, quick, and powerful, but as the numbers show, the speed and efficiency gap between it and the Wranglers turbo-four powertrain is small. As much as I love driving the Wrangler EcoDiesel, with that math Im opting for the turbo-four over the diesel any day of the week. 2020 Jeep Wrangler Unlimited Rubicon EcoDiesel BASE PRICE $49,690 PRICE AS TESTED $62,745 VEHICLE LAYOUT Front-engine, 4WD, 5-pass, 4-door SUV ENGINE 3.0L/260-hp/442-lb-ft turbodiesel DOHC 24-valve V-6 TRANSMISSION 8-speed automatic CURB WEIGHT (F/R DIST) 5,061 lb (52/48%) WHEELBASE 118.4 in LENGTH x WIDTH x HEIGHT 188.4 x 73.8 x 73.6 in 0-60 MPH 7.5 sec QUARTER MILE 15.8 sec @ 86.3 mph BRAKING, 60-0 MPH 139 ft LATERAL ACCELERATION 0.66 g (avg) MT FIGURE EIGHT 29.8 sec @ 0.54 g (avg) EPA CITY/HWY/COMB FUEL ECON 22/29/25 mpg ENERGY CONS, CITY/HWY 171/130 kW-hrs/100 miles CO2 EMISSIONS, COMB 0.90 lb/mile --> The post 2020 Jeep Wrangler Unlimited Rubicon EcoDiesel First Test: Is the Diesel Worth the Wait? appeared first on MotorTrend .

http://www.motortrend.com/cars/jeep/wrangler/2020/2020-jeep-wrangler-unlimited-rubicon-ecodiesel-first-test/

 

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