Driver’s Notebook

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I’ve been excited to get my hands on a Jeep Wrangler EcoDiesel ever since they were announced. As some of you know, we own a 2018 Jeep Wrangler Rubicon Unlimited of our own with the 3.6-liter Pentastar engine. We absolutely love our Wrangler and can’t imagine not having one in the garage.

My Personal Wrangler Rubicon Being Used The Way It’s Supposed To Be Used

The comments from the community has always been that the Wrangler really needs a diesel option. Jeep has delivered on that by way of the fantastic 3.0-liter EcoDiesel featured in our tester seen here.

Mechanically, the third-generation EcoDiesel engine is identical to that found in the Ram, with the alternator and injection pump being relocated to maintain the Wrangler’s 30-inch water fording depth. The EcoDiesel in the Wrangler produces 260-horsepower and 442 lb-ft of torque with power delivered through an 8-speed automatic.

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Manual transmissions are not available on the diesel, and the diesel is available only in the Unlimited 4-door model.

These are my quick notes I have from my week of driving.

Driving Impressions

The extra torque from the EcoDiesel engine in the Wrangler EcoDiesel is nice on the highway for passing. Steering is much quicker (14.3:1 ratio in the Diesel) than in my Rubicon.

Acceleration is not noticeably quicker than in my Pentastar but is very smooth and responsive. There’s a weight penalty for the diesel and a gearing advantage for the 3.6 in the Rubicon at play here. The programming is also tuned for efficiency from a stop but seems to be much more responsive from a roll. The engine is very clearly a diesel. It’s loud, even with the extra sound dampening. This won’t bother most because that sound is part of the experience. It’s worth noting, nonetheless.

The extra weight is noticeable under braking and cornering despite the beefier front suspension. It’s especially noticeable under hard braking. The ride is noticeably firmer with the increased spring rates (10%). Bumps are much more pronounced. Sky One-Touch top is really nice to open quickly but the road noise with it closed is almost like driving with the freedom panels off in a hardtop.

Fuel Economy

Averaging 26.8 mpg with 25% city and 75% 80mph driving. Gas mileage is incredible on the highway but isn’t much better than my Pentastar in city driving scenarios. Diesel engines reward consistency. Remember your ROI though as diesel is much more expensive than regular gasoline, and the initial cost of the diesel over the gas engines. Don’t buy the EcoDiesel for fuel savings alone, but rather because the extra torque will really benefit you off-road on trails. For Jeepers who like to mod with bigger tires, the extra torque is a Godsend.

Should You Buy One?

The Jeep Wrangler EcoDiesel is a fantastic option for owners who need the added torque benefit the diesel provides over its gasoline siblings. That said, it’s not going to be for everyone. The 2.0T and 3.6-liter Pentastar will do the job for probably the large majority of Wrangler buyers out there. It is awesome to see Jeep cater to the enthusiasts who need more though.

Whether you buy an EcoDiesel or another one of the engine options, the JL Jeep Wrangler is some of the most fun I’ve ever had in a vehicle. There’s nothing better than top down/open and door off driving. I’ve never experienced a bigger feeling of freedom and joy behind the wheel than when I drive my Wrangler, and that includes my seat time behind my other car – A Porsche Cayman 718. As the saying goes, “It’s a Jeep thing, you wouldn’t understand.” Except I do understand, and anyone who drives one will understand the joy of the Wrangler as well.

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Zerin Dube

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