We were supposed to get the 2020 Jeep Wrangler Unlimited EcoDiesel for a week but unfortunately things didn’t go exactly to plan. Our Hellayella tester looked great though and I had been anxiously awaiting a drive in the new EcoDiesel, essentially a slightly de-tuned version that is in the Ram 1500. This engine is good for 260 hp @ 3,600 rpm (only 10 hp down on the 2.0 T) and a whopping 442 lb-ft @ 1,400 rpm, that’s way more than either the V6 or the 2.0 four can summon. All engines are driven through an excellent 8-speed auto.
The EcoDiesel is a somewhat pricey option ($6,000) however, so you’ll have to weigh up the fuel economy gains to see if it is worth it, after all, $6,000 buys you a lot of gas. The torque in this engine makes any driving easy, it just pulls away from very low revs, as the turbo spools up, its whistle drowns out the diesel chatter as 31.9 pounds of boost kicks in. Off the line acceleration is impressive but the low geared steering means you have to hang on to the wheel and the large tires and a high ground clearance don’t make it a canyon carver in any shape or form.
So instead we headed out for some rougher terrain where we expected the Jeep to excel, however, it was not to be, on a steep uphill section on the 8 freeway East of San Diego, the Jeep threw a throttle control light and an engine check light, power was reduced and it went into “Limp Mode” and I was unable to accelerate beyond a fast idle, which meant 40 mph was my max. Sadly we had to turn around since there was some sort or throttle control system issue or possibly a sensor failure.
Having contacted Jeep the next day they said they could send a 2020 Jeep Wrangler Rubicon to replace it the next day. Great news! Our tester arrived with Mojito! clear coat exterior paint the 2.0 turbo engine. The 2.0 t is also a very good engine and delivers 270 hp @ 5,250 rpm and a healthy 295 lb-ft @ 3,000, 35 pound-feet more than the V6. We tested it with traction control off in 2 wheel-drive mode and after a few attempts with too much wheel-spin finally managed to get it from 0-60 in 6.1 seconds.
The Rubicon comes with all the off road goodies most will ever need, it comes with front and rear differential locks and you can disconnect the sway bar if travelling over very large rocks and you need more axle articulation. This Jeep will go just about anywhere, in fact, we couldn’t find anything difficult enough for the Jeep to break a sweat, so we headed out to Otay Mountain to test a few trickier and steeper options it offer.
Most of the trails are rocky, narrow and steep and progress is slow and the drop offs are extreme. You wouldn’t want to lose concentration up there. We crossed dried up streams, plough over large rocks and the Wrangler never put a foot wrong while delivering excellent fuel economy, we averaged 19.8 for the week.
Don’t expect any fancy adjustable-ride-height air springs, or terrain-response system on Jeeps, that task is purely up to the carbon life form in the driver’s seat. They have to choose the range, 2H, 4H or 4L for the driven wheels, decide when and which differentials are locked, and, if the sway bars need disconnecting. This is what off -roading is all about.
It’s comes as no surprise that the Wrangler had absolutely no problem getting across this trails we ventured on and only when we drove through some muddy wet ruts did we experience some wheel slippage but the BF Goodrich All-Terrain tires got us through. This is the Jeep’s bread and butter and it’s so much fun you find yourself constantly searching for any unpaved piece of road to test its mettle.
Huge Improvement On Road
The 2.0 Turbo gives the new Wrangler lots of real-world punch and acceleration is quick enough to easily keep pace with and pass traffic. It does run out of revs pretty quickly but that wave of torque is really all you need for quick forward progress. The 8 speed transmission works very well and shifts smoothly, drops a cog or two when you need it and is a very capable partner for the turbo 4.
The steering is much better than before, the vagueness of the old model has been eliminated, however, you have to pilot this Jeep, two hands on the wheel or it does have a tendency to wander. This is somewhat expected since it’s a low geared set up for when you get into tricky situations off road.
The new soft top is a huge improvement, the zippers are gone instead a series of rails are used to extract each of the sections and it’s a lot quieter than before, however, I would still option the hardtop, both for noise reduction and ease of access into the rear cargo area because the soft top requires the removal of the rear window for larger items.
Just to note the Wrangler Unlimited we had for a couple of days had the nifty Sky One–Touch Power Top for $3,995, and the only downside apart from the price is it can’t be removed.
My Rubicon had quite a few options checked including Leather heated seats with cool red stitching a leather wrapped parking brake handle and shift knob. , a boon since the soft top can be drafty. The heaters on these are some of the best I’ve used; if it’s a hot butt you need then look no further.
The cabin has a rugged and durable feel to it and if you’re bored, you can count the number of Willy’s Jeep logos on vehicle. The seats are decent but it’s not easy to find the ideal position, I found myself a bit too close to the steering wheel most of the time.
My tester came with 8.4 inch Uconnect screen and as usual provides excellent functionality and is still one of the best available in my opinion. It offers support for Apple CarPlay and Android Auto. Storage space in the 2 door is not generous but folding the rear seats flat provides 49.9 cubic feet of space to play with and additionally you can remove them completely for a huge 61 cubic feet of space. Since I never carry passengers this would be ideal for me.
My loaded Rubicon had a base price of $38,295 but with options this rose to $51,805, the 8 speed adds $1,500 over the manual transmission and the aforementioned leather seats, shift knob and parking brake handle ($1,395). My tester also had several other options including the Cold Weather Group, Tow Package, LED Lighting, Premium Audio, Advanced Safety (Adaptive Cruise Control) and the Safety Group. Add the Steel Bumper Group its easy to add $10K worth of options without blinking. That said the Rubicon EcoDiesel came out at an eye watering $62,420 thanks t the EcoDiesel and the Sky One Power Top.
How Would I Spec It?
Last time I drove the 2.0 turbo I was eagerly anticipating a drive in the EcoDiesel and despite only having it for 2 days it didn’t disappoint, the only real downside is price, $6,000 is a lot to ask considering you would have to an incredible amount to make the numbers work, so even though new Ecodiesel is a gem I would have to get a Rubicon Unlimited with the 2.0 turbo.
2020 Jeep Wrangler Rubicon 2.0 turbo Numbers
BASE PRICE: $38,295
PRICE AS TESTED: $51,805
VEHICLE LAYOUT: Front-engine, rear/4-wheel-drive, 4-passenger, 2-door convertible
ENGINE: 2.0-liter turbocharged inline-4
POWER: 270 hp @ 5,250
TORQUE: 295 lb-ft @ 3,000
TRANSMISSION: 8-speed automatic
CURB WEIGHT: 4,132 lb
0-60 MPH: 6.1 sec
CARGO SPACE: 12.9 cubic feet, 46.9 with seats folded down, 61 with seats removed
EPA CITY/HWY/COMB FUEL ECON: 22/24/23 mpg
OUR OBSERVED: 19.8
PROS: Excellent new 2.0 Turbo motor, spectacularly capable off-road, new refined on road manners,
CONS: Soft top cargo access is tricky.
2020 Jeep Wrangler Rubicon Unlimited EcoDiesel Numbers
BASE PRICE: $42,125
PRICE AS TESTED: $62,420
VEHICLE LAYOUT: Front-engine, rear/4-wheel-drive, 5-passenger, 4-door SUV
ENGINE: 2.9 liter turbocharged and intercooled DOHC 24-valve diesel V-6
POWER: 260 hp @ 3,600 rpm
TORQUE: 442 lb-ft @ 1,400 rpm
TRANSMISSION: 8-speed automatic
CURB WEIGHT: 4,870 lb
0-60 MPH: 7.0 sec
CARGO SPACE: 31.7 to 72.4 ft³ with seat area
EPA CITY/HWY/COMB FUEL ECON: 22/29/25 mpg
OUR OBSERVED: 25.1 mpg
2020 Jeep Wrangler Rubicon Review