By on December 20, 2019

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As everyone in your Twitter feed screams for revolution, evolutionary advancements in technology (and other things) are still proving capable of generating big gains for society. For new vehicle buyers, too.

Jeep’s Wrangler Unlimited EcoDiesel is a case in point. Launched for the 2020 model year, the oil-burning off-roader nets buyers 260 horsepower and a whopping 442 lb-ft of torque — some 307 lb-ft more than a base Wrangler of 30 years ago. Despite boasting only a half-liter of additional displacement and weighing significantly more than a 1990 Iron Duke model, the EcoDiesel returns an extra 8 mpg in combined driving.

Let’s take a look at what the EPA had to say about Jeep’s newest offering.

In combined driving, the four-door-only Wrangler EcoDiesel returns 25 mpg, with city fuel consumption pegged at 22 mpg and highway thirst coming in at 29 mpg. Undoubtable, this is the thriftiest Wrangler ever, at least when it comes time to visit the pumps.

Surely Jeep had hoped for a 30 mpg figure for the highway rating; Ram’s 1500 EcoDiesel returns an identical figure in crew cab 4WD guise, but losing front-wheel grip pushes its highway rating up to 32 mpg.

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In contrast, the best the gas-burning Wrangler line can offer is the turbocharged 2.0-liter (outfitted with the same eight-speed automatic as the EcoDiesel), which returns 22 mpg city/24 mpg highway/23 mpg combined in two-door guise. Add four doors and extra wheelbase to that combo, and combined economy drops to 21 mpg. The highway figure falls to 22 mpg.

The Pentastar-powered Wrangler returns a maximum of 20 mpg combined in Unlimited guise, regardless of transmission choice.

With the calendar pushed back to the tasteful year of 1990, a manual-trans 2.5L Wrangler managed just 16 mpg in the city, 19 mpg highway, and 17 mpg combined. Opt instead for the AMC-derived 4.2-liter straight six and combined fuel economy dropped to 14 mpg when combined with the three-speed auto. Rowing your own gears only eked out an additional 2 mpg.

Should this advancement in power and economy leave you in tears, inconsolable and hugging your Elon Musk body pillow, Jeep’s plug-in hybrid Wrangler is not far off. Don’t despair.

[Image: Fiat Chrysler Automobiles]

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41 Comments on “EPA Gets Around to Rating the Jeep Wrangler EcoDiesel...”


  • avatar
    indi500fan

    We’re a dozen years into the rigorous EPA2007 emission regs.

    I know the first few years were ugly but how are these rigs doing now for maintenance costs and reliability issues?

    • 0 avatar
      karonetwentyc

      Post-2007, if you don’t remove the DPF, you’re probably OK from a longevity standpoint.

      What I mean by that is this: at some point, someone decided to implement EGR controls on diesels that were effectively the same as those on gas-engined cars: just shoot some of the exhaust back into the intake and re-burn it. Of course, diesel exhaust contains particles of soot, which gas engines don’t.

      The problem is that the CCV systems also worked as they did on gas-engined cars, which meant that there was always a fine oil mist in the intake tract, mixing with the soot in the diesel exhaust that the EGR system had also sent there. When the two combined, an arteriosclerotic buildup of soot and oil around the inner walls of the intake was created. This led to all manner of reliability and running issues as the oil mist also attacked hoses from the inside, built up in intercoolers, etc.

      Leave the DPF in place and it’s not an issue as the DPF takes care of the soot problem before it can mix with the CCV oil mist. Fitting a coalescing filter to the CCV tract is also a good idea.

      Of course, none of this takes into account the usual issues caused by manufacturers allowing the beancounters to dictate engine design and engineering. That’s not an issue unique to diesels, however.

      Realistically, most post-2007 diesels have been pretty good, and make for decent long-term bets in most cases. Just make sure that the previous owner(s) understood how to service and maintain them, and that any relevant recalls were performed. Avoid anything that’s been ‘tuned’; with only a couple of exceptions (GDE springs to mind), most tunes are amateur at best and may affect longevity.

      • 0 avatar
        thelaine

        Excellent post. Seriously considering the diesel when I buy the Gladiator.

      • 0 avatar
        MBella

        DPFs and SCR systems keep extra heat in the engine. This increases failures no matter how you slice and dice it. You can say many things about these systems, but a claim to improved reliability with a DPF you certainly can’t.

        • 0 avatar
          karonetwentyc

          “DPFs and SCR systems keep extra heat in the engine. This increases failures no matter how you slice and dice it. You can say many things about these systems, but a claim to improved reliability with a DPF you certainly can’t.”

          Can you provide examples of where this has been an issue? I realise that there are specific engines that have had difficulties with DPF and SCR systems, but it’s hardly been an across-the-board problem.

        • 0 avatar
          dal20402

          Improved, maybe not, but the tech is mature and shouldn’t be a detriment. The local transit agency I used to work for is getting 600k block-by-block miles out of their DPF-equipped buses without issues. They had a lot of failures on the first generation back in the early 2000s. Not anymore. The impact on fuel economy has also gone way down from that first generation.

          • 0 avatar
            DenverMike

            Since they’re buses, not for general consumption, don’t they de-tune all the diesel fun out of them?

          • 0 avatar
            dal20402

            The engines are bone stock diesels from major makers, usually Cummins, sometimes Detroit. They typically have 280 hp ratings for straight city buses and 330 hp for artics and highway buses, which are conservative, but the duty cycle is absolutely brutal. The technology isn’t any different at the higher ratings used by OTR trucks, though.

          • 0 avatar
            DenverMike

            Those diesel power levels are unacceptable for civilian consumption, so to satisfy we get extremely high pressures and high heat for everything to work.

            Even with the bone stock de-tune my 6.0 power stroke F-550 came with, I would’ve been happier with a lot less power for improved reliability/longevity (5.13 gears).

          • 0 avatar
            DenverMike

            Also, for industrial use, they get gears (in the diffs) that would be unacceptable for civilian use, and that helps make up for low power levels.

          • 0 avatar
            dal20402

            Would be interesting to see how the current generation of pickup diesels would do (both in terms of power and longevity) if, like the bus engines, they were limited to ~2250 rpm.

            It’s not car or pickup quick, but a 280 hp hybrid transit bus can move with surprising authority for a vehicle its size. The older conventional buses are slugs in comparison.
            That electric motor really helps.

          • 0 avatar
            JimZ

            “Those diesel power levels are unacceptable for civilian consumption,”

            welp, maybe people have to reset their expectations and not push hp/torque as “bragging rights.” I think a lot of diesel pickup owners would be surprised that their F-250 has as much horsepower as a class 8 Kenworth loaded to the 80,000 lb maximum.

            (the average semi tractor out there has ~375-425 hp.)

          • 0 avatar
            JimZ

            “Would be interesting to see how the current generation of pickup diesels would do (both in terms of power and longevity) if, like the bus engines, they were limited to ~2250 rpm.”

            I don’t know about an RPM limit, but they are de-rated substantially. that 475 hp 6.7 liter Powerstroke in the F-250 gets knocked all the way down to 270 hp in the F-650/750.

  • avatar
    karonetwentyc

    Interesting fuel economy numbers; they pretty much match what I’m seeing in our 2005 Liberty CRD (2.8-litre VM Motori turbodiesel, 545RFE 5-speed automatic, NP242 transfer case, 3.73:1 gears). Not bad.

    One thing that irks me about how the current crop of diesels are presented to the car-buying public: the main argument in their favour almost always centres around fuel economy. Yes, that’s a nice benefit, but it overlooks the advantages of a torquey motor both on-road and off, as well as long-term durability.

    Not specifically pointing fingers at TTAC for this as it happens all over the place (including from the manufacturers). But I would like to see more emphasis on the practical use cases for diesels, which would hopefully increase their market share – and yes, I am ignoring the all-electric future in that statement simply because it’s still quite a ways off for trucks.

    • 0 avatar
      DenverMike

      The diesel longevity thing is a thing of the past, and who wants to own a Fiat for a million miles? Practically any gas engine can be milked for a million miles with the right care (if anyone cares to), but again it takes a special car.

      Diesel cars aren’t tuned/geared for performance (except at the pump). If you want to change that, it’s between you and the EPA.

      • 0 avatar
        karonetwentyc

        “The diesel longevity thing is a thing of the past, and who wants to own a Fiat for a million miles? Practically any gas engine can be milked for a million miles with the right care (if anyone cares to), but again it takes a special car.”

        Can you elaborate on diesel longevity being a thing of the past? That’s a pretty broad statement.

        And yes, I’ve had gas-engined vehicles that have racked up in excess of 300,000 miles. They generally had relatively low-compression, low-tune, understressed engines compared to other vehicles. Those, I would say, are the exception rather than the rule.

        “Diesel cars aren’t tuned/geared for performance (except at the pump). If you want to change that, it’s between you and the EPA.”

        Not sure why you’re bringing this up; outright performance was never something that was under consideration in my statement. Sure, gas engines will generally outrun diesels in a straight line, though that gap is much narrower than it used to be. Realistically, though, in a truck, Jeep, or other utility vehicle, who cares?

        Things like broad torque curves and sizeable tow ratings are going to be selling points. If I never take it over 80 on the freeway, I’m fine with that since no vehicles of the type I just described are ones that I’d buy for driving pleasure – as long as they get the job done and I’m relatively comfortable wile it gets on with that job, that’s good enough for me in a vehicle of this kind. We’ve got other stuff to drive for the sake of truly enjoying driving.

        • 0 avatar
          DenverMike

          Diesels would last forever thanks to the lubricity of fuel, pre ULSD. It’s not the missing sulfur but the process of refining it out.

          Current diesels are highly delicate instruments, highly technical, and nothing like the old ones that would run on transmission fluid, used motor oil, etc. and you couldn’t destroy unless you did something really stupid.

          Except turbo gas engines have low-end torque that can satisfy just the same, or better.

          • 0 avatar
            karonetwentyc

            ULSD was an issue with some non-ULSD-compliant engines after the changeover, but the problems were generally releated to fuel delivery (e.g., accelerated deterioration of seals & fuel pumps), not the engines themselves. It also wasn’t an across-the-board issue by any means; I’m daily-driving a 200,000-mile diesel sold in 2005, two years before ULSD hit the pumps, and twelve years of ULSD use has had zero negative effect on it.

            Besides, any modern diesel will have been designed for ULSD from the outset. Comparing it to anything from the 1990s or early 2000s isn’t really valid as the technologies behind the engines have changes substantially.

            Speaking of current diesel technology: yep, it’s more involved than it was in the past, and I’m saying that as someone who cut his diesel teeth on 1960s to 1980s Land-Rovers, Peugeots, and Mercedes, so have a fairly good idea of just how basic a diesel engine can be. That said, I disagree with the assessment of them being delicate, but do accept that they require a different approach to maintenance than they have historically.

            BTW, just tossing any kind of waste oil into an older diesel had a good chance of destroying it over time, too. I’ve seen any number of idiots who thought they could do this, and discovered that without properly filtering and treating the waste oil before trying to run their car on it was a bad idea. Even the OM617 won’t put up with that.

            Turbo gas engines are catching up, but they still have quite a ways to go. There are thermal efficiency issues with them that diesels don’t have, and torque curves typically aren’t as flat. Longevity is also something of an unknown right now as turbo gas motors that may offer diesel-like capabilities just haven’t been around long enough to really know how they’ll work out in long-term usage. They are getting there, but are still playing catch-up in my book.

          • 0 avatar
            DenverMike

            Today there’s no compelling reason for the private user to buy a new diesel except for some very heavy users and quirky enthusiasts.

            And I’ve always been the biggest advocate of diesel autos, light trucks to medium duty diesels. My first car was the infamous Olds 5.7, and I figured it out

            I’ve had every generation of the Ford/International partnership except 6.4 and still own 6.0 and that will be the last and newest.

    • 0 avatar
      18726543

      Hey Karonetwentyc, how’s your experience been with your Liberty? I recently picked up an ’05 CRD Liberty with ~96k miles on it. I replaced the t-belt (idlers/tensioner), water pump, thermostat, fan clutch, etc etc…, rockers and lifters, deleted the EGR by installing Weeks stage 1&2 kits, and ran the elephant hose mod to negate the oil mist issues from here forward. I’ve only put about 800 miles on it since doing all the work, and it’s really nice to drive, but that engine really kinda sucks to work in/around.

      Has owning it been a constant maintenance proposition, or can you get away with sticking to the scheduled maintenance and not constantly have to replace hard parts? I’m over 1000 bucks into the up-front work I’ve done to this point, and hoping the cost and my labor time will reduce significantly moving forward.

  • avatar
    danio3834

    “Despite boasting only a half-liter of additional displacement and weighing significantly more than a 1990 Iron Duke model…”

    FYI, the 2.5L 4 cylinder used in 1990 Jeeps was an AMC designed engine that shared some parts with the 4.2 I6.

    • 0 avatar
      indi500fan

      Correct.
      AMC did their own 4 banger, and it even had the GM bellhousing pattern so they didn’t have to change the transmission adaptation used with the also offered GM V6.

  • avatar
    Dan

    Gas is so cheap that fuel economy doesn’t matter, and even if it wasn’t (or where the return to feudalism party has enough of a majority that it already isn’t) there’s still no making up for the 4000 bucks up front or the near certainty of that much again in emissions headaches later.

    That said, the Wrangler is most of the way to a luxury car, the Gladiator is already there, the order sheets for both are already full of 4000 dollar cosmetics, and a power bump among them wouldn’t be the dumbest thing to check off.

  • avatar
    thelaine

    Fuel economy is not important to me but, for the remote mountain trails, more range and torque are always welcome. I’m gonna be dropping so much money on the Gladiator Rubicon, it is already pretty insane. On a lighter note, it is a bargain compared to a boat or a heroin addiction.

  • avatar
    dal20402

    Still sooty, still most likely fraudulent. End diesel for everything below Class 3 trucks. Want extra torque for something like a Wrangler? Add an electric motor (to be fair, FCA is actually doing this too).

    • 0 avatar
      Jon

      Hmmm…
      1. How do you propose “ending diesel for anything below Class 3”?
      2. What do you propose that people who actually need a diesel class 2 truck use (not the brodozer crowd; the working man who needs 650+lbft to tow heavy loads on a weekly basis)?
      3. Since you are convinced that simply adding an electric motor is the answer, please elaborate on the design simplicity benefits and cost benefits (manufacturing and operation) of adding an electric motor to a class 2 truck in lieu of a diesel engine.

      I await your application specific responses…

      • 0 avatar
        dal20402

        1. Stop selling diesel engines in Class 1 and 2 trucks.

        2. Almost every diesel HD pickup, even those badged as 3/4-ton, is Class 3. The hotshotters and the like should all be driving Class 3 trucks. Your cousin Bob who tows a 8000-lb travel trailer twice a year can use gas if he doesn’t want a Class 3 truck.

        3. The simplest form of hybridization isn’t really an increase in complexity, although it may increase cost. You are replacing both starter and alternator with a single electric motor and a small battery. That motor can be tiny (as with FCA’s eTorque), but it can also be much bigger, as in a lot of systems where a single motor is integrated into the automatic transmission. The new Explorer hybrid is a good example of this, and will be easy to make while feeling to the driver like it has a LP turbo V6 instead of a NA one.

        The next step up is a bigger-battery, multi-motor system like you find in Toyota hybrids. These systems are more expensive mostly because of the battery, but they can provide even more low-end torque. If battery costs come down, so will the cost of these systems; they don’t require conventional transmissions and so are very simple mechanically.

        With all of these systems, you get to use gas-engine emissions controls, which are vastly simpler and cheaper, not to mention more effective, than what is on modern diesels. And no fraud is necessary.

        • 0 avatar
          Jon

          1. How? Make gov outlaw them by (insert flavor here)?

          2. No. Most 3/4 tons are class 2. My cousins dont camp. I do 2-3 times per year and when I do, i rent. Its cheaper. My friend camps with his family 10-15 times a year with his 12000lb toy hauler. For him its cheaper to own. What about they guys that built my house (and many others like it) who needs to tow their heavy equipment from site to site a few times a week? Just out of curiosity, when was the last time you talked to someone who regularly tows 8-16klb and claims to prefer gas?

          3. I was looking for a more application specific (3/4 ton trucks) hybridization answer that specifically addresses high torque demands (650+lbft). Not SUV applications that can be conceptually scaled in a car blog post.

          • 0 avatar
            dal20402

            1) Yes. Diesel should be banned below 10k GVW in new vehicles, and existing light diesel vehicles taxed heavily. It’s proven impossible to meet current emissions standards for cars legitimately. Essentially every maker has been proven to have committed fraud in certifying recent diesels. In real-world service, light diesels are disproportionate polluters.

            2) I went back and double-checked spec sheets. Ram 2500 is 10k GVW and you can’t apparently change it. Ford F-250 is 10k GVW by default and has a 9900 lb GVW option that wasn’t on any truck I could find in dealer inventory anywhere. Only Chevy 2500HD seems to be under 10k by default, and it affects their payload ratings. I continue to say that if people are regularly towing that kind of weight then a 10k+ GVW is most appropriate. In any event, in my world, Chevy would promptly bump up the GVW on the 2500HD to 10k, which would make for a better product.

            3) Pretty much every transit bus in North America uses one of two hybrid systems from Allison or BAE. The Allison system is a two-motor system that works a lot like Toyota’s system for FWD cars, but it has a two-speed reduction gear for more low-end torque. The BAE system is closer in concept to the systems in the Honda Accord and Chevy Volt, using one motor and letting the diesel act either as a generator or as a direct-drive engine at freeway speeds. Both systems work very well, improve acceleration significantly, and improve fuel economy by 30% or so from their diesel/conventional automatic predecessors.

            Of course you know there’s no such product in the personal truck market today. But We would see these systems from both Ram and Ford overnight if there were ever fuel economy standards for Class 2/3 trucks. You could probably install the eTorque system from the 5.7 Hemi on the 6.4 one with no changes. The Super Duty’s 10-speed transmission is closely related to the one in the Explorer and it would not be difficult to adapt the Explorer’s hybrid system to the F-250 with either the 7.3 or the 6.2 once it gets the 10-speed.

          • 0 avatar
            Jon

            What about they independent construction worker who needs to tow their heavy equipment from site to site a few times a week? Will a 6.4L+etorque, or a 7.3L+F250ized Explorer Hybrid Electric motor provide enough torque to reliably move a 10-20klb trailer load for 200,000+ miles?

          • 0 avatar
            ajla

            “Will a 6.4L+etorque, or a 7.3L+F250ized Explorer Hybrid Electric motor provide enough torque to reliably move a 10-20klb trailer load for 200,000+ miles?”

            Yes.

        • 0 avatar
          Scoutdude

          Class 3 is 10,001 and up so yeah “3/4” tons are class 2b. However if they couldn’t put a diesel in a under 10,000 lb gvw guess what will happen. The “3/4 ton” will have a GVW of 10,0×0 lbs. Ford did for the last several years of the van version of the Econoline. My 2009 E-150 has a GVW of 8520 so that it is class 2b and thus exempt from CAFE standards. Meanwhile the 250 version only adds an additional 40lbs of GVW. Over at GM they just dropped the “1/2 ton” version of their full size vans.

          Heck even the F-150 owes its existence to dodging weight class regulations. GM, IH and Dodge all used similar tactics to produce “1/2 ton” pickups that didn’t have Cats in 1975.

    • 0 avatar
      R Henry

      I agree that diesel engines are not the best fit for light duty use in consumer passenger vehicles. I believe this issue will sort itself out with the free market and emissions regulations.

      With regard to your comment relating to diesels in Class 3 trucks: I found it quite telling that UPS has spec’d it’s latest generation of new delivery fleet trucks with the GM gasoline V8s. This, after decades of an all diesel fleet. In order to support the new gasoline powered fleet, UPS needed to install gasoline fueling infrastructure system wide…at significant expense. That UPS, which no doubt did the math, determined that gasoline engines are best for daily door-to-door delivery service–even after instructure costs—says a great deal.

      • 0 avatar
        dal20402

        I tend to agree with you that the free market is going to cull the light diesels eventually, but it looks like it’s going to take a while to get there.

        The latest batch of Class 3-5 diesels seems quite maintenance-intensive. I think a combination of current diesel emissions standards and the single-minded pursuit of bench racing numbers for bar bragging rights has probably resulted in diesels that have higher TCO than gas in a lot of applications despite the fuel savings.

      • 0 avatar
        HotPotato

        What happened to their existing gasoline fuel infrastructure? Most full-size UPS vans ran gasoline Ford straight-sixes with manual transmissions for many years, and many markets had gasoline minivans in recent years too.

        Those giant gas UPS vans of yesteryear must have been “fun” to drive. Can you imagine motivating one of those gigantic monsters with 100 carbureted horsepower, no AC, no power steering, maybe not even a synchromesh transmission? Granted, they were built of aluminum and fiberglass and sounded to be unburdened by working mufflers, but golly.

        • 0 avatar
          ToddAtlasF1

          I unloaded UPS tractor trailers in college, until an injury put me on car-wash detail. UPS vans were called parcel cars, and they had 250 ci Chevy inline sixes connected to 3 + a granny-low-gear manual transmissions. I drove them all, but empty. The best ones were mid-sized. The smallest ones had steal bodies and weighed about 4,100 pounds empty. The next size with dual rear wheels was the sweet spot. They had bodies you could see light through the roof of, they were so thin. IIRC, they were about 3,700 pounds empty, and they were peppy enough to dirt track around the far end of the sorting line.

          I think they were running off of propane at the time, at least in Albemarle County.

  • avatar
    Add Lightness

    Think how little fuel the new Wrangler would use if it didn’t have the aerodynamics of a garden shed.

  • avatar
    BobWellington

    “combined in two-door guise. Add four doors and extra wheelbase to that combo, and combined economy drops to 21 mpg.”

    You can get a 6-door Wrangler? Cool!

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