Jeep Wrangler Rubicon EcoDiesel Named 2020 Four Wheeler SUV of the Year

Once again, Jeep takes home top honors in 2020. First it was the Gladiator name Truck of the Year, , now the Jeep Wrangler Rubicon EcoDiesel has been recognized by the editors of Four Wheeler magazine as the 2020 SUV of the Year!

“The Wrangler is a truly exceptional machine both on- and off-road, and the new-for-2020 EcoDiesel engine option complements the outstanding JL platform,” said Four Wheeler Editor Ken Brubaker. “The EcoDiesel’s power and efficiency raise the bar for the already incomparable 4×4, making it even more extraordinary.”

The Wrangler EcoDiesel models feature the proven 3.0-liter EcoDiesel V-6 engine, which is rated at 260 horsepower with a whopping 442 lb.-ft. of torque. With the new torque numbers comes a new-for the Wrangler TorqueFlite 8HP75 eight-speed automatic transmission, recalibrated for low RPM shifts and the on- and off-road rigors of Jeep Wrangler duty. There are more than 40 individual shift maps in the corporate transmission to help optimize shift points for fuel economy, performance and 4×4 capability. Speaking of fuel economy, the Wrangler EcoDiesel sips fuel in a way no Wrangler has EVER done, being rated at 29 miles per gallon highway, 22 mpg city and 25 mpg combined. 

“Our customers have been asking for a Wrangler with unmatched fuel economy, incredible driving range and the legendary off-road capability they’ve rightly come to expect, and our new Jeep Wrangler Rubicon EcoDiesel delivers on that ask and then some,” said Jim Morrison, Head of Jeep Brand – FCA North America. “I’ve even driven the new Jeep Wrangler Rubicon EcoDiesel on the Rubicon Trail and can attest that our customers knew exactly what they were asking for: the perfect combination of off-road capability, fun-to-drive on-road performance and 29 mpg.”

“Jeep proves once again that it is listening to its customers, this time delivering the much anticipated diesel-powered Wrangler,” said MOTORTREND GROUP Content Director Sean P. Holman. “With no trade-offs in the capability or the experience demanded by enthusiasts and adventurers alike, the impressively efficient Wrangler EcoDiesel makes sense for your daily commute now, too.”

Over the course of a week, FOUR WHEELER’s judges conducted a variety of tests spanning more than 1,000 miles of varied terrain that included pavement, gravel, dirt, sand, rocks, mud and snow. A loose-dirt hillclimb and water crossings were included in testing as well. Night driving was also integrated into the competition to gauge each vehicle’s lighting equipment. Judges included staff from various 4×4 media brands, including FOUR WHEELER, 4-WHEEL & OFF-ROAD, and JP MAGAZINE. 

FOUR WHEELER’s SUV of the Year award event – now in its 47th consecutive year – is an invitation-only competition that is only open to all-new or significantly revised SUVs for the upcoming model year. 

From Jeep’s website:

All-new EcoDiesel engine

The third generation of the turbocharged 3.0-liter EcoDiesel V-6 engine delivers increased torque and horsepower, along with superb fuel economy and minimal levels of noise, vibration and harshness (NVH) to meet the needs of Wrangler customers.

Several significant changes contribute to the new EcoDiesel’s improved dynamic and fuel economy performance:

  • A new-generation water-cooled turbocharger with variable geometry turbine (VGT) and low-friction bearing increases efficiency and responsiveness during transient conditions
  • Redesigned cylinder head intake ports with higher flow capability improve swirl and flow, increasing performance and fuel economy
  • The exhaust gas recirculation (EGR) system design has been updated to a dual loop (low and high pressure) system. The added low-pressure circulation system draws gases after the diesel particulate filter, thus minimizing turbocharger energy losses, which increases fuel economy
  • The compression ratio has been optimized to 16.0:1 from 16.5:1 to improve fuel economy and reduce engine noise
  • High-pressure (29,000 psi/2,000 bar) direct-injection fuel injector nozzles were redesigned to match the newly designed and optimized combustion chamber, reducing fuel consumption
  • Lightweight aluminum alloy pistons were completely redesigned to include thinner rings and low-friction diamond-like carbon coating on the pin and compression piston ring to reduce parasitic losses
  • NVH has been improved by offsetting the piston pin 0.3 millimeters from the centerline
  • The lower portion of the two-piece oil sump uses a lightweight sandwiched polymer/metal material, which further reduces NVH
  • The dual vacuum pump system uses electric and a new mechanical low-friction pump with new blades that improve overall system efficiency
  • These upgrades build on the EcoDiesel V-6 engine’s previous success, the attributes and performance of which made it a winner of “Wards 10 Best Engines” for three consecutive years (2014, 2015, 2016)

The 3.0-liter EcoDiesel V-6 uses dual overhead camshafts (DOHC) with four valves per cylinder and a 60-degree angle between the cylinder banks. The block is cast with compacted graphite iron, which provides strength to dampen vibrations, but weighs less than gray cast iron. A compacted graphite iron bedplate adds rigidity to the block.

The EcoDiesel V-6 engine uses a forged steel crankshaft and connecting rods for strength and durability. The aluminum alloy pistons are cooled on the underside via oil jets. Heat-treated aluminum cylinder heads use individual bearing caps to reduce friction and minimize NVH. The chain-driven overhead camshafts employ roller-finger followers.

The diesel engine’s turbo Charge Air Cooler (CAC) is located at the base of the grille, in front of the radiator, to maximize cooler temperatures. The CAC uses the same mounting position as in the four-cylinder gasoline turbo engine, helping to reduce complexity.

A new 5.1-gallon diesel exhaust fluid (DEF) tank is located immediately behind the fuel tank with refill location next to the diesel fuel filler. DEF refills align with oil changes lasting up to 10,000 miles. Levels are monitored via a new DEF gauge in the front cluster.

The 3.0-liter EcoDiesel V-6 engine is produced at the FCA Cento facility in Ferrara, Italy.