I can understand if you’re not a Jeep Wrangler fan. It’s certainly not for everyone but anyone flat-out stating that they hate the Wrangler have little to no idea what they are talking about. If anything, the 2020 JL Jeep Wrangler Unlimited Rubicon is undeniably one of the coolest vehicles on the road, period.
This is especially true every time I walked out of the house and gazed upon my Ocean Blue Rubicon. When I informed of the JL’s hue, I was admittedly disappointed as I was hoping for Bikini pearl, Punk’n metallic or Hellayella but when I took delivery, the combination of the 17-inch dark painted wheels, body-coloured side panels, hatch and flares, and red took hooks cast all doubts aside.
The design work done on the JL continues to amaze me. Not because the Wrangler was completely re-invented but because the subtle changes are so distinctive. And yet, the Wrangler’s essence is intact if not more functional and attractive. Rubicon is the ultimate expression of Jeep and, if I may, a name FCA should apply to the hardest-core Grand Cherokee in the next generation. If anything, Jeep knows that “Trailhawk” sells Jeep even if they’ll never leave the pavement. Imagine, for a moment, a Jeep Grand Cherokee Rubicon…
Although many Wrangler Rubicons never see more than a little dirt or a few puddles after a rainstorm, everyone knows that this version of the Jeep cannot be stopped, at least until it’s really really stuck. The list of features included with the Rubicon trim reads like a what’s what for off-roading lovers. Rock-Trac 2-speed transfer case with 4:1 low range, Tru-Lock locking Dana differentials, a dedicated suspension, 10.8 inches of ground clearance, front disconnecting stabilizer bar, massive off-road tires and more.
Along with all the rugged stuff, the Wrangler’s cabin has never been more modern and contemporary. It is well-laid out with fine materials (leather in my tester’s case) and lacks only in storage space overall. The 890-litre boot is capacious and accessible enough.
New JL is forever civilized
Despite the extensive hardware to explore strange new worlds and boldly go where few have dared tread before, the 2020 Jeep Wrangler Unlimited Rubicon remains extremely civil on pavement. My stint with the truck saw my family and I drive from Ft. Lauderdale all the way down to Key West. While the road was generally smooth, even rougher surfaces did little to upset overall ride comfort.
The JL’s new structure and chassis tuning are good enough to make the Wrangler a true daily-drivable (not the first time I state this) vehicle. Truth be told, only the knobby BFGoodrich All-Terrain tires impacted the drive, and mildly at that. Steering response loses some bite but handling is unaffected when keeping in mind that this is a Wrangler.
And so we come to the question, or questions: How’s the EcoDiesel? What about all that torque? Should I spend the money and jump onto the EcoDiesel option?
Do you EcoDiesel?
Let’s start with the specs. The single water-cooled turbocharger with variable geometry turbine (VGT) attached to the 3.0-litre V6 produces 260-horsepower and 442 lb.-ft. of torque from 1,400 rpm. Attached to the always-included 8-speed automatic transmission, the Wrangler EcoDiesel can tow (they all do) up to 3,500 lb. While I don’t have 0-100 km/h times, I can tell you that the Wrangler is surprisingly quick.
Next up, fuel economy. Truly incredible fuel economy. By the end of the week, my 2020 Jeep Wrangler Unlimited Rubicon EcoDiesel returned an average just shy of 28 mpg, or about 8.5L/100km. This was achieved in mixed slow traffic-laden Overseas highway, in town, and impressive sprints to big speeds merging onto the 95. No, I never tried to hyper-mile the thing. Honestly, more conservative driving would, in my opinion, return 30 mpg or better (between 7.5 and 7.8L/100km).
But here’s the massive caveat. The cost of equipping the Wrangler with the EcoDiesel requires no less than $7,395 over the standard 3.6-litre V6 as well as $1,795 for the no-choice-in-the-matter 8-speed automatic transmission. Yes, the EcoDiesel is a $9,190 option in Canada. Le ouch.
Too much $$ for Diesel + excellent 3.6-litre
No matter how much I loved calling upon all the torques as often as I could, I cannot suggest anyone select this option in good conscience. If money’s no object, I would jump on it but if it’s savings and efficiency at the heart of the decision, it’s not worth it. One issue is that the included 285-horsepower 3.6-litre V6 is a great engine, in all respects.
Now, my tester was loaded with absolutely all the worthy options and features, from the body-coloured flares and steel bumpers, to Uconnect 4 with Nav, leather seats, all the safety groups, and the very cool Sky One-Touch power top. The grand total is of $68,880, before the $9,190 for the EcoDiesel. Double ouch.
It’s the Jeep
As such, the Ocean Blue Wrangler Unlimited Rubicon you see in the pictures and video is perfect and expensive – truly, if I had $80k to spend on a Jeep, this would be it, to a tee. I partly justify this thinking based on the fact that it’s a Wrangler and that there’s only one Wrangler. If anything, this particular example will be a rare edition worth something to someone in the future. Sure, the Ford Bronco’s on the way and although I’m excited to see and drive it, I feel the hype may oversell the thing – it’ll be good but it still won’t be a Jeep.