The Jeep Wrangler has gained impressive popularity since the appearance of the 4-door Unlimited version. The addition of new engines to the catalog, starting with a powerful turbodiesel, can only further accentuate this popularity.
In fifteen years, from 2005 to 2020, Jeep has gone from the 9th to the 6th most important brand in the North American market. Additionally, Wrangler sales have more than doubled. Last year, this massive, angular utility was the second most sought-after Jeep product on the continent after the Grand Cherokee, by just 2,734 units (225,307 sales versus 222,573).
This commercial success is linked to the growing demand for utilities of all kinds, but also, and above all, to the arrival of the Wrangler Unlimited. Lots of people had dreamed of this more practical four-door version for years. It is so true that, very quickly, after its launch in the fall of 2006, the Unlimited became more popular than the 2-door Wrangler. So much so that today, for every Wrangler, Jeep sells two Unlimited.
A diesel for off-road driving
Since last year, a fuel-efficient engine has been offered exclusively to Wrangler Unlimited buyers. This is the EcoDiesel V6 manufactured by VM Motori, a subsidiary of Stellantis.
This is essentially the same 3.0L V6 you can buy for a Ram pickup truck. However, the manufacturer redesigned the alternator and the injection pump to preserve the Wrangler’s fording capacity of 76 cm (30 in). Paired with a TorqueFlite 8-speed automatic transmission, which is unique to it, this engine has the lowest average fuel consumption ratings in the range, i.e. 9.5 L / 100 km for all versions except the Wrangler Unlimited Rubicon. which makes 10.2 L / 100 km. The lowest average therefore suggests a range of at least 850 km thanks to the 81 L tank.
Although it cannot be paired with a manual transmission, this engine has enough torque to appeal to off-road enthusiasts. It produces 442 lb-ft as soon as it spins at 1,400 rpm. To get around obstacles with a turtle’s pace in nature, there is nothing better. Especially since all Unlimited models with this engine have a 3.73 axle ratio and robust Dana 44 axles at the front and rear. Added to this is for all versions except the Rubicon, a Command-Trac 4×4 system that engages on the fly.
This system, which distributes torque equally between the front and rear wheels, results in a lower gear ratio of 2.72 to 1 at low speeds. For the Rubicon, the Rock-Trac system offers a higher gear ratio, 4 to 1, providing more control at very low speeds and more torque to all four wheels. The high price of this turbodiesel ($ 9,190), however, will dampen the ardor of some buyers, especially those who simply want to afford a Wrangler for fun.
Popular gasoline engines
Instead, these people will fall back on the more popular gasoline engines, starting with the naturally aspirated 3.6L Pentastar V6. This is the standard engine for all versions. With 285 hp and 260 lb-ft of torque, it comes with a 6-speed manual transmission. However, to get an 8-speed automatic, you have to opt for a variant of this engine that has the eTorque hybrid system. This option adds $ 1,995 to the price of the vehicle.
In addition, to compensate for the high consumption of the V6, whether it is hybrid or not, the manufacturer also offers a 2.0L turbocharged 4-cylinder, an option of $ 1,595. It delivers 270 hp and 295 lb-ft. In addition, its average consumption would be 10.8 L / 100 km for a Wrangler Unlimited, according to EnerGuide. It is still a little better than the average of 11.2 L announced for the hybrid V6 or that of 12.2 L of the V6 without eTorque system.
Photo: Guillaume Fournier-Viau
Soon a plug-in hybrid version
By April, dealers will have received the first copies of a new variant that claims to be “green”: the Wrangler Unlimited 4xe. Its plug-in hybrid engine uses the 4-cylinder turbo and an electric motor powered by a 17.3 kWh lithium-ion battery. Together, they allow this all-terrain vehicle to achieve an average of 4.7 L / 100 km. They also give it a range of around 35 km in 100% electric mode and 595 km in mixed mode, this Wrangler having a 65 L fuel tank.
Offered with the Sahara, Sahara High Altitude and Rubicon equipment, this mixed engine will make Wrangler Unlimited, which will have it the most expensive models in the range; even more expensive than a Wrangler Unlimited turbodiesel with the same endowment. They will also be the most powerful, since the 470 lb-ft of torque delivered by the engine allows a phenomenal acceleration from 0 to 100 km / h less than 7 s. But who really wants acceleration like that for an off-roader that has imprecise recirculating ball power steering, especially at high speeds? This type of robust steering is primarily used to facilitate maneuvering at low speed, between rocks and tree trunks, not to set an acceleration record on large boulevards.
Knowing that the Wrangler has one of the best resale values on the market, we can bet that EcoDiesel models are already highly sought after, even in the used market, and by none other than off-road driving enthusiasts!
In video: Marc-André and his heavily modified Jeep Wrangler