One of my guilty pleasures for the last few years has been Netflix’s series "Grace and Frankie," starring Jane Fonda and Lilly Tomlin. Individually, the two are icons. Together, they are a match made in Heaven – a delicious concoction that delights at every turn. It’s the same with the Jeep Wrangler and its new diesel engine. Separate, Jeeps and diesels are forthright individuals, but together, a big heap of oh-yeah! Welcome the 2020 Jeep Wrangler Unlimited…diesel.
Refined Jeep Character
Like Fonda and Tomlin, the Wrangler has seemingly been around forever, but always has a few tricks between and above its fenders. Compared to past generations, the windshield is sleeker, grilles are more rounded, and fender vents diminish hood flutter. Chunky off-road tires cling to 18-inch alloys. Look closer to notice LED headlamps, LED turn signals in the fenders, and halo driving lights. Our vehicle came with the regular retractable soft top and removable hard top. I’d prefer the optional roof with power retracting center section.
Interiors look deceptively simple with their spray-out ethos, but are loaded with all the latest comfort and infotainment gear. Chrysler’s touchscreen delights with intuitive icons for media, climate, navigation, phone, and apps to control the dual-zone automatic climate control, heated front seats, heated steering wheel, and thumping audio system with sound bar above the front seats. Redundant buttons below include large volume and tuning knobs that can be adjusted with gloved hands. Or, command by voice if you prefer. Connect devices with Apple CarPlay, Android Auto, Bluetooth, and 4G Wi-Fi. I can only imagine Fonda and Tomlin figuring it all out.
They may need help to heave up and land inside, but once there, it’s quite comfortable. Four or five, plus all of their luggage, fit comfortably. It takes mere seconds to remove the doors and enjoy summer or seal up, snug into the leather seats, and enjoy a warm bum, back, and hands. Keeping everybody safe is a full suite of crash avoidance tech that includes adaptive cruise control, forward collision warning with auto brake, blind spot alert, and rear cross path detection. Trailer sway control and hill descent control do their parts too.
All About The Diesel
But, none of that is why you should choose this Wrangler. Yep, it’s all about the diesel. The 3.0-liter turbocharged V6 delivers just 260 horsepower, but a boulder churning 442 lb.-ft. of torque for hoofing itself up mountains or pulling heavy loads. It’s paired with an eight-speed automatic transmission and auto stop/start to shift power to the four-wheel-drive system and optimize fuel economy, which rivals mid-size crossovers at an impressive 22/29-MPG city/highway. It’s a pretty efficient way to throw a brick down the road.
From the first time I met this generation Wrangler while banging skid plates in the Arizona desert, I knew it was a different beast. It looked a little sleeker, enjoyed a more comfortable interior, rode considerably better, and added all the latest infotainment gear. No matter your age or perspective, it was finally a forthright citizen with a sense of adventure. It only needed a little better fuel economy and more torque for towing and off-roading.
It seems, like Grace and Frankie, the Wrangler and its diesel engine were a match made in Hollywood heaven. Here’s where you should sit like you’re on a “Rise Up.” If you want a diesel, it’s going to add $4,000 to your tab. I know; you can burn truckloads of extra fuel for that much money. But, it’s still the one I’d most enjoy owning. Wrangler Unlimited starts at $31,795, but rose to $55,925 for our diesel-infused Sahara edition.
2020 Jeep Wrangler Unlimited Diesel
- 5 passengers, 4WD SUV
- Powertrain: 3.0L TDV6, 8-spd auto trans
- Output: 260 hp/442 lb.-ft.
- Suspension f/r: Solid axles
- Wheels f/r: 18”/18” alloy
- Brakes f/r: disc/disc
- Must-have features: Engine, Capability
- Fuel economy: 22/29-MPG city/hwy
- Assembly: Toledo, OH
- Base price/As-tested: $31,795/55,925