For many years, Jeep has searched for a diesel engine suitable to power its legendary Wrangler, with no success. However, the recent announcement of the Wrangler EcoDiesel shows that the auto manufacturer has finally realized its longtime goal of producing a diesel-powered Wrangler, though critics are complaining that diesel engines produce too many harmful emissions, particularly at a time when the world needs to drastically cut back on carbon emissions to curb the effects of climate change. Nevertheless, Jeep is intent on producing a vehicle that meets its customers’ requests for a Wrangler with the power and torque that a diesel engine affords, and the company’s branding, as well as advances in emissions-reduction technology, suggest that Jeep wants to position the Wrangler EcoDiesel as an environmentally-friendly solution.
Customers have long yearned for Jeep to produce a Wrangler capable of performing difficult tasks requiring a lot of power, such as pulling stumps and climbing steep and uneven terrain. Thanks to several years of work performed by engineers employed at the company, Jeep is confident that they can produce a vehicle which both offers the power of a diesel engine and meets increasingly-stringent environmental standards. Fiat Chrysler of America, the company that owns Jeep, has already passed the required certification to begin selling the vehicle in America, which they hope to do before Christmas. That being said, Fiat Chrysler has a history of illegally subverting emissions tests with fraudulent software, resulting in executives from the company facing fraud charges.
While diesel engines burn fuel more efficiently and produce less carbon dioxide than gas-powered engines, they also emit more nitrogen oxides, which pose a threat to human health as they can cause asthma and other lung issues. However, diesel engines remain the clear choice when substantial power is needed, though electric motors can also prove to be quite powerful. According to engineers from Fiat Chrysler, the EcoDiesel is roughly 30 percent more fuel efficient than the standard Wrangler, which means an enhanced efficiency of an additional seven or eight miles per gallon.
This is not the first time Fiat Chrysler has included an EcoDiesel engine in one of its vehicles. The company included such an engine in Ram pickup trucks and Jeep Grand Cherokees as early as 2014, but these vehicles were pulled from the market after they were found to violate emissions standards. To make matters worse, these early implementations of the EcoDiesel engine were prone to system leaks and cracks, resulting in a forced recall of 108,000 vehicles. As a result of these failures, Fiat Chrysler has fallen behind Ford and General Motors in the diesel truck market, though these competitors have had issues of their own with regards to emissions and reliability.
The first iteration of the engine to be used in the new Wrangler, the Gen III EcoDiesel, was included in the Ram 1500 pickup released a few months ago. The engine is a turbocharged V6 that displaces 3.0 liters, and includes a five-gallon diesel exhaust fuel canister in order to comply with emissions standards. This canister must be serviced every 10,000 miles, at roughly the same time that an oil change is needed. According to Jeep, the new Wrangler should be able to go over 500 miles on a single tank of fuel, beating the range of the gas-powered Wrangler by 200 miles.
The new Wrangler only comes with an automatic transmission and in the four-door variant, as Jeep concluded there was insufficient demand to sell other vehicle configurations. And the Wrangler EcoDiesel is not cheap, as the most basic version starts at roughly $40,000. But for Jeep fans looking for an efficient, extremely powerful compact SUV, the Wrangler EcoDiesel has the potential to make for a perfect choice. Only time will tell, however, how well this unique new entry to the Jeep family will sell, and whether the innovative EcoDiesel engine can live up to the ambitious promises of the engineers who created it.