What I love (and hate) about the diesel Jeep Wrangler Rubicon Unlimited

Christopher McGraw


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It looks like COVID-19 isn't on its way out, yet, but here in Colorado we have started getting press cars again. My first isn’t too shabby, either, the 2020 Jeep Wrangler Rubicon Unlimited with an EcoDiesel engine. For my first trip away from home in months, I decided to play it safe and journey out where few people roam on weekdays, the Continental Divide Trail in the middle of the Rocky Mountains in Colorado, to show off the 10 things I love about this Jeep, and five things that I really don’t.

Transcript:

In the United States, especially in my home state of Colorado, Jeep Wranglers are ubiquitous. And while many of these iconic rock crawlers never see terrain more challenging than the occasional pothole or snow-covered highway, they achieved their popularity through years of history and credibility. And today, it's one of the most off-road-capable vehicles you can buy. Arguably the most off-road-capable vehicle there is. 

Now, this one is an Unlimited, and it's got the EcoDiesel. I decided to drive it through Weston Pass, middle of the Pike National Forest in Colorado, to some cool little mountain towns to tell you the 10 things that I love about it and the 5 things that I really don't. 

All right. Well, first things first, and it's the reason that this Wrangler has a lot of low-end torque. It's the reason that this Wrangler sounds the way it does. And it's the reason that this Wrangler cost $4,000 more than its petrol brother. And the first thing that I love about this is the diesel engine. So let's pop this hood. And it is quite warm. 

It's not super warm here in Colorado just yet, at least not up in the mountains. So if you open this up, and quick pro tip, you're looking around for-- where the heck is the-- ooh, this is hot. Where the heck is the hood stand? If I can prop up the hood. It is actually on the hood and not down in here. Just look up for that. 

But yeah, this is the 3.0-liter EcoDiesel. It helps this vehicle get a ton of low-end torque. I think the max torque, it's something like 1,400 RPMs. And it also helps this Jeep get really good gas mileage. And so those are two of the things that I love about this Jeep that I wanted to touch on is all the torque right away. So you don't have to be revving it up to 3,000, 4,000 5,000, 6,000 RPMs to get all the torque. This is a diesel. You get all the torque almost right away. 

And the other thing is, because it's a diesel, I've been getting a lot better gas mileage. I haven't spent all my time driving on highways. It's been on trails like this, and then roads around my house, and I've been getting 25 miles to the gallon, which for something that's about as aerodynamic as a brick, not too bad. So this 3.0-liter is what really makes this specific Jeep special. 

Another thing I want to touch on is how off-road-capable the Rubicon is. That's another thing that I love about the Wrangler. Obviously this comes as no surprise to anybody the Jeep Wrangler from the factory like I said in the intro is one of the most capable off road vehicles out there. 

In fact, I think you can probably, if we're talking about SUVs, you can probably only talk about the Toyota 4Runner TRD Pro and the G Wagon as competitors in that aspect. Obviously, there's a few more trucks built in if we throw those into the mix. But talking specifically about SUVs, the Wrangler itself is one of the most off road-capable vehicles. And I'll throw up the specs right now. 

But the Rubicon package in and of itself just elevates that completely. And the diesel, given that it gives you all that low-end torque right away, just adds to it. So this specific one, while it might not be as off road capable as it's two-door brother just because of the sheer length of the vehicle and the wheelbase, it is still incredibly capable off road. 

You could take it to Moab without anything. You don't have to lift it. You don't have to put on new tires. It comes with KO2s. So that's just another thing I love about the Jeep. I do love offroading, and the capability is almost unmatched anywhere. 

Another thing that I love about this specific Jeep is the ability to just press a button and have the roof go back. This one has the power roof. It actually is raining a little bit right now, but I'm going to use it anyway. I won't melt. You press that button, and it just goes back. 

It does take a little while. It's not the fastest roof to open ever. But when it opens all the way, the roof above the driver and the passenger as well as the rear seat is both open. So it does bunch up just over the trunk area. And I love how easy it is to use. 

I also love-- and this is something that jeeps have been able to do since forever is take off the doors, and you can fully take off the roof and lay down the windshield. Sometimes, I don't want to take off the roof completely like on a day like today where it's, you know, 95% sunny, but every once in a while, it has been raining on me a little bit. I can just hit this button and boom, done. Is it as good as having the roof and doors off completely? I would say no. But it is halfway there with much less than half the hassle. 

Now, one of the things that I don't like about this Jeep in particular is that it doesn't come with a manual transmission. And that's specific to the EcoDiesel, which is a little bit unfortunate. Some people like to row their own gears off road, and I happen to be one of those people. 

That being said, while it does take away from the off-road experience a little bit, it doesn't completely take away from the off-road experience. I think what the diesel adds to that experience eclipses the fact that you have to get an automatic, and it's not as fun in that aspect. So if I had to choose between the two, I'd probably get the diesel rather than getting a gas-powered one even though that gas-powered one can have a manual. 

Another thing I don't like is the safety of the Wrangler. Now, the Wrangler has looked very similar for its entire life. And you don't go from having a vehicle that is boxy and tiny-- it was a lot of tinier back in the day, but you don't go from 1940 having a boxy vehicle and keeping the same shape as it does now without sacrificing somewhere. And specifically, you are sacrificing a little bit in safety. Some of the safety test crashes-- not the best. 

And the aerodynamics. The aerodynamics are just not really there. While they're better than they used to be, the aerodynamics aren't really there because it is a boxy vehicle. And that's something that I love about it. That brings me to another love. 

I love how the Wrangler looks. I love that it looks relatively the same. The seven-slotted grill. You know, it's a lot bigger now. It has four doors. But it looks relatively the same as it always has. And the looks are just awesome. It looks bad ass. It looks like it can handle any kind of trail because it can. It's Rubicon trail-rated. And it really looks the part, but it also plays the part. And I love that about the Wrangler. 

Another thing that I wanted to touch on is something that I think FCA has done incredibly well for many, many years now it has just gotten better and better. And while this screen isn't as big as, say, the one on a Ram 1500-- it's hard to beat the one in the 1500-- it's still a quality screen. Big size. Touchscreen just works. It's got Apple CarPlay. 

And also, if you look down below, there are aux cables almost everywhere. There's some in the console. One, two, and I'm sure there's some in the back. And that's something else that FCA does well. It is 2020 and everybody's got devices, and you're going on a long road trip. Everybody's going to be wanting to charge said devices. And so instead of having fights about who gets to charge their device when, you just have enough USB ports for everybody. 

And it's something that I think-- I think Kia does a good job of this as well in the Telluride. Just something that I think auto manufacturers should be doing in general. If you have five seats, put five USB chargers. You don't need to save the extra few bucks. 

You know, just put USB chargers in there. Keep everybody happy. It's 2020. This is the kind of tech we have. Also, with these USB chargers, it's USB as well as USB-C in some cases. And they have an aux cable. I just have a normal USB plugged in, and Apple CarPlay has been working wonderfully for me. 

The other thing that I really love about this center console right here is all of the buttons. And there is kind of a spectrum when it comes to how many buttons you should have and how to use this center console. And I think Volvo is probably on the one end of the spectrum. We have a long term S60 right now. And you can control a lot of stuff from the steering wheel, but everything else is through the touch screen. There's very few buttons. 

And while that looks good, it's not the most practical. This might be the other end of the spectrum, but I like it because even though it's incredibly busy, if I'm off-roading, I don't want to be searching through-- even if it is a good infotainment system, I don't want to be searching through that infotainment system to figure out how to turn on heated seats, or cooled steering wheel, or heated steering wheel, or anything like that. 

Turn on the AC. How do I do that? So I like that there's just buttons here. I can look down, quickly press something, eyes back on the trail. And that's what you want out of an offroad vehicle. Or at least that's what I want out of my center console and infotainment in an off-road vehicle. 

One thing that I am not particularly fond of-- and you kind of have to pick and choose here-- is the ride quality on just normal highway driving. People buy Jeep Rubicon as well. Some people buy them because they're a status symbol. But if you're really going to buy a Jeep Rubicon, in my opinion, you should be taking it off road. 

And so it's kind of this choice that you have to make. If this vehicle is going to be your daily driver, you're going to have to deal with some issues on the pavement to get the performance that you want out of it on a trail. So while the performance on the trail is arguably unparalleled out of the box, it can be a bit loud when you're driving it elsewhere. 

There's a lot of wind noise. Like I said before, this thing's a box. Ooph. We'll be shaking a little bit here. So you're getting a lot of feedback in your steering when it's windy out. Things like that. So on road, not the greatest. But boy, does it make up for it off road. 

Unfortunately, it still is pretty early in the season. This Jeep is going to be delivered somewhere else. So they just got me in it now. And the sign says the west Weston Pass is not OK for low-clearance vehicles. Good thing we're in a Jeep Wrangler Rubicon. Man, this thing's shaking around a lot. I'm trying to keep it as stable as possible, so sorry if this makes you sick. 

Yeah, so this by no means is getting to the point where this thing can't handle anything I'm throwing at it. But like I was saying, still early in the season. We might run into some snow. And some of the more difficult trails are even further up into the mountains. And since I'm by myself. I didn't want to get stuck in the deep snow situation and not have cell service or anything like that. 

In fact, if you're wheeling by yourself, you should always-- and this is good for any kind of travel. Here, let me pull over a minute, because it is super bumpy on this camera. It is a good idea for any travel-- I do this whether I'm hiking a mountain by myself or just even driving this dirt road/trail. It's a good idea to let people know where you're going to be and when you plan on being back. So that way if you're two hours late and they can't get a hold of you or your six hours late, eight hours late, they can't get a hold of you, then they know where to start looking if something horrible has happened. 

Hopefully, it's just a blown tire and you're on the trail. And you're a few miles away. I actually brought my mountain bike today not only to use as-- you know, show how much space is back there, which we'll get to in a minute. But if I need to get anywhere, I can hop on the bike can do quite a bit of riding in a good amount of time. 

That being said, this road is not something that I'm particularly worried about. I have a spare on the back, as do all Jeeps. But it's still a good idea to just let people know where you're going and when you'll be home. It's a good habit to get into. Just make sure when you get home to tell that person that you made it, because I've definitely done that sometimes where someone will text me four hours later and be like, "Hey, did you make it back?" And I was like, "Oh, man, yeah, sorry. I've been back for three hours. I ate and took a nap already."

So good idea, good habit to get into whenever you're wheeling or even out hiking. All right. Walking around to the back of the vehicle, I'm going to show you something else that I love. Well, this isn't one of the things, but tires on the back-- always cool. 

So if we open that up, you'll notice that in the back I have my mountain bike. And right now, it's laying down on the wrong side, on the gear side. If you're going to lay down your bike, lay it down on the 9-gear side. It did some slipping on the way here on some of the more bumpy sections of the trail. 

But this is something you could never do in the two door. And so I wanted to touch on that because while the two door personally to me looks cooler and it's better offroad just due to the shorter wheelbase, it is way less practical. So right now, I've got my full mountain bike in here. I can throw my wife's mountain bike in the back. 

The two back seats are folded down. But if I didn't have the bikes in here, I also could lay in the back. If I'm overlanding or even camping in a place like this here today, I can sleep in the back of this fairly comfortably. That's something you can't do with the two-door, and it's something that I love about the Unlimited in general. And it's what would make me get a four-door or over a two-door if I was buying the Jeep Wrangler. 

Another thing that I love, another thing that makes the Jeep Wrangler and a lot of different jeeps-- the Gladiator, the Cherokee, all of the Jeeps, just adds a little more fun to them-- are the Easter eggs. So you see we got an Easter egg on the wheel here. 

There are plenty of Easter eggs all over this vehicle. You might not notice them all right away. But say you're loading something to the back, you'll see an Easter egg, and it'll give you a little chuckle. It's something that puts a smile on my face seeing all these Easter eggs. It shows that Jeep has had a rich history. And it's just a nice touch. 

And the last and final thing that I don't like about the Jeep Wrangler unlimited Rubicon with the EcoDiesel is the price. So I mentioned earlier that the EcoDiesel does come with a big sticker. So let's just go through-- I got the Monroney here. Let's just go through everything here. 

So standard, the base price of this Wrangler Rubicon, is $41,795 before destination. So you add on top of that the leather, trim bucket seats, the leather-wrapped park brake handle, the shift knob, the premium trim panel. That's another $1,495. 

And then we get the Cold Weather Group, which is the heated front seat and heated steering wheel. That's another grand. Plus the trailer stuff. That's another $800. LED, another grand, plus the 8.4-inch radio and premium audio group, which I did love. That's another $1,700. Safety Group, which is the rear park assist and the blind spot and cross path detection is another $800. Steel bumper, $1,395. 

The eight-speed automatic transmission is $2,000. The diesel itself is $4,000. Keyless entry, $500. The body color fender flare is $500. The roof-- oh, this one hurts. It's just almost-- it's $5 cheaper than getting the diesel itself. So that's another $3,995. And then the wheels are another grand, plus $1,500 in destination charges. 

So just a reminder, base price, $41,795. Total price of this Jeep Wrangler Rubicon four-door with the EcoDiesel is $64,380. That is a ton of money for a Jeep Wrangler. Now, this isn't how I would configure mine unless I possibly won the lottery, but that is a huge knock on it. 

$65,000 for a Jeep Wrangler. Even though it does come with a lot and you can do a lot with it, that is a lot of money. That's the final thing that I don't like. So there you go. The things that I love. The things that I really don't love about the 2020 Jeep Wrangler Rubicon Four-Door with the EcoDiesel. 

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