According to AutoBlog, an anonymous source at FCA has confirmed that the next generation Jeep Wrangler will be available with a 3.0 liter V6 diesel engine coupled to an 8 speed automatic transmission. While the parent company offers this combination in the Dodge Ram 1500 pickup truck and the Jeep Grand Cherokee, this is the first indication the powertrain will be offered in the Wrangler.
Gabrielle Schulte, speaking for Jeep, told AutoBlog that FCA does not comment on future product. However, the EcoDiesel/Wrangler pairing have been rumored since at least 2013, when the small-displacement diesel engine first hit the market. The only question now is, when? FCA indicated in fillings with the SEC last fall that the 8-speed ZF transmission would be part of the mix in 2018. We do know that the Wrangler is enjoying strong sales in the marketplace, so Jeep feels little pressure to rush its replacement into production.
The main issue for Jeep is how to get the Wrangler to meet ever tightening fuel economy and emissions regulations without screwing up its appeal to customers. The diesel/8-speed combination makes the Ram EcoDiesel 1500 the fuel economy champ among full size pickups, so it should do even better in the smaller, lighter Wrangler, especially if it’s built of aluminum.
Diesel engines are having somewhat of a revival in America at the same time that Europeans are turning a cold shoulder to oil burning engines. After the oil embargoes of the 70’s, governments on the Continent strongly encouraged diesel engines because they squeeze more miles out of a gallon of fuel than gasoline engines. In some countries, like France, diesels account for almost 80% of all passenger cars on the road. But diesels have problems meeting the new lower emissions rules imposed by the European Union that take effect in 2020 and so are falling out of favor on the other side of the pond.
The one thing we can be sure of is that a Wrangler with a 3.0 liter diesel and an 8 speed tranny should have all the torque any four wheelin’ fan could ever wish for.