2020 Jeep Wrangler

By April 3, 2020

The 2020 Jeep Wrangler is more livable than ever, with undeniable charm and capability, but it’s still heavy on compromise for its main mission, going off-road. Recently redesigned, the new Wrangler is more comfortable on pavement than in older editions, with improvements to the suspension, sound deadening, and steering.

For 2020, the Wrangler gets thorough powertrain updates thanks to mild-hybrid and stop/start technology. Willys and Freedom Editions return with throwback and military-themed styling cues, and LED headlights are now available on the base Sport model.

A 3.6-liter V-6 comes standard, along with a 6-speed manual transmission and four-wheel drive. An 8-speed automatic is available.

A 2.0-liter turbo-4 that gets better fuel economy is also available, and later this year there will be a 3.0-liter turbodiesel V-6, an engine that’s already used in other Jeeps and Ram trucks.

Both the V-6 and turbo-4 get an automatic stop/start system, while Sahara models add a mild-hybrid powertrain on the two gas engines; the “eTorque” system uses batteries to help with low-speed acceleration and smoother stop/start operation.

The Wrangler comes in three flavors: bare-bones Sport, luxury Sahara, and off-road Rubicon. It’s the Rubicon that’s special, with beefier suspension components, bigger tires, a transfer case for low-range 4WD, locking differentials and disconnecting sway bars, and taller fender flares for even larger tires.

Two-door models with a manual transmission get 17 mpg city, 25 highway, 20 combined, while the four-door model with the same powertrain drops to 17/23/19 mpg. The 8-speed automatic raises the mileage by 1 mpg in the city and drops it by 2 mpg on the highway.

Turbo-4 Wranglers improve overall mileage slightly to 22/24/23 mpg for two-door models and 21/22/21 mpg for four-door models. Both come only with the automatic transmission.
The 2020 Jeep Wrangler has yet to be fully crash-tested, but the NHTSA gives the four-door model four stars for frontal crash tests and three stars for rollover protection.

Active safety equipment is optional on some Wranglers (not all of them), and standard on none of them. That equipment includes automatic emergency braking, adaptive cruise control, and blind-spot monitors.

Model Lineup

Two-door Wranglers come in Sport, Sport S, and Rubicon, while the four-door Wranglers are the Sahara and Unlimited.

For more than $30,000, the Wrangler Sport offers hand-crank windows, no air conditioning, and cloth seats, but USB charging ports and keyless ignition are standard.

The Sport S adds alloy wheels and power windows.

The four-door Sahara features nicer cloth seats and interior trim, the mid-tier infotainment system with 7.0-inch screen, a 115-volt power outlet in the center console, two rear USB ports, and more.

At more than $40,000 (and well into the $50,000 range with options), Rubicon models are for off-roaders, and feature an upgraded suspension and components such as locking differentials, a power winch, and disconnecting sway bars.

For 2020, the Willys and Freedom Edition models return with special graphics and options.

Exterior

The Wrangler has changed less since the 1940s than the classic upside-down-bathtub Porsche. Do we really need to describe a Jeep here?
Okay. The styling is sharper and more cohesive than ever. The basic model looks rugged (which it is) and inexpensive (which it’s not), with its steel wheels and fabric top. And you can now get a Jeep with LED headlights and taillights.

And the four-door Wrangler Unlimited is a relatively new thing: It’s a Jeep with four doors.

Interior

The style and quality of the interior is dramatically better than it was before the recent redesign. So is the fit and finish, as well as the sound insulation. However the Sport and Sport S models still have a lot of hard plastic, and their 5.0-inch touchscreen is way too small. The Sahara and Unlimited have neat trim, and their 7.0-inch or available 8.4-inch screens look better and have Apple CarPlay and Android Auto.

The dash is low, wide and straight, affording good visibility. The design of the center console is handsome.

The Wrangler might have a utilitarian character in regards to its driving dynamics, but that’s not so in the cabin. It lacks storage space for small things.

The front seats are finished in cloth or leather, and they’re not as cushy as other Jeep seats, but they’re supportive enough, with adjustable lumbar support. But we wouldn’t want to go on a long trip in the back seat. The four-door is more accessible for rear passengers.

There’s 32 cubic feet of cargo space behind the rear seat, and if you take off the roof the sky’s the limit. Dropping the second row on the four-door Unlimited turns up 72.4 cubic feet. If you need more than that, there’s always the Jeep Gladiator, a Wrangler with a pickup truck bed.

Driving Impressions

Most Wranglers come with the proven 3.6-liter V-6 and 8-speed automatic transmission, along with standard four-wheel drive. However the 6-speed manual is the standard transmission, and is usually preferred by off-road enthusiasts.

The engine’s 285 horsepower is plenty on the road, but it lacks the low-end torque that makes climbing easier, especially those steep short hills found off road, not to mention boulder-crawling.

The optional engine is a 2.0-liter turbo-4 that loses 15 horsepower off the top, but raises low-end power. However it’s not necessarily the off-road solution because it only comes with the automatic transmission.

The mild-hybrid eTorque system that improves the standard stop/start functionality and power delivery at low speeds is optional on the Sahara model, for both the V-6 and turbo-4.

Base models are plenty capable off-road with solid axles and a ladder frame, but the Rubicon takes it to the limit with its beefed-up suspension, locking differentials, disconnecting sway bars, and 33-inch tires. Since it’s a 2-door it has a shorter wheelbase, so it’s more nimble between the rocks and trees.

Final Word

The 2020 Jeep Wrangler is just adequate as a daily driver. We absolutely can recommend it as the best vehicle you can buy if off-roading is your sport, and you need a car to double for daily use.

 

—by Sam Moses with driving impressions by The Car Connection

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