Oh, the Jeep Wrangler, is everyone’s favorite off-road SUV. The Wrangler is in a league of its own popularity and function. Now, the Wrangler comes with a whole lot of bells and whistles you could choose from, and you can customize it all you want, but some things are meant to be left alone, and the choices become fewer and fewer.
Usually, swapping out a car’s engine entirely is a bold move, and you need to think a lot before making such a decision. With the Jeep Wrangler, many may not like the standard engine it comes out of the proverbial box with.
Best Jeep Wrangler Engine 2023
Thankfully, these days you can easily customize anything, including the Wrangler’s engine. There are many choices you could go for, such as; The 3.6L Pentastar V6 eTorque, the 2.0 Turbo eTorque, the 4.0L In-Line, and the 3.0L EcoDiesel.
Keep in mind that the options available for changing engines are for automatic Jeeps only, as the normal manual transmission will only give you the 3.6L Pentastar. We will be going over your options to help you choose the best one.
The 3.6L Pentastar
The 3.6L Pentastar V6 is one of, if not the top choice for most Jeep lovers. The engine screams horsepower, as it’s as powerful of an engine as you can get. The best part about this engine is that it can be used for both automatic and manual transmissions, while another version, the eTorque which is better for your battery and fuel. The Pentastar gives you 285 horsepower, making it ideal for all your trailblazing and off-roading needs.
As for torque, you’re looking at 260 lb-ft. The engine also comes with special valve technology that makes the torque curve and lower RPM far better. The one downside to the Pentastar is the less-than-stellar fuel economy, which is actually lower than the 2.0L engine, at 19 miles per gallon.
It’s not bad by any means, as the Wranglers aren’t really known for their ideal fuel economy. However, the eTorque model will give you slightly better numbers, with the highway going up to 21 miles per gallon.
The eTorque feature is truly a wonder since it gives you better acceleration at low torque, which is always a plus when you’re driving on rough terrains off-road. Speaking of off-roading, the 3.6L Pentastar is as smooth as butter going over some of the harshest debris with idle torque. Still, it really shines on the road, even in heavy traffic when you have to make lots of passes and turns.
This engine has been around for a long time, since 2012, which means it has had time to be tested for reliability and people are still buying it, so that’s always a good sign. Because it’s been around for so long, it’s compatible with several versions of the Wrangler, so you can install it with no problem.
Whether manual or automatic, two-door or four-door, the Pentastar has got your back (or front, since it’s added to the front of the car, anyway). In short, the Pentastar is a great choice if you’re looking to buy a powerful and reliable engine that’s tried and true.
The 3.0L EcoDiesel
Perhaps you care more about the environment than the average off-roads fan, so this engine is definitely right for you. The EcoDiesel has only made its way to shelves recently, but it’s definitely an upgrade in terms of fuel economy.
Even though the horsepower isn’t the highest, clocking in at 260, which is lower than a lot of engines out there, the torque is where it really shines. Still, it’s important to note that even though the horsepower is not the highest, it will still get the job done for off-roading.
As for that torque, we are looking at a staggering 442 lb-ft, which is way, way higher than most engines you could choose, and makes the acceleration a true superpower of the Wrangler. Compared to the 3.6L, the torque comes in at a whopping 70% increase. All of this is impressive, considering the heavyweight of the Diesel engine itself, but it’s still able to give you a smooth and comfortable ride.
As for the fuel economy, it’s also higher than the 3.6 and 2.0, coming in at 25 miles per gallon, which is very impressive for an off-roader and generally higher than your average Jeep miles per gallon. The EcoDiesel has only been around for a few years, so if you’ve got an older Jeep, you may be out of luck, but it can still fit several modern-day Jeeps with two or four doors.
The EcoDiesel’s forte lies in its off-roading capabilities since that’s why most Jeep owners will buy it in the first place. The engine definitely delivers in that regard, especially at a low RPM. It’s smooth, and even though the horsepower isn’t the highest, it will smoothly climb rocks and go over gravel.
More acceleration just means an easier time boosting through mud, sand, snow, or gravel. With its downsides being the slightly underpowered horsepower and whopping price, it’s still a very respectable engine that will get the job done no matter what you need it for, while still preserving the environment (To the best of its ability).
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The 2.0L Turbocharged
The 2.0L is the standard engine for Jeeps, so you’re getting that out of the box without the need to replace it. There is a reason this engine is so widely used. For automatic transmission, this is the no. 1 engine. For the horsepower, you’re looking at 270, which is higher than the EcoDiesel, but slightly lower than the 3.6L.
Still, it will get the job done on roads and off roads. What really makes a difference though is the torque, coming in at 295 lb-ft. It, too, has the eTorque feature. Most importantly, you won’t be feeling any turbo lag, as you will always get power as soon as you need it from the accelerator.
While the 2.0L is only compatible with automatic transmission, it still works with two-door or four-door Jeeps. As for fuel economy, it’s actually superior to the Pentastar in that regard, going up to 24 mpg on the highway. Of course, this changes a little bit between normal Wranglers and more off-roady-y versions, like the Rubicon.
In general, this engine is not mind-blowing in most aspects, but it doesn’t need to be. For a standard version of an engine, it does what it needs quite well, without the need to supercharge one aspect over another.
It’s not the best off-roading engine, but it still works very well on the terrains. It takes a little bit of getting used to it off roads, but it’s not a major setback in any way.
The 4.0L In Line
This engine is only on the list because it is CLASSIC. It’s the oldest model here, and it stayed with Jeep for a loooong time, about 30 years from 1986. So, it must have been a real champion.
Obviously, it’s nowhere near the power and perks of the newer models, but it was compatible with the two-door Jeeps (There were no standard four-door models).
Power-wise, it gave 190 horsepower, which doesn’t seem like much now, but it did the job for 30 years, eh? If you have got an old Wrangler and you don’t do much off-roading, it could still work for you fine.
The torque actually was not so bad, coming in at 220 lb-ft, but the real dealbreaker was the fuel economy, as it only gave you 15 miles per gallon. Driving Jeeps was expensive back in the day. Still, the 4.0L lasted A LONG time, and it was quite hassle-free.
You could drive your Jeep for hundreds of miles before it started to get into any really serious trouble. You know the saying they don’t make them like they used to? Well, that’s not entirely accurate, but they did make it quite durable and hardcore.
Can you still buy it? Well, if you have an old Wrangler, all you have to do is look under the hood and you’ll find it, but if you need one for the old model, make sure you find one in good condition and it would actually last you a good while.
Why Do People Change Engines?
You might be wondering why people swap out their engines in the first place since they had already made the conscious decision of buying their car with its specs. Well, changing the engine is pretty much like getting a brand-new car at a cheaper price, since the engine can completely change your driving experience. Here are a few reasons why people buy new engines:
- More POWER: Sometimes, you just want your car to push past its limit, and it’s understandable. Gearheads like to customize their cars, and if a car simply has too weak of an engine, then finding a more powerful one with better and faster acceleration and more horsepower is an understandable reason. This is quite popular with muscle cars like Camaro’s and Mustangs, especially classic ones.
- It’s Cost-Efficient: Say you want to change your car, but you don’t want to spend so much on the car itself, as well as insurance, taxes, license fees, and more.
- It’s A Classic: Classic car owners run into the hardships of finding engines and parts that were original to the model, which obviously makes sense. An old car might not have a running engine anymore, but that does not mean it shouldn’t be driven. For older models, owners will find replacement engines that fit them, if they can’t find the original one. A lot of the time, the engine will even be from an entirely different brand.
- Reliability: Even if the car is not classic, you want it to be running for as long as possible. Some people just really love their cars. For that reason, they can do constant engine swaps like placing a new heart inside their chest. Some cars, while beloved, simply did not offer great options out of the box, so you need to do some modifications to improve upon them and get them running for a long time.
When Should I Replace My Engine?
If you’re thinking about replacing your engine, then the damage might have already been done. You have two options: You can either wait until the engine dies out, but that could be a lot of hassle and repairs and calling for towing along the way, or you can set a certain mileage you will replace after the car hits.
Obviously, it would have to be a very high mileage in the over 200,000 miles range, since this is an entire engine, not a simple oil change. The latter would actually be more cost-efficient, even if you do it earlier than the first option since you will be saving up on repairs and parts.
What To Keep In Mind When Choosing An Engine For your Jeep Wrangler
Choosing an engine is like choosing a life partner, it will be with you for the long-term, and you have to be compatible with each other, I mean your car. When choosing a Wrangler, you need to keep the Wrangler-specific things in mind, before taking a choice.
- Horsepower: Obviously, with an off-road vehicle like the Wrangler, horsepower makes all the difference. The more horsepower, the faster the car is and the more powerful it is on rough terrains like rock and sand. Not only is horsepower important off roads, but on roads as well. For that reason, something like the 3.6L Pentastar would give you a lot of horsepowers.
- Fuel: The Jeep Wrangler guzzles enough fuel already, so you can’t afford (literally) to burn through any more unnecessarily. Some engines have quite low miles per gallon, and not only does this determine how much the car burns, but also how effectively the engine uses this fuel. So, if you don’t want to be constantly stopping and fueling up, you want something with a lot of MPG, like the 3.0L EcoDiesel. Also, keep in mind the quality of the fuel itself, as some engines are far better with higher fuel octanes like 91, like the 2.0L.
- Torque: Torque is basically the rotation force of an engine, and it’s a measure of its strength. The more torque you have, the more powerful your engine is. Cars and trucks usually produce from 100 to 400 lb-ft of torque, and the off-road vehicles will generally need more torque so they can carry out their off-roading endeavors. Between the previous four engines, the 3.0L EcoDiesel will definitely give you the most torque you could ask for.
- Price: Price is always a determining factor. Just because you’re looking for a good engine doesn’t mean you need to splurge a crazy amount of money on it. Engine replacement on a Wrangler can cost you anywhere between $1000-$10000. In that case, the 3.0L Diesel may not be the ideal option, since some people think assumed it’s not worth the very high price, which is much more expensive than the traditional 2.0 and even the Pentastar.
- Used vs New: The option of buying a used engine will definitely cut costs but at a risk. A used engine may have some troubles, but as long as you’ve got a warranty (Which is typically doing to be less than a new engine), you should be good. Just make sure you test it well and take it to the shop for inspection.
- Compatibility: Before rushing off to buy your new engine, you need to see if the car will even take it. Some engines don’t work on models like four-door Wranglers, and some will only work on newer cars like after 2018 or even 2020. Also, automatic or manual is a huge factor. Out of these four engines, the Pentastar is the only one that will actually run on a manual.
Frequently Asked Questions About The Jeep Wrangler
What’s The Maximum Mileage of A Wrangler?
A Jeep Wrangler will take you on very, very long adventures. Typically, you can go all the way up to 280,000 miles before encountering issues and having to do constant repairs and perhaps think about replacing the engine.
However, a good Wrangler could take you all the way to 400,000 miles, provided that you keep it in tip-top shape all those years.
Are Jeep Wranglers Fuel Efficient?
Jeep Wranglers have a bit of a bad reputation when it comes to fuel mileage since it’s a big off-road vehicle that typically consumes a lot more fuel than your average sedan.
Still, in a basic two-door Wrangler, you might get around 24 MPG on the highway and 22 in the city. The Wrangler’s MPG is a little bit inconsistent, but the engine does make a big difference, like the 3.0L EcoDiesel.
What Is The Ground Clearance of A Jeep Wrangler?
The ground clearance measures the car’s overall off-roading capability. The bigger the ground clearance, the easier the car will be on rough terrain.
Wranglers have different options at different ground clearances, but typically, it’s between 9.7 inches standard to 10.8 inches on the fancy Wranglers like the Rubicon.
What’s The Fuel Capacity of A Wrangler Tank?
Again, it differs slightly from model to model, but typically, you will get around 21 gallons (81.4 litres) of fuel in the tank. This is obviously a lot, but for long distances and off-roading, you need it.
What Is The Wrangler’s Towing Capacity?
The Wrangler can pull a lot of weight, but the models differ. A standard, two-door Wrangler can get you a good 2000 lbs of towing power. If you go for options like the four-door Unlimited or Rubicon, that number goes up in the 3000+ range.
Are Wranglers Heavy?
The Jeep Wranglers are big boys, weighing in between 2800-4200 pounds, depending on the model.
What Problems Do Jeep Wranglers Have?
Wranglers are very popular, but they’re not without their faults. The Jeep Wrangler has had some discourse around its reliability for a long time due to some issues.
First of all, the fuel economy is usually cited as a reason some people refuse to buy the Wrangler since they don’t want to be spending more money on fuel, especially if they do not plan on going off-roading anytime soon or they spent most of their time in the city on normal roads.
Another reason the Wrangler isn’t so popular to some is the on-road safety, with some not-so-great steering and general smoothness and comfort issues, since it needs to be driven slightly differently than your average car, which can take some getting used to.
Another major reason some don’t like the Wrangler is its comfort on the inside, but that’s because it was designed in such a way to be efficient and safe off roads, to the point where you can just open it and spray it down with a hose. The seats aren’t luxury and pillow-y, but you get what you’re aiming for.
As for noise, the car can get quite noisy because of its shell-like structure, so you’ll definitely be hearing some rocks and gravel hit the bottom. It’s not the most insulated car, so if you’re not a fan of road noise, you could reconsider.
The Wrangler has options and stories that date back decades, and the engines are just a small part of its versatility. Whether you’re buying brand new or looking to replace your engine, you need to find out exactly what you need and buy accordingly.
The choice is really between the 3.6L Pentastar, 3.0L EcoDiesel, and the 2.0L Turbocharged. All three engines will give you a lot of bang for your buck, just make sure they fit your model and budget and you will be driving that Wrangler for more and more years to come and taking up more and more parking spaces in the mall.
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