Engine: 3-liter turbo diesel
Transmission: 8-speed automatic
Torque: 442 lb.-ft.
EPA ratings: 22/city, 29/highway, 25/combined
Base price: $42,125
As tested: $63,715
Overview: We’ve always enjoyed the Jeep Wrangler but never viewed it as a daily driver. However, the recently redesigned 2020 Wrangler is more comfortable than before and could fill that daily driver role as well as its main mission — off-roading. The new Wrangler is more comfortable and quieter on blacktop than older models, thanks to suspension and steering improvements, as well as sound deadening. Our test driver was the four-door Unlimited Rubicon edition with the 3-liter diesel powerplant and this review will focus exclusively on that vehicle.
Walkaround: Jeep’s basic styling hasn’t changed much since the 1940s. It’s somewhat more rounded on the edges and has evolved to include four doors, which are still removable. And it still looks rugged (which it is) and inexpensive (which it isn’t). It does include modern amenities like LED headlights, taillights, power everything — including a sunroof — and all of today’s technology. Active safety equipment, including automatic emergency braking, adaptive cruise control and blind-spot monitoring, is available on some — but not all — Wranglers and isn’t standard on any of them.
Interior: The style, fit, finish and quality of the interior are dramatically better than previous versions. So is the sound insulation. The leather-trimmed front seats aren’t as cushy as some other Jeeps but they’re comfortable enough, with an adjustable lumbar support. Rear-seat legroom is somewhat cramped but not too bad. The low-positioned dash is straight and wide, offering good visibility. The design of the center console is stylish and there’s an 8.4-inch infotainment touchscreen with Apple CarPlay and Android Auto, as well as a 4G Wi-Fi hot spot and satellite radio. There’s a lack of storage space for small items but overall, the cabin is more comfortable than we expected. There’s 32 cubic feet of cargo space behind the rear seat and 72.4 with the second row folded.
Behind the wheel: While most Wranglers come with the proven 3.6-liter V-6 and eight-speed automatic, along with standard four-wheel drive, the six-speed stick is usually preferred by serious off-roaders. However, we found the 3-liter V-6 with the eight-speed automatic handled the steep hills we tried it on without much effort. Admittedly, we didn’t do any rock crawling or really challenge the four-wheel-drive system to anywhere near its capability. But the Rubicon’s beefed-up suspension, hill-descent control and 17-inch wheels do display a solid clue to its off-road bona-fides. On the highway, it was reasonably quiet — even for a diesel — and quite pleasant overall.
Bottom line: A loaded 2020 Jeep Wrangler like our test driver is a little spendy but surprisingly comfortable — and quite suitable as a daily driver. Based on previous Jeep off-road experiences, we can unconditionally recommend it as one of the best vehicles to buy if off-roading is your thing.