The 2020 Jeep Wrangler continues to offer everything that anyone ever wanted in a Wrangler, but in the most refined package ever. It's still a capable, truck-like vehicle with solid axles and a body-on-frame design, and the various removable tops stick around for those who prefer their off-roading with or without sun. You can even still even take off the doors and fold down the windshield. But the latest JL generation, available as a two-door or the four-door Wrangler Unlimited, rides and handles better than any version before it. It definitely offers the best-looking and most functional interior yet applied to the go-anywhere Jeep.
However, the JL also offers more variety than every before. Beyond the two body styles, there are now three engines (including the new EcoDiesel), five roof designs (including the new Sky one-touch power roof) and a dozen trim levels/special editions. Heck, there's even the new Gladiator — it may be a separate model but it's basically just a Wrangler truck.
Regardless of the variation being considered, the Wrangler is a truly one-of-a-kind vehicle with an appeal not matched by any other SUV. We certainly wouldn't recommend it as a commuter car, and you'd be happier on a road trip in something like a Jeep Grand Cherokee or Toyota 4Runner, but the 2020 Wrangler is so easy to fall in love with (and now so much easier to live with) that it's impossible not to recommend.
What's new for 2020?
This year brings a number of powertrain updates. The major one is the addition of the turbocharged 3.0-liter EcoDiesel V6, which makes 260 horsepower and 442 pound-feet of torque. It will only be available on the four-door Wrangler Unlimited with an eight-speed automatic transmission. On Sport and Rubicon trims, all engines now get standard start/stop functionality, and the gas V6 joins the turbo-four engine in getting the eTorque mild-hybrid system on automatic-equipped Sahara models.
There are some minor trim and option updates for 2020, but the most notable are the three new special edition models. The Willys Edition features a rear limited-slip differential, rock rails and 32-inch mud-terrain tires. The Freedom Edition adds military-themed accents. The Black & Tan Edition adds black badging and a tan top, and includes the interior you see below.
What's the interior and in-car technology like?
The 2020 Jeep Wrangler has a stylized interior to match the exterior looks. There's no mistaking it for any other vehicle when you're inside. The exterior paint bleeds through onto the pillars and other parts of the interior. A tall, upright seating position provides a commanding view over the relatively short, narrow hood. You sit close to the windows and windshield that now has a steeper rake to it with the redesign. All the controls are easily within reach.
The base Wrangler comes with a basic 5-inch touchscreen for barebones audio/car controls, but the optional 7- or 8.4-inch touchscreens are highly recommended for their added feature content and user-friendly functionality. There's a similar disparity in materials depending on how you option it. A Sahara or Rubicon with all the leather boxes checked can start to feel half luxurious inside, while a base Sport is a plastic and rubber paradise. Regardless of trim, though, the Wrangler's interior is a very different place to be than most cars for sale today (and a great improvement over its predecessors).
There are multiple roof designs available, but all allow the Wrangler to be a convertible, albeit with varying degrees of difficulty. There are two "Sunrider" soft-tops that differ in material (the standard is vinyl and the Premium is a thicker canvas-like material) but offer the same improved functionality over the previous-generation Wrangler. They're still very noisy, have plastic windows and allow one to easily break inside. The optional "Freedom Top," available with black or body-colored pieces, corrects those issues. It provides a pair of removable panels over the front seats, but they have to be stored someplace. You can also remove the rear-quarter window panels, as you can with the Sunrider, for a freer-flowing cabin while keeping the roof in place to prevent sunburns. If you're OK with the sun, though, there's another option and it may be the best of both worlds. The Sky One-Touch Power Roof is basically a giant cloth sunroof that provides the quickest and easiest way to let the air and sunshine in. Check out our full review with video of it here.
Finally, Jeep lets you do some things other manufacturers don't with the Wrangler. The big one is that the doors (two or four) can be taken off. Then, if you particularly enjoy the taste of bugs, the windshield can be laid flat on the hood. Remove the roof and you're basically left with a Jeep skeleton. Features like these are just the beginning of why the Wrangler is so well loved by its fanbase.
How big is it?
Interior space for the 2020 Wrangler is respectable, especially if you opt for the four-door. Rear legroom is compromised in the two-door at just 35.7 inches, but it's only slightly worse than the 38.3 inches offered in the four-door. The big annoyance is getting in and out of the two-door's rear seats — lifting the suspension (as owners often do) makes it even worse. Once you're back there, things are comfortable enough for short trips. However, the upright seating could become problematic for longer ones. Taller drivers may also find that the front seat doesn't move back far enough, and some may balk at there being no power-operated driver seat available in a vehicle that tops $40,000.
Cargo space for the two-door is a meager 12.9 cu-ft with the seats up and 46.9 cu-ft with them folded down. The larger four-door has 31.7 cu-ft of space with the seats up and 72.4 cu-ft when folded down, which is comparable to many two-row mid-size crossovers. As we discovered in our Wrangler luggage test, the boxy design enhances versatility, but it's also an unusually shaped area with door latches and roof pillars taking up space.
Ease of loading depends on your choice of roof (soft top or hardtop). The hardtop opens up the swing door and glass area easily, while the soft top makes loading some items a pain because you'll have to remove part of the soft top to access the whole loading area. It's also possible for fine dust and sand to make their way through the soft top's seals.
What's the performance and fuel economy?
The 2020 Jeep Wrangler comes standard with a 3.6-liter V6 producing 285 horsepower and 260 pound-feet of torque. It can be paired to either a six-speed manual or an eight-speed automatic transmission. The V6 comes standard with automatic stop/start functionality on Sport and Rubicon models, as well as manual-transmission Sahara models. With an automatic, the V6 Sahara now gets eTorque mild-hybrid assistance. This adds a starter/generator motor that allows the engine to shut off just before coming to a complete stop, as well as providing a bit of power when accelerating from a stop. This system was already standard on the Wrangler's turbocharged four-cylinder engine. The diesel engine makes do simply with automatic stop/start.
Fuel economy for the manual two-door is rated at 17 mpg city, 25 mpg highway and 20 mpg combined while the four-door gets lower highway and combined fuel economy at 23 mpg and 19 mpg respectively. The automatic two-door is rated 18/23/19 mpg and the automatic four-door is rated at 19/22/20 mpg with eTorque and 18/22/20 mpg just with start/stop.
Optional is a 2.0-liter turbocharged four-cylinder with eTorque included. It produces 270 hp and 295 lb-ft of torque, and is only paired with the eight-speed auto. Fuel mileage gains are primarily in town with the two-door model returning 22/24/23 mpg and the four-door with 21/22/21 mpg in either start/stop or eTorque configurations. You'll need to run premium fuel to realize those gains, though.
A 3.0-liter diesel V6 that produces 260 horsepower and 442 pound-feet of torque has been added and it comes exclusively with the eight-speed automatic. EPA-estimated fuel economy is 22/29/25, but like all diesels, your fuel savings will largely depend on the cost of diesel in your area.
What's it like to drive?
On-road, the Wrangler remains a bit of a bear to handle. The steering is slow and crosswinds cause it stray from its lane on the highway. Bumps and road imperfections are felt throughout your body, and the wind noise is quite tragic at higher speeds with the soft top. The hardtop isn't exactly serene, either, and in general you'll find a Jeep Grand Cherokee or Toyota 4Runner to be more comfortable and refined. On the other hand, the JL Wrangler is improved in all those areas compared to its predecessors, especially its steering, which is not only far sharper and reassuring than the vaguely spooky Wranglers of the past, but actually better than the 4Runner's. This Jeep is definitely better than previous Wranglers for daily driving duty, but we still wouldn't recommend that someone purchase one for that sole purpose.
Acceleration is perfectly adequate from the base V6 engines, and there's very little hunting and pecking as the automatic gearbox picks the proper ratio. The six-speed manual is fine, with a reasonable clutch pedal that's not too hard or long to make using it a pain. Far from it. There's just enough power to spin the rear tires from a standing start with the V6, but know that the much heavier four-door model will be considerably slower than the two-door Wrangler. As for the turbocharged four-cylinder, it may enjoy a fuel economy advantage, but it actually feels quicker than the V6 as well. The thrust still won't blow you away, but the turbo does represent a performance upgrade. The diesel engine provides the slowest acceleration of the three powertrains and it's laggy, but oh boy, its abundant torque makes it feel like you're packing a monster under the hood. It unfortunately sounds a bit like a monster too even if it's smooth and refined for a diesel.
Off-road is where the Wrangler truly comes alive. The fully boxed ladder frame and five-link coil suspension setup with Dana solid axles that collectively cause so many problems on pavement show their worth when you venture off it. The Wrangler also benefits from standard skid plates, an approach angle of 44 degrees, breakover angle of 27.8 degrees, departure angle of 37 degrees, and ground clearance of 10.9 inches that make it a veritable mountain goat.
Of course, four-wheel drive is standard, and the Wrangler offers a choice of three different transfer case options. The Rubicon has the most intense gear with the Rock-Trac system. This gets you a 4:1 low gear ratio and allows for a 84.2:1 crawl ratio with the manual, or a 77.2:1 with the automatic. The Sport and Sahara get the old Command-Trac system, netting a 2.72:1 low range that allows for a rock-crawling low gear of 48.18:1 with the manual transmission, or 44.2:1 with the automatic.
All this becomes extra fun when you remove the roof, doors and set down the windshield when off-roading. No other off-roader (besides the Wrangler's Gladiator truck brother) will allow you to get that close to the elements, which is a serious plus when driving the Wrangler.
What more can I read about the Jeep Wrangler?
Climb under the Wrangler Rubicon with engineer Dan Edmunds to see how the JL does what it does.
We test the new best-of-both-worlds Sky roof option. Though pricey, it's better than both the Sunrider soft top and Freedom hard tops.
- 2020 Jeep Wrangler Sky One-Touch Power Top 4
We see how many bags you can fit behind the four-door Wrangler's back seat.
We try out the long-awaited diesel-powered Wrangler. It's not quick, but it's refined and should deliver impressive fuel economy.
- 2020 Jeep® Wrangler Rubicon EcoDiesel
Our editors take turns in the four-door Wrangler Unlimited, and specifically a loaded Sahara model. We comment about its price (it sure is high), its interior (quite the upgrade) and its performance as a daily driver on-road (it isn't very good at it).
- Image Credit: © 2017 FCA US LLC
Our first impressions of the current-generation Jeep Wrangler when it was introduced for 2018. We include details about its design and engineering, plus an in-depth look at how it changed from the previous generation.
- Image Credit: Jeep
What features are available and what's the price?
The base Wrangler Sport has a starting price of $29,790. Standard equipment on that model is thin. You get 17-inch steel wheels, a soft top, cloth seats, a 5-inch touchscreen, manual door locks and manual windows. Air conditioning is an option on this trim. Of course, you can add much more that that in the form of options and accessories as broad as stickers to tube doors. Certain trims have exclusive features that are appealing. The Wrangler Sahara's full-time automatic four-wheel drive mode that is handy for inclement weather conditions. The Wrangler Rubicon comes with a slew of off-road upgrades including locking differentials, skid plates, 33-inch tires and electronic disconnecting sway bars. For those interested in the diesel, the base price starts at $39,290. The full run down of base prices for each trim is below.
- Sport: $29,790
- Sport S: $32,990
- Black and Tan: $34,685
- Willys: $35,485
- Freedom: $35,685
- Rubicon: $39,790
- Sport: $33,290
- Sport S: $36,490
- Black and Tan: $38,185
- Sport Altitude: $38,185
- Willys: $38,985
- Freedom: $39,185
- Sahara: $40,140
- Rubicon: $43,290
For information on these options plus other trim levels and configurations, you can check out the breakdown of features, specs and local pricing here at Autoblog.
What are its safety equipment and crash ratings?
At the time of this writing, the Jeep Wrangler had not been fully rated by the NHTSA or IIHS for crash safety.
There isn't much to speak of when it comes to active safety tech for the Wrangler, but adaptive cruise control and forward collision warning with automatic braking are at least available on the automatic-equipped Sahara or Rubicon. Blind-spot warning and rear cross-traffic alert are also available as an option.