Tommy and Roman head into the mountains, but this time it’s not to put the Wrangler through its paces off-road like they did here. No, this time it’s to review a 2020 Jeep Wrangler JL Unlimited Rubicon‘s road manners. The goal: To see if FCA not only produced a monster off-roader straight from the factory, but also created a Wrangler that won’t beat you down after years of daily driving as a commuter, road-tripper, and errand boy.
Wrangler JL as Road Tripper: the Pros
As far as Wrangler’s go, this tricked out Unlimited has a lot going for it. Among the highlights:
– A turbo 3.0-liter EcoDiesel engine that pumps out a smooth purr and more than 400 ft-lbs. of torque and an EPA estimated hwy score of 29 mpg.
– A longer wheelbase in the Unlimited that makes the vehicle easier to handle at freeway speeds.
– The best heated steering wheel in the business. Heated front seats as well.
– For a soft-topper and a form factor that’s essentially a box, the interior is surprisingly quiet.
– Decent leg and headroom in the second row means this Unlimited works as a people mover.
– Adaptive cruise control and automatic emergency braking.
– The UConnect infotainment touchscreen system is feature packed with apps and road-trip helpers.
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Oh Come On! This Jeep’s Made for Dirt.
But let’s get real here, we’re talking about Jeep’s Rubicon model here. It’s purpose built to do one thing exceptionally well. That’s to crawl over boulders, through mud, and go where very few factory off-roaders dare. And to do that, the Wrangler comes with some features that make it decidedly NOT an on-road cruiser. Namely,
– Solid axles. Great for articulation. Not great for a smooth ride compared to independent suspension.
– Locking rear and front differentials, disconnecting front sway bar
– 4-wheel low transfer case
– Gobs of ground clearance
– Off-road tires deliver a rough ride.
– A tight driver’s cockpit. The JL’s an improvement over Wranglers past, but it still puts function over comfort.
– A steering wheel that has no feel for the road. This feels great when you don’t want the wheel ripped out of your hands by rock or root in a jeep track. At 80 mph on the interstate? Not so much.
Choose Your Wrangler JL
Here’s how we rank the three engines offered in the JL in terms of on-road performance:
1. Diesel – By far the best. Turns the JL into an all-day interstate cruiser.
2. Pentastar V6 – FCA’s old reliable 3.6-liter. It does the job.
3. Turbo 4-cyl – It’s high-strung for a 2-liter as most small turbo’s are, and being new, we’re not sure about its long-term performance and reliability.
In the end, here’s what we absolutely know about the on-road worthiness of the Jeep Wrangler JL Unlimited: It’s the best daily-driver Wrangler yet. We applaud FCA for giving road manners and capability some thought in this iteration of an automotive icon.
Let us know what aspects of this Jeep you think make it a road-tripper—or not—in the comments below. Then click on the video below to get Roman and Tommy’s full report.