There’s a lot to love about driving the Jeep Wrangler. There’s no doubt as to why Wrangler wins over the Jeep faithful again every time there’s a new generation.
Americans used to be obsessed with engine size. For whatever reason, the bigger the engine, the louder the exhaust, and the larger the number on the badge, the better it was perceived to be.
When it comes to the rough-and-tumble Jeep Wrangler, a legendary off-roader descended from World War II’s hero, what happens when the engine shrinks by two cylinders and 1.6 liters of displacement? Moreover, what happens when a mild-hybrid electrical system assists that smaller engine to improve fuel economy?
To find out, I drove two Wranglers. First up was a 2019 Unlimited (that’s Jeep-speak for four door) Sport S with the 4-cylinder eTorque option, followed by one that Jeep lent me for testing purposes: a 2020 Wrangler Unlimited Sahara with the new-for-2020 6-cylinder eTorque variant.
The short answer? The fine folks at Jeep get to create a new name (eTorque), you get better gas mileage and, aside from occasional turbo whistle and some cooling fan racket, nobody will know you’re not rocking the standard 3.6-liter V6.
Jeep offers this turbocharged and electrified 2.0-liter 4-cylinder engine on select trim levels, including Rubicon Recon, North Edition, Sahara and Sahara Altitude. For those who still want the extra cylinder count, an eTorque version of the V6 is new for 2020, though it’s available only on the two Sahara trims.
On a basic level, the eTorque option equips the Wrangler with a motor-generator unit and a 48-volt electrical system to supplement the traditional 12-volt battery and mechanical starter. The motor-generator provides low-end acceleration assistance, powers the automatic engine stop/start system throughout your journey, and generates electricity to recharge the eTorque system’s lithium-ion battery.
Translation: In combination with the more efficient 4-cylinder engine and the turbocharger, the end result is more power and better fuel economy than the standard V6 engine provides. That’s because the engine doesn’t need to work as hard to get the Wrangler moving, the automatic stop/start system remains engaged for longer periods of time, and the turbocharger boosts torque to 295 lb-ft, 35 lb-ft more than the standard V6.