2020 Jeep Wrangler

2020 Jeep Wrangler Review: Boulder-Bashing Brawler

by Adam Lynton

Timeless is a word that is thrown around too much these days, but there's probably no SUV in the world that owns an aged design quite like the Wrangler does. Available in bare-bones form or with many of the regular creature comforts found in normal vehicles, the Wrangler's core principle is still its go anywhere, do anything ability. A 3.6-liter V6 engine with a six-speed manual is standard, sending 285 horsepower and 260 lb-ft of torque to all four wheels, although you can option an eight-speed auto too. Alternatively, you can have a torquier 2.0-liter turbo four-pot that is only available with the automatic gearbox and puts out 270 hp and 295 lb-ft. Finally, a new 3.0-liter V6 diesel is available with 260 hp and 442 lb-ft, but only on the Wrangler Unlimited four-door model, which we review separately. Customization options are almost endless, and its numerous configurations and off-road prowess have made the Wrangler an icon. However, rivals like the Toyota 4Runner offer much better on-road manners and interior niceties, making the 2020 Jeep Wrangler look outdated in many respects.

2020 Jeep Wrangler Changes: What’s the difference vs 2019 Wrangler?

Three new trim packages based on the preexisting Sport S trim have been added for 2020: Willys Edition, Black & Tan Edition, and Freedom Edition - because 'Merica. Wrangler fans have been clamoring for a diesel engine, and Jeep has obliged with a new 3.0-liter V6 EcoDiesel engine option. Unfortunately, the diesel is only available with the four-door Wrangler Unlimited, reviewed separately. Luckily, the special editions are available in either body style and offer various unique additions to the Wrangler.

Pros and Cons

  • Massive off-road ability and durability
  • Classic styling
  • Numerous options available through Jeep and the aftermarket
  • Removable doors and roof never get boring
  • Decent fuel economy
  • Sub-par road manners
  • Deplorable safety and reliability ratings
  • Minimal driver aids, all of which are optional

Wrangler Exterior

Instantly recognizable, the boxy shape of the Wrangler looks all the more retro when the roof and doors are removed. A soft-top is standard, with a hardtop optional across the range. 17-inch steel wheels are fitted to the base model, with alloys and various tire sizes available depending on the trim. Massive 32-inch tires are the biggest available for ultimate off-road ability. Side-steps are also available for easier access. Fog lights are standard on all models, with LED lighting optional.

2020 Jeep Wrangler Front Angle View Jeep
2020 Jeep Wrangler Front Angle View 1 Jeep
2020 Jeep Wrangler Front View Driving Jeep
See All 2020 Jeep Wrangler Exterior Photos

Dimensions

The Wrangler's short wheelbase of 96.8 inches lends itself to rock-climbing and extreme off-road duties brilliantly, and with an overall length of 166.8 inches from the front bumper to rear spare tire, the compact Jeep is easily maneuverable. Width and height measure 73.8 and 73.6 inches respectively, contributing to the condensed appearance. Ground clearance on most models is 9.7 inches and 10.8 on the more off-road focused Rubicon. Standard approach, breakover, and departure angles measure 41.4, 25, and 35.9 degrees respectively with the Rubicon increasing those figures to 44, 27.8, and 37 degrees. Curb weights vary depending on engine and transmission choice and model, starting at 3,948 lbs in the base 2.0-liter Sport. The 3.6-liter variants start at a base weight of 3,919 lbs, adding 29 lbs with the manual gearbox. 4,222 lbs is the mass of the lardiest Wrangler Rubicon.

Exterior Colors

The Wrangler is not short of color choices, being available in 11 different colors across all the trims. The exception is the Freedom, which is only available with ten paint options, leaving Mojito! Green to the other trim levels. Black, Sting-Gray, Hellayella, Firecracker Red, Mojito!, and Bright White are no-cost options, while Granite Crystal, Billet Silver, Ocean Blue, and Punk'n are metallic options that cost $195 each. You can also have Bikini Pearl-coat for the same fee. The soft-top roof comes standard in black but can be swapped for a tan shade for $795, a black hardtop for $1,195 or a body-color hardtop for $2,195.

  • Bikini Pearlcoat
  • Billet Silver Metallic Clearcoat
  • Granite Crystal Metallic Clearcoat
  • Ocean Blue Metallic Clearcoat
  • Punkn Metallic Clearcoat
  • Mojito! Clearcoat, Build Out:09/24/2019
  • Black Clearcoat
  • Bright White Clearcoat
  • Firecracker Red Clearcoat
  • Hellayella Clearcoat
  • Sting-Gray Clearcoat
  • Mojito! Clearcoat, Build Out: 09/24/4/19

Wrangler Performance

The Wrangler's two engines are impressive powerplants, with the standard 3.6-liter Pentastar V6 producing a respectable 285 hp and 260 lb-ft, which it sends to all four corners via a semi-permanent all-wheel-drive system controlled by an additional lever next to the one used to select gears. While we're on the subject, a six-speed manual is standard fare with an eight-speed automatic available as a $2,750 option. If you go for the 2.0-liter turbocharged four-pot, you lose the manual option but gain more twist, with this mill developing 270 hp and 295 lb-ft of torque. Neither engine choice is going to whip your neck back, but both are suitable for town driving and cruising on the freeway, albeit without too much enthusiasm. On the trail is where the Wrangler belongs, and its various gearing options and the manner in which power is delivered to the axles make it obvious that this SUV prefers hard crawls more than freeway overtakes. However, some real-world tests have shown that the Wrangler can manage a 0-60 mph time anywhere between six and seven seconds, depending on the engine and transmission. The Rubicon model is the most capable off-road, but this adds mass, making it the slowest trim option in the range. Maximum towing capacity on these two-door modes is 2,000 lbs regardless of trim, while the Unlimited four-door models can manage 3,500 - something to consider if you intend lugging a boat behind you during your period of ownership.

2020 Jeep Wrangler Front View Driving 1 Jeep
2020 Jeep Wrangler Side View Driving Jeep
2020 Jeep Wrangler Engine Jeep

Engine and Transmission

The Wrangler comes standard with a 285-hp 3.6-liter V6 that puts out 260 lb-ft of torque. This is mated to a six-speed manual with an eight-speed automatic available as an option. This engine has done duty in the Wrangler for some time now, and has proven to be a solid choice for daily use and abuse if a little lackluster when acceleration is required. A more modern alternative to the high-displacement V6 is a 2.0-liter turbo-four that makes 270 hp, 15 hp less than the 3.6, but 35 lb-ft more torque, at 295. Both engines perform well off-road, offering enough torque to scramble over some truly daunting obstacles that can seem insurmountable, and if you have the auto, you won't find yourself getting frustrated with the gear choices. On-road, the shifts are smooth and well-timed, which is a welcome bonus in a car that is otherwise uninspiring if not downright unrefined when it's not clambering over boulders or wading through muddied waters. The engines and gearboxes are what customers care about most, and many have begged for diesel to be added to the lineup. FCA has finally come through with what its customers want, but unfortunately, only four-door Wrangler Unlimited models have access to the impressive new engine. For now, gas is your only option.

  • Engines
    2.0-liter Turbo Inline-4 Gas, 3.6-liter V6 Gas
  • Transmissions
    6-Speed Manual, 8-Speed Automatic
  • Drivetrain
    4X4

Handling and Driving Impressions

Sticking with body-on-frame construction is one of the unwritten rules if you want your 4x4 to be successful off-road, and the Wrangler remains true to tradition with its ladder frame and solid-axle suspension. For truly treacherous terrain where a high level of wheel articulation is necessary, the Rubicon model has an electronically disconnecting front stabilizer bar. In addition, its off-road chops are further bolstered by lockable diffs, shorter axle gearing, and rock rails and skid plates to prevent damage to the underbody. The new Willys Edition trim also borrows heavily from the most competent off-roader in the lineup, making use of the Rubicon's rock rails, shocks, heavy-duty brakes, 32-inch mud tires, and rear limited-slip diff. That said, even in base Sport format, the Wrangler is a wily old fighter that knows how to handle a rocky trail. However, where the Wrangler is almost unbeatable off-road, almost every SUV ever made will be better-mannered on it. The brake pedal has incredibly long travel - which works well off-road - but makes normal driving a chore. The old-school chassis also means that turns, bumps, and undulations make occupants feel more like they're in a small skiff on choppy water rather than in an SUV from the 21st century. The tires also do a great job of drowning out any conversation you and your passengers may try to make with each other. If your daily drive consists of regular asphalt more than traversing the Rockies, we'd suggest having another vehicle for trips to the shops and reserve the Wrangler for weekends on the trail.

Wrangler Gas Mileage

Starting with the standard 3.6-liter V6 and six-speed manual configuration, the Wrangler returns 17/25/20 mpg on the EPA's city/highway/combined cycles. Opting for the eight-speed auto sees figures of 18/23/20 mpg on the same cycles, making for an estimated range of around 350 miles between fill-ups. The 2.0-liter turbo engine, only available with the auto, is unsurprisingly more economical, with figures of 22/24/23 mpg and a total range of around 402.5 miles from the same 17.5-gallon gas tank. By comparison, the 4.0-liter V6 Toyota 4Runner only managed figures of 16/19/17 mpg on the EPA's test cycles, but with a bigger 23-gallon gas tank gets a similar range of around 392 miles.

  • Fuel Tank Capacity
    17.5 Gallons
  • Fuel Economy
    City/Hwy: 17/25 mpg
* 2020 Jeep Wrangler Black and Tan 4x4

Wrangler Interior

The Wrangler's interior is a far cry from the spartan cabin originally associated with the legendary Willys from which all Wranglers are figuratively descended, offering an impressive array of modern options and a quality feel that can match the ambiance of many rivals. The design is slightly retro, with angular lines and boxy shapes aplenty, but not excessively so. Three different sizes of infotainment screens are available, and you can have heated front seats and a heated steering wheel. Manual window winders and door locks are features of the base model, but varying levels of enhanced convenience can be had with various packages, some of which even offer remote start. Space is neither terrible nor great, and the materials feel good, but larger individuals may find the seats too confining for extended use.

2020 Jeep Wrangler Interior Overview Jeep
2020 Jeep Wrangler Infotainment System Jeep
2020 Jeep Wrangler Interior Overview 1 Jeep
See All 2020 Jeep Wrangler Interior Photos

Seating and Interior Space

Technically, you can fit five people at a squeeze, but the Wrangler is meant for four. Even so, the rear occupants will find clambering in and out of the cabin to be an exercise in unconsenting contortionism, and once butts are planted in the seats, their legs will be quite confined. In the front, it's a different story, with ample headroom and legroom for even the average six-footer, and the seats, although fairly upright, are comfortable if a little narrow for bigger body types. Visibility all-round is outstanding thanks to the angular windows and thin pillars, and with the roof or doors off, that gets even better. The added advantage is also easier access to the cabin, but either way, many will prefer the optional side-steps and will need to make use of the grab handles.

  • Seating capacity
    4-seater

Interior Colors and Materials

Fabric upholstery is standard throughout the range, which you can have in either black or tan, or a combination of both in the Black and Tan Edition. A leather-trimmed steering wheel is standard on all but the base Sport model, but for a more upmarket feel, black leather upholstery can be specced on higher trims. The fascia is generally a dull gray plastic, but in the Rubicon, which is the only model with access to brown leather and contrast stitching, you can have a body-colored fascia - so long as your body color is red. Plastics of varying tactility and type are a recurring theme on the interior, and a ring of red around the gear-lever and diff-lock switch are a nice accent - but again, only if the rest of the vehicle is red. Other colors make these red accents stick out like a sore thumb with no other visual cues to tie them in. The Black and Tan model gets a gloss black fascia which is unique to the model.

Wrangler Trunk and Cargo Space

The Wrangler's side-opening door and removable roof make loading easy, but if you're traveling with friends, get them to pack light. 12.9 cubic feet of volume is meager for the SUV class as a whole, but impressive when you consider that compact SUVs don't often match the Wrangler's maximum capacity of 31.7 cubes with the seats folded. Bear in mind, however, that the seats don't fold flat. With them up, you can fit a pair of full-size suitcases or your week's groceries fairly comfortably. There's also an underfloor compartment for sundries. To prevent movement of your Cheerios and milk, the Wrangler has six tie-down points.

In the cabin, small-item storage is virtually non-existent, with the doors featuring shallow, gaping nets instead of proper pockets. You do get a pair of cupholders and a bin in the center armrest, as well as a small glovebox, but there's nowhere to conveniently stow your phone.

2020 Jeep Wrangler Trunk Space Jeep
2020 Jeep Wrangler Open Top Jeep
2020 Jeep Wrangler Open Top 1 Jeep

Wrangler Infotainment and Features

Features

The Wrangler is lacking in terms of some of the more modern conveniences and features that are available on other SUVs. However, you do get push-button start, cruise control, a fold-down windshield, and removable doors and roof as standard. Power locks and windows, auto lights, and heated power mirrors are available, as is a seven-inch driver info display and either regular air-conditioning or dual-zone climate control. Lockable differentials, a front electronically disconnecting stabilizer bar, remote start (with auto gearboxes only), heated seats, a heated steering wheel, and keyless entry are optional too. Available safety equipment includes blind-spot monitoring with rear cross-traffic alert, park sensors, adaptive cruise control, and forward-collision warning.

Infotainment

The Wrangler is equipped with a choice of three different infotainment screens, all of which have SiriusXM satellite radio as an option with the exception of the Black and Tan Edition which gets it as standard. The base model's Uconnect 3 five-inch touchscreen is Bluetooth compatible and features USB connectivity and eight speakers, but not much else. The Uconnect 4 available in higher trims features a seven-inch touchscreen and is Apple CarPlay and Android Auto compatible. This system is standard in the Rubicon model, which is the only one with access to the top-tier Uconnect 4C. This infotainment system features an 8.4-inch touch display, 4G LTE WiFi, HD Radio, navigation, and the smartphone connectivity and satellite radio apps in one bundle. The optional nine-speaker Alpine sound system is included with Uconnect 4C too. Whichever you choose, they all respond to inputs well and are easy to navigate.

Wrangler Problems and Reliability

The 2020 Jeep Wrangler has not yet been subject to any recalls. However, J.D. Power has given it a quality & reliability score of 65 out of 100, which is average to say the least. Predicted reliability is a concern on these vehicles, as past owners have detailed numerous complaints over the years. Jeep offers a limited warranty of three years or 36,000 miles, with the powertrain covered for five years/60,000 miles. Two years of complimentary scheduled maintenance are included, which offers two free oil changes and tire rotations per year.

Wrangler Safety

Neither the NHTSA nor IIHS have yet conducted crash tests on the 2020 Jeep Wrangler, but the 2017 model was tested by the IIHS. Unfortunately, it did not perform well, scoring an overall evaluation of Marginal, which is one level above the worst rating the IIHS provides.

Key Safety Features

Compared to other SUVs, the Jeep Wrangler is effectively a coffin on wheels. With poor safety ratings and minimal standard equipment, it's best to keep this thing between the lines at all times. Hill-start assist, a rearview camera, electronic roll mitigation, and dual front and seat side airbags are standard. Blind-spot monitoring with rear-cross traffic alert and rear parking sensors are optional on all but the base model, and hill-descent control is available on automatic variants. Adaptive cruise control and forward-collision warning are also optional. We strongly suggest ticking all these boxes if you are buying a Wrangler.

Verdict: Is the 2020 Jeep Wrangler a good SUV?

If you're an off-road enthusiast who intends to use the Wrangler's trail-running abilities regularly, you'll be hard-pressed to find anything that performs as brilliantly as the Wrangler. Many buyers over the years have since made Wrangler ownership something of a lifestyle statement, but Jeep has stuck to the vehicle's core purpose and made it almost exclusively focused on going off the beaten path. While this is all fine and dandy, it makes for a terrible SUV in terms of real-world practicality and comfort. The tires and aerodynamically-challenged shape of the Wrangler provide a cacophony of intrusive noises, particularly if you don't opt for the pricey hardtop. The rear is cramped, the cargo area is not particularly outstanding unless you compare it to that of SUVs in a lower price bracket, and comfort and convenience features are minimal in standard form. If all you're gonna do with the Wrangler is climb boulders and fight your way up rock faces, the Wrangler is undeniably phenomenal. For everyone else, it's an antiquated deathtrap that will be extremely hard to live with every day.

What's the Price of the 2020 Jeep Wrangler?

The Jeep Wrangler is available in six different variations, starting with the Sport. This model starts at $28,295. Stepping up to the Sport S costs $31,690. The Black and Tan Edition is the first of three special editions and costs $33,190. The Willys Edition starts from $33,990 and the Freedom Edition has a base price of $34,190. The top-tier model is the Rubicon, which starts from $38,295. All prices exclude Jeep's $1,495 destination charge and further taxes and fees. All models feature the Pentastar 3.6-liter V6 and a six-speed manual. The 2.0-liter turbocharged engine is a "no-cost" option however it needs to be paired with the eight-speed auto which costs $2,750. Base models require you to add air-conditioning for $1,295 while higher trims that already have air-conditioning charge $1,500 for the auto 'box that the four-banger is exclusively paired with.

2020 Jeep Wrangler Models

Six variations of the two-door Jeep Wrangler are available: Sport, Sport S, Black and Tan, Willys, Freedom and Rubicon.

The sport is the base model and is equipped with 17-inch steel wheels, skid plates, fog lights, tow hooks, manual windows and locks, a fold-down windshield and push-button start.

The Sport S features 17-inch alloys, air-conditioning, a leather-trimmed steering wheel, power door locks and windows, automatic headlights, heated power mirrors and sun-visors.

The Black and Tan edition is strangely not only available in black with a tan soft-top. This trim is intended to be a more luxurious offering and is based on the Sport S. It gets side-steps as standard along with all-terrain tires and Machine Granite wheels. Uconnect 4 infotainment with Apple CarPlay and Android Auto is included along with SiriusXM. Dual-zone climate control and a seven-inch driver info display are also standard here.

The Willys model features a hood decal bearing the name of the special edition and gets its wheels and grille painted gloss black. It also borrows some of the top-tier Rubicon's off-road equipment like rock rails and upgraded brakes and shocks. LED headlights and fog lights, as well as mud tires, help it stand out further.

The last of the special editions is named Freedom and features numerous visual nods to the U.S. Military, including Oscar Mike badging on the exterior with similar embossing on numerous interior panels. The windows are tinted on this model at no cost and each model sold obliges Jeep to make a $250 donation to United Service Organizations in aid of returning vets.

The top-spec model is the Rubicon and is the most heavily altered for off-roading. It features an electronically disconnecting front anti-roll bar, shorter axle gearing, and rock rails, as well as lockable diffs and upgraded upholstery.

All models can be had with a 3.6-liter V6 and a six-speed manual as standard, or with an eight-speed auto. A torquier 2.0-liter turbo four-pot is also available across the range and is mated exclusively to the automatic.

Trim Engine Transmission Drivetrain Price (MSRP)
Sport
3.6-liter V6 Gas
6-Speed Manual
Four-Wheel Drive
$28,295
Black and Tan
3.6-liter V6 Gas
6-Speed Manual
Four-Wheel Drive
$28,295
Sport S
3.6-liter V6 Gas
6-Speed Manual
Four-Wheel Drive
$28,295
Willys
3.6-liter V6 Gas
6-Speed Manual
Four-Wheel Drive
$28,295
Freedom
3.6-liter V6 Gas
6-Speed Manual
Four-Wheel Drive
$28,295
See All 2020 Jeep Wrangler Trims and Specs

Additional Packages

Those who intend to use their Wrangler on-road regularly should consider the Safety Group package, which features blind-spot monitoring with rear cross-traffic alert, LED taillamps, and rear parking sensors. This package adds $995 to your bill. The Advanced Safety Group package is also worth a look at $795 but requires the above package to be specced too. This features advanced brake assist, adaptive cruise control and forward-collision warning. Those in chillier climates may want to consider the Cold Weather Group, which costs $695 and fits heated front seats and a heated steering wheel. On the Rubicon model, this package costs the same but also adds remote start if you have an auto equipped. The Rubicon also has access to the Uconnect 4C infotainment system, which is sold as a package for $1,695, adding an 8.4-inch touchscreen, smartphone connectivity, satellite radio, and navigation.

What Jeep Wrangler Model Should I Buy?

If you intend to use your Jeep on the trail, which the Wrangler was designed for, the off-road obsessed Rubicon model makes the most sense. For those who intend to only use their vehicles on-road, the Black and Tan Edition is probably best, but in truth, a Wrangler is not well-mannered enough to be used exclusively on the road - so stick with the all-out off-road Rubicon rather. Whichever model you choose, the 2.0-liter turbo with its added torque and smooth-shifting eight-speed auto will be the most capable. Where we think you should spend some extra money is on the few driver aids that are available. Adding all of them will give you blind-spot monitoring, LED tails, adaptive cruise control, forward-collision warning and rear park sensors. This will also add $1,790 to your build. We'd also recommend the top-tier infotainment system if you got for the Rubicon, thus availing you of the biggest available touchscreen, navigation, and Apple CarPlay/Android Auto. All in with $4,985 worth of options, you're looking at $44,775 with destination charges included.

Check out other Jeep Wrangler Styles

2020 Jeep Wrangler Comparisons

Toyota 4Runner CarBuzz
Jeep Grand Cherokee Jeep

2020 Jeep Wrangler vs Toyota 4Runner

Both the 4Runner and the Wrangler have excellent reputations off-road thanks to their flexible and durable body-on-frame designs and of course, the history that each brand has building outstanding vehicles for the path less beaten. The Toyota 4Runner is arguably a far more versatile vehicle, considering that it comes with four doors, can be had with rear-wheel-drive or all-wheel-drive, and has a lot more interior space. It's also more refined and more solidly built, making it easier to live with day-to-day. Off-road, it's also a highly impressive machine. However, there are some big issues. The base price for the SR5 RWD model is over $36,000. That's okay if you get a lot of bang for your buck, but the infotainment screen on the 4Runner is minuscule, and where the Jeep makes light of some of its cheaper materials, the Toyota does a bad job of disguising them, trying too hard to look upmarket. Fuel economy on the 4Runner makes the Wrangler look like a Prius in comparison, and that doesn't even come with the benefit of more power. Overall, the Wrangler, for all its faults, is a more lighthearted vehicle that makes every drive an experience, whereas the 4Runner is just too dull.

See Toyota 4Runner Review

2020 Jeep Wrangler vs Jeep Grand Cherokee

If you like Jeep's off-road abilities, but can't quite live with the utilitarian nature of a relatively sparse cabin, or if you want to be able to take a full family and the dogs on your next camping trip in comfort, the Grand Cherokee is worth a look. Granted, the cheapest four-wheel-drive model, the Laredo E, starts at just under $35,000, but you get a gorgeous interior and pretty handsome bodywork too. The Grand Cherokee doesn't have the extreme wheel articulation and oversized tires required to tackle the truly challenging stuff that would send regular cars back home, but it holds its own impressively. With a lot more comfort features and safety equipment than the Wrangler, it's also easier to relax when you're driving on-road, where you'll find far less tire and wind noise than you will in the Wrangler. If you're continually doing extreme off-roading, we would still suggest sticking with the Wrangler, but for something that blends impressive fuel economy, space, ability, and comfort into one great package, the Grand Cherokee is a more sensible option.

See Jeep Grand Cherokee Review

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