2020 Jeep Wrangler Unlimited

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2020 Jeep Wrangler Unlimited Test Drive Review: An American Icon Improved

Is any vehicle more distinctive and iconic than the Jeep Wrangler? Still styled to look like a World War II-era Willys Jeep, the Wrangler's overall shape has remained familiar over its long history even though the engineering beneath it has improved dramatically. Jeep introduced the current fourth-generation Wrangler (known as the JL) back in 2018 and for 2020, trim and engine lineup adjustments should help keep it a sales powerhouse. The JL Wrangler is more refined than ever before but manages to retain its unmatched off-road prowess and unique removable body panels.

Jeep sent us a four-door Wrangler Unlimited model (by far the most popular) in the top off-road Rubicon trim level for testing. Our unique tester was decked out with the Wrangler's first-ever power top option and a newly-introduced diesel engine. With the threat of competition coming from the new Ford Bronco, is the Wrangler still the best off-road vehicle around? We made sure to thoroughly test it, both on and off the pavement, to find out.

Read in this review:

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

Most of the changes to the Wrangler Unlimited this year come in the form of trim and engine adjustments. The Moab trim level has been dropped from the line-up, and several special editions have been added for the new production cycle. Among these are the Willys, Black and Tan, Freedom, Altitude, North Edition, and Recon variations of the standard models. For 2020, Jeep's eTorque mild-hybrid version of the turbocharged four-cylinder engine is no longer available to the Sport, Sport S, and Rubicon trims. However, it is still available to the Sahara, North Edition, and Rubicon Recon, and a similar mild-hybrid version of the Pentastar V6 has been added to the line-up for the Sahara trims. For the first time ever, a 3.0-liter EcoDiesel V6 is available in the Wrangler Unlimited, developing 260 horsepower and 442 lb-ft of torque.

Pros and Cons

  • Three capable engine options, including the torque-filled EcoDiesel
  • Iconic Jeep styling
  • Champion of the off-road
  • Plenty of ways to customize your purchase
  • Removable roof and doors
  • Still offers a manual transmission
  • Wind and road noise are intrusive at higher speeds
  • Handles more like a truck than an SUV
  • Not as practical for cargo as rivals
  • Can get pricey in higher trim levels
  • Safety tech costs extra

Best Deals on 2020 Jeep Wrangler Unlimited

2020 Jeep Wrangler Unlimited Trims

See trim levels and configurations:

Trim Engine Transmission Drivetrain Price (MSRP)
Sport
3.6L V6 Gas
6-Speed Manual
Four-Wheel Drive
$31,795
Sport S
3.6L V6 Gas
6-Speed Manual
Four-Wheel Drive
$31,795
Black and Tan 4x4
3.6L V6 Gas
6-Speed Manual
Four-Wheel Drive
$31,795
Willys
3.6L V6 Gas
6-Speed Manual
Four-Wheel Drive
$31,795
Freedom
3.6L V6 Gas
6-Speed Manual
Four-Wheel Drive
$31,795
See All 2020 Jeep Wrangler Unlimited Trims and Specs

2020 Wrangler Unlimited Exterior

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Dimensions

  • Length 188.4 in
  • Wheelbase 118.4 in
  • Height 73.6 in
  • Max Width 73.8 in
  • Front Width 62.9 in
  • Rear Width 62.9 in

Exterior Colors

  • Punkn Metallic Clearcoat, Build Out: 02/11/2020 +$195
  • Billet Silver Metallic Clearcoat +$245
  • Granite Crystal Metallic Clearcoat +$245
  • Bikini Pearlcoat +$245
  • Ocean Blue Metallic Clearcoat +$245
  • Sarge Green Clearcoat
  • Mojito! Clearcoat, Build Out: 09/24/2019
  • Hellayella Clearcoat
  • Black Clearcoat
  • Bright White Clearcoat
  • Firecracker Red Clearcoat
  • Sting-Gray Clearcoat

2020 Wrangler Unlimited Performance

2020 Jeep Wrangler Unlimited Forward View CarBuzz
2020 Jeep Wrangler Unlimited Rear View Driving CarBuzz
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Engine and Transmission

  • Engines
    2.0L Turbo Inline-4 Gas, 3.0L Turbo Diesel, 3.6L V6 24V VVT eTorque UPG I, 3.6L V6 Gas
  • Transmissions
    6-Speed Manual, 8-Speed Automatic
  • Drivetrain
    4X4

Handling and Driving Impressions

With the introduction of the JL generation, Jeep managed to smooth out many of the Wrangler's rougher edges while still retaining its character. The Wrangler still calls on a recirculating ball-type steering design compared to almost all other modern vehicles, which use a rack and pinion setup. This steering setup proves to be vague and floaty out on the road but is still heralded for its strength and durability, which is handy during off-road use. But most Wrangler Unlimited owners will spend their time on the road, where the vehicle's off-road-oriented suspension is firm but not punishing, even in the hardcore Rubicon trim level. It may not have the car-like poise found in most crossovers but it doesn't feel like you will tip over if you take a corner too quickly either.

Road noise has been dramatically reduced compared to previous generation Wrangler models, especially when equipped with the hardtop roof. Our tester was equipped with the Sky One-Touch power-retractable roof, which sits somewhere between the soft top and hardtop in regards to wind noise. The Sky One-Touch is the priciest of the three options but we enjoyed the ability to go topless with the press of a button rather than getting out to disassemble the roof. It isn't the most open experience of the three but it seems perfect for someone who wants a hassle-free setup. For those who desire even more air, the doors and three-quarter panels are still removable and the windshield folds down.

Even though Jeep has made huge strides to make the Wrangler Unlimited more livable, it truly thrives when the pavement ends. The Rubicon, being the most off-road-ready in the Wrangler lineup, includes a Rock-Trac two-speed transfer case with a 4.0:1 low-range gear ratio on the diesel models. In other words, you can put the Wrangler into 4LO, lock the differentials, and marvel at how easily it can climb even the most treacherous inclines. Dana 44 front and rear heavy-duty axles ensure that the Wrangler stands up to abuse and you can even disconnect the sway bar for better wheel articulation. We imagine that more road-oriented trims like the Sahara will be plenty capable for the vast majority of buyers but those who want an extra edge on off-road trails should opt for the Rubicon.

2020 Wrangler Unlimited Interior

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Seating and Interior Space

  • Seating capacity
    5-seater
  • Front Leg Room 41.2 in
  • Front Head Room 40.7 in
  • Rear Leg Room 38.3 in
  • Rear Head Room 40.2 in

2020 Wrangler Unlimited Trunk and Cargo Space

2020 Jeep Wrangler Unlimited Trunk Space CarBuzz
2020 Jeep Wrangler Unlimited Trunk Space with Seat Folded CarBuzz
2020 Jeep Wrangler Unlimited Cargo Room CarBuzz

2020 Wrangler Unlimited Safety and Reliability

Warranty

  • Basic:
    3 Years \ 36,000 Miles
  • Drivetrain:
    5 Years \ 60,000 Miles
  • Corrosion:
    5 Years \ Unlimited Miles
  • Roadside Assistance:
    5 Years \ 60,000 Miles
  • Maintenance:
    2 Years \ Unlimited Miles

US NHTSA Crash Test Result

  • Frontal Barrier Crash Rating
  • Rollover Rating

Verdict: 🏁Is the 2020 Jeep Wrangler Unlimited a good SUV?

By many objective measurements, the Jeep Wrangler Unlimited is an inferior SUV in terms of interior space, comfort, and efficiency. But that isn't the point. Those who want a more road-oriented experience can opt for a Grand Cherokee but the Wrangler's greatness stems from what makes it compromised out on the road. No other SUV on the market offers a removable roof and body panels and few will be able to go where the Wrangler can off-road.

With few to no direct competitors, the Wrangler remains an oddity in the marketplace that feels special where other SUVs feel mundane. The Wrangler may have objective flaws but it makes up for these with a subjective enjoyment factor. Off-road enthusiasts have few other options to choose from and none of those offer such an iconic design combined with livable road manners. If you are looking for an off-road specialist vehicle that still works as an everyday driver, the Wrangler Unlimited is unmatched.

2020 Jeep Wrangler Unlimited Comparisons

Jeep Wrangler Jeep
Toyota 4Runner Toyota
CompetitorHorsepowerMPGPrice (MSRP)
Jeep Wrangler Unlimited285 hp17/23 mpg$35,195
Jeep Wrangler 285 hp17/25 mpg$29,995
Toyota 4Runner 270 hp16/19 mpg$37,815

2020 Jeep Wrangler Unlimited vs Jeep Wrangler

While the standard two-door Wrangler is quite a bit smaller than the Unlimited, over 20 inches less in length, it doesn't actually sacrifice much in the way of passenger space. Instead, almost all the lost space is in the cargo hold, leaving only 12.9 cubic feet of standard trunk space. This loss of practicality all but removes the Wrangler as an option for a daily driver. However, this isn't the only sacrifice the Jeep makes. The Wrangler is still a very capable off-roader, more so with a shorter wheelbase yielding better breakover angles, but losing access to the EcoDiesel V6 is quite a blow to its performance, and the short wheelbase makes it behave erratically on road. Furthermore, most of the special edition trims are only offered in the Unlimited configuration, so you'll only have the eight trims to choose from. Of the remaining trims, though, each come with the same standard and available features as their Unlimited counterparts. Considering that the Wrangler is only a few thousand dollars cheaper than the Unlimited, we think you'd be shooting yourself in the long run for the upfront savings if you don't choose the more practical Unlimited.

See Jeep Wrangler Review

2020 Jeep Wrangler Unlimited vs Toyota 4Runner

Similarly priced to the Wrangler, the Toyota 4Runner asks for between $36,120 and $49,795. However, unlike the Jeep, the 4Runner hasn't undergone a full redesign in over a decade. Nonetheless, it still looks good for its age, and a number of small updates over the years have helped it stay competitive. Toyota's SUV isn't restricted to a four-wheel drivetrain like the Wrangler, and its standard V6 gas engine is just as strong with 270 hp and 278 lb-ft. Still, the 4Runner is rated to tow 4,500 lbs, 1,000 more than the Jeep. With more standard cargo capacity and smoother handling around town, the Toyota 4Runner definitely feels a bit more practical as a daily driver. It's also extremely capable off-road in the correct configuration, but the Wrangler Unlimited's off-road specialist trims are even more so. Ultimately, it comes down to what you really want. If this is an SUV you want to spend every day in but occasional take out for some off-roading, then the 4Runner is the better choice, but if you're going to be spending the majority of your time out in the wild, then the Jeep Wrangler Unlimited comes out on top.

See Toyota 4Runner Review

2020 Jeep Wrangler Unlimited Popular Comparisons

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2020 Jeep Wrangler Unlimited Video Reviews

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