By Nena Barlow
This article originally appeared on fourwheeler.com.
When I first heard there would be a mild-hybrid motor option in the JL Wrangler, I was curious, but not convinced that anything but a diesel would tempt me away from the tried-and-true 3.6L V-6. I reluctantly ordered two for our fleet, just to try them out. First to arrive was a pretty Hella Yella Unlimited Rubicon that we named MaryAnn. Though I can neither confirm nor deny that there was drag racing between the 2.0L turbo eTorque Wrangler and one of our 3.6L V-6 Wranglers, what I can say is that the 2.0L turbo is noticeably faster off the line and in the quarter-mile than the V-6 in the JL Wrangler Unlimited Rubicon.
The 2.0L Turbo eTorque makes better horsepower and torque than the 3.6L V-6, but many people don’t fully understand the significance of the eTorque—the electric motor part of the equation that earns it the mild-hybrid title. It gives you an extra 71 lb-ft of torque from 0 rpm up to about 1,500 rpm, where the 3.6L is just starting to get its legs under it. The 2.0L turbo eTorque is also noticeably smoother in the auto stop/start feature (which can be easily disabled) than on the 3.6L V- 6, and the new 48V electric motor makes the restart unnoticeable. And when I found out that stop/start can save you up to a half gallon of gas per hour, I stopped pushing the disable button.
I fully expected to want to re-gear the 2.0L turbo eTorque on our Unlimited Rubicon named Ginger, given the smaller displacement. Ginger rides on a 4-inch TeraFlex ST4 suspension kit and a set of 37-inch Falken Wildpeak Mud-Terrains, and (to my amazement) she runs like the stock 33s are still on, puts you back in the seat, and finds Eighth gear at highway speed. So far we have found that no re-gear is necessary. With the eTorque giving you torque from 0 to 1,500 rpm, there is also smooth power throughout the tall rocks, even pushing the 37s. A few big selling points of the eTorque system are higher fuel economy, smoother stop/start, and better shifting. I was impressed by its ability to push 37s without re-gearing, zip down the highway, crawl big rocks, and still get 18 mpg.
There are some downsides to the 2.0L eTorque, in my opinion. Like most turbo motors, they seem to run fine on either 87 or 91, but prefer premium (93+) gas, and we’ve seen higher octane improve performance and range. Then there’s the sound. It’s hard to love the sewing machine sound of the fit and fiesty 2.0L turbo eTorque. Also, longevity is a concern for many. Though the turbo motors have endured extensive testing for a full year, eating dust and bashing rocks through the freezing cold and searing heat, we haven’t had one in rental service yet. I look forward to updating you all in another six months.