Awhile back, American Jeep enthusiasts were underwhelmed when only the Liberty was given a 2.8L diesel. The engine was short lived because the 2007 restrictions on diesel fuel took effect that most engines where incapable of meeting. Needless to say, excitement for a diesel engine in a Jeep (that people actually wanted) has never faded away and the auto industry’s tumble in 2009 crippled the crate diesel engine swap for the Wrangler TJ series.
It looks like the wait may finally be over as Chrysler has announced the 2013 Grand Cherokee will have a 3.0L diesel as an option. Production of the diesel for the Cherokee (along with the Durango and the rebirth of the Viper) is expected to also create more than 1000 jobs in the Detroit factories. The overseas markets have long enjoyed diesel options; 90% of Cherokees in Europe are diesel powered. If the overseas market engines perform similarly in the United States (after meeting the 2007 requirements), the Cherokees are expected to get more than 33mpg.
Some folks will argue that diesel is more expensive as a fuel than regular unleaded. A local station here shows a 10% differential in price. Most people don’t tend to realize just how much more efficient a diesel can be not only from its 17% higher energy content but the engine design itself. As a point of reference, the 4.0L gas engine in my TJ Unlimited averaged 15mpg after a slew of off-road modifications (big tires, lift, winch, etc.). But when the engine was pulled out and replaced with a Cummins 4BT turbo diesel, the modified Wrangler was getting 28mpg (and that was with a 22 year old engine demonstrating a cylinder misfire). That’s 4.3 miles per dollar on gasoline against 6.84 miles per dollar on diesel.
Perhaps there’s hope for a stock Wrangler diesel on the horizon after all. The 2012 Wrangler’s engine bay was redesigned to handle the 3.6L Pentastar engine which is the same powerplant currently in the Cherokee. With matching engine bays, the logical next step would be …
Diesel Jeeps exist just about everywhere in the world … except the United States. These diesel powered TJs were rolling through Morocco, Africa performing government duties.
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