While the promise of a factory crate diesel engine kit for owners to swap into their Wranglers has yet to materialize, those in the U.K. are enjoying PRODUCTION Wranglers and Cherokees (Liberty) that utilize a 2.8-liter Common Rail Diesel engine made by VW. Why Jeep/Chrysler won’t take steps to get this engine certified for U.S. sales is a point of serious frustration for diesel lovers everywhere. Unlike the previous Liberty that Chrysler briefly attempted to offer with a diesel, the U.K. diesel Wrangler offers significant advantages over gas.
According to Jeep’s own calculations the difference in fuel economy between diesel and gas engines is significant; at least 34 mpg on the highway for the diesel as opposed to 19 mpg for the most thrifty Wrangler. For offroaders the difference is also felt with an additional 18% increase in power than conventional gasoline and over 300 lb feet of torque; 60 more than in U.S. versions. Even the now extinct previous diesel version Liberty was capable of 26 mpg, which though not a stunning number, is still a respectable upgrade in efficiency in comparison to gas Wranglers. Though nothing has materialized, at one point Jeep was reportedly working on an engine swap kit that would allow owners to install that same 2.8L diesel four-cylinder from the last-gen Liberty CRD into their Wrangler. The 2.8L four-cylinder produces 160 horsepower and 295 pound-feet of torque, and good for 21 mpg in the city and 26 mpg on the highway. As opposed to here in the States, where diesel engine options are more expensive, the British CRD Wrangler is several thousand pounds cheaper than the Petrol V6. There are several possibilities why either a crate retrofit or factory produced diesel Wrangler has yet to come to fruition. The aforementioned certification for emissions that Chrysler would have to negotiate may be an issue; California has the toughest such laws in the entire world. However, that in and of itself is not such an insurmountable problem when taking into account the almost daily technological advances in producing clean running diesel engines and fuel. More likely, the cash-strapped automaker is unable to put its energies into either area of production while it attempts to make good on at least one of the trio of electric and plug-in hybrids that it unveiled theatrically last month. However, while those new vehicles were impressive and hopefully successes for the company, at some point automakers, law makers, environmentalists and the general public should recognize that new technologies applied to older vehicles already on the road are hugely important to any environmental and economic plan in this country.