2020 Jeep Wrangler Unlimited Sahara
Topic: 2020 Jeep Wrangler Unlimited Sahara
A couple of years ago, I drove the recently redesigned Jeep Wrangler Unlimited and was wowed by how much better it rode and drove than previous Wranglers.
They look decidedly Jeepy, like upgraded World War II workhorses, but using today’s interior finery and far better fit and finish out. Additionally, they aren’t all olive drab. My test unit was Firecracker Red, a glowing red that seems great.
This one was that the Sahara trim, two degrees from the top Sahara Altitude, so you know that this one is filled with goodies and options galore. That leads to one of its downfalls: price, which I’ll get to in a bit.
First, the majority of what I said two years ago still goes. However, I was surprised by what I sensed now as a less comfortable ride and mediocre handling. I’ll explain.
Jeep (currently owned by Fiat-Chrysler) added a new five-link suspension system and stretched the Unlimited’s wheelbase 2 inches to 118.4 inches during its redesign. I said last time, creating a far more civilized ride for the vast majority of miles we all put on driving on city roads and highways. At exactly the same time, enhanced body mounts were inserted, and the shocks returned.
There has always been rebound into a Wrangler’s ride, and final time it seemed a large improvement. Now, and maybe it’s because of all the luxury utility vehicles I have driven the last few months, it appeared more bounce was back. The ride is not punishing, and it’s still an improvement from past Wrangler rides, but severe bumps seemed to produce more rock and roll this time.
Similarly, the steering, which was enhanced during this prior test drive, seems to have become looser. Part of this is by design as Jeep engineers know some of its owners will proceed off-roading and rock climbing with their Jeeps. A looser wheel is less likely to snap on you and twist up your wrists when bounding over boulders.
That is where lane ramble was most prevalent. Certainly, the wheel effort seems modest and simple. However, I found myself tiring of seesawing the thick leather steering wheel to stay in my lane, following about 20 miles on the freeway.
The good thing here, though, is that the addition of a 3.0-liter V6 turbo-diesel. Jeep’s 3.6-liter 285-horse gas-powered V6 in most versions feels powerful and gives the Endless zip. The diesel feels hefty and slower but still powerful and capable of off-roading; also, it gets better gas mileage.
Diesel is slower to quicken and grumble a lot more than the gas-powered V6, so it is noisier in the taxi. Power is great — it’s rated at 260 horsepower along with a monster 442 lb.-ft. Of torque. So you know there’s a load of pulling power here, though I could find no tow rating nonetheless for the 2020 version. The diesel adds $4,000 to the price also, but you also get all-terrain tires (may increase the road sound and harsher ride), an 18.3-gallon gas tank, along an anti-spin differential rear axle.
My driving was about half-city and half-highway; therefore, my numbers seem to reflect those EPA figures. In a gas-powered Unlimited, I had managed just 21.6 mpg in summertime driving. Don’t forget, though, diesel fuel costs more than gas by about 50 cents a gallon, and petrol pumps are nearly always sloppy with oily nozzles that necessitate you to wash your hands after pumping gas and before touching the steering wheel.
While I know I am tougher with this Unlimited ride and handling, I do not wish to lose sight of this Wrangler being a stout off-roader, likely the best I have driven. We crept down steep hills littered with loose rock, we increased over big boulders, and we ran along a ridge at such an angle compared to roll other SUVs. I’m a believer.
Note also that you can electronically disconnect the anti-roll pubs for longer wheel travel if you are romping over large rocks, and also the Wrangler includes four skid plates under for protection.
Jeep’s upgraded 8-speed tranny ($2,000 option here) includes Hill Descent too, which is participated in easing down a steep hill. This is especially great on gravel to assist the Jeep prevent getting loose, turning, and becoming tippy. It’s a super feature for off-roaders, and Jeep’s Selec-Trac full-time AWD system works nicely too. Plus, you can manually engage the machine using another change knob on the console, allowing the driver to adjust for various road conditions.
Inside, Jeep’s flat dash isn’t difficult to figure out, and the big 8.4-inch display is simple to see and use. It’s especially helpful when backing up because the backup camera is crystal clear, and there is a cross-traffic alert.
An advanced security set adds adaptive cruise control, innovative brake assist, and forward-collision warning for $795.
The test Jeep featured black leather chairs with grey stitching and a major grab handle for the passenger to use when engaged in off-roading. Satin chrome trims the doorway releases, and there’s a flat black dashboard face, great for when the top is off, and the sun would reflect off a chrome or gloss dash’s face. The leather-trimmed seats with Sahara logos represent a $1,495 option package and feature comparatively flat cushions. All seats are manually adjusted.
Overall, I found that the Jeep interior a little bloated, although four adults will fit. Back door exits are tight for adults, and the tailgate is not a hatch, so it turns out like a door with a significant tire hanging around the trunk. Pluses? There are plenty of plug-in areas for electronics.
Yes, it’s a Jeep.
The Unlimited includes two different transfer levers, one for the transmission, another for an engaging 4-wheel push in varying configurations. Ground clearance is 10 inches, with running boards aid in the step-up and into Wrangler’s cockpit. But the running boards are less useful when exiting because they are so high they provide hardly any step-down. I stretched over the running board times when descending in the Jeep.
The test Jeep came with both soft and hard tops, so you could swap them outside in summer and winter. That’s cool, but my drive was in winter, along together with the soft top. It kept the rain out, to be sure, but road noise was much more pronounced than in the hard-top hard-top model I had driven previously. Still, if you would like to romp in the outback and take in the sun and wind, having the soft-top option will probably be perfect for you. The double tops cost $2,295.
That major infotainment screen mentioned earlier is also a part of a $1,695 option package, but one that makes sense if you’re a traveler and love music. It includes Fiat-Chrysler’s Uconnect system for managing music and infotainment features, and it works smoothly and easily. Plus, the display is large and easy to see, and there are radio volume and tuning knobs on both sides. Bravo! The package also includes a bunch of satellite radio features, GPS, plus a Wi-Fi hotspot.
Another incentive for our northern climate is the $995 chilly weather package that adds heated front seats, a heated steering wheel, and a remote launch.
There is also a $1,045 lighting group and a few minor choices. You may have noticed by now that there is plenty of add-ons for this particular Jeep, which required it from a reasonable $40,140, including delivery, to a whopping $55,925. Ouch, that is luxury ute territory.
When shopping, you might need to decide if you’re an off-roader that needs all of the performance of a Jeep Wrangler (two-door models may be obtained for $30,000 or less) or the performance and interior area of a Wrangler Unlimited (four-door). For the latter, then you can begin with a Sport model at $33,290 and receive a 268-horse turbo I4 engine. Move up several trim levels (there are seven) and you can still maintain your Jeep under $40,000 and update to the 285-horse V6.
If you like luxury more than off-road rumble and grunt, then a Grand Cherokee or other luxury ute may be a better match.
2020 Jeep Wrangler Unlimited Sahara 4×4
Hits: It looks like a Jeep and will go anyplace off-road (10-inch floor clearance), together with good power and both soft and hard-top shard-tops. Heated seats and steering wheel, large infotainment display and easy Uconnect sound system, radio knobs, smart cruise control, and blind-spot warning. Has grab handles and running boards, lots of plug-in spots. Diesel provides enhanced fuel economy.
Misses: Superior diesel engine is noisy, slow to quicken, and is messy to fill up, as are all diesel. Diesel fuel is costly. The ride seems rougher than the gas-powered version, still too much drama in the steering wheel for street drives, so automobile stinks—major street sound with soft-top in place. Interior feels crowded, back door exits are tight, and the tailgate opens such as a doorway, not hatch. Yes, it is a Jeep.
- Major Options: Leather package (leather-trimmed seats w/Sahara logo, leather brake handle, shift knob, instrument panel bezels), $1,495
- LED lighting collection (LED reflector headlights, LED fog lights, daytime running lights with LED accents, LED taillights), $1,045
- 8.4-inch radio display, audio group w/Uconnect, 5-year SiriusXM and Travel Link, Alpine premium audio system, HD radio, Sirius Guardian, Wi-Fi hotspot, GPS, rearview auto-dimming mirror, $1,695
- Dual-Top group (premium black soft top, black 3-piece hard-top hard-top, storage bag, rear-window defroster, rear wiper/washer), $2,295
- Safety group (ParkSense rear-park assist, blind-spot and cross-path detection), $895
- Advanced security group (adaptive cruise control w/stop, advance brake help, forward collision warning), $795
- 8-speed automatic transmission w/Hill Descent Control and Tip Start, $2,000
- 3.0-liter V6 turbo-diesel with all-terrain tires, an anti-spin differential, 18.3-gallon fuel tank, $4,000
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