Why Do Jeep Wranglers Get Bad MPG?


The Jeep Wrangler is a fabulous vehicle built for off-road capabilities. Jeep has made the Wrangler a unique design, recognizable to anyone on the road. But despite the great functionality of the SUV there always seems to be a problem with the fuel economy.

The Jeep Wrangler’s gas mileage is bad due to some of the functions that provide the Wrangler’s off-road capabilities, such as weight and tire size. The shape of the vehicle and transmission are also factors in poor fuel economy.

Each of these factors play a different role in affecting the gas mileage of the Jeep Wrangler. Each will have its role, but the dynamics of the Wrangler itself are complex, so keep reading to discover why the fuel economy isn’t great.

Aerodynamics

The Jeep Wrangler with its many capabilities has its own flaws and difficulties. One of which is the physical design of the SUV itself. It is essentially a big block on wheels with sensors and power to make it move. But many other vehicles have much more sleek designs that give the ability to drive without too much wind resistance.

But the Jeep, without an aerodynamic look has to deal with the wind from all angles. With such a box look it can be an easy target for wind friction, but also depending on the gusts of wind will cause the jeep to have to work harder than it should have to. The wind can push from all sides depending on the direction the wind comes from. This can be difficult to maneuver through.

It’s also not likely that the wind will hit the back of the Wrangler, giving the jeep a tailwind and pushing it along, but it is possible. In this case, gas mileage might be slightly better than expected.

Weight

But despite the shape of the vehicle, it may be the weight of the Jeep that deals with the gas mileage more. Air can push and cause the SUV to work harder, but the Wrangler sits at a shocking 5,103 pounds at its heaviest. That is two and a half tons in weight. That is very heavy, considering that an average car is just over 2,000 pounds.

But that is not as heavy as some trucks which can weigh as much as 3 tons. These trucks usually have better engines and are more aerodynamic than the Jeep Wrangler is. Despite this, the Wrangler’s weight is a factor in the gas mileage that it gets. It takes a lot to move that much weight and thus a considerable factor.

Larger Tires

The weight of the car is affected by this next factor, but it also plays into the fuel economy that the Jeep Wrangler gets outside of the weight of the SUV. A normal truck, though sometimes heavier than the Wrangler has wheels 31 inches in diameter and typically has 17-inch wheels. Trucks can have bigger wheels put on, but they have to modify the wheel wells of the vehicle to fit it without too much rubbing happening. But a Jeep Wrangler comes with 32-inch tires with 17-inch wheels, depending on the model.

Plus, the Wrangler has a large wheel-well that would allow larger tires to fit without any modifications. A Wrangler most likely wouldn’t have to be lifted or trimmed to avoid rubbing. But the bigger the tire the heavier they are. Plus the larger the circumference the more energy is needed to get the tire moving. This means that 32-inch tires are already more difficult to move than regular vehicles, but going larger, such as 33 inches or 34 inches is even worse.

So why are larger tires used on a Jeep Wrangler? Well, Jeeps are known for their off-road capabilities, and the Wrangler specifically works well off the road. The larger the tire, the better the Jeep can handle dirt, mud, or even snow. Jeep knows this and makes an effort to appeal to the needs of the customer. They also understand that the drivers may want to use larger tires and accommodated the wheel well to fit these without too much trouble.

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Automatic vs Manual Transmission

Another factor that plays into the gas mileage is the transmission. Typically when a manual transmission is used it is more efficient for the vehicle and gets better gas mileage. This is because the driver shifts the gears of the vehicle and it is more efficient than an automatic transmission. When the driver shifts gears and takes their foot off the clutch the car is locked in place, meaning it will stay in the gear and won’t go anywhere unless it is switched by the driver.

But automatic transmissions use a method that allows them to constantly be changing and slipping into new gears. This means that they will be keeping the engine from stalling when stopped or going slow, but using more gas at higher speeds.

It should be noted that as the automatic transmission increases in capabilities there are better fuel-efficient automatic transmissions that can get gas mileage near the same as manual vehicles. In some cases, it might be better than some manuals.

Why The Wrangler Is Good

Despite the issues that the Jeep Wrangler has with gas mileage it is important to look at the trends from years past to the years coming up. So here is a table that I put together showing the gas mileage of Jeep Wranglers in the past 10 years. It will look at each year that it changed, leaving out the years in between that are the same.

YearCity MileageHighway Mileage
201115 Miles per gallon19 Miles per gallon
201217 Miles per gallon21 Miles per gallon
201823 Miles per gallon25 Miles per gallon
202022 Miles per gallon29 Miles per gallon

As can be seen from this table, Jeep Wrangler’s fuel economy was consistently 17 miles per hour in the city for 6 years. It drastically jumped up in 2018 to 23 miles in the city, but quickly went down in 2020. But the miles on the highway changed by a shocking 4 miles to the gallon, giving it more functionality to drive farther. This shows that Jeep is making an effort to change the fuel economy of the Wrangler. They are looking to increase their capabilities in all regards.

But the gas mileage is a small thing to look at for some Wrangler drivers as they know that it is one of the best off-road vehicles in the industry. Toyota has maximized the capabilities of the Wrangler for off-road. Of course, something is compromised when such a strong focus occurs in a vehicle. There are of course other issues with the Wrangler, but these are small for those who want the Wrangler for off-roading.

Good Features Of The Jeep Wrangler

So let’s look at some of these good features that make the Jeep Wrangler a good purchase. Despite its faults or features that aren’t as good, there are still great ones for the overall SUV.

First off, Jeep knows that the Wrangler is used for off-roading experience and that in this adventurous mode there are damages to certain parts and pieces. Jeep seeks to make many parts that they know are compromised durable, but cheap to repair. This is not to say that these parts aren’t reliable, but wear and tear can be tough on a vehicle.

Also, multiple factors help with off-roading, including the turning radius. This mixed with a powerful drivetrain is a strong equation for a good off-road experience. The drivetrain is the consistency at which power is given to the tires that move the car. So, when it is in 4 wheel drive it has a strong drivetrain that gives equal power. This propels the vehicle forward in a much more efficient way, especially off-road.

With all of this considered, a good thing to remember is that the Jeep Wrangler is built to last for years. It is reliable and durable and will be used for many years. Because of this, its resale value is rather high especially for off-road vehicles, but Jeep has made a large effort to make their SUV durable. But it is important to remember that it is still an off-road vehicle that will take a beating.

Why Do Jeep Wranglers Get Bad MPG?

Review

Overall, the Jeep Wrangler is a great SUV with many functional uses and models. There are actually three different models within the Wrangler category: the Rubicon, the Sahara, and the Sport. Each of these models has different uses and characteristics based on what the driver is looking for. But that is for another article perhaps.

But the Wrangler, despite its many uses, burns through gas at a quick rate. This is due to many factors that were expressed and talked about in this article. The main ones being the weight of the vehicle, the wheel size, the shape of the vehicle, and the automatic transmission. These all play the biggest role in the fuel efficiency of the Jeep Wrangler.

Overall the Jeep Wrangler is a great vehicle that is meant for off-roading and has been loved for years. They are working to improve certain qualities that are less desirable, and the fuel economy is one of those. They are already on the right path to doing that. But the Wrangler is a good option if you like off-roading.

Kern Campbell

I've had a passion for four-wheel-drive vehicles since I was a kid riding in the back seat of my Grandfather's Jeep Grand Wagoneer. I have owned a lot of vehicles over the years. They each have their pros and cons and I look forward to sharing my knowledge with you so you can find the vehicle that's just right for your needs.

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