The most common engines used in Jeep Wrangler are the four and 6-cylinder engines, respectively. Although some models use an 8-cylinder but are not as popular compared to the first two.
Usually, 4-cylinder engines bring more fuel efficiency, while the 6-cylinder engine gives you the ability to get more power. But adding a turbocharger to a 4-cylinder engine will provide additional power that can beat out the 6-cylinder engine but still maintain its fuel efficiency. Which led me to the question: which is better with a Jeep Wrangler, a 4-cylinder engine, or its 6-cylinder counterpart?
Answering this question is hard since it is subjective, and other factors also need consideration. Also, choosing which is better depends on the Jeep owner’s preference and purpose of buying the Jeep Wrangler. Both engines also come with upsides and downsides that can affect the preference of every Jeep owner. However, our team wants to showcase the difference between these two engines, and this can only be done by looking at different Jeep Wrangler models that use the two engines.
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Comparing the 2018 Jeep Wrangler JL 4-Cylinder Turbo vs. 6-Cylinder V6
As we all know, the 2018 Jeep Wrangler JL was released with two engine options, the 4-cylinder 2.0L turbo and the 6-Cylinder 3.6L V6. The 6-Cylinder 3.6L engine has been around for so many years and has shown tremendous reliability in power and gear. This type of engine can produce 285 HP at 6400 RPM while making 260 lbs. of torque at 5800 RPM. This engine is a 220 Cubic Inch aluminum-block engine that is reliable in front of the Jeep. Similar to other Jeep engines, performance modifications are allowed to increase power and performance.
Meanwhile, the 2.0L 4-Cylinder engine is best known for its small stature. When it comes to its power rating, I can say that this engine can contend with the 3.6L V6. As far as the specs go, the engine will produce 270 HP at 5250 RPM and making a massive 290 lbs. of torque at only 3000 RPM. Compared to the V6, it has about 15 HP less, but it will give you 30 lbs. more at 3000 RPM as far as the torque goes. Meaning, your 1800 lower, and that’s where you want to see the power in the lower end of your torque feet.
Along with the engine is the 4-cylinder turbo with a mild-hybrid system. It is called a built star generator that houses a 48-volt electrical system underneath the Jeep to help the turbo live.
Testing the Two Engine on the Street
I can say that the 6-cylinder V6 performance on the road is sufficient. It is fast but compared to the 4-cylinder Turbo; it’s relatively slower. I notice that the 4-cylinder turbo hits the road hard when the revolution climbs at 3000 RPM. The 4-cylinder turbo is quicker in every aspect that will make the Jeep more entertaining. The 4-cylinder turbo is also quieter compared to the V6 when driving on the freeway.
Taking these two engines on rough roads, I can say that the ride in both Jeeps was excellent. Using 33-inch tires dealing with holes and uneven surfaces, you will be comfortable in the cabin for both engines.
Testing the Two Engine on the Trail
Taking the two engines on the sandy trail gives a lot of difference between the two engines. Not using the stability control and using only 2WD proves that the 6-cylinder V6 drives well on the sandy road. You can drift it, fishtailing it, or piling some speed in the sand without encountering significant issues. Meanwhile, the 4-cylinder turbo did not precisely do as I want to with the 2WD on the sand. It could not handle the sand well as the tire kept on spinning and digging the sand down a bit.
Meanwhile, testing the two engines on a rocky road, my impression was they were both at home. There were a few trail rash with the 4-cylinder turbo, and the driving was a bit easier. Meanwhile, navigating with boulders was more fun with the 6-cylinder V6 engine. The gearing was fantastic, and driving it on the rocky condition felt like a great match.
But when it comes to driving on steep hills where the climbing ability of both engines was tested, both of them pass the test successfully. Although, the difficulty of the road challenged the four-cylinder turbo. I feel that the 4-cylinder was made for an easy climb. With the V6, the climb was more consistent, and it gives more control to the driver. I feel that the 6-cylinder V6 was made for this situation.
Comparing 4-Cylinder and 6-Cylinder Engines on Old Jeep Models
When it comes to the older Jeep models, the 4-cylinder 2.5L and the 6-cylinder 4.0L was the most commonly used engine. Although there were other engines, the two were prominent for the older Jeep models several years ago. But what is the difference between the two? Check on the information below:
4-Cylinder vs. 6-Cylinder: Differences in Transmission
Both the 4-cylinder and 6-cylinder engines come with manual or automatic transmission. Back then, the automatic transmission for Jeep Wrangler YG was a three-speed TF999 without overdrive. In 1997, when the Jeep Wrangler TG came along, the Chrysler 32RH became the three-speed auto.
Six years later, in 2003, the Chrysler 42RLE four-speed auto with overdrive became the automatic transmission. During this time, the 6-cylinder engine was more preferred with an automatic Jeep Wrangler than the 4-cylinder, which looks sluggish with an automatic transmission. More so if you add larger tires on your Jeep.
There was the AX4 four-speed used with the ‘87-’90 2.5L Jeep Wranglers when it comes to manual transmissions. However, this transmission did not last long. There was also the 5-speed manual option AX5 and the AX15 or NV3550 in all 6-cylinder Jeep Wranglers. Other manual transmissions were the NV3500 used in ‘01 to ‘04 Wranglers and the 6-speed NSG370 manual transmission use in 2005.
4-Cylinder vs. 6-Cylinder: Torque and Horsepower
The ‘87 to ‘90 Jeep Wrangler 2.5L 4-cylinder came with a Throttle Body Injection (TBI) and produced 117 HP and 135 lbs.-ft. of torque power. It was later upgraded in 1991 to Multiport Injection (MPI), where the power increased to 120 HP and 140 lbs.-ft. torque power. Meanwhile, the ‘91 Wrangler model was sporting a 4.0L 6-cylinder engine with an MPI injection. It was producing 181 HP and 222 lbs.-ft. In 2000, the power was increased to 190 HP until 2006 where the TJ Wrangler ended its production.
4-Cylinder vs. 6-Cylinder: Driving
We cannot compare the 4-cylinder engine and the 6-cylinder engine when it comes to driving quality. I can say that the 6-cylinder engine was far better when going on the different types of roads. Whether it’s on the street, off-road, in-town, hills, and other surfaces, the 6-cylinder engine can do the job with ease. Meanwhile, the 4-cylinder engine may be good on different terrain and challenge you when driving on the road.
4-Cylinder vs. 6-Cylinder: MPG Mileage and Gearing Differences
There is no difference in the MPG Mileage of a 4-cylinder compared to the 6-cylinder engine. Adding a lift or big tires with your Jeep can affect the MPG numbers, but moving these two engines from two places will use the same fuel types even with different engines.
Meanwhile, a 4-cylinder 2.5L Jeep Wrangler will benefit if you install a complete set of gears, specifically if you plan to use a 33-inch tire. If you purchase a more expensive 4.0L 6-cylinder engine with complete gear sets, it will be more beneficial in the long term, even if you spend more.
Choosing between the Jeep Wrangler 4-cylinder engine vs. the 6-cylinder engine al depends on the mission and purpose of the Jeep owner. Both engines suit best for normal roads, commuting, and exploring the desert. But if you are driving to a more challenging trail, you will need the added torque and horsepower from the 6-cylinder engine.
There are times that the Jeep replaces the original tires with a bigger set of tires. This situation will require more horsepower and torque, which the 6-cylinder engine can give. If you spend more on off-road activities, a 6-cylinder engine is the best option because of the additional power and torque. Otherwise, use the 4-cylinder engine if you use the Jeep more on the road.