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What the Heck Is eTorque? Nena Knows.

Posted in Features on January 24, 2019
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Photographers: Sierra Palmer

When I first heard there would be a mild-hybrid motor option in the JL Wrangler, I was curious, but not convinced that anything but a diesel would tempt me away from the tried-and-true 3.6L V-6. I reluctantly ordered two for our fleet, just to try them out. First to arrive was a pretty Hella Yella Unlimited Rubicon that we named Mary Ann. Though I can neither confirm nor deny that there was drag racing between the 2.0L turbo eTorque Wrangler and one of our 3.6L V-6 Wranglers, what I can say is that the 2.0L turbo is noticeably faster off the line and in the quarter-mile than the V-6 in the JL Wrangler Unlimited Rubicon.

The 2.0L Turbo eTorque makes better horsepower and torque than the 3.6L V-6, but many people don’t fully understand the significance of the eTorque—the electric motor part of the equation that earns it the mild-hybrid title. It gives you an extra 71 lb-ft of torque from 0 rpm up to about 1,500 rpm, where the 3.6L is just starting to get its legs under it. The 2.0L turbo eTorque is also noticeably smoother in the auto stop/start feature (which can be easily disabled) than on the 3.6L V-6, and the new 48V electric motor makes the restart unnoticeable. And when I found out that stop/start can save you up to a half gallon of gas per hour, I stopped pushing the disable button.

Ginger, wearing 37-inch tires with a totally stock drivetrain, gets it done. The 2.0L turbo eTorque has no turbo lag, no stop/start shudder, and the extra 71 lb-ft of torque won’t hurt your quarter-mile time. The turbo is mounted off to the driver side, and the eTorque’s motor-generator unit (MGU) is in the front of the engine. No, you don’t have to plug it in, and no, you don’t have to start hanging out with Prius owners.

I fully expected to want to re-gear the 2.0L turbo eTorque on our Unlimited Rubicon named Ginger, given the smaller displacement. Ginger rides on a 4-inch TeraFlex ST4 suspension kit and a set of 37-inch Falken Wildpeak Mud-Terrains, and (to my amazement) she runs like the stock 33s are still on, puts you back in the seat, and finds Eighth gear at highway speed. So far we have found that no re-gear is necessary. With the eTorque giving you torque from 0 to 1,500 rpm, there is also smooth power throughout the tall rocks, even pushing the 37s. A few big selling points of the eTorque system are higher fuel economy, smoother stop/start, and better shifting. I was impressed by its ability to push 37s without re-gearing, zip down the highway, crawl big rocks, and still get 18 mpg.

There are some downsides to the 2.0L eTorque, in my opinion. Like most turbo motors, they seem to run fine on either 87 or 91, but prefer premium (93+) gas, and we’ve seen higher octane improve performance and range. Then there’s the sound. It’s hard to love the sewing machine sound of the fit and feisty 2.0L turbo eTorque. Also, longevity is a concern for many. Though the turbo motors have endured extensive testing for a full year, eating dust and bashing rocks through the freezing cold and searing heat, we haven’t had one in rental service yet. I look forward to updating you all in another six months.

Never have I seen 19.9 mpg on the highway with anything wearing 37-inch tires before now. Overall, my average daily driving mileage with Arizona’s hilly highways, mixed in with some dirt roads and stop-and-go town stuff, has been about 18 mpg, with her 37-inch tires at about 25 psi.
One thing we were worried about in the undercarriage is that rather large and expensive battery pack. Careful inspection reveals a stout skidplate with about a 3cm gap between the plate and the actual battery housing, just in case you do hit it with gusto. Engineers also knew that this battery would be subject to dust, mud, and water fording, and it is sealed accordingly.
Not only did we worry about rock impact, we were also aware of rubbing the rear driveshaft when the Jeep is flexing its suspension back and forth. Rubbing the gas tank is an issue we have been dealing with since the JK, but now we have something on both sides to deal with.
Suspension installation is a success when you can fully articulate your suspension and not rub or bind anything.
The TeraFlex ST4 suspension kit comes with adjustable rear bumpstops. After also moving the battery pack and gas tank out about a quarter of an inch, these bumpstops were just enough to keep the driveshaft from hitting the gas tank and the battery pack.
That is my finger just squeaking through the tiny amount of space between the driveshaft and the battery pack while the Jeep is at full flex, compressed on the driver-side rear tire.
There’s plenty of room in the wheelwells for the 3.3 Falcon Fast-Adjust shocks.
The JL’s 2.0L turbo eTorque has three coolant reservoirs (hence three independent cooling systems): a motor-generator unit coolant reservoir in bottom left, turbo coolant reservoir in bottom center, and traditional engine coolant reservoir in top right. And not just any coolant—it must be Organic Additive Technology (OAT), conforming to FCA specifications.
Here are some gratuitous rockcrawling shots. The eTorque provides smooth and steady power, and no turbo lag when climbing over the big rocks.
Photo by Sierra Palmer.
This is the same spot as the last photo, but the view is from the driver seat.
One of the cool features of the new JL is the Off-road Pages, which can alternate from pitch and roll to drivetrain status to a 5-gauge cluster.
Wheeling through powder snow and on icy roads was no worry with the smooth power and shifting of the eTorque.

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