With gas prices continuing to rise, Jeep Wrangler owners are looking for ways to improve their vehicle’s fuel efficiency. One option is activating Eco Mode, which changes the transmission and throttle response. But how exactly does Eco Mode work and what benefits does it offer Wrangler drivers?
In short, Eco Mode improves gas mileage by up to 15% in optimal conditions by reducing power demands and engine load. It’s ideal for steady highway driving but not recommended for off-roading or towing.
Below we’ll explore what Eco Mode is, how it works, when to use it, potential fuel savings, usage tips, its effects on performance, and steps for enabling it in newer Wranglers. We’ll also answer common owner questions about this useful feature.
Table of Contents
What is Eco Mode in the Jeep Wrangler?
Eco Mode, also called economy mode, is a selectable driving setting available in automatic transmission Jeep Wranglers from 2012 and newer.
When activated, it adjusts the vehicle’s systems to emphasize fuel efficiency over power and performance. This includes recalibrating the transmission shift points and throttle response.
By optimizing certain systems for efficiency rather than maximum output, Eco Mode reduces the engine’s workload, lowering fuel consumption.
How Does Eco Mode Work in the Wrangler?
When Eco Mode is turned on, it initiates changes to the powertrain, transmission, and vehicle dynamics:
- Transmission – The automatic transmission holds gears longer before upshifting and downshifts sooner. This keeps the engine in its optimal rpm range for efficiency.
- Throttle Response – The accelerator pedal input is remapped to provide a softer, muted throttle response compared to standard mode. This smoothes out acceleration and minimizes waste from aggressive starts.
- Torque Converter – The torque converter lockup is engaged earlier when accelerating for reduced slippage and transmission losses.
- 4WD System – In 4WD modes, the transfer case switches to 2WD sooner when possible to reduce drivetrain friction losses. The AWD system operates more conservatively.
- Performance – Horsepower and torque output are unchanged, but subtly muted through the altered throttle and accelerator sensitivity.
So in summary, Eco Mode minimizes excess engine workload to optimize mileage. The transmission avoids unnecessary gear hunting, the throttle smoothes acceleration, and 4WD engagement is reduced.
What Are the Benefits of Using Eco Mode?
The primary benefits of driving in Eco Mode include:
- Improved Fuel Efficiency – By reducing wasted energy through transmission and drivetrain optimization, Eco Mode can increase gas mileage by 10-15% compared to normal settings. Actual gains depend on driving style and conditions.
- Lower Emissions – The efficiency improvements also lower the Wrangler’s greenhouse gas emissions and other air pollutants. Eco Mode reduces environmental impact.
- Reduced Noise – The later upshifting and muted throttle response help decrease noise levels, making Eco Mode good for quieter highway cruising.
- Lower Operating Costs – The potential for increased fuel economy means spending less on gas and fewer trips to the pump. For Wrangler owners driving longer distances, this can add up to notable savings.
When Should You Use Eco Mode in a Wrangler?
Eco Mode works best in specific driving scenarios:
- Highway Driving – The steady speeds and constant rpm of highway driving let Eco Mode optimize the transmission and engine efficiency. Mileage gains will be most apparent at 55-65 mph.
- Flat Roads – Gradual inclines are fine, but Eco Mode is not ideal for mountainous or hilly areas where more power and torque are needed.
- Light Loads – Don’t engage it when carrying full passenger loads or towing trailers. The added weight presents a larger power draw.
- No Off-Roading – The muted throttle and earlier upshifting of Eco Mode are counterproductive for technical off-road trails that require maximum power and traction at low speeds.
How Much Gas Does Eco Mode Save in a Wrangler?
Fuel savings from Eco Mode vary based on driving style and conditions, but many Wrangler owners report:
- 10-15% improvement in city mileage
- Up to 20% better highway gas mileage
- 1-3 more mpg on average
For example, if a Wrangler normally averages 18 mpg combined, using Eco Mode could potentially increase this to 20-21 mpg.
Over a year, a driver with a 15,000 annual mileage averaging 12,000 highway miles could save roughly 40-75 gallons from improving highway efficiency by 15-20%.
That equates to $120-$225 in savings annually based on today’s average national gas price of $3 per gallon. For Wrangler owners driving long highway commutes, the savings add up.
Eco Mode Driving Tips for Wrangler Owners
Follow these tips to maximize fuel economy while driving in Eco Mode:
- Accelerate lightly from stops. Avoid jackrabbit starts and rapid speeding up. Gradually get up to speed.
- Plan routes to minimize stops. Time lights and coast to avoid braking when possible.
- Brake smoothly and progressively when needed. No aggressive or abrupt braking.
- Maintain steady speeds and use cruise control whenever possible. Avoid unnecessary speed fluctuations.
- Remove unneeded cargo weight and ensure tires are properly inflated for minimum rolling resistance.
- Level off your Wrangler if equipped with a lift kit. The increased height exacerbates aerodynamic drag.
- Don’t idle excessively when stopped. Shut off the engine if waiting more than 60 seconds.
- Warm up the engine before driving. Avoid revving a cold engine which uses extra fuel.
Does Eco Mode Affect Wrangler Performance?
Eco Mode results in a slight performance drop-off due to the altered drivetrain tuning, but most drivers will barely notice it in normal driving:
- Throttle response feels marginally lazier, but acceleration is still strong when pressed.
- Relaxed shifting may be noticeable, but not dramatically.
- Passing power and torque are ample for highway cruising.
The changes are subtle and primarily meant to smooth out aggressive acceleration and transmission hunting. Power is still readily available when you need it.
Performance is noticeably impacted if using Eco Mode for towing or hill climbs. But for everyday commuting and driving, you’ll hardly recognize a difference.
Is There a Fuel Economy Setting for Manual Wranglers?
Since manual transmissions lack automatic shifting, Eco Mode as described above only applies to automatic Wranglers.
But manual models do have a Green Mode or Fuel Economy Mode that optimizes engine operating parameters for efficiency while keeping full power available.
Enabling this adjusts engine timing, torque delivery, and the Integrated Motor Assist hybrid system on 4xe plug-in models. The result is maximized mileage without affecting the joy of rowing your own gears.
How to Turn On Eco Mode in Newer Wrangler Models?
The steps for activating Eco Mode vary slightly by model year:
2018 – 2020 Jeep Wranglers:
- Using the steering wheel controls, scroll to the Vehicle Information menu.
- Select Fuel Economy mode.
- Toggle Eco Mode on. A leaf icon will display.
2021 – 2022 Jeep Wranglers:
- Press the Efficiency button near the infotainment display.
- Select Driver Assistance in the menu.
- Toggle on Eco Mode.
2023+ Jeep Wranglers:
- Press the Efficiency button.
- Scroll to the Drivetrain menu.
- Select Eco Mode to enable it.
In all cases, a green leaf or “ECO” icon will display in the instrument cluster when engaged. Repeat the steps to turn Eco Mode off.
When Should You Turn Off Eco Mode?
While Eco Mode improves efficiency in the right circumstances, it’s recommended to disable it in these scenarios:
- Off-road driving or rock crawling at low speeds
- Towing heavy trailers or boats, especially uphill
- Carrying heavier loads of passengers and cargo
- Driving on hilly or mountainous highways
- If more responsive acceleration is needed for merging or passing
- When using 4WD on loose surfaces for maximum traction
- If pleased with your current mileage and performance
The altered shift points and throttle mapping are counterproductive in situations that demand maximum power or traction. Know when to turn Eco off.
Frequently Asked Questions About Wrangler Eco Mode
Does Eco Mode work with a manual transmission?
No, it’s only available in automatic transmission Wranglers. But manuals have a similar Fuel Economy setting.
Will leaving it in Eco Mode all the time damage my engine?
No, Eco Mode will not harm the engine when used sensibly. It’s safe for everyday driving.
Should I still use 4WD in Eco Mode?
Yes, still shift into 4WD mode normally based on conditions. The system adjusts to be more conservative in Eco.
Can I use Eco Mode when towing a trailer?
It’s not recommended, as the added load requires more power. The muted throttle too often kicks down gears.
Will Eco Mode help me in the city?
Yes, it can improve mileage by 10-15% in stop and go traffic by smoothing acceleration and braking.
Does Eco Mode work with Turbo models?
Yes, the Eco driving adjustments optimize turbo efficiency the same on turbocharged engines.
So in summary, Jeep’s Eco Mode offers a valuable way for Wrangler owners to enhance their vehicle’s fuel efficiency and save money on gas. While not a magic bullet, smart use of Eco can provide noticeable mileage gains with minimal impact on performance. Just be sure to disable it when power and responsiveness become a priority. With gas prices high, every bit of savings helps!
We’ve covered how Jeep Wrangler’s Eco Mode functions, when to activate it for maximum benefit, and real world tips to leverage it’s fuel saving potential. When driven sensibly on the highway without heavy loads, gains of 10-20% are achievable. The smart driving behavior Eco Mode encourages also pays dividends long after it’s switched off. With a broad picture of how this feature works, you can put it to use providing tangible savings over the lifespan of your Wrangler.