The Jeep Wrangler is an off-roading icon built for dunes and rock-laden trails. However, enthusiasts demand more than just all-terrain expertise from this vehicle. So in response to this wave of interest in the Jeep’s capability, this article will discuss the Jeep Wrangler top speed.
The top speed of the Jeep Wrangler is 100 mph (160 kph) on diesel and 112 mph (180 kph) on gasoline. However, with the motor, tire size, and transmission modifications, they can go even faster. The Jeep Wrangler Willys Edition (stock) has the highest registered top speed at 125 mph.
Besides determining the Jeep’s top speed, you will also get to know about useful upgrades, shift options, and the role of diesel and gasoline in speeding up your beast. This article will help both the savant and the new owner turn their brutes into an all-in-one high-performance Jeep Wrangler.
Is the Wrangler Built for Speed?
We all know that the Wrangler is a category on its own with its war-torn aesthetic, big wheels, and versatile top covers. It is a mean machine off-road and a decent on-road vehicle if you don’t mind a bit of a bumpy, rugged ride. And while everyone can agree that it gives its drivers the best of both worlds, people naturally have mixed opinions about driving the vehicle at top speed. Sports cars fans and previous Porsche owners wouldn’t dare do more than 80 mph on this tall, wide four-wheeler as they feel it is a little unnerving. On the other hand, curious drivers would want to test the limits of the Wrangler to see just how fast it can go.
Jeep owners have gone from installing 2″ to 4″ lifts and up to 35-inch tires only to increase its top speed to as high as 95 mph. Others claim to drive it beyond 105 mph on stock wheels. Then there’s the Terremoto-built Jeep Wranglers that can exceed 130 mph (209.2 kph) for maximum speed. A few advise against driving it beyond 75 mph (or even beyond the posted speed limit) due to its seemingly weak wind resistance, sudden steering sensitivity, and “death wobble.”
Jeep Wrangler Top Speed for Different Trims
Despite the differing opinions of Jeep owners and enthusiasts, they can undeniably customize Jeep Wranglers to go faster. With lift and tire size mods alone, enthusiasts have recorded 2015 Jeep Rubicon and Jeep Wrangler Unlimited top speeds at 103 to 105 mph. Conversely, stock Jeeps register different maximum speeds depending on the trim package.
In general, almost all Jeep Wrangler trim levels would have a top speed between 100 to 112 mph. Jeep Wranglers SE (1997–2006), X (2002–2006), Sport (1997–2006), Columbia Edition (2004), Unlimited Sport Edition, and Sahara Edition Unlimited Rubicon all register a top speed of approx. 100 mph (160 kph) on diesel and 112 mph (180 kph) on petrol or gasoline. Quite similarly, a 1996 Jeep Wrangler Sahara’s top speed would be at 112 mph. What would differ is its acceleration depending on whether it’s a two-door or five-door model. A two-door Jeep Sahara would accelerate 0-60 mph in 8.7 seconds, 0-100 mph in 9.6 seconds, and a quarter-mile in 17 seconds. A five-door Sahara would accelerate a bit slower – 0-62 mph in 9.6 seconds.
There are, however, three trim packages that have a slightly different recorded top speed.
- The 60th Anniversary Edition Jeep Wrangler records at 108 mph (173.8 kph) without a speed governor and with 0-60 mph acceleration at 8.8 seconds.
- The Jeep TJ maximum speed lists at 115 mph (185 kph), which is slightly higher than the rest of the Wrangler models.
- And the Willys Edition (2004–2005) registers at 125 mph (201.2 kph) with 0-60 mph acceleration at approx. 9 seconds.
For the rest of the Jeep Wrangler trim packages not mentioned here, there is little to no information available for their recorded maximum speed. This could attribute to the fact that these other trims are no longer around or may just be kept as a collectible by enthusiasts who still have them. A perfect example is the commemorative Jeep Wrangler Tomb Raider Edition (2003).
Diesel vs. Petrol
Even with the launch of the 2020 Jeep Wrangler Unlimited Sahara EcoDiesel in November 2019, the Jeep still has a higher recorded top speed running on gasoline at 112-130 mph. It comes as no surprise since the off-road beast originally had gasoline-powered engines. On the other hand, diesel engines on Wranglers are very promising as they offer consistent performance at speed despite the Jeep’s brick-like frame. There is ease of control in power delivery and throttle responsiveness. Likewise, acceleration is made simpler.
Currently, diesel engines are only available to four-door Wranglers with 4WD and an eight-speed automatic transmission. This trim is more popularly known as the Jeep Wrangler Unlimited. While this is already a dream come true for a lot of Jeep enthusiasts, the diesel-powered engine has a long way before it can surpass its gasoline-powered predecessors’ top speed. We can only expect to see greater things coming from our favorite off-road specialist.
Well-maintained stock Jeeps already perform quite nicely, with maximum speeds up to 105 mph. But for those who find their four-wheeler falling short of expectations, then doing modifications is the answer. Here are some upgrades you can do on your Wrangler to feed your need for speed:
- Motor. A motor swap is, perhaps, one of the trickiest upgrades you will ever perform on any vehicle. Changing the motor is like doing a heart transplant. Luckily, Jeep Wranglers come with large, open engine bays and a high ground clearance that makes this task less daunting. Popular choices for engine replacements are Chrysler’s 318-cc V8 and 360-cc engines, and Chevrolet’s 350-cc powerplant.
- Supercharger. This major engine modification is not a feat for the novice mechanic. A supercharger takes the brunt of work off your engine by forcing air into the intake. Once installed in your Jeep, you will almost immediately see that big payoff with an increase in your horsepower by at least 90.
- Cold Air Intake. Feeding your Wrangler fresh air is central to increasing horsepower and torque. The more horsepower your Jeep has, the higher its top speed and acceleration. You’ll also see improved gas mileage and feel more power when you hit the pedal. A K&N Cold Air Intake Kit (view on Amazon) would be perfect in increasing your 2012 Jeep Wrangler Rubicon top speed.
- Throttle Body Spacer. By definition, a throttle body spacer is a thick metal plate that increases air velocity, affecting how fuel splits up into small, mist-like particles. An inch-lift in your throttle body helps your Jeep’s performance reach new levels and makes your engine burn fuel more efficiently.
- Exhaust System. An exhaust upgrade increases your Jeep’s horsepower and torque. It also keeps your exhaust gas temperature or EGT within limits (not exceeding 1250° F). Pair this with brand new exhaust headers, and your Jeep is guaranteed to outlast any adventure.
- Gearing. Regearing is crucial to adjust the size of your tires as this ensures that no additional stress transfers to the axles. Primarily, you would want a shorter or larger gear for off-roading and a taller or smaller gear for highway driving. Take note that front and rear axles need simultaneous regearing.
You may also modify your Wrangler with a tuner. Tuners are great at adjusting air-fuel ratio, timing, and changing shift points when driving an automatic. However, if you have a stock Jeep with massive swamper tires, a cold air intake, and higher Octane fuel, you may not feel any difference in speed and performance.
A word of advice is to do alterations with great caution. As with other vehicles, the more modifications, the more prone you are to either slowing down your Jeep or compromising the comfort and sustainability of your ride.
Apart from doing mods, properly using your Jeep’s 4WD option also helps optimize performance and speed. But contrary to popular belief, 4H does not make your bad boy any faster but is one of four shift options for a Jeep with a dual-rate transfer case. Below, you can find the corresponding functions of each shift option and some pointers on proper usage of your shift lever:
- 2H: Also known as 2 Hi, this is the position your vehicle should be in for everyday driving – meant for normal on-road driving on dry pavement.
- 4H: The 4H or 4 Hi option is used when you need extra traction and stability on loose surfaces like dirt roads, hard-packed sand, or icy roads by having your Jeep’s front wheels and tires help out.
- 4L: In the 4L or 4 Lo position, your Jeep uses a lower gear ratio to drive your front and rear wheels for maximum traction and power at slower speeds. This option provides your vehicle with better engine braking and control on rocky surfaces, deep mud or snow, and steep inclines.
Things to Remember:
- Use 4H for on-road driving up to 55 mph and only on slick roads or loose surfaces.
- When using 4L, never exceed speeds of 25 mph.
- Never use 4H or 4L on dry paved roads as these shift positions lock your Jeep’s front and rear driveshafts together. Erroneously using 4H or 4L on dry surfaces can lead to heat build-up or breakages.
- Refer to your owner’s manual if still uncertain of when or how to use your 4WD option.
Jeep Wrangler Top Speed Questions
- What is the Jeep Wrangler top speed 2020? Based on factory claims and ProfessCars™ estimation, the 2020 Jeep Wrangler can hit up to 121.8 mph (196 kph) running on gasoline. As of yet, there is no recorded top speed for the diesel-powered Sahara EcoDiesel.
- What is the 2019 Jeep Wrangler top speed? The 2019 Jeep lists its maximum speed at 125 mph, similar to the 2018 model and The Jeep Wrangler Willys Edition.
- How fast is a Jeep Wrangler 4H? The 4H is not a Jeep Wrangler trim but rather a shift option. So the speed of a Jeep Wrangler 4H will depend on the specific trim of the Jeep, and whether or not it is stock or modded.
- How fast can you drive a Jeep in 4H or 4 high? The owner’s manual recommends up to 45 mph when shifting from 2H to 4H or vice-versa. But there is no clear answer on the fastest you can go in that shift option, which makes the answer to this question a bit subjective. However, more experienced Jeep owners advise to go up to 55 mph and only on slick roads or loose surfaces.
- Is it wrong to drive fast in 4×4 or 4WD? Pretending to be a Fast and Furious cast on 4WD can be pretty dangerous, as you have a greater tendency to flip and roll due to your higher center of gravity. The “death wobble” can be an additional concern, too, especially for those who have modified four-wheelers.
- Is the Jeep Wrangler’s 6-speed manual transmission faster than the 8-speed automatic transmission? The 6-speed manual transmission Jeep is still faster than the automatic Jeep, partly due to the former having a lighter engine and body-on-frame design. The automatic Jeep’s added weight breaks even the additional torque and power it delivers, which affects top speed.
Fiat Chrysler Automobiles is an Italian-American multinational corporation well-known for its well-engineered cars and is the maker of the Jeep Wrangler. In the U.S., it is widely known as a family brand of sedans, minivans, and full-size car segments. FCA operates in more than 130 countries, and its portfolio includes automotive brands Abarth, Alfa Romeo, Chrysler, Dodge, Fiat, Fiat Professional, Jeep, Lancia, Maserati, and Ram. The company name will change to Stellantis after its merger with Groupe PSA in 2021.
Conclusion – Jeep Wrangler Top Speed
Although upgrades to speed up your Jeep can be done by yourself or by a professional, experienced owners advise keeping your Jeep as close to stock as possible. Altering the engine and aftermarket parts can be exciting and fun to do. But going beyond what is considered allowable or safe can do you and your Jeep more harm than good.
In stock form, a Jeep Wrangler top speed can be anywhere between 100 to 125 mph, depending on trim, engine type, and road conditions. This speed is plenty enough to feel the wind on your face and the thrill of adventure when rock-crawling or driving on the state highway. It is best to keep it that way. Let the manufacturer do the work in improving the speed of your Wrangler. Just roll up that vinyl roof, go out in the sun, and enjoy the ride!
Kris is an avid off-roader and outdoor enthusiast who loves to brave the elements and take on challenging terrain. He also enjoys sharing his passion and knowledge with others so that they, too, can appreciate the ride.