Jeep Wrangler 3.6L Vs. 3.8L Vs. 4.0L: Which One Is The Best?

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Jeep is a king among other SUV models. However, with the release of every new Jeep model, things get a bit confusing for customers. 

Choosing between the latest model and previous editions becomes a bone of contention for auto enthusiasts.


This article will compare the Jeep Wrangler 3.6, 3.8, and 4.0. We will lay their features side by side. After reading this guide, you will be able to pick which of the three Jeep engines suits you best.

Jeep Wrangler 3.6 vs. 3.8 vs. 4.0: Comparison Table

Firing Order1-2-3-4-5-61-2-3-4-5-61-5-3-6-2-4
Weight4,105 lbs3,759 lbs3,241 lbs
Longevity200,000 miles200,000 miles300,000 miles
ProsTop-notch fuel efficiency
Perfect engine makeup
Relatively Easy Build Cost-EfficientProof of reliabilityProof of longevity is guaranteed
ConsExpensive repair costsPoor fuel efficiency
Lesser power
Poor fuel efficiency
Towing Capacity3,500 lbs.3,500 lbs.2,000 lbs.
Common ProblemsCylinder head issues.Oil efficiency and consumption issues.Exhaust Leaks, water pump issues.
Horsepower285 hp202 hp183 hp
Torque260 lb-ft232 lb-ft222 lb-ft

Jeep Wrangler 3.6 vs. 3.8 vs. 4.0: Detailed Comparison

This table above shows the general overview of the comparison between the three Jeep models. Now, we will discuss their features in full detail and select a clear winner.

Engine Performance

Winner: 3.6L

The 3.6L produces the best performance of the three engines as it is fuel-efficient, powerful, and small. It has a rating of 285 hp and a torque rating of 260 lb-ft. Its 4 valves per cylinder setup allow sufficient airflow to produce higher fuel efficiency and more power at lower RPM. If you’re looking for a great engine that has a touch of everything, the 3.6L should be your choice.

The 4.0L comes close to the 3.6 because of its reliability. Despite the fact that this engine has been around for decades, you cannot write it off. Drivers attest that their 4.0 lasts for over 300,000 miles at times. Its output rating is 222 lb-ft of torque and 183 hp.

Lastly, the 3.8L is capable of delivering 232 lb-ft and 202-hp. If you want this vehicle to function optimally, you will have to regear your axles to make them match your tires’ dimensions.


Towing Capacity

Winner: 3.6L

In the towing capacity category, the numbers don’t lie. Both the 3.6 and 3.8 come with a 3,500 lb capacity. The 4.0 falls short with only a 2,000 lb capacity.

Auto experts still rate the Jeep 3.6 over the 3.8 in towing capacity. They come in similar builds, but 3.6 comes with lighter materials. This allows for better power and torque distribution in the engine, making your towing experience smoother.

The Jeep 3.8 is not bad at all. But it cannot haul heavy equipment efficiently because of its simple design.  Hence, the 3.6 steals the show in the towing capacity category.


Winner: 4.0L

All the Jeep variants have great longevity. But some are fairly higher than others. Jeep 3.6 and 3.8 come with the same distance of 200,000 miles. The average driver will require 15 years to cover this distance. 

The 4.0 variant wins by a mile in this category as its longevity spans up 300,000 miles. It is recommended that you take your vehicle for general maintenance once it clocks 150,000 miles. If you use your car well and maintain the engine properly, your 4.0 could last well over 300,000 miles.

With such careful analytics, it is safe to say that the 4.0 is miles ahead of its other variants in terms of longevity.

Firing Order

Firing order describes the pattern of power delivery to the internal combustion cylinders of an engine. This ignition sequence has a slight impact on the vibration of the engine. Also, note that sound and power distribution vary among vehicles with different firing orders.

The 3.6 and 3.8 engines come with the same 1-2-3-4-5-6 order, while the 4.0 variant has a firing sequence of 1-5-3-6-2-4. 


Winner: 3.6L

Reliability is an essential factor that no vehicle owner should underrate. Specific engines and vehicles are widely known to develop noticeable faults after a period of usage. Most times, it is due to a flaw in the manufacturing process.

The 3.6 variant is the most reliable for drivers. Essentially, it is a powerhouse. Although the earliest release came with cylinder head issues, it was quickly rectified. On the other hand, some of the early 3.8L models would make you battle a bit with rapid oil consumption. This is due to the poor installation of their oil control rings. There have also been reports of dry start issues. If the engine remains idle for some days, it can produce a knocking sound when you try to start it.

4.0L Jeep drivers usually complain of frequent exhaust leaks, water pump issues, and oil leaks.

Pros and Cons

ProsFuel efficiency at its peakReliable engine build
Small but powerful
Low cost of repair
Easy to maintain
Great longevity
Simple design which makes it easy to repair
ConsRepair may be a bit costly
Cylinder head fault in earlier builds
Poor fuel efficiency
Lesser power than expected
Low towing capacity
Disappointing engine performance


Winner: 4.0L

The 4.0L comes up top as the most cost-efficient option. You will get a good replacement at an average price of $1800. Also, the price to performance ratio is great. The power and efficiency you get at that price make it a great buy. The 3.8L and 3.6L cost US$2,800 and US$4,200, respectively.

Car Models

In the auto world, each engine is associated with specific jeep models. Unless you’re an adventurous auto expert who loves to explore and make mods, it is best to keep the engines in the models they are associated with. Mixing them up may not damage the engine, but you might not get the optimal performance for the vehicle.
Grand Cherokee: 2011-2015Wrangler (JK): 2007–2011Cherokee: 1987-2001
Wrangler JK: 2012-2018Grand Cherokee: 1993-2004
Wrangler JL: 2019-presentWagoneer: 1987-1990
Gladiator JT: 2020-presentComanche: 1987-1992 
Wrangler: 1991-2006


Without a doubt, the Jeep 3.6L engine is the best. This machine is the epitome of modern automobile technology. It has the best performance, handling, and towing capability. As for the 3.8L, it has a simple design that allows for easy maintenance.

The 4.0L is an old engine. Nevertheless, it has withstood the test of time, thanks to its supreme longevity. If you want to conserve money, go for the 4.0L.

Check through the specs of these three Jeep engines. Weigh the options and land yourself the perfect engine. 

Read more: What Wheels Interchange With Jeep Grand Cherokee?


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