Turbodiesel Jeep of a Different Kind
The 45-year run of license-built Mitsubishi J-Series included two diesel-powered models.
Amid all the talk of a new diesel-powered Wrangler on the horizon, a more peculiar historical diesel Jeep has emerged.
Well, this Jeep has been around for quite some time, but a recent Autoweek report renewed our interest in the vehicle. However, we should note this particular diesel-powered Jeep wore Mitsubishi badges and was sold solely in Japan. In fact, Mitsubishi stamped its name right above the seven-slot grille of the vehicle so nobody mistakes it for an American model.
The SUVs, known as the Mitsubishi J-Series, featured two different diesel engines during its 45-year run, which ended in 1998. The licensed Jeep variants included the KE31, a diesel variant of the Willys Hurricane developed by Mitsubishi, and a 2.7-liter turbocharged diesel inline-four engine, also engineered by the Japanese carmaker.
When Mitsubishi first produced the J-Series back in 1953, the JH4, a 2.2-liter inline-four engine, powered the license-built Jeep. That engine derived from the Willys Hurricane flathead-four used in in American Jeeps in the fifties.
Diesel models came later, along with the in-your-face “Turbo” decals. In case you find yourself wanting to advertise the SUV’s alternative powertrain, the J-Series wears those in big, bold letters. Sure, the idea that any American Jeep fan would have an interest in owning a Mitsubishi J-Series seems somewhat sacrilegious. But you have to admit, there is something appealing about the truck, nonetheless.
That said, you face a substantial challenge if you want to land one of the Jeeps. Even if you want to buy one, chances remain slim that you’ll find one. As detailed in the Autoweek report, the 25-year import rule still prohibits the last model years of the J-Series from stateside importing. Even the older models are a rarity in the US.