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Letters to the Editor: Cummins Repower R2.8 Engine Swap

Emissions Check

May 30, 2017
Diesel Powered
A couple years ago, I read a story in Truck Trend about a Cummins diesel-powered Nissan Frontier. Ever since then I’ve been lusting over having a vehicle of my own powered by that same 2.8L inline-four-cylinder engine. I love the idea of having loads of torque, great fuel economy, and legendary Cummins reliability. Buying a new truck, like Chevy’s Duramax Colorado, is out of the question because they are just so expensive. I’d love to know if you can point me in the direction of how to get a 2.8L Cummins of my very own. Thanks!
Paul Williams
Via Email
Photo 2/10   |   Under the hood of the black Jeep Wrangler TJ is first installation of the Cummins Repower R2.8. As you can see, the engine and wiring appear nearly factory. Behind the engine is the stock AX15 five-speed manual transmission. All of the current R2.8 installations are backed by manual transmissions, but with the right adapter there’s nothing stopping anyone from using an automatic.
Photo 3/10   |   Cummins Repower R2.8 Engine Swap
Great question! It’s been almost three years since we reported on the Cummins-powered Frontier in the January/February 2015 issue of Truck Trend. There are a few options to satisfy your diesel desire. You could swap in a 3.3L Cummins, commonly found in heavy equipment or generators. You could also do a 3.9L 4BT swap, which has been done to nearly every vehicle in every configuration conceivable. However, your best bet to get the exact engine that you want is to purchase a Cummins R2.8 from the new Cummins Repower crate engine division.
The R2.8 is a brand-new, factory-built, 2.8L, inline-four-cylinder engine. It features a modern, high-pressure, common-rail, fuel-injection system and is turbocharged and intercooled. This all combines to produce 161 hp and 267 lb-ft of torque. The combination of powerful low-end torque, cleaner emissions than older gasoline engines, and lower engine operating temperatures make it a great option for small to midsize pickups and SUVs.
Buying the R2.8 from Cummins gets you almost everything needed to get up and running. The engine comes dressed with a power-steering pump, 120-amp alternator, crankshaft-driven vacuum pump, grid heater, and an engine-mounted, passive diesel oxidation catalyst. Also included in the crate are a wiring harness, engine computer, accelerator pedal, OBDII port, and a J1939 digital data display.
Photo 4/10   |   The white Wrangler, also known as the “Tube Sock” for those that follow the Dirt Every Day video series on YouTube and Motor Trend OnDemand, shows what a more off-road-centric installation might look like. If you’re not a follower of Dirt Every Day, now is a good time to look it up, as this very Jeep recently drove across the bottom of a lake, completely under water, with this very engine.
We recently had the opportunity to jump behind the wheel of a pair of Jeep Wrangler TJs powered by the Cummins R2.8. The pair of Jeeps couldn’t have been more different, with one a lifted off-road monster and the other nearly stock. Despite being polar opposites, the R2.8 motivated both of them equally well. Obviously, gearing plays a big part in all of this, and that’s why Cummins has a handy calculator that will help guide you with selecting the correct axle gears for the transmission and tire diameter you’re running.
We also had the opportunity to drive a 3.3L and 3.9L Cummins-powered Jeep Wranglers at the same time. And we can say with authority, while they are all fun to drive, the 2.8L was by far the quickest, smoothest, and quietest of the bunch. The level of refinement that comes from the crate-engine program—and specifically the R2.8—is second to none when it comes to four-cylinder diesel swaps. We didn’t get a chance to calculate the fuel economy, but we believe the folks at Cummins when they say they see a large improvement over the factory gasoline engines. How much of an improvement really depends on application, however.
Photo 5/10   |   The R2.8 (left) is relatively small and light when compared to the QSB3.3 (center) and 4BT (right) commonly used. The R2.8 weighs in at just 503 pounds, while the 3.9L 4BT checks in at 750 pounds, and the 3.3L falls right in the middle.
Cummins has been working very closely with the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) and the California Air Resources Board (CARB) to provide an emissions-compliant diesel-swap option, similar to the E-Rod program from Chevrolet. Right now they are compliant with pre-OBDII regulations, but it’s worth checking with your state and local agencies to ensure compliance with current emissions laws before undertaking the swap. The folks at Cummins are committed to the program and are continually working with CARB and the EPA to gain more certifications.
Engines from the Cummins Repower program are starting to slowly make their way out to customers, and full availability is expected soon. If you’re truly interested in picking up a 2.8L Cummins engine, head over to www.cumminsrepower.com to get all of the information and to put your name on the waiting list. We promise you won’t be disappointed!
Photo 6/10   |   Since the only option for a four-cylinder Cummins swap up until now was either the 3.3L or 3.9L, there are literally thousands of both running around. This example of a 3.3L swap was one of the cleanest that we’ve ever seen. While it was fun to drive, the experience doesn’t even come close to that of the R2.8.
Photo 7/10   |   We spent a day with this motley crew, all Cummins-powered, and all different. We only broke one of them, but that’s a story for another day.

Sources

Cummins Repower
cumminsrepower.com

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