What is the best Jeep battery: Odyssey vs Optima, or?
I like how raw and free-spirited driving a Jeep feels. Is there an end to my offroad adventures with my customized monster?
You can bet the answer is no.
That said, all the fun can easily come to an end if the power suddenly goes out.
If we’re talking about the best Jeep battery, you want two things: pure power, and reliability. Currently, I feel Odyssey’s lineup is doing better.
And the best bang for buck battery from their product line would be the Odyssey 34-PC1500T.
Reliable 850 cold crank amps, better design for more power, and flawless recharge efficiency. Pure virgin lead used, not some cheap lead alloy or material impurities.
It’ll reinvent how your Jeep behaves on the road or off road for a price that won’t break your budget.
Before I review it and two other alternative Jeep Wrangler batteries, I’m sure you want to ask:
Mike, why Odyssey? What about Optima or Northstar?
What’s up with the Diehard Platinum too?
Yeah, the past few years were kinda complicated. Very briefly, here’s what happened with Optima and Odyssey from my personal point of view.
Also, Diehard batteries got discontinued last year. It’s Odyssey that produced them anyways, so most of the Diehard fans migrated to the brand.
Odyssey vs Optima batteries nowadays
A few years ago, Optima was THE choice for many Jeep owners. Yellowtops or Redtops, their AGM batteries were a favorite for most of my offroad circle buddies who would inspire me to get a Wrangler myself.
The thing is, around 2010 Optima was acquired by Johnson Controls and outsourced the manufacturing. As far as I know, it’s done in Mexico.
Now, I actually kinda respect Johnson Controls. They have manufactured some awesome stuff. But with Optima, something feels to be different ever since that acquisition.
My buddies noted that there’s a tangible difference between early 00s Optima batteries and the newer batches. If you take a look at Jeep forums, you’ll see a similar pattern in the discussions there.
Some people mention that what was a long-lasting (6+ years) battery before now has a shorter operation life. Opinions, of course, vary – other people still praise Optima and their performance.
To me, there’s another very important point.
Odyssey came out. Sure, their batteries are heavy as hell (50 darn lbs!) but they simply perform better.
And it all has to do with the advance of technology. Optima’s spiral-wounded Jeep batteries were a total hit before.
But Odyssey batteries’ design allows for more plate surface area (~15%) – which simply equals more power. They’re the new generation of heavy-duty batteries.
Optima just hasn’t moved forward that much in the recent years.
Of course, there are still a lot of people who are satisfied with their Optimas. Yellowtops continue to sell quite well and get mentioned in Jeep talks.
But to me, while Odyssey are more consistent in their performance, Optima has started suffering from the batch variation syndrome.
1. Best Jeep battery:
Get ready to spin the motors and hit the offroad paths!
Yes, I know: Odyssey are a bit more expensive than some other Jeep battery brands. But the longevity, reliability and sheer power you get in return make these bucks worth it.
Cold cranking? Packing 850 CCA, this thing operates even when it’s -40° Fahrenheit/Celsius out there. They’ll even arrive charged to you (most of them, at least), so you can revv this thing up right here and right now.
I’m not kidding. Your engine will come to life as it’s been sleeping for the past 10 years and wants to make up for it.
There’s no empty space wasted here (unlike other brands’ round cell setups.) Everything is utilized, with more plates for more power. That’s why you get 70% longer cycle life at 400 cycles with around 80% discharge depth.
You can also use it as a battery for winching, as long as you don’t go too overboard with it. More on winching a bit later.
Last but not least, the brilliant design. As I mentioned, you’ve got more plate surface area here, but that’s not all.
Not only is this battery for Jeep Wranglers non-spillable, but it’s also resistant against high impact shocks and mechanical vibrations. As you can guess, this increases both your safety and the batery’s longevity.
2. Other possible choices
Optima YellowTop (750 CCA)
I know I was a bit too harsh on Optima and the truth is, to me, Odyssey is really the best Jeep battery choice for the moment.
Yet quite a lot of people are satisfied with their Optimas. It would be unfair of me to skip on mentioning them.
The YellowTops are the best, as they’re a dual purpose battery, not just a starting battery for Wranglers. The Optima is lighter (43 lbs vs Odyssey’s 50) and fairly cheaper than its rival.
This specific model cranks for 750 CCA, so it’s a little less powerful than the PC1500T. The reason I’m listing it is that you might be a more casual Jeep driver. Not everyone plans on going absolutely wild with their Wrangler, after all.
Similar to the Odyssey, you’ve got a spill and vibration resistant design that will protect the battery’s longevity. The discharge/recharge cycles are 25% lower than the previous battery, though, at around 300.
The biggest drawback to me is the design, something I mentioned before. The spirals take space which could’ve been used for more plates to deliver a bit more power and a more steady performance.
For casual use that might not be a problem, but for people who want more power things are different.
I admit I don’t know much about Northstars, but my friend uses these as a battery for his Jeep Commander. I’ve heard some rumors about these being actually produced by Odyssey.
The price point seems to be just between Odyssey and Optima for this 840 CCA Jeep battery (at zero degrees.) It actually performs the same amount of cycles (400) with an 80% depth of discharge as the 1500T Odyssey.
As far as reserve capacity goes, it’s around 160 minutes which is not bad at all.
The big news here is that not only you’re getting an AGM Jeep battery again. The lead used is once more virgin, non-recycled lead that boosts overall performance.
It’s really reassuring to know that even a relatively less-known brand like Northstar avoids recycling lead and shoots for the best quality.
All in all, a good brand to join the Odyssey vs Optima battery battle and bring diversity to Jeep drivers. I just don’t have hands-on experience with Northstar offroad batteries.
Knowing which battery to get for your Jeep
There’s quite the variety in all brands’ batteries for offroad driving and bigger cars…with a reason.
Let me ask you – what are you planning to do with your Jeep?
Do you plan on just driving casually around town and just a little bit of offroading?
Will you run a winch for some heavier action?
Do you want to run extra lights with your wrangler?
What about car stereo? Any plans to turn things up to the max?
All of these are factors in choosing which might be the best Jeep battery for your specific case.
For example, for heavier winching you might need something even more powerful like the PC2150S Odyssey series. These are for some REAL load on your Jeep, as they pack a whole 1150 CCA.
It really depends on your winch, how often do you plan to use it, how heavy of a load to you plan to use it on etc.
With winching, it’s also not only about the battery.
Your alternator also matters a lot, so make sure you have a good one inside your Jeep. It’ll help your battery to run at peak efficiency for no hiccups along the road.
Some people will advise you to shoot for a battery with CCA standing at 140-150% of the amount of winch pull you’ll mess around with. I think this is a good baseline. You’ll have some room to spare so you don’t destroy your electrical system.
Winch manufacturers will also mention the battery power they require to run properly. Always consult with their manuals so you get a proper Jeep setup going for your offroad adventures.
Go with AGM batteries
I don’t care which brand you choose. But, for the love of God, make sure the battery you’re getting is Absorbed Glass Matting a.k.a. AGM.
It really matters.
AGM types have a more solid design that remains resistant to shock, vibrations and jarring.
You know what happens when there’s offroad driving involved. A battery where the acid is a liquid, instead of the pastе, can get messy pretty quickly.
You don’t want that: the lead plates might be broken off the impact and there your battery goes, the cell being shorted out.
Luckily, most, if not all of the respected brands for Jeep batteries manufacture AGMs. As long as you stick to them (and you should), you’ll be safe.
As will be your Jeep too.
Side note: if you’re a casual driver, be sure to check out my Monroe vs KYB shocks & struts comparison. The case there is quite similar to the how Oddyssey and Optima battle it out!