New Model News
2021 Jeep Wrangler 4xe is a plug-in hybrid that enhances the JL's off-road prowess
We all know how capable the Jeep Wrangler is. We know what mountains it can climb and what rivers it can ford. We also know that the fuel efficiency is terrible. Since the JL has debuted, Jeep added a slightly more efficient available EcoDiesel powertrain. Now there's an even more fuel-efficient choice.
The 2021 Jeep Wrangler 4xe is a plug-in hybrid that is capable of driving up to 25 miles on electricity alone. It's a next-generation system from Jeep and provides the added benefit of improving off-road performance.
Photo courtesy of FCA US LLC
The gasoline engine attached to the Wrangler 4xe is a turbocharged 2.0-liter inline four-cylinder. It has two electric motors providing torque on-demand, and power is sent to all four-wheels via Jeep's tried-and-true eight-speed automatic. Jeep is estimating 50 MPGe.
Total system power output is 375 horsepower - significantly more than the 260 to 285 horsepower the JL has in its other power plant options. Combined system torque, however, is where it gets really fun. It's a beefy 470 pound-feet. That means it makes more than the EcoDiesel's 442 pound-feet, which should make ambitious rock crawling even more fun.
There's a 400-volt, 17-kilowatt hour, 96-cell lithium-ion nickel manganese cobalt battery pack on board for hybrid duty. On a Level 2 charger, expect a full charge in around two hours from empty. While those figures make the Wrangler 4xe's setup sound a lot like what's in the Chrysler Pacifica Hybrid, this is a newer system. It's also larger and more powerful than the hybrid system in the Jeep Compass and Renegade 4xe.
There are separate controls to regulate the hybrid system. Standard operating procedure is in hybrid drive mode. There's an EV-only mode, which makes the Wrangler run on electricity on demand. An eSave mode will hold the electricity in the battery for use later and use the gas engine to fill it up. In Europe and Asia, some cities charge extra or prevent gasoline vehicles from entering their city center. Being able to hold the electricity until the driver needs it is crucial in those regions.
The battery pack sits under the rear seats. By default, this means that the 4xe only comes in the 4-door Unlimited body style.
In top-spec Rubicon trim, the Wrangler 4xe maintains all the capability of the non-hybrid Rubicon. That includes a water fording capability of 30-inches. All electric operating modes remain available when the Wrangler is in 4Lo.
The two other trims available for 4XE are the base model and the Sahara. All models get Dana 44 axles and have a two-speed transfer case. All Wranglers have Selec-Speed Control with both ascending and descending hill controls. That means the driver can select the speed they want to Jeep to go, and it controls the throttle and the brake to maintain that speed while clearing an obstacle.
Jeep's selectable Max Regen feature allows for more assertive regenerative braking while a driver is coasting. This is similar to one-pedal driving and it can slow the Wrangler 4xe faster than standard regenerative braking and generate more electricity for the battery pack.
Visually you'll be able to tell a 4xe model from the rest of the lineup because the Wrangler 4xe has blue accents on the badges and hood. The tow hooks on the Rubicon are also blue instead of red. Inside, the Wrangler 4xe Rubicon includes unique Electric Blue stitching on the seats and trim.
Beyond the electrification, the Wrangler is still a Jeep. They went to great efforts to ensure that selecting this powertrain option doesn't hinder the performance of the Wrangler off road, but actually improve it.
Pricing is unknown at this point, but getting the JL as a PHEV likely won't be the cheap option. Expect the Wrangler 4xe to be in showrooms in early 2021.