New Model News

2021 Jeep Wrangler 4xe is a plug-in hybrid that enhances the JL's off-road prowess​

The Jeep Wrangler is getting an available plug-in hybrid powertrain.

Photo courtesy of FCA US LLC

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.

2021 Jeep Wrangler 4xe 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.

2021 Jeep Wrangler 4xe

Photo courtesy of FCA US LLC

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.

Trending News

Nuts & Bolts

 
 

The Nissan Re-Leaf is designed to help in disaster zones.

Photo courtesy of Nissan

When you need disaster relief, this Nissan Leaf is there for you, at least in theory. The Nissan Re-Leaf, an electric emergency response vehicle concept vehicle, takes the idea of portable electricity to a new level.

The Re-Leaf isn't just all-show. It's a working prototype that is designed to serve as a mobile power supply that can be used following natural disasters or extreme weather events. The Leaf was the world's first mass-market electric vehicle when it debuted a decade ago.

Natural disasters are the biggest cause of power outages. A 2019 World Bank report found natural shocks and climate change caused 37 percent of outages in Europe between 2000 and 2017, and 44 percent of outages in the US over the same period.

Nissan Re-Leaf

Photo courtesy of Nissan

Usually, when a disaster hits, the time for electricity supply to be restored is typically 24-48 hours if the damage is not too extensive. During that time, electric vehicles can provide mobile emergency power.

The Re-Leaf has a few modifications to make it disaster-ready. That starts at the exterior of the vehicle where weatherproof plug sockets mounted directly to the exterior enable 110- to 230-volt devices to be powered by the car's lithium-ion battery.

It is designed to drive into disaster zones and provide a mobile power supply. The integrated energy management system can run medical, communications, lighting and other life-supporting equipment.

The cars can also act as mobile storage batteries to supply homes with electricity during non-emergency situations by using the LEAF's bi-directional charging ability, a standard feature of the model since its introduction in 2010. This means the LEAF can not only 'pull' power to recharge the high-capacity battery, but also 'push' it back to the grid through V2G (Vehicle-to-Grid) technology, or directly to electronic devices through V2X (Vehicle-to-everything).

Acting as a portable power station, the latest generation Nissan LEAF e+ with a fully charged 62 kilowatt-hour (kWh) battery can provide enough electricity to power the average UK household for around six days.

This concept may look futuristic but the future is already here. Nissan has used the Leaf to provide emergency power and transportation following natural disasters since 2011.

The Re-Leaf sports an amber color scheme, a nod to the ancient Greek word for amber – electron – the origin of the word 'electricity'. There's a roof-mounted LED light bar that flashes amber lights as well. Nissan has raised the car by 70 mm and given it a wider track and all-terrain tires on 17-inch wheels.

Inside, the rear seats have been removed and the floor levelled to provide storage for essential equipment. A custom bulk-head cage also separates the front seats from the cargo area.

A bespoke pull-out desk extends from the cargo area with a 32-inch LED screen and dedicated power supply creating an operational hub to run communications from and manage the recovery process.

Trending News

 
 

Acura is revealing its next-gen MDX slowly, first with this, the MDX Prototype.

Photo courtesy of Acura

The MDX is the best-selling Acura in the lineup. It's also America's best-selling luxury three-row SUV. But that's not good enough.

Acura is redesigning the MDX and as it prepares to enter a fourth generation, a prototype of the new SUV will be shown on October 14. This looks to follow the same pattern as the TLX launch, which saw a prototype revealed about six months before the true model debut, just after the PMC Edition was put on sale.

Acura says that the next-gen MDX will usher in " new levels of Acura design, performance, technology and craftsmanship, assuming the mantle as the brand's new flagship model". And that's a good thing. The brand revolution that started with the RDX and continued with the TLX looks to go even further in a bid to re-establish Acura on its premium model throne.

The ofirst MDX was the industry's first three-row SUV based on a unibody platform, a design that has since gone mainstream as crossovers and lifestyle SUVs overrun a vehicle type that started as rugged off-roaders and family trucksters. Since it's debut, the MDX has garnered praise from buyers and critics alike including winning the 2001 North American Truck of the Year and 2001 Motor Trend SUV of the Year awards.

Over the past two decades, cumulative sales have surpassed 1 million units, securing MDX's place as the best-selling Acura model, accounting for roughly one-third of the brand's U.S. sales since its launch.

"We're accelerating Acura's commitment to Precision Crafted Performance and this fourth-generation MDX is the most ambitious and consequential redesign of an Acura core model in our history," said Jon Ikeda, vice president and Acura brand officer. "This all-new MDX will take us into new territory in terms of performance, prestige and emotional appeal."

The teaser image (above) and video (below) that were released today highlight the sharply sculpted beltline running the perimeter of the wider, lower and longer MDX, connecting the Jewel Eye LED headlights at the front to the Chicane LED taillights in the rear.

The MDX Prototype pulls heavily from the RDX and TLX with design nods to each. Still, it's unmistakably a three-row SUV. Though we don't know for sure what's under the hood, expect the MDX to have more a dynamic driving style when it debuts, following in the vein of the RDX and TLX redesigns.

Trending News