2021 Jeep Wrangler 4xe Is a Hybrid Built for Serious Off-Roading

  • The 2021 Jeep Wrangler 4xe is a plug-in-hybrid model that still preserves the iconic nameplate’s awesome off-road capability.
  • Along with a combined 375 horsepower and 470 lb-ft of torque, its gasoline-electric powertrain has 25 miles of all-electric range and an estimated 50 MPGe.
  • Jeep hasn’t said how much the Wrangler 4xe will cost, but we’re told it’ll go on sale early next year.

    The Jeep Wrangler exchanges its famed 4×4 badges for ones that read 4xe with the introduction of its first-ever plug-in-hybrid model. Yes. The 2021 Wrangler 4xe adopts an eco-friendly powertrain and thereby endorses the preservation of the very environments that helped the Jeep brand claim its fame.

    Now, before ’80s guy starts making Prius jokes, pump the brakes. The electrified Wrangler is just as capable in the dirt and on the rocks as its gasoline-only counterpart. Every 4xe boasts a pair of solid Dana 44 axles, a two-speed transfer case that enables full-time four-wheel drive, 10.8 inches of ground clearance, and the ability to ford up to 30 inches of water. If your first impulse was to think water and electric vehicles go together like smoking while pumping gas, relax. Jeep says all the 4xe’s high-voltage components are sealed and waterproof. Whew.

    Not only is the 4xe just as well equipped to explore parts unknown as the regular Wrangler, it’s actually more powerful. With one electric motor mounted at the front of the 4xe’s turbocharged 2.0-liter inline-four and another mounted at the front of its eight-speed automatic transmission, the hybrid Wrangler generates a combined 375 horsepower and 470 lb-ft of torque. Those figures exceed all of the lineup’s nonhybrid engines, including the diesel 3.0-liter V-6 that develops 442 lb-ft. Even if Jeep actually builds the 450-hp V-8–powered Rubicon concept, the plug-in hybrid will still have an advantage of 20 lb-ft over the 6.4-liter Hemi.

    Feeding the Wrangler 4xe’s electric motors is a 17.0-kWh lithium-ion-nickel-manganese-cobalt battery pack, which is stored beneath the back seat and is accessible by simply flipping up the bottom cushion. While Jeep didn’t disclose the plug-in’s charger compatibility or charging times, it did describe the charge port itself. Located on the left front cowl, which should make nose-first parking at a charging station more convenient, the port has an LED light that indicates the charging status. Inside, there’s an LED display atop the instrument panel to let you quickly check the battery’s state of charge.

    Obviously, the Wrangler 4xe will be the most fuel-efficient model on the roster. Not only will it earn an estimated 50 MPGe, it has an electric-only mode that is said to deliver up to 25 miles of driving range on a full charge. This Electric mode is one of three “E Selec” settings that can be activated via buttons to the left of the steering wheel. There’s also a Hybrid mode that blends both gas and electric sources but prioritizes battery power until it reaches a minimum state of charge. The eSave mode, which sounds like an online coupon, relies on the gasoline engine for propulsion, saving the battery’s energy for when you want it.

    Among the plug-in-hybrid Wrangler’s other electric-centric features is regenerative braking. The system blends traditional friction brakes with the maximum amount of regen when the driver presses the brake pedal. The four-wheel-drive system also contributes to the recovery of the battery’s state of charge. The 4xe even offers one-pedal driving when the Max Regen function is selected by the driver, but it has to be turned off manually.

    From the outside, the 4xe can be distinguished from other Wranglers by special Electric Blue accents. On the rugged Rubicon model, the cool hue is applied to the front and rear tow hooks as well as around the exterior badges and the hood decal. The interior duplicates the aesthetic, with Electric Blue stitching on the seats and trim panels. But otherwise the cabin layout and available features are familiar from the rest of the Wrangler lineup.

    While Jeep hasn’t announced any prices for the 4xe model, we know it’ll be offered in base, Sahara, and Rubicon trim levels. It’ll also definitely cost somewhere north of the regular Wrangler’s current starting price of $29,790 when it reaches dealer showrooms sometime early next year.

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