2021 Jeep Wrangler 4xe combines WWII handling with 50 mpg efficiency

  • Its appearance may still recall the battlefields of WWII, but there is nothing dated about the Jeep Wrangler 4xe’s powertrain.

    all terrain

  • The lithium-ion traction battery gives the Wrangler 4xe an electric range of up to 22 miles.

    all terrain

  • The Wrangler 4xe is the first Jeep Wrangler I’ve ever driven, so its road manners came as a huge surprise.

    all terrain

  • Ergonomics owes a lot to the 1940s.

    all terrain

  • The Wrangler 4xe keeps its traction battery under the rear seats.

    all terrain

  • Featured components are exclusive to the Wrangler 4xe.

    all terrain

  • The charging port, located just below the A-pillar on the driver’s side, is one of the few visual cues that it is an add-on.

    all terrain

  • Jeep has installed some chargers on the trails.

    all terrain

  • Press the center button for electric trips.

    all terrain

It’s not a hard and fast rule, but most cars would be better with the addition of some electric motors. There are always exceptions – heavy batteries and an electric motor would ruin a Caterham 7, for example, but it’s true for most cars. Consider the Jeep Wrangler 4xe, the new plug-in hybrid variant of the country’s favorite rock crawler.

For people who don’t use cars, Wrangler could also be synonymous with Jeep. The current generation Wrangler only dates back to 2017, but it still has plenty of styling cues that go straight back to the original WWII Jeep. The large wheels protrude from the body, protected with plastic arch extensions that house the LED daytime running lights at the front.

But it’s not a particularly large SUV by 2021 standards, at 188.4 inches (4,786mm) long (including the rear-mounted spare tire). The doors tell you that they can be removed using large external hinges. The only real clues that it’s a plug-in hybrid are a few bits of electric blue here and there (like tow hooks) plus the charging port that lives just below the A-pillar on the driver’s side.

To get in, pull on the sturdy door handle, then climb into the cab via the running board and an A-pillar-mounted grab handle. The design cues from the 1940s continue inside, with the dash more vertical that I have come across in many years. That means at least the UConnect touchscreen is close at hand.


Under the distinctive hood you’ll find a turbocharged 2.0L four-cylinder direct injection petrol engine producing 270 hp (200 kW) and 295 lb-ft (400 Nm). There’s also a 134 hp (100 kW) 181 lb-ft (245 Nm) electric traction motor mounted to the front of the eight-speed automatic transmission, in this case the ever-excellent ZF 8HP.

There’s also a two-speed transfer case with 4-high and 4-low four-wheel drive modes, as well as two-wheel drive for on-road activities. Our test Wrangler 4xe was the Sahara model, which features open front and rear Dana 44 differentials, although a limited-slip rear is available as an option. Hardcore off-roaders will want the Rubicon, which updates the differences with the Tru-Lok lockers.

In total, the hybrid powertrain is rated at 375 hp (280 kW) and 470 lb-ft (637 Nm), making it the most powerful Wrangler on sale after the one with a V8 hemi engine. (It has identical torque, which is probably more important in everyday driving and off-road.) The engine and engine are connected by a clutch that can disengage the internal combustion engine when the Wrangler 4xe is running. electric mode.

The lithium-ion traction battery is located under the rear seat. The total capacity is 17.3 kWh, of which the driver can use about 15 kWh. It can charge up to 7.2 kW when connected to a Level 2 charger (240 V, AC), which will take just under three hours to bring the battery back to 100 percent.

In electric mode, a fully charged battery is good for 22 miles of electric range, according to Jeep and the Environmental Protection Agency. You select the driving mode via a button on the dash, and there is another button to activate maximum regenerative braking in this mode, which in effect allows single pedal driving.

The other drive modes are hybrid, which is the default mode and combining the electric motor and the gasoline engine, and e-save, which tells the Wrangler 4xe to only use the internal combustion engine, saving the battery for more. ahead. As long as you have a charge in the battery, the hybrid mode should return 49 mpg (4.8 l / 100 km). But when the battery is empty, the efficiency plummets to 20 miles per gallon (11.8 L / 100 km).

It’s honestly not great for highway driving.

On the road, the Wrangler 4xe encourages a laid-back driving style that should help you get close to EPA numbers. I won’t beat around the bush: the Wrangler has the worst road manners of any new vehicle I’ve driven in a while, though. Between the knobby off-road tires and solid front and rear axles, the Jeep follows every bump and bump on the road, moving from side to side with small yaw movements as you drive seemingly in a straight line. You’ll cruise at highway speeds, but it’s not a particularly fun experience.

In the city, with some battery power and speeds below 40 km / h (25 mph), it works well as a rogue vehicle, except for hunting and moving. However, it doesn’t quite feel like the older generation. The Wrangler 4xe’s damping over bumps and the like was extremely good, inflating sharp bouncing motions effectively.

That suggests the Wrangler 4xe would be very competent off-road, something we couldn’t test. Not getting there is really a shame, because that’s the main reason this Jeep exists, and I’m pretty sure electric off-road driving in near silence is even better than normal off-road driving accompanied by engine noises. (Jeep has even built a few charging stations at the trailhead in Moab, Utah, as well as the Big Bear and Rubicon Trail in California.)

Regardless of which trim you choose, in our opinion the Wrangler 4xe is the ultimate choice in the range, if for no other reason that at least some of your driving can be emission-free. With an MSRP that starts at $ 51,025, it’s definitely not the cheapest Wrangler in the lineup, although it does qualify for the total IRS plug-in vehicle tax credit of $ 7,500. That hasn’t stopped Jeep from changing a lot of Wrangler 4xes, partly thanks to some aggressive leasing arrangements.

For highway driving, you’ll find the Ford Bronco or Land Rover Defender to be much more civilized, and both should be equally capable on the trails. But we’re still waiting for the plug-in Defender to arrive in the US and for Ford to announce an electrified version of the Bronco. As such, I’m willing to forgive the Wrangler’s idiosyncratic handling for now. But you probably shouldn’t buy one if you don’t plan on getting it dirty.



Please enter your comment!
Please enter your name here