The brand new Jeep Wrangler 4xe plug-in hybrid is the model’s greatest step but into the realm of electrified driving, providing as much as 21 miles of electrical vary per cost. No, an enormous battery hasn’t magically remodeled the Jeep right into a smarm-powered eco-car; the enhancements aren’t even that nice if you have a look at the numbers. However electrification additionally hasn’t price the 4xe seemingly any of the off-road functionality or efficiency that we have come to anticipate from the Wrangler and it is Path Rated badge. If something, it is higher than ever.

Electrical Blue tow hooks on the entrance and rear visually differentiate the 4xe from extra standard Wranglers, maybe extra so than the refined charging port mounted excessive on the entrance driver’s facet fender. The blue theme additionally extends to the Path Rated badges and different graphics throughout the boxy physique. To the informal observer, the 4xe does not look very completely different, particularly when bathed in a wholesome coat of mud. However after all, there are greater adjustments hidden beneath the floor. 

The 4xe is powered by Jeep’s 2.0-liter turbocharged four-cylinder engine, aided by a small starter/generator motor. It’s related in design and performance to the eTorque mild-hybrid motor, although this one operates at 400 volts moderately than 48.

Sandwiched between the gasoline engine and the usual eight-speed automated transmission — changing the torque converter — is the bigger, principal electrical drive motor. A pair of clutches tie it to the gearbox and the gasoline powerplant, permitting the combustion engine to be utterly decoupled from the wheels for full-electric driving. Downstream, you will discover the identical four-wheel-drive system, two-speed switch case and locking differentials because the non-hybrid Wrangler, with a 2.72:1 last drive axle for the bottom 4xe Sahara or 4.0:1 for the extra off-road succesful 4xe Rubicon.

All collectively, you are 375 horsepower and a really beneficiant 470 pound-feet of torque. The Hemi-powered Rubicon 392 has the identical peak torque and extra energy, however the exact management and prompt torque of the electrical motor mixed with the 4×4 system’s low-speed crawling {hardware} makes the 4xe the extra succesful Wrangler over extraordinarily technical terrain, in keeping with Jeep.

The 4xe’s 6-second 0-to-60-mph time is slower than the 392’s 4.5, however electrification has different benefits.

Antuan Goodwin/Roadshow

There are three E Selec modes that enable the driving force to decide on tips on how to use the 17-kilowatt-hour battery’s juice. Electrical mode makes use of battery energy just for as much as 21 miles of largely silent driving at an EPA-estimated 49 mpge. The default Hybrid mode blends in gasoline energy as soon as the battery is depleted, whereas eSave prioritizes the combustion engine to protect or generate cost for the battery, which is beneficial for saving a little bit of low-speed EV vary for the tip of a freeway stretch. The EPA reckons your financial system will drop to round 20 mpg as soon as the battery is depleted, which is surprisingly 2 mpg worse than the non-hybrid Wrangler with the identical engine. Boosted by the preliminary electrical vary, I completed a day of testing at 24 mpg mixed.

There’s additionally a Max Regen setting that may be utilized to all three modes. It is near a one-pedal driving mode, giving a full 0.25 Gs of regenerative braking on elevate, however nonetheless creeps ahead at very low speeds. Jeep’s engineers have carried out a superb job tuning the texture of this mode; the quantity of regen or engine braking feels constant whatever the battery’s state and/or the chosen E Selec mode.

Most of my testing concerned retaining the Max Regen mode on, and to provide the 4xe the very best shot at reaching its estimated vary, the 4×4 system is greatest utilized in 2-Excessive rear-drive setting. Like this, I used to be in a position to put 23.8 miles of largely silent metropolis driving behind me earlier than the gasoline engine kicked on, which is barely greater than Jeep’s estimate. There’s nonetheless fairly a little bit of highway, wind and, sometimes, drivetrain noise, and my instance rolls on the usual road-friendly 20-inch wheels with all-season tires. Anticipate much less vary from the Rubicon’s 33-inch tall knobbies and shorter final-drive, and considerably much less at freeway speeds. Hybrid or not, the Wrangler nonetheless has the aerodynamic profile of a palette of bricks and general effectivity tanks above 50-60 mph.

Plugging in provides as much as 21 electrical miles per 2.5 hour cost.

Antuan Goodwin/Roadshow

Plugging right into a 240-volt Stage 2 charging station — just like the Jeep 4xe Charging Community trailhead chargers — juices the Wrangler’s battery pack in round 2.5 hours. At an everyday 110-volt house wall outlet, that stretches to simply over 12 hours from flat.

In fact, an important factor in regards to the 4xe is that it is nonetheless a Wrangler; it nonetheless should ship on the go-anywhere functionality that identify instructions. To check this, I swapped right into a extra rugged Rubicon mannequin with its 33-inch tires, dropped into 4-Low, locked the diffs and engaged full-electric mode to deal with an off-road course.

The journey began by fording water 30 inches deep with out electrocuting anybody concerned. All the high-voltage electrical system is sealed and waterproof, plus the battery pack is definitely tucked within the cabin, beneath the rear seats, the place it’s local weather managed and protected against bumps, punctures and scrapes.

The high-voltage powertrain and battery are waterproof and protected against the weather.

Jeep

With its spectacular 77.2:1 crawl ratio and gobs of electrical torque on faucet, the Rubicon 4xe made simple work of some fairly extreme climbs up strong, easy rock faces. And whereas the 4xe’s PHEV {hardware} provides fairly a little bit of weight to the Wrangler’s package deal — about 770 kilos greater than a comparably outfitted Rubicon V6 — the battery’s place truly improves weight distribution, shifting fairly near a 50:50 break up relying on trim, and reducing the middle of mass barely, for a extra planted really feel even at extreme angles. Creeping alongside was made simpler with the most recent era Selec-Pace Management smoothing out hill ascents and descents, however the throttle was remarkably delicate and simple to modulate even with out it. 

Maybe probably the most enjoyably odd a part of the 4xe off-road expertise was simply how completely and unusually silent the powertrain was even when hauling itself out of the mud and up ridiculously steep climbs. As a lot as I really like the sound of a strong ICE, listening to the scrub of the tires over the terrain added an surprising dimension to the crawling expertise, and I significantly loved having the ability to extra simply hear my spotters’ instructions and the character surrounding the path. In fact, that meant the occasional thunks or scrapes from the undercarriage when exploring the boundaries of the 4xe’s 10.8-inch floor clearance and 22.5-degree breakover angle had been additionally way more pronounced.

Avenue-bound enhancements are minimal, however at the least the Wrangler makes no discernable sacrifices off-road.

Jeep

The 2021 Jeep Wrangler 4xe begins at $49,490 for the bottom Sahara, together with a $1,495 vacation spot cost. That is about $8,825 greater than a equally spec’d Sahara V6, however as much as $7,500 in plug-in tax rebates and any state specific-incentives ought to ease the sticker shock. The extra rugged Rubicon and feature-laden Excessive Altitude modes I examined begin at $53,190 or $55,074, respectively.

The Jeep Wrangler 4xe is simply an OK plug-in hybrid. Its vary and gasoline financial system are fairly weak however, with frequent charging and shorter journeys, there’s nonetheless loads of potential to bend the principles of “your mileage might range” to your profit. Nonetheless, the 4xe is actually probably the most succesful, technically superior and eco-friendly Wrangler ever and its capability to quietly and confidently deal with the nice open air with a nod to environmental accountability is presently unmatched. At the least, till the electrical vans arrive.

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