Four-by-Fun! Jeep’s Electrified Wrangler 4xe

Electrification is spreading rapidly across the automotive spectrum in ways that are, if not surprising, pleasantly quicker than expected. One example is Jeep’s Wrangler 4xe plug-in hybrid, a model that enables zero-emission on- and off-roading as part of everyday life.

As part of Jeep’s plan to offer electric drivetrain options for all its nameplates over the next few years, the Wrangler is being offered with a plug-in, gas-electric hybrid powertrain in the 2021 model year. The Wrangler 4xe will be available  in three models – 4xe, Sahara 4xe, and Rubicon 4xe – the latter equipped with a 4:1 transfer case and other hard-core off-roading equipment found on conventionally powered Rubicon models.

The Wrangler 4xe powertrain uses a turbocharged, direct-injected, 2.0-liter inline-four engine, two high-voltage motor-generators, and a 400-volt, 17 kWh lithium-ion battery pack located beneath the second-row seat. One of the motors, mounted to the front of the engine instead of a conventional alternator, handles the Wrangler’s stop/start functions and sends power to the battery pack. A 12-volt battery is still used to power the Jeep’s accessories. The second motor is mounted in front of the eight-speed TorqueFlite automatic transmission in place of a conventional torque converter.

Dual clutches manage power from the engine and electric motor, enabling them to work in tandem or allowing the Wrangler to operate in electric-only mode for up to 25 miles. In total, the powertrain develops 375 horsepower and 470 lb-ft torque, and it delivers up to an estimated 50 MPGe. To retain the Wrangler’s ability to ford 30 inches of water – part of the brand’s ‘Trail Rated’ capability – its electronics are sealed and waterproof.

The Wrangler 4xe offers three E Selec driving modes. ‘Hybrid’ uses the motor’s torque first and then combines torque from the motor and engine when the battery reaches a minimum charge level. ‘Electric’ powers the Jeep via the motor only until the battery is at minimum charge. Then there’s ‘eSave,’ where power comes primarily from the engine, allowing battery charge to saved for later use. All three modes are available when the Wrangler’s transfer case is in either 4Hi or 4Lo.

An Eco Coaching readout via the Jeep’s Uconnect system illustrates power flow through the system and the impact of factors that include regenerative braking, which itself has several modes. With 4WD engaged, all four wheels contribute power to the system under braking, and a Max Regen setting can slow the Jeep faster while it’s coasting and generate more power for the battery pack.

Like all Wranglers, the 4xe models will be equipped with skid plates, tow hooks, and other ‘Trail Rated’ accessories. Electric Blue exterior and interior design cues set the 4xe models apart visually from other Wranglers. Jeep’s Wrangler 4xe will be on sale by the end of the year at an expected base price of about $40,000.