A couple of years ago, talk of an electrified Jeep Wrangler would have made Jeep loyalists laugh and look at you funny for even suggesting the idea. Jeep owners are some of the most ravenously loyal and protective groups of enthusiasts I’ve ever seen. The Wrangler is such a sacred vehicle among the Jeep loyal, and every little deviation from the Wrangler formula risks alienating the enthusiasts that buy these vehicles.
For Jeep to announce an electrified version of the Wrangler then was not only a massive risk for the brand, but also a potential to create dissention amongst the loyal owners.
One such loyal owner is me, your humble author. I currently am on my second Wrangler Rubicon, the first being a 2013 10th Anniversary Rubicon Unlimited and the current being a 2018 Wrangler Rubicon Unlimited with the 3.6. I knew how important the Wrangler 4xe launch was for Jeep and I’m happy to say that any reservations about a hybrid Wrangler have gone fully out the window. If I were to buy a Wrangler today, the 4xe is the one I’d buy without hesitation.
At first glance, the Wrangler Rubicon 4xe has the rugged look of any other Wrangler. Aside from the hood graphic and blue accents throughout. There is a charging port located on the driver side windshield cowl and is subtle enough that it blends in with the rest of the vehicle.
On the interior of the Wrangler 4xe, a few tell-tale buttons and changes to the instrument cluster differentiate the 4xe from the gasoline/diesel powered Wranglers. Just to the left of the steering wheel are three mode buttons that allow the Wrangler to be driven in full electric, full gas (saving the battery power for later use), or hybrid modes.
The Wrangler 4xe is powered by a 270-horsepower turbocharged 2.0-liter 4-cylinder engine mated to a 44-horsepower electric motor at the front and a 134-horsepower electric motor in the rear. The rear motor takes the place of a traditional torque converter. The battery is a 17.3-kWh lithium-ion unit that resides beneath the rear seats. Combined power output is 375-horsepower and 470-pound feet of torque. The EPA rates the Wrangler 4xe at 49MPGe.
Power is sent to the the wheel through an eight-speed automatic transmission and a transfer case that allows for rear-wheel drive, full-time awd, or high/low range 4WD for off-roading.
On battery power alone the Wrangler 4xe will do approximately 21 miles per charge. This can vary based on accessory usage, acceleration habits, and the amount of regenerative braking done while driving. Surprisingly, I was able to beat the 21 mile range on a couple of drives, managing a ful 23 miles out of a single charge.
Speaking of charging, I’m fortunate to have a neighbor who just recently purchased a Wrangler Rubicon 4xe of his own and allowed me to fast charge at his house as-needed. He has a JuiceBox charger and took the Wrangler 4xe battery from 0% to 100% in a little over 2.5 3.5 hours.
Unfortunately I was unable to take this particular test Wrangler off-roading, but every single off-road spec is the same as my gasoline powered Wrangler. Jeep made sure there were zero compromises in any way when it comes to capability. Because they’re identical off-road, here’s a photo of my own personal Wrangler off-roading in Austin earlier in the year.
On-road, the Wrangler Rubicon 4xe is quicker than any of the gasoline powered models short of the Wrangler 392 when hybrid mode is used. It’s a bit sluggish on battery power alone, but that’s to be expected from a vehicle of this size. The gasoline engine will kick in even during electric-only mode if the gas pedal is put to the floor.
Under normal hybrid driving though, the Wrangler behaves as well as any other Wrangler in the lineup. The hybrid powertrain does well to hide the drivetrain magic occuring underneath and provides a perfectly smooth driving experience.
Total MSRP of this particular Wrangler Rubicon 4xe Unlimited is $61,295 and qualifies for a $7500 tax credit. While this is a fairly steep price increase over the gasoline Wrangler equivalent, the tax credit can really shrink that delta down to an almost negligible amount.
While we love our Pentastar 3.6 V6 Wrangler Rubicon, I couldn’t help but have a bit of EV envy driving this Wrangler 4xe around for the week. Even though the range could be better, this is a huge step forward in the electrification of enthusiast vehicles. Jeep has shown that they can make vehicles more environmentally friendly while increasing performance and all without giving up a single bit of capability on or off-road.
Jeep has done so well with the Wrangler 4xe that it became the number one selling PHEV vehicle in the US for several months in 2021. That’s proof positive that the Jeep loyal love what they’ve done with the Wrangler 4xe. If they did this well on their first attempt at an electrified off-roader, we can’t wait to see what’s next from Jeep.