2021 Jeep Wrangler 4xe: Over Hill and Dale, Silently
Eager to steal some thunder from Ford’s returning Bronco, Jeep pulled the wraps off its upcoming Wrangler 4xe Thursday, revealing an off-roader that might be able to handle your commute without consuming a drop of gas. Oh, and you could probably cruise quietly through some sort of wilderness terrain, too.
Mating a turbocharged 2.0-liter four-cylinder with two electric motors, the Wrangler 4xe is said to be able to deliver up to 25 miles of all-electric driving.
Jeep has big aspirations for the plug-in Wrangler, foisting it on North America, Europe, and China come early 2021. In Europe, it will join an already electrified Renegade and Compass.
Available only as a four-door, the Wrangler 4xe can be had in base, Sahara, and Rubicon trims. Combined output from the gas engine and twin electric motors is 375 horsepower, so this thing won’t want for muscle. The first of the two motors is a motor-generator unit mounted to the front of the engine (in place of the alternator). Besides feeding some oomph to the crankshaft, this unit charges the 17 kWh battery mounted discreetly under the rear seats and handles the stop/start system. The second motor is integrated into the model’s eight-speed automatic transmission.
Twin clutches manage the vehicle’s power sources, allowing the engine to go dormant when the driver opts to cruise electrically.
Jeep claims that the Wrangler 4xe can still ford 30 inches of water, despite its electrical hardware. It’s still Trail Rated, still boasts twin solid axles, and still carries a standard full-time two-speed transfer case. Accessing the battery pack, which happens to be heated and cooled for optimum driving range, is as easy as flipping up the rear seat. Drivers can choose from three modes: Hybrid, Electric, and eSave. The first two are self-explanatory; the latter keeps the battery in reserve until the driver desires its use, which could come in handy for those heading into a dense city center (or into the bush on a bird-watching expedition).
As you’d expect, regenerative braking is part of the package, with all four wheels feeding recaptured power back to the battery in 4×4 mode. “Max Regen” can be engaged to bump up that recovery when coasting, helping brake the vehicle without using the left pedal.
And, yes, you can operate solely under electric power with the transfer case in 4 Low.
“Enthusiasts will find that the instant availability of torque from the Wrangler 4xe’s electric motor delivers a more precise and controlled driving experience for climbing and crawling – there’s no need to build up engine rpm to get the tires to move, minimizing driveline shock loading and maximizing control and speed,” Jeep states.
Adorned with exterior blue accents, 4xe models reach driveways early next year, but pricing won’t be available until closer to the on-sale date. Production kicks off in December.
[Images: Fiat Chrysler Automobiles]