2021 Jeep Wrangler 4xe plug-in hybrid SUV: Most powerful Wrangler yet, and trail-rated at $49,490

Jeep's given us our first official look at its first plug-in hybrid destined for the U.S., part of an electrification onslaught that the company has committed $10 billion for the future. 

On Monday the off-road automaker said the 2021 Jeep Wrangler 4xe will cost $49,490, including destination, when it arrive in the U.S. in early 2021. It follows the Compass 4xe and Renegade 4xe sold in Europe only, although the Wrangler 4xe will be sold in the U.S., China, and Europe. 

2021 Jeep Wrangler 4xe

2021 Jeep Wrangler 4xe

The Wrangler 4xe combines the automaker’s 2.0-liter turbo-4 engine, which is already available in the Wrangler, but it adds two electric motors and a 17.3-kwh lithium-ion battery, comprised of 96 Samsung prismatic cells, located underneath the rear passenger seats. Jeep says the Wrangler 4xe will travel up to 25 miles on electricity alone and deliver an EPA-estimated 50 MPGe. 

Part of that very low efficiency rating for a plug-in vehicle is due to Jeep’s hybrid application, an arrangement that uses a main traction motor positioned at the input shaft of the transmission together with a belt-connected motor-generator system (as the company terms eTorque) mounted off the engine. The setup replaces a conventional torque converter. 

The integrated transmission traction motor produces 134 horsepower and 181 pound-feet of torque, while the belt-connected motor makes 44 hp and 39 lb-ft. The full system makes 375 hp and 470 lb-ft. 

2021 Jeep Wrangler 4xe

2021 Jeep Wrangler 4xe

It’s the most powerful Wrangler on sale yet.

Not much about the Wrangler 4xe is visually different from the rest of the Wrangler lineup, aside from blue tow hooks and blue hood accents. 

2021 Jeep Wrangler 4xe

2021 Jeep Wrangler 4xe

The Wrangler 4xe will be available in the four-door Wrangler Unlimited configuration only, in base 4xe, Rubicon, and Sahara trims, with features that largely mirror Sport, Rubicon, and Sahara versions already on sale. Versus the base non-hybrid models, the base 4xe adds several creature comforts that the low-cost Sport skips, including a 7.0-inch touchscreen, 20-inch wheels, and power windows. Sahara models will cost $49,490, including destination, while Rubicon models cost $53,190 including destination. Wrangler 4xe buyers will be eligible for the $7,500 federal tax credit.

Instead, the 4xe appears to intently focus on the brand’s signature capability. The 4xe Wranglers are “trail rated” by Jeep, which means it can withstand tricky terrain. Jeep says it’s tested the 4xe powertrain for 1.7 million miles in all conditions—on road, off-road, hot, cold—and equips the Wranglers thusly. 

2021 Jeep Wrangler 4xe

2021 Jeep Wrangler 4xe

All of the Wrangler 4xe models are four-wheel drive, including a low-range transfer case, and ladder-frame construction. Rubicon 4xe models are just as robust as their gas- or diesel-powered (EcoDiesel) counterparts: fully disconnecting sway bars, 4.0:1 low-range ratio, knobby tires, tougher shocks, and nearly identical approach, departure, and breakover angles. The Rubicon 4xe’s ground clearance is the same 10.8 inches as the other Rubicons, and the 4xe can ford up to 30 inches of water. 

Conspicuously missing, though, is the high-amp power takeoff that Jeep had previously hinted might be introduced with this model.

The battery pack is fitted with a dedicated heating and cooling circuit to maintain optimum temperatures. The system uses an integrated dual charging module that combines the battery charger and DC/DC converter in a steel structure below the battery. Jeep says the Wrangler 4xe can fully replenish its battery in 2 hours on a Level 2 charger, or in 2.5 hours at 45-55 mph using the battery charge mode, which uses the engine to recharge the battery. (Ed note: Which is much less efficient but could be handy traveling from trailhead to trailhead for all EV crawling.)

Jeep says the Wrangler 4xe will default to 0.25G of regen force while braking, from all four wheels, or drivers can select a “Max Regen” feature that will increase the regen force when coasting. 

All electric modes will be available in every drivetrain mode, including 4Lo. Jeep says the Rubicon will still have a crawl ratio of 77.2:1; when paired with the torque delivery of an all-electric motor, it could be a nearly unstoppable force off-road. 

The Wrangler 4xe will also come from Toledo, Ohio, where the Wrangler is currently assembled.

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