Faced with increasing competition from traditional and startup automakers pushing electrified off-roaders, Jeep has been largely silent. The world-renowned SUV maker hasn’t yet offered an electrified model in the U.S. beyond a small, mild-hybrid system to power accessories in some of its SUVs. It’s been unusually quiet for fans of the brand.
That changes for 2021 as Jeep is embracing that silence.
The new 2021 Jeep Wrangler 4xe will team a 17.3-kilowatt-hour lithium-ion battery, electric motors, and 2.0-liter turbo-4 together in Jeep’s most iconic vehicle, the first of a planned $10 billion initiative to electrify all of its crossovers and SUVs. The combo produces 375 net horsepower and 470 pound-feet of torque in the Wrangler, and will deliver up to 25 miles of all-electric range without sacrificing off-road ability, according to the automaker. On paper, it’s the most powerful Wrangler offered so far.
2021 Jeep Wrangler 4xe
When it goes on sale early next year, priced from $49,490, including destination, the plug-in hybrid will be available in four-door Wranglers only and limited to Sahara and Rubicon grades initially (a more affordable base grade could be added later). Like the available turbo-4, the 4xe powertrain is paired exclusively to an 8-speed automatic transmission and four-wheel drive. The four-wheel-drive systems differ by model, but all offer automatic systems that also appear on Sahara models without battery power. The Rubicon 4xe’s transfer case is unique and will offer a 4.0:1 low-range ratio, compared to the Sahara and base models’ 2.72:1 low-range ratio. Like non-hybrid Rubicons, the 2021 Wrangler Rubicon 4xe will add electronically disconnecting sway bars and locking front and rear differentials. All Wrangler 4xe models will use Dana 44 solid front and rear axles, coil springs, and monotube shocks.
Engineers said the plug-in hybrid powertrain doesn’t share many components with the Chrysler Pacifica plug-in hybrid minivan. The Jeep system is a “P2 hybrid,” which means electric power supplements the gas engine at the transmission and can clutch in or out depending on need and drive mode. The result is a less-efficient electric powertrain in the Wrangler that the automaker expects will manage 50 MPGe, which is much lower than the Chrysler Pacifica’s 82 MPGe rating from the EPA. In turn, the Wrangler 4xe will power its off-road hardware with a mix of hybrid and electric modes, which are selectable by the driver. Jeep says the Wrangler 4xe will fully replenish its battery in 2 hours on a 240-volt, Level 2 charger.
Jeep said the batteries and electric motor add 500 pounds to the curb weight of comparably equipped 3.6-liter V-6 versions of the Wrangler, up to a total weight of 5,222 pounds for the 2021 Rubicon 4xe. The 17.3-kwh battery tucks in underneath the rear seats and doesn’t intrude into the passenger compartment; the exterior dimensions are identical.
2021 Jeep Wrangler 4xe
The Wrangler Rubicon 4xe boasts nearly identical approach, breakover, and departure angles as its non-hybrid counterpart: 43.8, 22.5, and 35.6 degrees, respectively. The ground clearance is the same: 10.8 inches, and Jeep said the Rubicon 4xe can ford up to 30 inches of water. Jeep says the 4xe models are “Trail Rated,” which is the brand’s way of saying they can traverse the Rubicon Trail.
The Wrangler 4xe powertrain has already logged 1.7 million miles of testing, including hot- and cold-weather climates, and off-road conditions, according to Jeep. The 4xe will be rated to tow up to 3,500 pounds, when properly equipped, and handle 1,280 pounds of payload.
As mentioned above, the Wrangler 4xe powertrain will initially be offered in Sahara and Rubicon grades only, and in both cases they will be similarly equipped to their gas- or diesel-powered counterparts. A base grade should be added at a later date. This is expected to largely mirror the Wrangler Sport but add features such as a 7.0-inch touchscreen, 20-inch wheels, and premium audio.