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Jeep electrifies the Wrangler with the 4xe plug-in hybrid

Jeep's most old-school off-roader picks up the brand's latest technology with the Wrangler 4xe plug-in hybrid.

3 weeks ago
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William Stopford
Journalist

Jeep is promising its first-ever plug-in hybrid Wrangler will offer superior off-road ability to existing petrol and diesel models.

The 2021 Jeep Wrangler 4xe will arrive in Europe, China and the United States by early next year.

It’s not a lock for Australia just yet, with Jeep Australia managing director Kevin Flynn saying the company is “excited about these technical developments and advances and are monitoring the take up of electrification in Australia”.

“We will be ready to launch our PHEV strategy as soon as consumer appetite, regulations and infrastructure suggests the time is right.”

The 4xe mates the Wrangler’s turbocharged 2.0-litre four-cylinder engine – not sold here – with two electric motors and a 17kWh lithium-ion battery pack, mounted beneath the second-row seat.

Jeep claims outputs of 280kW of power and 637Nm of torque.

Liquid-cooled motor generator units are mounted at the front of the engine and the front of the transmission case, the latter replacing the conventional torque converter of an automatic transmission.

The 4xe uses an eight-speed automatic transmission and employs regenerative braking for all four wheels. Jeep claims an electric-only range of 40km, while fuel economy is improved through the use of a Stop/Start system.

The charging port protrudes from the front left fender. Otherwise, the 4xe looks identical to regular Wranglers but for the use of blue accenting. This carries through to the interior, which employs blue stitching.

The interior is also distinguished from petrol Wranglers through its use of drive mode buttons on the dashboard. This allows you to toggle between hybrid, pure-electric and eSave modes. The latter allows you to prioritise the engine, saving your battery charge for later.

An Eco Coaching screen on the touchscreen allows you to view your driving history and schedule your charging times.

Though it’s more complex than the regular Wrangler, Jeep believes those who venture off the beaten track will be delighted by the instant availability of torque from the 4xe’s electric motors. You won’t need to build up engine rpm, increasing the amount of control and speed you have when the going gets tough.

To that end, it’ll be available in base Wrangler and Wrangler Sahara variants with their full-time Selec-Trac four-wheel drive systems, two-speed transfer case and 2.72:1 low-range gear ratio. A rear limited-slip differential is optional.

Jeep is also introducing a 4xe variant of the toughest Wrangler Rubicon, featuring the regular Rubicon’s Rock-Trac four-wheel drive system, Tru-Lok electric front- and rear-axle locks and an electronic front sway bar disconnect. The Rubicon 4xe features 17-inch wheels in 33-inch off-road tyres, while 20-inch wheels are standard on the other 4xe models.

All Wrangler 4xes wear Jeep’s Trail-Rated badge and have a water fording depth of 760mm.

In addition to the usual raft of upgrades, Jeep Performance Parts and Mopar will offer both a JPP two-inch lift kit designed specifically for the Wrangler 4xe and a 240V wall charger.

Jeep first revealed the Wrangler 4xe in prototype form at this year’s Consumer Electronics Show in January, though it didn’t confirm any technical specifications.

If the company doesn’t bring it here, it’ll be the latest in a range of Wrangler powertrains we’ve missed out on. These include the regular turbocharged 2.0-litre four-cylinder engine and the 3.0-litre turbo-diesel V6 that’s also used in the Grand Cherokee.

The Wrangler is the latest Jeep to adopt a plug-in hybrid drivetrain, following the introduction of the China-only Grand Commander PHEV last year and the recently revealed Compass and Renegade 4xe models that arrive in Europe in the coming weeks.

More 4xe models are planned for the Jeep range, while the company is enthusiastic about the idea of an electric off-roader.

“Our Jeep 4xe vehicles will be the most efficient, responsible and capable that the brand has ever created,” said Christian Meunier, Jeep’s global president.

“We are committed to make Jeep the greenest SUV brand.”


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