Jeep’s first-ever electrified vehicle, the 2021 plug-in hybrid Wrangler 4xe, has just hit the streets. Jeep has been consistently adding drivetrains and new special editions to the beloved Wrangler lineup for decades, even turning it into a pickup truck, and now the iconic SUV has received electric motors and can run on battery power alone. For outdoorsy folks, hardcore adventurers, and casual weekend warriors, the Wrangler 4xe offers drivers all the bonafides of the familiar SUV while saving some coin at the pump.
The 2021 Wrangler 4xe uses a 2.0L turbocharged inline-four engine with two electric motors to make a combined output of 375 horsepower and 470 lb-ft of torque. That’s as much torque as the V8-powered Wrangler Rubicon 392, except it gets more than twice the real-world efficiency in the city — a pretty impressive trick.
The 4xe lets you select between all-electric, no-electric, or hybrid drive modes, and it can run about 21 miles on battery power alone until you need the engine to step in. Which may not seem like much, but think of how many times you get in the car to drive less than 20 miles. Level I and II charging will fill up the battery in 12 or two hours, respectively, and various regenerative braking modes can help you recharge the battery on the go.
Notably, the battery-ladened 4xe’s combined 20 MPG efficiency in hybrid mode (49 MPGe in electric mode) is lower than other gas-only versions of the four-door Wrangler: 22 MPG with the 2.0L 4-cylinder, 21 MPG with 3.6L V6, and 23 MPG for the EcoDiesel V6. So why get the hybrid? The 4xe is more efficient for short trips around town, where you can stick to the electric and hybrid modes and achieve MPGs well into the 30s. This makes it a solid choice for those wanting to use their Wrangler for commuting and daily driving, which — no surprise — many owners do.
The 4xe is available in the Sahara, High Altitude, and Rubicon trims, and most everything else besides the drivetrain is the same as the JL Wrangler everyone knows and loves — four-wheel drive with low range, extremely capable suspension and adventure-ready goodies, plus front and rear locking differentials on the Rubicon trim.
This is the very first hybrid from Jeep, and though a plug-in configuration may seem an unlikely fit with the rugged off-road image of the brand, the Wrangler is a vehicle for the masses and the masses are increasingly embracing hybrid technology. By most accounts, the 4xe plug-in system seems well-polished and usable, even if it doesn’t improve the Wrangler’s efficiency as much as some expected. This is more than an eco-friendly experiment, it’s a preview of where the brand is moving — Jeep plans to offer the 4xe hybrid trim on all their models by 2025.
In short, the 4xe sacrifices virtually none of the joy of the gas-powered Wranglers, and adds short-range efficiency for commuters. If you’re looking for the Jeep experience with shorter trips or city driving, the 2021 Wrangler 4xe is a worthwhile SUV to check out.