2021 Jeep Wrangler 4xe hybrid SUV electrifies an off-road icon

Chris Davies - Sep 3, 2020, 9:52am CDT
2021 Jeep Wrangler 4xe hybrid SUV electrifies an off-road icon

What could be the most important model in Jeep’s range has been revealed, with the 2021 Wrangler 4xe bringing hybrid electric power to the iconic SUV. Headed to dealerships by early in the new year, the Wrangler 4xe combines a gas engine with two electric motors, and can run on EV power alone for up to 25 miles.

It’s part of Jeep’s push to electrify all of its models in some form, with the automaker promising that batteries will only make the Wrangler experience more enjoyable rather than dilute what enthusiasts love about it. A big part of that is instantaneous torque, courtesy of the two electric motors, though the ability to cruise near-silently through off-road situations might be a close second.

In the case of the 2021 Wrangler 4xe, Jeep has used a 2.0-liter turbocharged I-4 gas engine and a TorqueFlite eight-speed automatic transmission. That’s paired with a transmission-mounted motor generator, which replaces the usual torque converter, and another motor generator which replaces the alternator on the engine. Altogether you get 375 horsepower and 470 lb-ft of torque, with Jeep estimating it’ll be good for 50 MPGe on the EPA test cycle.

The battery is a 400-volt, 17 kWh pack, with all 96 lithium-ion cells sandwiched under the second row seats. It’s encased in an aluminum housing, with a dedicated heating and cooling circuit, and all the high-voltage electronics and wiring are sealed and waterproof so that the Wrangler 4xe can still ford up to 30 inches of water.

Charging is via a port on the left front cowl, with a push-open cover. Three different Wrangler 4xe E Select drive modes are available for actually using the electric power.

Hybrid is the default, and blends power from the gas and electric drivetrains with a preference for battery power first. In Electric mode, the Wrangler 4xe runs on battery power only, until either it runs flat or the driver requires more power; at that point, the gas engine kicks in. Finally, eSave mode prioritizes the gas engine, saving the battery for later. A Battery Charge during eSave option actively tops the battery up from the gas engine.

For regenerative braking, up to 0.25g of slowing can pump charge back into the batteries. If 4×4 is engaged, all four wheels are used for regen; there’s also a Max Regen option that’s driver-selectable and will be “more assertive” in how much it slows the SUV when you lift off the accelerator.

Since 4×4 performance isn’t something that Jeep could compromise on, the 2021 Wrangler 4×4 will offer three models: 4xe, Sahara 4xe, and Rubicon 4xe. The first two get full-time 4×4 systems, front and rear Dana 44 axles, and the Selec-Trac two-speed transfer case with a 2.72:1 low-range gear ratio. All power modes are available in 4Lo mode, too, and there’s an optional Trac-Lok limited-slip differential.

For the 2021 Wrangler Rubicon 4xe, that gets the Rock-Trac 4×4 system with a two-speed transfer case with 4:1 low-range gear ratio, full-time 4×4, Dana 44 axles, and Tru-Lok electric front- and rear-axle lockers. Jeep says it has a crawl ratio of 77.2:1, along with electronic sway-bar disconnect on the front axle for more articulation and total suspension travel.

Selec-Speed Control with Hill-ascent and Hill-descent is on every Wrangler 4xe, and there are skid plates and front and rear tow hooks, 20-inch wheels on the Wrangler 4xe and Sahara 4xe, and 17-inch off-road wheels with 33-inch tires on the Rubicon 4xe. That version has an approach angle of 44-degrees, breakover angle of 22.5-degrees, departure angle of 35.6-degrees, and 10.8-inches of ground clearance.

Outside, it’s instantly recognizable as a Wrangler. There’ll be Electric Blue elements – like the tow hooks and badging – to highlight the electrification, with matching trim and seat stitching inside. Ten colors will be offered, and there’ll also be a variety of Mopar parts including a 240V home charger.

Jeep says that the 2021 Wrangler 4xe will arrive in US, Europe, and China dealerships by early 2021. Pricing will be confirmed closer to release.


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