By on September 3, 2020

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Eager to steal some thunder from Ford’s returning Bronco, Jeep pulled the wraps off its upcoming Wrangler 4xe Thursday, revealing an off-roader that might be able to handle your commute without consuming a drop of gas. Oh, and you could probably cruise quietly through some sort of wilderness terrain, too.

Mating a turbocharged 2.0-liter four-cylinder with two electric motors, the Wrangler 4xe is said to be able to deliver up to 25 miles of all-electric driving.

Jeep has big aspirations for the plug-in Wrangler, foisting it on North America, Europe, and China come early 2021. In Europe, it will join an already electrified Renegade and Compass.

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Available only as a four-door, the Wrangler 4xe can be had in base, Sahara, and Rubicon trims. Combined output from the gas engine and twin electric motors is 375 horsepower, so this thing won’t want for muscle. The first of the two motors is a motor-generator unit mounted to the front of the engine (in place of the alternator). Besides feeding some oomph to the crankshaft, this unit charges the 17 kWh battery mounted discreetly under the rear seats and handles the stop/start system. The second motor is integrated into the model’s eight-speed automatic transmission.

Twin clutches manage the vehicle’s power sources, allowing the engine to go dormant when the driver opts to cruise electrically.

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Jeep claims that the Wrangler 4xe can still ford 30 inches of water, despite its electrical hardware. It’s still Trail Rated, still boasts twin solid axles, and still carries a standard full-time two-speed transfer case. Accessing the battery pack, which happens to be heated and cooled for optimum driving range, is as easy as flipping up the rear seat. Drivers can choose from three modes: Hybrid, Electric, and eSave. The first two are self-explanatory; the latter keeps the battery in reserve until the driver desires its use, which could come in handy for those heading into a dense city center (or into the bush on a bird-watching expedition).

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As you’d expect, regenerative braking is part of the package, with all four wheels feeding recaptured power back to the battery in 4×4 mode. “Max Regen” can be engaged to bump up that recovery when coasting, helping brake the vehicle without using the left pedal.

And, yes, you can operate solely under electric power with the transfer case in 4 Low.

“Enthusiasts will find that the instant availability of torque from the Wrangler 4xe’s electric motor delivers a more precise and controlled driving experience for climbing and crawling – there’s no need to build up engine rpm to get the tires to move, minimizing driveline shock loading and maximizing control and speed,” Jeep states.

Adorned with exterior blue accents, 4xe models reach driveways early next year, but pricing won’t be available until closer to the on-sale date. Production kicks off in December.

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[Images: Fiat Chrysler Automobiles]

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34 Comments on “2021 Jeep Wrangler 4xe: Over Hill and Dale, Silently...”


  • avatar
    Pig_Iron

    God help us.

  • avatar
    redapple

    Gas is record cheap adjusted for inflation.
    Electric system greatly adds
    1 Weight
    2 Complexity
    3 Cost

    So, why on earth do this?

    Oh Question. Who the hell starts lists with ‘0’ and not ‘1.’ Colored air vapor ware soft ware folks?

    • 0 avatar
      Imagefont

      Isaac Asimov used to start lists with “zero”. 0,1,2,3,4…

    • 0 avatar
      MrIcky

      Well fleet mileage is the obvious answer, but I think this will sell extremely well to the eco-tourist type crowd. How many people do you see that would love to signal some virtue while camping and talking about ‘seeing the earth before it’s gone’. I think these will sell pretty well, maybe not the jeep mainstay, but they’ll sell.

      • 0 avatar
        ajla

        “but I think this will sell extremely well to the eco-tourist type crowd”

        How many units is that though? It is an interesting thing but I’d be surprised if this even outsells the diesel option.

        • 0 avatar
          MrIcky

          @ajla Jeep IMO has clearly reached ‘lifestyle product’ status, and once you hit that market the cold light of reason never seems to work quite right anymore. I have no idea what it will equate to sales wise, but I’ve been surprised so many times by what has done well in the last few years vs what hasn’t.

      • 0 avatar
        Dan

        “… but I think this will sell extremely well to the eco-tourist type crowd.”

        Don’t 95% of those people live in the city and tourize via 737?

    • 0 avatar
      SCE to AUX

      The story gave one reason to do this:

      “Enthusiasts will find that the instant availability of torque from the Wrangler 4xe’s electric motor delivers a more precise and controlled driving experience for climbing and crawling – there’s no need to build up engine rpm to get the tires to move, minimizing driveline shock loading and maximizing control and speed”

      But I agree with Imagefont… I’d rather just have the V6 for this application.

      • 0 avatar
        Sigivald

        A V6 doesn’t have full torque at 0 RPM.

        I’m pessimistic on EVs, but hybrids make a lot more sense- and if I wanted a Jeep I’d seriously consider this sort of thing.

        (I also wouldn’t mind a hybrid drivetrain in my XC70*, but that was never an option.

        * As a “at least as much power as my T6, but better economy” option, not a “maximum economy” option.)

        • 0 avatar
          ttacgreg

          Look up Alex on Autos episode where he makes a very numerically sound case for PHEVs being the most efficient use of resources needed for batteries in the overall on the road fleet of all vehicles, as well as the overall fossil fuel efficiency of that fleet.

          • 0 avatar
            Scoutdude

            Yup making 10 batteries with a 30mi range for a PHEV is a much better use of resources than making a 300mi battery pack for a single car that will only use 30mi of that range 9 days out of 10.

          • 0 avatar
            HotPotato

            Logically I approve this message. But if you drive a plug-in hybrid for any length of time, you’ll find yourself feathering the throttle to keep the gas engine from kicking on, because electric mode is just so much nicer. At some point, you’ll be like “I wish this were just fully electric, instead of a Frankenstein with only a 1970 VW Bug worth of electric horsepower.”

          • 0 avatar
            Scoutdude

            @Hotpotato, Nah, we have put 20k on our PHEV and even with its short range, being an older model, I don’t get any of that. Just dropped to a 1/2 tank yesterday with over 650mi so far.

      • 0 avatar

        As some one who used to offroad a Jeep alot, I’m interested in this. The diesel would have been a bigger draw for me 20 years ago, but now the reliability issues would keep me away. I would probably take a chance on this over the diesel.

    • 0 avatar
      Scoutdude

      The main reason this exists, like the other PHEV Jeeps is Europe. We don’t get the others here, but I guess they figure this will sell enough to help bump their CAFE and ZEV numbers and reduce the amount they spend on fines and purchasing credits from Tesla.

    • 0 avatar
      Luke42

      @redapple,
      “So, why on earth do this?”

      I bought one of the GM 2-mode hybrid pickup trucks recently. The aluminum body F-150s actually beat the truck I bought in highway MPG, so it actually isn’t an MPG winner despite being a hybrid.

      So why did I buy it?

      * The NVH on the hybrid is *much* better. It can glide silently and, when the engine does run, it runs at a lower RPM than the conventional trucks I shipped it against.

      * I was looking for something cool and interesting on a used-car budget. (I’m saving up an EV truck, so I wasn’t looking to spend new-truck money now.)

      After driving this truck for 6 weeks or so, the NVH benefits of the hybrid system are reason enough to prefer a hybrid drivetrain.

      Yes, some people like the sound and fury of a conventional drivetrain. And some people find CVTs and having the engine take a nap when it’s not needed disconcerting. And those people can still buy conventional drivetrains.

      As for me, though, this is my fourth pickup truck and the first one I’ve actually *liked*, and most of that is the result of having a smooth and quiet drivetrain.

      So, yeah, the NVH benefits of a hybrid are a pretty good reason to have a hybrid. The beast naps, unless you need it.

    • 0 avatar

      Given lead times, no one could predict the crash in gas prices a few years back when someone in a C suite said “Production Approved”…..

      • 0 avatar
        Luke42

        “Given lead times, no one could predict the crash in gas prices a few years back when someone in a C suite said “Production Approved”…..”

        And they won’t be able to predict the next gas price spike, either. [shrug] It’s best to have a product-line flexible enough to meet the world were it is in 5 years, lest ye go bankrupt.

        But, fuel-saving technology can make the vehicle nicer to drive, too. EVs have excellent NVH, instant torque, AND fuel savings. I’d bet most EV (and plugin hybrid) buyers only care about 1-2 of those things.

  • avatar
    ajla

    Nice output specs but other outlets were reporting that this adds 830lbs over a V6/8A Unlimited. Which means it’ll weigh about as much as a V8 Durango Citadel AWD. For people drag racing their off-roaders I’m guessing the V6 Bronco will still be quicker.

    Personally I’d rather just have a V8 and have the CAFE fine baked into the upgrade price.

    • 0 avatar

      As someone who had previously said I thought a V8 was a waste of development money, I think there is a chance they offer it before the JL is done. But that’s a different group of buyers then this one. Alot will depend on pricing if FCA prices aggressive to help their mileage average they might sell well.

  • avatar
    Imagefont

    That e-torque system to handle he start/stop function (makes it very smooth and unobtrusive) and also boosts torque off the line would be great for the 2.0T. The Jeep I rented recently with the 2.0T had zero power from a stop, it took about 2 seconds to wind up and then you had a massive rush of power. Very nonlinear. On the highway the engine was great, tremendous passing power. But in city traffic – very frustrating. Give me e-torque with a smaller battery, keep the rest of the system. Personally I’d just take the V6 and call it good, that’s a great engine and plenty powerful, you really don’t need more.

    • 0 avatar
      Luke42

      Real hybrids are much better than belt-alternator-starter (BAS) mild-hybrid systems this way.

      Our 2004 Prius transitioned from stop to full-power relatively smoothly, even though it sounds like you’re stepping on a kitten whenever the gas engine made any power.

      My 2-mode GMC Sierra Hybrid transitions smoothly from engine-off-at-a-stoplight to moving-under-power, if you drive like a civilized person. If you mash the go-pedal from a stand-still like you’re in a drag-race, the transition from EV-only to 6L V8 WOT power feels kinda like turbo lag.

      Since I very much prefer to keep the V8 between 0 and 1800 RPM, I get a pretty seamless and civilized driving experience out of it.

      The BAS systems I’ve driven are a fuel-saving hack. That’s fine for what they are, but don’t confuse a BAS system with a real hybrid. They’re even more different from each other than a 4-speed auto and a CVT.

  • avatar
    ToolGuy

    “Jeep claims that the Wrangler 4xe can still *ford* 30 inches of water, despite its electrical hardware.”

    Pretty sure this is a trademark infringement. :-)

  • avatar
    Vulpine

    Interesting. But I think the 25-mile battery-only range is a bit light. Should be no less than double that.

    • 0 avatar
      Scoutdude

      I think 25 isn’t terrible and I just don’t see how they would fit a battery pack with twice the capacity without too much loss of interior space or the need for major structural changes. If it had been designed for that from the start that might be a different story.

      • 0 avatar
        Vulpine

        @Scoutdude: All kinds of ‘wasted’ space under those rear seats and the 25-mile battery is only under ONE of the rear seat cushions. Worse, the load floor in the JL is high enough that at least one, if not two more similar batteries could go back there under the load floor and hardly affect the load volume at all. I could see even a 75-mile battery-only range possible.

        • 0 avatar
          Scoutdude

          The picture in the article shows the battery spanning the width of the frame and it doesn’t look particularly thin either. At this pack size they already need to upgrade the axles to the Gladiator stuff to handle this much additional weight.

          • 0 avatar
            Vulpine

            Hmmm… I definitely mis-read that image the first time . Still, I have to question some of the things because a 25-mile Li-Ion battery pack shouldn’t be all that heavy… certainly less than 100#. Makes me think that’s a lead-acid pack if it’s heavy enough to require a heavier axle.

    • 0 avatar
      jh26036

      25 is definitely a little light but they only have so much space to shove the batteries plus it is still moving a pretty heavy vehicle.

      It’s not a terrible start and a legit 25 will cover a lot of people’s daily use. In the winter though, it’ll be more like 15 legit miles.

    • 0 avatar
      Luke42

      Considering that the Wrangler has the aerodynamics of a lumpy brick, 25 miles is pretty good.

      It’s a lot better than the all-electric-range of my GMC Sierra Hybrid.

      • 0 avatar
        Vulpine

        @Luke42 : Considering typical city and rock-crawling low speeds, aerodynamics aren’t a factor for a Jeep Wrangler until you reach about 40-45mph. This was clearly evident in my ’08 JKU where a steady 35mph achieved fuel mileage higher than my best freeway mileage of 25mpg (using the old ‘minivan’ engine, not the Pentastar.)

        It all depends on how you drive it.

  • avatar
    ttacgreg

    “Accessing the battery pack, which happens to be heated and cooled for optimum driving range, is as easy as flipping up the rear seat.”
    Umm, because the traction battery in hybrid vehicles needs to be accessed so frequently, as in maybe once in 200,000 miles of driving?
    Great selling point.

  • avatar

    The ruling class in California is pushing for an all electric vehicle future.
    (Let’s ignore how they can’t keep the lights on in the summer.)
    So alot of seemingly odd automotive decisions are about laying the groundwork for 2040.

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