2023 Jeep Wrangler 4xe Rubicon Review – Charged-Up Jeep
2023 Jeep Wrangler Rubicon 4xe Fast Facts
The first thing you should know about the 2023 Jeep Wrangler 4xe Rubicon is that aside from the powertrain, the experience is pretty much the same as it would be with any other Wrangler.
In other words, if for some reason the idea of a PHEV Wrangler bothers you, relax.
Yes, you get a plug-in hybrid setup. You still get Rubicon off-road capability, on-road dynamics that remind you of the trade-offs you make for that off-roading ability, and the now-familiar Wrangler cabin. Now you can run it solely on electric power for up to 21 miles and plug it in to charge.
I didn’t get a chance to take the 4xe off-road during my loan, but the Rubicon comes with all the off-road goodies such as Dana 44 heavy-duty axles at the front and rear and a full-time transfer case with a 4:1 low-range gear ratio. It also includes electronic front and rear locking differentials, a front sway bar that disconnects, and 33-inch BF Goodrich all-terrain tires.
While I didn’t take this loaner onto the trail, I feel confident it would do just fine in the back woods.
On-road, the biggest difference from other Rubicon Wranglers I’ve driven is that going EV-only for a bit results in relatively silent running. That’s about it.
Oh, wait, I forgot – like with most electrified vehicles, you get instant torque when accelerating, at least in EV mode. That’s a nice little bonus.
I don’t mean to sound sarcastic – it really IS nice that this Jeep is so silent sometimes and that you can summon up all 470 lb-ft of system torque from a dead stop. It gives you the chance for some seriously swift acceleration without making the fuel-economy sacrifices demanded of you by the bonkers 392.
Unlike the 392, this Jeep uses a 2.0-liter turbocharged four-cylinder that works in concert with two electric motors and a 400-volt battery pack, plus an eight-speed automatic transmission. Total system horsepower: 375.
The problem with electrifying the Wrangler is that while there are some new party tricks at play that enhance the experience, the rest of the proceedings are familiar in both ways good and bad. You still have the on-road ride that reminds you the Rubicon is meant to tackle, well, the Rubicon. Bouncy and stiff is the order of the day.
Wrangler steering is much improved over generations past, but it’s still numb and artificial, though the heft is right. Exterior noise is still intrusive.
And all of these flaws are still willingly embraced because of what this rig is capable of doing off-road, and because Wranglers still look damn cool. Oh, and because you can go doorless and topless, should you choose.
It’s going to be the theme of just about every Wrangler (and Ford Bronco, for that matter) review that I write – these off-road rigs are quite annoying on road but that’s OK because that’s the point. They’re supposed to be. So while other SUVs might get dinged for these things, we chalk it up to part of the experience. Sure, you might buy a Wrangler only for the image and not for the utility – but you can’t say we didn’t warn you.
Speaking of warning, we can’t say we didn’t warn you that this Jeep doesn’t come cheap. The base price for my test unit was $58,595. In addition to the Rubicon items, that price included trailer-sway damping, Uconnect infotainment with navigation, Apple CarPlay, Android Auto, Wi-Fi hot spot, satellite radio, 4 USB ports, LED lighting, and air conditioning.
Options included leather seats ($1,995), a Cold Weather Group ($1,195) that included heated front seats, heated steering wheel, and remote start; a $995 trailer towing package; all-weather floor mats ($170); power top ($4,145); and off-road camera ($695). With the $1,595 destination, that added up to $69,385.
Your combined MPGe is 49, and your gas-only combined MPG is 20.
The question I kept asking myself during my loan is this: Does going PHEV make the Wrangler Rubicon better?
For those with a consistent place to plug in, the answer is yes – you’ll be able to save at the pump if you can maximize the EV-only mileage. The instant torque is helpful on road, and probably helpful off-road as well. The silent running is nice.
Then again, one can argue that a 392 Wrangler is also better than a standard one – it too offers prodigious power, and a V8 soundtrack is great. Of course, that version won’t pass many fuel pumps.
So it all comes down to use case. If you can plug in often and afford the higher MSRP, the 4xe will make a lot of sense for you and it doesn’t take away any of the Wrangler Rubicon’s core strengths.
You don’t need the 4xe. But if you have the scratch and the access to juice, it makes a strong argument for itself.
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