Jeep makes a splash into the plug-in hybrid market with its Wrangler Rubicon 4xE
CHATTANOOGA, TN — Jeeps’ new 4xE Wrangler Hybrid is here, how will the Jeep community respond? For most Jeep owners, the brand and the vehicle are a way of life. There’s a certain cult-like following that the brand has garnered over the past several decades. You’ll see it as other Jeep drivers give you a two-finger wave from their steering wheel hand as you pass by them. Or even in the likes of maybe finding a toy duck on your door handle as you exit a grocery store, with a note saying “you’ve been ducked”. For a long time, the Jeep brand and especially the Wrangler have held a place in the hearts and minds of off-roaders and overlanders.
New for 2021 is Jeep’s hybrid Wrangler they call the 4xE. It uses a combination of two electric motors in conjunction with a 2.0-liter 4-cylinder engine. The total power output is rated at 375 horsepower and a whopping 470 lb-ft of torque. It is mated to an eight-speed TorqueFlite automatic transmission. Jeep claims a zero-60 time in about 6.4-seconds.
The peculiar thing is that the full-electric range is only 21 miles, and that’s on-road. We didn’t have our test vehicle long enough to determine its off-road range. Jeep has said that it’s working with state officials around the country to install charging stations at many popular trail heads. Frankly, it hardly seems worth it. Sure, 21 miles might be enough to get you to and from work on a daily basis but by most reasonable standards, it’s hardly a good reason to buy this Wrangler unless you’re using it as a commuter.
From an aesthetics perspective, this Wrangler Rubicon 4xE looks like the others in the Wrangler Rubicon line-up. The primary difference, however, is the charging port and the blue-colored accents both outside and the inside stitching.
The interior sports comfortable, manually adjustable seats up front and a somewhat comfy second-row that does collapse for extra storage. Of course you can remove the doors with the included tool-kit as well as remove the rooftop for a true, open-air experience.
Its infotainment system features the latest Uconnect software with onboard navigation and a 8.4-inch screen that’s easy to use and provides good audio playback through the 552-watt Alpine audio system with subwoofer. The only complaint we had about this system is that it doesn’t crank very loud unless you have the active volume system set to maximum. Both Apple CarPlay and Android Auto come standard.
Driver aids include adaptive cruise control, blind-spot monitor with alert, forward frontal collision warning, automatic high-beam headlights, parksense rear parking assist as well as Jeeps parkview rear back-up camera.
There’s no doubt that Jeep raised the bar, years ago with the Rubicon’s off-road capabilities. Front and rear lockers are a simple switch away from activating as well as a detachable sway-bar for extra wheel travel and articulation. This Jeep also shows you in real-time the pitch of the vehicle from all sides. The standard 33-inch all-terrain tires do a great job, overall, of most terrain types you’ll encounter, especially if you air-down a bit. One thing we’d love to see in the future would be the ability to deflate and inflate the tires with a switch on the dash.
We took our test model into the hills of eastern Tennessee and found there wasn’t anything to stop us. There’s a great level of confidence the 4xE Rubicon instills while driving it off-road. We had no issues going through moderate mud and dirt as well as loose gravel. The tires provided excellent grip and the Jeep’s crawl-control was excellent. You’ll also like the undercarriage protection with rock rails and a skid plate.
On the road:
On the road, the hybrid drive system provides excellent pick-up and go. With tons of available torque and decent combined horsepower, it’s hard to believe there’s a 4-cylinder under the hood. You’ll find easy power for passing slower traffic as well as quickly getting up to freeway speeds from an on-ramp.
While it still drives like a Wrangler, with some body roll around sharp corners and such, you’ll find it’s worth those little misgivings to drive a vehicle that will literally take you places so few others will. The Jeep Wrangler legend lives on well and the 4xE will certainly help it cater to a bit broader demographic.
Price as tested: $62,000