New 2021 Jeep Wrangler 4xe Plug-In Hybrid Has 375 HP, Plenty of Off-Road Cred
The Jeep Wrangler goes electric, starting in early 2021.
Jeep's grand plan to electrify every model in its lineup over the next several years is becoming a reality in the U.S. market. The marque plans to launch the 2021 Jeep Wrangler 4xe, a plug-in hybrid, four-door variant of the popular off-roader, to go on sale in early 2021. Hot on the heels of the Jeep Grand Wagoneer Concept, also unveiled to the public on Sept. 3, the 2021 Jeep Wrangler 4xe will go on sale first and deliver a taste of what's to come. Jeep will also launch the 2021 Wrangler 4xe in Europe and China early next year, after Renegade 4xe and Compass 4xe models launch in Europe this summer. Jeep says that fully half of its near-future product plans include plug-in or full electric vehicles.
2021 Jeep Wrangler 4xe Plug-In Electric Powertrain
First things first: the powertrain of the 2021 Jeep Wrangler 4xe plug-in hybrid is based on the existing 2.0-liter, twin-scroll turbocharged inline-four which provides 270 horsepower and 295 lb-ft of torque. Add to that twin electric-motor generators—one that replaces the torque converter at the front of the ZF eight-speed TorqueFlite automatic transmission, and another that doubles as a starter hanging off of the front of the engine where the alternator previously lived—connected to the crankshaft via belt drive. Powering the whole shebang is a 400-volt, 17-kWh, 96-cell Samsung lithium ion battery pack that's stored in an aluminum case underneath the second-row bench seat. Though electrification adds some 500 pounds to the 2021 Jeep Wrangler 4xe plug-in hybrid's curb weight, total output between gasoline engine and electric motors is a big 375 hp and 470 lb-ft of torque, giving an estimated 0-60-mph run of 6.0 seconds.
Drivers will view battery-monitor information on the Wrangler 4xe's instrument panel; the charger plugs into the driver's-side front fender. Jeep estimates 50 MPGe from the setup, with a pure electric range of 25 miles—enough for hours of electric-only off-roading in 4-low range, according to Jeep. Some 400 miles of range is estimated from electric and gas power combined. Accessories aren't run off of the powertrain's battery pack, but are powered instead by a dedicated 12V battery. While the 2021 Jeep Wrangler 4xe is only available in four-door Wrangler trim when it goes on sale, Jeep hasn't ruled out electrifying future two-door or Gladiator models in the not-too-distant future, should Wrangler 4xe sales go strongly.
2021 Jeep Wrangler 4xe Driving Modes
The 2021 Jeep Wrangler 4xe plug-in hybrid can operate in three different modes, including Hybrid, Electric, and eSave, courtesy of clutches that engage and disengage the two electric motors. Hybrid mode is the default drive setting, which favors battery power, adding gasoline power as necessary. In Electric mode, the Wrangler 4xe attempts to remain solely on battery power until the driver demands more via their right foot, or until the battery reaches a minimum charge level. The eSave setting is designed to keep the battery fully charged as a priority, running the gasoline engine first and foremost. Inside the eSave setting, the driver can prioritize charging the battery with a more aggressive Max Regen function that captures energy whenever the 2021 Wrangler 4xe is coasting, or simply save the juice that the battery has left for later use.
Of course, the center Uconnect infotainment system provides a detailed look at how power is used at any given time thanks to its Eco Coaching feature. This is also where future charging may be planned, and where driving history can give an instant look at traditional gas and electric usage. The Wrangler 4xe's regenerative system works at full capacity with four-wheel drive engaged, allowing it to capture energy from all four wheels.
Jeep says the powertrain's lithium-ion battery pack is designed to last "for the life of the vehicle," though warranty information is unavailable at the moment. Jeep claims charging time of 10-12 hours for a full charge with the included plug-in 110-volt level-1 charger, while 240-volt level-2 charging reduces the time to two hours.
2021 Jeep Wrangler 4xe Is Off-Road Ready
Jeep's engineering team claims the 2021 Jeep Wrangler 4xe plug-in hybrid allows better-controlled and more precise off-road driving, with instant torque available from the electric motors to clear tough obstacles, not to mention a quieter experience that helps immerse the driver in nature. All Wrangler 4xe models are Trail Rated by Jeep.
Given that Wranglers are traditionally able to handle extreme situations, the battery pack has its own climate-control system, enabling it to be warmed by a dedicated heater assembly, or cooled by the Wrangler's air-conditioning system, to maintain performance. Additionally, the pack and its associated wires are stashed in a sealed environment Jeep says is waterproof, enabling the 2021 Wrangler 4xe to power through water crossings up to 30-inches deep.
Because of the battery's packaging beneath the rear seat, Jeep says cargo capacity is "virtually uncompromised," though the "Flip and Fold" rear seat top does take a little extra space. Jeep also says the battery pack is well protected from under-vehicle impacts, and that the top cover can easily withstand gear and people perched on top of it.
Jeep also notes it will develop several accessory packages for the 4xe through Jeep Performance Parts and Mopar, including a 2-inch lift kit specifically designed for the plug-in hybrid. Other typical Wrangler accessories like beadlock wheels and off-road bumpers will also be added to the catalog, though it's still unclear which accessories will or won't be available the moment the 2021 Jeep Wrangler 4xe plug-in hybrid goes on sale next year.
2021 Jeep Wrangler 4xe Trim Levels
In base 2021 Jeep Wrangler 4xe and Wrangler Sahara 4xe trim levels, buyers get Dana 44 axles front and rear, a Selec-Trac two-speed transfer case with 2.72:1 low-range gear ratio, and full-time four-wheel drive, though the ground clearance for these trim levels is 10.1 inches. That's slightly less than the 10.8-inches of ground clearance the more capable Wrangler Rubicon 4xe boasts.
The Wrangler Rubicon 4xe also receives the Rock-Trac four-wheel-drive system with a 4:1 low-range gear ratio from its two-speed transfer case, and the same Dana 44 axles as its siblings, along with Tru-Lok electric front- and rear-axle lockers. Front-axle electronic anti-roll bar disconnect is also a Rubicon-only feature, as are standard 17-inch, off-road ready wheels with 33-inch knobby tires. Lesser trims have 20-inch wheels better suited for on-road use.
You'll be able to spot the 2021 Jeep Wrangler Rubicon 4xe models on the road pretty easily once they go on sale, thanks to a unique Electric Blue hue covering the front and rear tow hooks, plus unique badges, upholstery stitching, and unspecified Easter-egg touches. The Wrangler 4xe models will be available in 10 colors at launch, including Hella Yella and Snazzberry.
Jeep will announce pricing for the 2021 Jeep Wrangler 4xe plug-in hybrid models closer to the on-sale date.
2021 Jeep Wrangler 4xe Highlights
- 0-liter, turbocharged inline-four gasoline engine plus two electric motors give 375 hp, 470 lb-ft of torque
- 400-volt, 17kWh battery pack provides 25 miles of electric-only range, 400 mile range gas/electric combined
- Jeep says 25-mile electric range is good for "hours" of off-roading in 4-low mode
- Jeep estimates 50 mpg-e combined
- Available only in four-door Wrangler body style when first on sale; could expand to Gladiator model, dependent on sales
- On sale in early 2021
2021 Jeep Wrangler 4xe Specifications
|ON SALE||Early 2021|
|ENGINE||2.0L turbocharged DOHC 16-valve I-4/270 hp @ 5,250 rpm, 295 lb-ft @ 3,000 rpm, plus electric eTorque Belt-start generator-motor/44 hp, 39 lb-ft; plus electric integrated transmission traction motor/134 hp, 181 lb-ft; combined 375 hp|
|LAYOUT||4-door, 5-passenger, front-engine, 4WD SUV|
|EPA MILEAGE||50 mpg-e combined (est)|
|L x W x H||188.4 x 73.8 x 73.5 in|
|0-60 MPH||6.0 sec|