The Jeep Wrangler needs no introduction. The original model emerged during the Second World War and was instrumental in carrying our troops in our fight against tyranny. Some 80 years later, the Wrangler advances all the prowess of the original and can now be had as a plug-in hybrid electric vehicle. We had the chance to drive an electrified Jeep and were impressed with its stoutness and efficiency.
Jeep offers the 2021 Wrangler in two- and four-door configurations, the latter often referenced as the Jeep Wrangler Unlimited. All models come with standard four-wheel drive. The Wrangler Unlimited adds 20 inches between the wheelbase and seats five, which is one more than the standard model.
Jeep prices the two-door Wrangler from $29,070 and the Wrangler Unlimited from $32,570. Add $1,495 for the destination charge. As for the electrified Jeep, this one comes with four doors and is marketed as the Wrangler 4xe. It is available in three trims and starts at $51,025 and tops out at $56,845. Depending on the trim, there is a near $12,000 price premium over the standard model. However, on the top trims, the difference is significantly less. Further, a $7,500 federal tax credit erases some of the extra cost.
Wrangler 4xe Model Overview
Space doesn’t allow for a thorough dissection of all things Wrangler. Our review concentrates on the performance characteristics of the electrified model. That said, every Wrangler comes with removable doors and windshield, a washable interior, and a token amount of storage capacity.
Also apparent are several signature features, including round headlamps, a seven-slot keystone grille, and trapezoid wheel flares. Customers have a choice of soft or hard removable tops.
On the tech front, the Uconnect infotainment interface is one of the best on the market. With a tablet-like layout, the icons are clear and easy to decipher. A 5- or 7-inch screen is standard; an 8.4-inch screen is available. All trims feature Android Auto and Apple CarPlay smartphone compatibility. Bluetooth, USB ports, and audio packages are available.
The Wrangler comes with electronic stability control, electronic roll mitigation, and trailer-sway control. Brake traction control and hill-start assist are also included.
Wrangler 4xe Performance
Jeep took the Wrangler’s smallest engine and combined it with a pair of electric motors and an automatic transmission to power the 4xe. As such, this model combines to deliver an amazing 375 horsepower and 470 pound-feet of torque. The 2.0-liter turbo four-cylinder engine works with an 8-speed automatic transmission. The two electric motors contribute torque, with one adding power to drive the start/stop system.
There are a few things to keep in mind when considering the 4xe. First, this model has a 25-mile all-electric range. This means it can travel that far without consuming a drop of gas. Second, to ensure that the gas engine doesn’t turn on as it automatically does in certain drive situations, Jeep supplies a switch to alternate between hybrid and electric power. Moreover, there is a third choice, E-Save, which allows the driver to conserve electricity for later. In any case, the control is left up to the driver to operate the Jeep as he or she sees fit.
On the road, the Wrangler 4xe makes a convincing argument to go off-road. Because this model comes with 33-inch off-road tires, the ride is unremarkable. Further, the steering is wobbly – the Jeep tracks poorly and needs constant guidance. That said, the vehicle is safe: just know that it shines best on trails.
Head to the trails and the 4xe is in its element. With a ground clearance of 10.8 inches, it is ready to cross streams and climb boulders. Skid plates protect the underbody, while front and rear tow hooks are the assurance needed to get unstuck. We always recommend a buddy when navigating the rigorous trails of the Uwharrie National Forest or the shifting sands on the Outer Banks.
The wobbly steering on hard pavement essentially becomes a non-issue off-road. Here, with careful twists and turns of the Jeep, this model gets it done. Indeed, the 4xe has an approach angle of 44 degrees, a breakover angle of 22.5 degrees, and a departure angle of 35.6 degrees. These are stout numbers and the reason why the 4xe wears a Trail Rated badge.
Every 4xe comes with a floor-mounted drivetrain control stalk that stands next to the transmission shifter. The “2H” designation is standard and that’s where power is sent to the rear wheels only. Jeep also supplies a pair of “4H” options for either full- or part-time four-wheel drive. We would choose the first one on the trails and the second one on mixed terrain. Besides a “neutral” setting, the “4L” makes it possible to crawl out of most mud holes and ditches. In all, the Wrangler in any form lives up to its legendary Jeep status. The 4xe simply adds a benefit that was not there until now.
An electrified Jeep Wrangler seems like a novelty and in some ways it is. This model targets a narrow group of consumers, particularly anyone who prizes environmental concerns as they head off-road. Jeep is supporting its efforts by installing electric charging stations at trailheads across the country. That allows enthusiasts to stay on electric power longer. You likely won’t find a 4xe priced under $55,000, but at least the federal tax credit may offer some welcome relief.
See Also — The Capable and Versatile Jeep Cherokee SUV
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