As the automotive industry continues turning toward electric power, a plug-in hybrid Jeep Wrangler is a milestone. It’s called the 4xe (pronounced “4 by E”) and is available in Sahara, Rubicon, and High Altitude trim levels of the Wrangler Unlimited (four-door) model.
With a $1,485 destination charge included, pricing starts at $49,490 for the Sahara; $53,190 for the Rubicon; and $55,065 for the High Altitude. The Wrangler 4xe qualifies for a $7,500 federal tax credit and available local or state credits.
The Jeep Wrangler Unlimited 4xe plug-in hybrid (PHEV) powertrain has a turbocharged four-cylinder engine, two electric motors, a 400-volt battery pack, and an eight-speed automatic transmission. It produces 375 horsepower and 470 pound-feet of torque. In hybrid mode it has a 49 mpg-equivalent in combined city/highway driving. In gasoline-only mode the rating is 20 mpg. In full electric mode it has a range up to 25 miles.
The Wrangler Rubicon 4xe I drove had an aptly named Electric Blue color on its exterior badging, front and rear tow hooks, the Rubicon name on its hood, and throughout the interior including stitching on the seats and trim.
Changing drive modes is quick and easy. Just push one of three buttons to the left of the steering wheel: Hybrid (the default mode), Electric, or eSave.
In Hybrid mode, battery power is used first, and the gas engine adds propulsion when the battery charge is at minimum level. In Electric mode, the 4xe runs on electric only until the battery reaches minimum charge. The driver punching the gas pedal in a signal for more torque pronto will also engage the engine. In eSave mode, engine power is prioritized, saving the battery charge for later use, such as EV off-roading or driving in situations where gas engines are restricted.
Rear-wheel drive, all-wheel drive, and high- or low-range four-wheel drive options are available via the transfer case.
To encourage silent, emissions-free, all-electric off-roading in the new 4xe, Jeep is setting up EV Level 2 charging stations, operated by Electrify America, at the Jeep Badge of Honor off-road trailheads throughout the United States. There are no Jeep Badge of Honor trails in Washington at this time, but there are two in Oregon’s Tillamook State Park.
The Wrangler 4xe hybrid system doesn’t always perform with the greatest of grace, but the tremendous boost of torque from the electric department is quite a mitigator. So are all the traditional fun Wrangler qualities such as one-of-a-kind styling, removable doors and roof, and lively Jeepy ride characteristics.
The mid-level Rubicon trim comes standard with an Alpine premium audio system, SiriusXM, Wi-Fi hotspot, Android Auto and Apple CarPlay compatibility, and the trusty Uconnect infotainment interface.
Optional items on my test vehicle include Cold Weather and Safety packages, an Advanced Safety Group adding several driver-assist features, steel bumpers, keyless entry, and a three-piece hard top.
2021 JEEP WRANGLER UNLIMITED RUBICON 4XE
Base price, including destination charge: $53,190
Price as driven: $64,315
Mary Lowry is a member of the Motor Press Guild and a member and past president of the Northwest Automotive Press Association. She lives in Snohomish County. Vehicles are provided by automotive manufacturers as a one-week loan for evaluation purposes only. Manufacturers do not control content of the reviews.