As the years move forward, we are driving towards a more tech-advanced automotive industry. Back then, only gas and diesel-powered vehicles ruled the roads. But now, the industry has expanded and is now offering electric vehicles.
To keep up with the demand for EVs, Jeep launched their first-ever plug-in hybrid. Will this SUV perform great on the off-road and encourage the fuel-loving Jeepers to go electric?
Jeep has decades of experience in manufacturing vehicles with exceptional off-road capability. They designed the Wrangler as an homage to the original military Jeep of World War II. However, it may not be as comfortable as the rival SUVs like the Land Rover Defender or Toyota 4Runner.
Nevertheless, conventional Wranglers are well-appreciated by the consumers. The prominent exterior styling, interior design, four-wheel-drive transmission, and upgradable suspension are what got them recognized. Putting a new set of tires using tire mounting services allow you to enjoy driving this SUV on concrete roads or extreme terrain.
But this American automaker is now taking a big step into the realm of electrified driving. Jeep created the 4xe — the brand’s first-ever plug-in hybrid. Pronounced 4-by-e, this hybrid version of Wrangler has 21 miles (33.7962 km) of electric range on a fully charged battery.
Since there will be a shift in EV sales in the coming years, this is one of Jeep’s moves to keep up with the demand for electrification. A big battery powers up the Wrangler hybrid 4xe to guarantee its off-road capability and performance.
If electric vehicles are interesting, Americans are willing to buy them. Jeep made a bold move by making an electric Wrangler.
According to Stellantis Q2 press report, the 4xe is the best-selling plug-in hybrid in the United States and the 2021 model has been sold out. Jeep claimed that the 4xe outsold the Toyota Prius in the second quarter of 2021.
CleanTechnica gave a 4xe estimated sales of over 12,000 units. They based the numbers on the claims that the hybrid Wrangler surpassed the Prius sales. Though, Jeep has not yet shared the official sales record.
Electric motors have more torque and get instant power compared to gas engines. The Wrangler 4xe has a turbocharged four-cylinder engine with hybrid components. This setup provides 375 horsepower and ten lb.-ft of torque.
They removed the central four-wheel-drive equipment and driveshafts to leave a space under the floor for batteries. It is beneficial in keeping the center of gravity lower than a regular Wrangler.
Electrification can either change or enhance the Wrangler experience. Even with a hybrid powertrain, Jeep built the 4xe with the same Trail-rated suspension as its gas-powered counterparts. They put certain parts from conventional Wranglers such as the axles, brakes, steering, and ladder frame. You can opt to change the stock with bead-lock rims like the Mammoth series of Dick Cepek wheels. The 4xe runs well using 17-inch wheels with 33-inch off-roading tires.
You may notice the electric blue tow hooks at the front and rear. This accessory differentiates the 4xe from the gas-powered Wranglers. They also designed the trail-rated badge and decals with electric blue highlights.
This hybrid is offered in three trim levels: the base model 4xe, Sahara, and Rubicon. The base model and Sahara trims are made with full-time four-wheel drive, two-speed transfer case, front-and-rear Dana 44 axles, as well as limited-slip differentials. The Rubicon trim includes electric locking axles, disconnecting sway bars, Rock-Trac 4×4 system, and last but not least — a crazy crawl-gear ratio of 77.2:1.
The great thing about the Wrangler 4xe is you can switch to three different driving modes. You can find the e-Selec buttons beneath the headlamp switch on the left side of the steering column.
- Hybrid Mode
This driving mode blends the torque from the electric motor and 4-cylinder 2.0-liter turbocharged engine. However, it needs to take all the 21 miles of battery power first. The battery will have to reach its minimum state of charge. After consuming power, the engine recharges the battery sufficiently to enable the electric drive motor to work with the gas engine.
- Electric Mode
This mode operates the vehicle for 21 miles or until the battery reaches the minimum charge. However, when the driver engages in high-speed driving or fully depresses the accelerator during the first 21 miles, this mode will not apply. So, the system automatically defaults to Hybrid mode then the gas engine activates.
- eSave Mode
The eSave mode operates primarily on engine power. It also uses fuel to preserve the overall miles of electric range for later use. It allows the driver to use the electric-only range for near-silent electric off-roading. It is also the ideal mode when driving in areas where an internal combustion engine is prohibited.
Using the Hybrid Pages in the Uconnect center display, you can customize the eSave mode. Selecting the “Battery Save” uses braking and coasting to help maintain the battery charge. Selecting the “Battery Charge” on the screen will turn the eSave mode on and allow the engine to charge the battery.
Battery and fuel efficiency
Fuel efficiency is the most glaring problem of Jeep. Perhaps, fuel economy is not a strong feature of any conventional Wrangler. Did you know that a cow is more aerodynamic than a Wrangler, even when the cow puts its head down? It is not a mileage-friendly SUV and often gets a poor mileage rating. It is also heavier compared to a similar-sized unibody vehicle.
The EPA estimates of the Wrangler 4xe on electricity is 49 MPGe, while the normal hybrid operation is 20 mpg in combined city/highway driving. That is lower than what you get from most conventional Wrangler engines. However, compared to other electric vehicles, the 4xe is still a gas-chugging vehicle.
This new electrified SUV lets you enjoy fuel efficiency since it uses electricity as an alternative to help save on gas. Jeep-branded EV charging networks will be built for the Wrangler 4xe to make hybrid off-roading easier and enjoyable.
Jeep vehicles are notoriously famous for modifications and upgrades. To customize regular Wranglers, Poison Spyder accessories and other aftermarket Jeep parts are often used.
Jeepers who love to modify their rig should not worry because they make sure that we can still customize the new Wrangler 4xe. Bumpers, cool rims, lift kits, and other Jeep parts are available.
EV sector in the US
According to the Electric Vehicle Outlook 2020 reports, 58 percent of vehicles for sale in 2040 are going to be mostly electric vehicles. Today, only 2.7 percent of EVs are up for sale, but it reflects a speedy increase in the next two decades.
Norway is still the country with the highest density of electric cars. China, a country with a high population, placed second on the list as it sold over one million electric vehicles last year. In the United States, 297,939 units of plug-in hybrid (PHEV) and battery electric vehicle (BEV) sold in 2020 with a market share of 2.2 percent.
California is the second-largest exporting state to Asia and the largest car market in the country as well. By 2035, the state of California is looking forward to an EV-only future. On the 23rd of September 2020, California Governor Gavin Newsom signed an executive order which bans all new fuel-powered cars and passenger vehicles.
A waiver was issued for California under the 1970 Clean Air Act to push stricter emission standards. The executive order signed by Governor Newsom supports the use of zero-emission vehicles. It aims to reduce the demand for fossil fuels in the state to fight against climate change. The governor said it is their key to a clean and innovative economy. Diesel and gas-powered vehicles will only be available on the used market of California as part of the zero-emissions effort.
Wrangler for the eco-minded
The Wrangler 4xe is an impressive, tech-advanced SUV made to perform well in rugged terrain. Jeep has plans to install chargers on 56 off-road trails. You can find the first three chargers at famous off-road spots such as Big Bear in California, Moab in Utah, and the Rubicon Trail. This hybrid Wrangler lets you drive on trails using its electric power and enjoy off-roading in silence.