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Jeep Review and News: 2021 Jeep Wrangler 4xe Trail Rated Electric Vehicle - Review By Larry Nutson

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Trail Rated

Review By Larry Nutson
Executive Editor and Bureau Chief
Chicago Bureau

Jeep is 80 years old. Born in 1941, the Jeep brand is celebrating 80 years of 4x4 open-air freedom and adventure.

Along with 80th anniversary editions across the model range there’s been an onslaught of new Jeeps. The new three-row Grand Cherokee L, the top-of-the-line premium Jeep Wagoneer and Grand Wagoneer, the 470-hp Hemi V8 Wrangler Rubicon 392, and Jeep’s first plug-in hybrid model in North America, the Jeep Wrangler 4xe have all debuted.

PHOTO (select to view enlarged photo)

PHOTO (select to view enlarged photo)

The 2021 Jeep Wrangler 4xe (that’s, Four-by-Eee) plug-in hybrid (PHEV) has been named Green SUV of the Year by leading industry publication Green Car Journal. Jeep buyers must be happy. To wit: The Jeep Wrangler 4xe was the best-selling plug-in hybrid in the U.S. in May. That’s a surprise!

Yes, PHEVs perform very well and are quite suitable for urban living. How about out on the trails and through the forests? Where does one “plug in?” Well! Jeep is establishing the Jeep 4xe Charging Network, installing EV Level 2 charging stations at Jeep Badge of Honor off-road trailheads around the United States.

Moab, Rubicon Trail and Big Bear will get the first charging stations and be operational this spring. Jeep 4xe Charging Network is operated by Electrify America and Jeep 4xe owners will get free charging via a custom mobile app.

With an EPA rating of 49 MPGe and 21 miles of all-electric range, the Jeep Wrangler 4xe can conquer the toughest trails with zero emissions, and with nearly silent operation. You can sneak into that campsite without disturbing anyone.

The Wrangler 4xe is basically a different powertrain choice in the well know Wrangler model range. Under the hood is the 270-HP 2.0-L turbocharged 4-cylinder that’s available in other Wranglers. Replacing both the traditional electric starter and alternator is a front-mounted belt-driven high-voltage motor generator. This unit provides engine starting.

An 8-speed TorqueFlite automatic is slightly modified for the 4xe. Instead of the conventional torque convertor, a 134-HP high-voltage electric motor generator unit with two clutches sits between the gasoline engine and the transmission. The front clutch functions to disengage the gasoline motor for electric-only operation. The rear clutch is used to engage the transmission.

Total system output is 375-HP with a torque rating of 470 lb.-ft. A 400-volt 17-kWh lithium-ion battery pack is mounted in an aluminum housing above the frame and under the rear seat. The battery is completely sealed and waterproof and the Wrangler 4xe can ford a water depth of 30 inches.

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The only give-away that this Wrangler is a PHEV is the charging port located on the driver’s-side just ahead of the windshield. 

Three selectable drive modes, Hybrid, Electric, and eSave allow for the best use of the system. The usual driving mode is hybrid which uses both the gasoline engine and the electric motor for driving power. Battery power is used first and then the gasoline engine starts for drive-power.

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Electric mode is battery-only power for quiet, nearly silent and zero emission driving. The 21 miles solely of electric power might not seem like much. That’s plenty in an urban setting where you only drive short distances doing a daily household routine. Out on the trail that can give you 3 or 4 hours of trail-riding.

The eSave mode is just what it sounds like. Operation is on the gasoline engine only and battery charge is saved. Like all hybrids, regenerative braking puts electric charge back into the battery. Depending on driving style and traffic conditions, it has been my experience that regen braking can extend driving range a noticeable amount without needing to plug-in to recharge

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The Wrangler 4xe is available only as a 4-door in the Sahara trim with an MSRP of $47,995 and the Rubicon trim with an MSRP of $51,695, plus the destination charge of $1,494. Wrangler 4xe is eligible for the $7,500 federal tax credit as well as eligible state and local credits.

My drive in the Wrangler 4xe was in a Sahara trim equipped with optional cold weather equipment, advanced driver-assist safety features, a body-color three-piece hardtop and a few other items bringing the total to $56,380.

I didn’t have the opportunity to hit any dusty trails, mountain streams or rock-strewn hills with the 4xe. But rest assured the Wrangler 4xe has the same capabilities as every Wrangler. Around my Chicago home I experienced electric-only driving on city streets. There’s instant torque from the electric motor and acceleration is rapid. Out on the highway I enjoyed cruising along near 60mph running only on battery power. No hydrocarbons were burned!

PHOTO (select to view enlarged photo)

PHOTO (select to view enlarged photo)

More information and specifications on the 2021 Jeep Wrangler 4xe can be found at A wide portfolio of factory-backed, quality-tested parts and accessories is available for the 2021 Jeep Wrangler 4xe. And, a Jeep- and Mopar-branded 240-volt at-home electric-vehicle wall charger is also available.

There’s a new Jeep Wave premium owner loyalty program filled with benefits and exclusive perks for Jeep owners. The Jeep Wave customer service program is available to the entire 2021 model year Jeep brand lineup. Included in this program is: Three years of worry-free maintenance at Jeep dealerships, including oil changes and tire rotations; 24/7 support via phone or online chat; Trip interruption and first-day loaner coverage; VIP access to select, exclusive Jeep brand events.

Happy trails!

© 2021 Larry Nutson, the Chicago Car Guy