FCA announced that the 2021 Jeep Wrangler 4xe officially went into production Friday, with the first examples rolling off the line and headed to showrooms ahead of its on-sale date early next year. In other words, you’re just weeks away from being able to purchase Jeep’s first plug-in hybrid vehicle, which may prove to be a bit of a genuine game-changer.
The Wrangler 4xe’s specs make a good first impression. It boasts a combined 375 horsepower and 470 pound-feet of torque. The gasoline engine makes 270 horsepower and 295 pound-feet of torque; the transmission-mounted motor contributes another 134 horsepower and 181 pound-feet.
While the electric motor ahead of the transmission replaces the torque converter, that’s about the extent of the hybrid-ness of the 4xe’s powertrain. The motor is sandwiched by two clutches: one that connects the motor to the eight-speed transmission behind it, and one that connects it to the engine in front of it. No planetary gearboxes or CVTs here. Just good, old-fashioned gears.
Thanks to a 17-kWh, liquid-cooled battery pack, the 4xe can go 25 miles on electric power only. In combined driving, it can achieve 50 mpg-e. How the powertrains are combined or separated can be selected by the driver with a full EV mode, hybrid mode, and a charging and saving mode available. Regenerative braking is also adjustable from light to heavy — which will be handy on trails.
The icing on the electric cake is that the Wrangler 4xe hardly gives up anything for the added capability. The battery pack, inverter and other associated equipment is mounted under a flip-forward rear seat. This is to ensure it’s safely above the frame rails away from rock dents or punctures. The electronics are all waterproofed, so the 4xe maintains the ability to ford 30 inches of water. All 4xe models get Dana 44 axles front and rear.
The 4xe and Sahara 4xe trims get a two-speed transfer case with automatic four-wheel-drive mode and a 2.72:1 low-range. A limited-slip differential is available, and the axle ratios are 3.73:1. These models do lose 0.1 inch of ground clearance compared to the gas models. The Rubicon 4xe gets a transfer case with a 4:1 low-range, electronic locking front and rear axles with a 4.1:1 ratio and electronic sway bar disconnect, plus the exact same ground clearance of the non-PHEV Rubicon.
We expect the Wrangler will be just the first of many PHEV models to come from Jeep and the broader FCA portfolio, which is packed with trucks and SUVs that could make use of Jeep’s new system.