Well first of all, let me address the pronunciation. It’s “Four by E” rather than “Four ex E”. And the E…well it is simply referring to its newly-found characteristic of electrification. That’s right, the Jeep Wrangler, of all things, is now possible to be had as a PHEV. Be sure to read our full review where we look at it as a whole, but this is a deep-dive on the electrified nature of the Jeep Wrangler 4XE Rubicon.
Here’s a trivia fact for you: the 4XE can only come on the 4-door model. For now, anyways. And this is due to the battery placement. It is actually sitting beneath the rear seat. In all, it adds about 800 pounds to the overall vehicle weight. It does remove a slight amount of cargo capacity, but a couple cubic feet isn’t much in the grand scheme of things. Jeep is planning to bring 4XE to additional models in the future. The jury is still out as to how successful they will sell and work, but this is an interesting first take on it, and not the vehicle I would have expected.
Let’s talk range.
Jeep claims 21 miles of electric-only range. This is technically assuming the Sahara trim, with its more reasonable street-friendly tires. However, true to our nature, we put it through the paces and performed a [relatively] scientific city range test. Retaining a speed limit of 40mph or less, with a wide mix of stop-and-go, turning, lights, stop signs, etc. we achieved 27.5 miles of driving, with over an hour of driving time. This is impressive, and even more so due to the equipping of the Rubicon trim, complete with 33” all-terrain tires, and all of the rigmarole of off-road capable “Wrangling”. Our theory is that the range estimate may be including some highway miles, because that can drop the range due to the brick-like nature of its aerodynamics. That, coupled with nearly 5,300 pounds, it’s not the easiest thing to move down a highway.
The capabilities off-road are exceptional. Due to the nature of the electric integration, it retains its full Wrangler capabilities, allowing even 4X4 low when in electric mode. Sway bar disconnects, differential lockers, the whole kit is unobstructed by its newfound EV capabilities. I actually found electric off-roading to be incredibly fun, with the silence simply enhancing the world around you when on a secluded trail. Silence aside from the surprisingly loud power steering electronic squeaks. I can’t say whether it was unique to my press car or if it’s widespread, but it was certainly something to note.
The three drive modes are Electric, Hybrid, and E-Save. Hybrid is where all the power lives, giving impressive acceleration off the line and on tap whenever you need it. Even the transmission seemed to stay out of the way. Electric mode uses the transmission as well, as opposed to the direct-drive model of many EVs. It’s relatively decent with acceleration, at least compared to other slow CUVs on the road, but if you try to push the pedal to the floor in Electric mode, it will prompt shove you over to Hybrid mode and give you all it’s got. The E-Save mode will actually let you save the electric capacity for later use or even charge the battery up for later use. It’s a strange feature to consider at first, until I realized the fun of electric off-roading.
With electrified cars, there is always the curiosity as to gross battery capacity versus usable. With the Wrangler 4XE, the actual battery itself is 17.2 kWh, with roughly 15 kWh usable. The charging is done via a J1772 connector located just in front of the driver door where the hood meets the fender. It will take standard 7.2 kW from a level 2 (240 V, AC) charger, which will take it from flat to full in a bit under 3 hours. With the standard wall-plug included with the jeep on a standard outlet, you can expect around 10 hours charge time.
This is the lead-up to two common questions I got while spending time with the 4XE. How much money, and how much power? Frankly, it’s a lot of both. You can expect the electrification to add roughly $10,000 to the overall price tag, depending on the engine and trim choices. Currently, it’s only available on the Sahara, Rubicon, and High Altitude, and starts at nearly $50,000. In the case of my Rubicon, the total was $62,000. I would personally opt for the Power Sky Top, giving one-touch electrification to the top itself. But that would have added another $4,000. But I should note that the 4XE comes standard with the premium Alpine sound system and 8.4” Connect display, both great features to have.
As for the power figures, it’s no slouch. 470 lb-ft of torque is an impressive, attention-grabbing number, especially due to the fact that it matches the torque of the V8-powered 392 Wrangler. Given the potential of much better fuel economy with the 4XE* (big asterisk), it could be an efficient way to get ample power. The horsepower is also impressive at 375, and I was always impressed with the power it could put down, often impressing others at stop lights.
Those power figures, while impressive, are the combined numbers. The electric motors themselves are a small portion of its capability, though they do help. The engine is essentially sandwiched between two different electric motors. The smaller one in front is 44 hp and 39 lb-ft torque, acting as a starter-generator. Then behind the engine is a 134 hp motor with 181 lb-ft torque, replacing the torque converter, which then feeds into the automatic ZF-8HP 8-speed transmission and subsequently the 4×4 system.
Does it help?
Now back to that asterisk. The fuel economy is officially rated as 49MPGe, but that is assuming plugging in and using the battery as much as possible. If you are with constant longer commutes, road trips, or minimal access to charging, this may not be the optimal choice. The ideal candidate for the 4XE would be someone with charging capability at home, and potentially even at work or other destinations, depending on distance. Nearly 25 miles of real-world city driving is more than adequate for many small towns or those with small commutes, and the electrified off-road experience is truly the best way to experience a trail, of course depending on the length. The brake pedal feel is always a consideration with EVs or hybrids, and it is truly excellent on the 4XE. It is blended very nicely between regenerative braking and standard, with a Max Regen button allowing for nearly one-pedal driving.
The concept of having this, along with ChargePoint stations at nearly every location to which you regularly commute, would fall into the realm of “name a better duo, I’ll wait”. It’s an intriguing combination, and much to my surprise, it works. I look forward to additional Jeep badges getting the 4XE treatment, but I don’t expect them to retain their value when fully electrified models come to market. But for now, at this very moment, this is the jeep to get if it suits your pocketbook. Unless, of course, you want the crazier 392 with all of its V8 prowess. That’s a whole other animal.