2021 Jeep Wrangler 4xe boasts most power, best fuel economy in lineup

The 2021 Jeep Wrangler 4xe technically made its debut at this year’s CES, but only now are we getting all the powertrains, and they are mighty juicy. Not only is it the most efficient Wrangler, but it’s also easily the fastest.

So in a break from usual hybrid coverage, we’ll start with the power. The 4xe makes a combined 375 horsepower and 470 pound-feet of torque. Jeep says it’ll hit 60 mph in 6 seconds. The output is achieved by combining the turbocharged four-cylinder from the regular Wrangler with a transmission-mounted electric motor. The engine on its own makes 270 horsepower and 295 pound-feet of torque. It also gets the eTorque starter-generator like a number of other FCA products. The transmission-mounted motor makes 134 horsepower and 181 pound-feet of torque on its own.

How these individual propulsion systems mesh is interesting, too. The electric motor ahead of the transmission actually replaces the torque converter. It’s 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. The clutch to the transmission is there to smooth out any differences in wheel and powertrain speed, a bit like that of a clutch in a manual transmission. The one between the motor and the engine is there so that engine power gets through to the wheels when it has to kick on.

This brings us neatly to the other big gain of the 4xe: fuel economy. 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.

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. Ground clearance is unchanged.

The only areas the 4xe really gives anything up to the regular versions is in cargo space and weight. Space behind the rear seats drops by 4 cubic feet to 27.7 and 5 cubic feet behind the front seats to 67.4. Payload and towing capacity are roughly unchanged, though, at 1,280 and 3,500 pounds respectively. The base 4xe also weighs in at 5,000 pounds, about 800 pounds more than the non-hybrid four-cylinder. Each higher trim adds roughly another 100 pounds each.

The Wrangler 4xe goes on sale early in 2021. It will be available in the three previously mentioned trims of 4xe, Sahara 4xe and Rubicon 4xe. Pricing hasn’t been announced, but expect a significant upcharge over the gas-powered versions.

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