Jeep may have been late to the hybrid/electric party, but now it’s poised to take the market by storm. The company has promised to unveil plug-in hybrid versions of half its US-made vehicles by next year, with plans to have a hybrid or electric version of every model by 2022—a lofty goal. But as kings of taking the hard road, it’s no surprise that Jeep SUVs are on such a fast track to the future. The only question is: which one will you choose?
A Brief Electric History
When you think about fuel-efficient, low emission cars, Jeep SUVs are hardly the first vehicles that come to mind. Hopping aboard the hybrid bandwagon just last year, Jeep hasn’t exactly been in the game for very long. For a manufacturer primarily concerned with dominating the off-road market, features like fuel economy and emissions are bound to take a back seat.
Determined to flip the script moving into the new decade, Jeep debuted its first plug-in hybrid Renegade model in 2019 for the European market, followed closely by the 2019 Compass. The lineup of hybrid Jeep SUVs was finally growing. Better late than never, some might say. But why the sudden change? And why set such an aggressive goal?
Peer Pressure is a Powerful Thing
If your dream automotive experience involves crawling over rocks in a hybrid-engine-powered Jeep SUV, then you can send all your thank you letters to China. Boasting the largest car market on the planet, China also has more restrictive rules and regulations for manufacturers than we do here in the US. They impose heavy taxes on cars with larger engines and have extended tax cuts for small-engine vehicles in the past.
These taxes hit Jeep SUVs hard, making them largely unaffordable for buyers in China. As you can imagine, having unaffordable products in the world’s largest market isn’t exactly the best business strategy. The Chinese market was forcing Jeep to adapt. And adapt it did.
As it turns out, hybrid and electric vehicles punch a Jeep SUV-sized hole in these regulations. To work around them, Jeep launched a Chinese-exclusive plug-in hybrid SUV called the Jeep Commander in November of 2019. The significance of the Commander was two-fold:
- It firmly established Jeep’s presence in the energy-forward Chinese market
- It led to the introduction of hybrid Jeep SUVs to other markets
So, hats off to China for giving Jeep the push it needed to head in a more fuel-efficient, environmentally-friendly direction. Now, we have a brand new lineup of plug-in hybrid and fully electric Jeep SUVs to look forward to!
New Fuel Economy & Performance, Same Off-Road Excellence
Leading the lineup of upcoming hybrid Jeep SUVs in the American market is none other than the Wrangler 4xe. But don’t be fooled. Although this new hybrid Wrangler is eco-friendly, it comes with all the trail-ready features you’ve come to expect from the classic model. Aside from a massive upgrade to its fuel efficiency, there’s just one thing that sets the 4xe apart from the standard Wrangler – it’s more powerful. Way more powerful.
The 4xe hybrid system combines a turbocharged 2.0L direct-injection engine with a 16 kWh lithium-ion battery, delivering horsepower and torque values the standard powertrains can only dream of producing. The optional 3.0L diesel engine for the classic Wrangler only reaches up to as high as 442 lb-ft of torque, and the 3.6L V6 engine maxes out at 285 hp.
The Wrangler 4xe powertrain puts these numbers to shame by cranking out up to 375 hp and 470 lb-ft of torque. This hybrid system applies torque to each wheel, providing excellent grip over any obstacles foolish enough to stand in your way. Take off the top and doors and quietly crawl across rocks in electric-only mode to fully connect with your surroundings. A sealed, waterproof battery pack even gives you the ability 30-inch fording depth as the standard Wrangler.
Now, get ready to take your adventure even further. When it comes to fuel efficiency, the Wrangler 4xe is a redefining force in the lineup of Jeep SUVs. The manufacturer’s estimate puts the 4xe at an estimated 50 MPGe, nearly doubling the regular model’s rating, with a total range of 400 miles. When the fun’s over, plug it in at home and recharge it for the next adventure.
Set to launch in December of this year, the Wrangler 4xe is sure to make waves. This exciting new model will satisfy diehard Jeep-fans and Jeep-curious hybrid lovers alike.
The Jeep Renegade 4xe
Next up in the hybrid Jeep SUV lineup is the Renegade 4xe. There’s no news of this plug-in model making it to the States any time soon, but it made its debut in Europe this past September. Apart from a few minor embellishments to let you know that it is, in fact, a hybrid, the Renegade 4xe exterior looks exactly like the standard model. But it’s a whole different story under the hood.
The Renegade’s hybrid powertrain includes a turbocharged 1.3L four-cylinder engine equipped with two electric motors and a 6-speed automatic transmission. This engine comes in a 190 hp version and a more powerful 240 hp version, with both options delivering 200 lb-ft of torque. With these upgrades, it’s safe to say that the Renegade 4xe offers even better off-road performance than its gasoline counterpart.
The Renegade 4xe has an electric-only range of 31 miles (using the more generous European testing standards) and comes with three driving modes, allowing you to choose between hybrid, electric only, and battery-save modes. Battery-save mode helps you preserve battery life and even enables you to recharge the battery up to 80% if you’re running low. Need to recharge? Plug it in at home, and you’re good to go in under five hours. Or, if you upgrade your home charger to the 7.4 kW option, you’ll be back on the road in less than two!
The Jeep Compass 4xe
Debuting alongside the Renegade 4xe in Europe, the Compass 4xe completes the lineup of hybrid Jeep SUVs that we currently have intel on. The Compass 4xe exterior is identical to its gas-only ancestor save for some subtle hybrid accents. Under the hood, the Compass shares the same powertrain as the Renegade, delivering equal amounts of horsepower and torque.
Performance being the same, your choice here comes down to personal preference. Do you like the playful, boxy design of the Renegade? Or does the sleeker, sharper look of the Compass fit into your automotive daydreams better? It’s all up to you. With the two European 4xe models, Jeep further solidified its spot at the top of the off-road crossover SUV market.
Redefining an Old Classic
Buckle up because Jeep is slamming the pedal to the floor with its newest concept: The Grand Wagoneer plug-in hybrid. For Jeep SUV fanatics with some extra cash to spend, this is something to get excited about. While many aspects of this revolutionary take on an old model are still unclear, one thing is for sure. The Grand Wagoneer will combine Jeep’s legendary off-road legacy with a feature-rich, luxurious driving experience reserved for premium SUVs.
Perfectly embodying luxury while maintaining the bold, hardened Jeep look, the Wagoneer’s exterior design is nothing short of showstopping. Sitting atop 24-inch obsidian-finished aluminum wheels and sporting a full-length glass roof, the Wagoneer offers commanding views of both the road and your surroundings.
The interior design is a flawless blend of next-generation technology and comfort. Perforated leather seats, black lace-wood accents, and blue interior lighting give the Grand Wagoneer a lavish ambiance, made even more luxurious by its cutting edge technology features. The front row enjoys no less than 45 inches of total LED screen space, with the passenger even getting a personal 10.25-inch touchscreen. The digital instrument cluster measures in at 12.1 inches and the center console is equipped with both a 12.1-inch infotainment touchscreen and a 10.25-inch touchscreen for climate control.
Exact tech and safety features are unknown at this point, but with Jeep’s reputation, advanced camera, navigation, and connectivity capabilities are likely on the menu. What we do know is that the Grand Wagoneer will come equipped with a plug-in hybrid powertrain and Jeep’s Selec-Terrain Traction system, featuring five different driver-selected modes. No fuel economy or performance spec estimates yet, but you can expect to go the extra mile with powerful towing capabilities.
The Grand Wagoneer’s estimated price sits at an estimated $75,000, making it less appealing to the average buyer. And understandably so – the Grand Wagoneer is anything but average. This groundbreaking Jeep SUV is still in the concept phase. So a release date is far from official. But when it finally does launch, competitors will have their work cut out for them coming up with an answer to it.
Boldly Stepping Into the Future
The way things are going, it looks like Jeep might achieve its stated goal of having hybrid or electric versions of all its vehicles by 2022. With the release of the Renegade and Compass 4xe models in Europe, it’s only a matter of time until they find their way over to the US market. We have the Wrangler 4xe coming in December and the stunning Grand Wagoneer Concept in the works as well. It’s an exciting time for the Jeep SUV, and it will be fun to see how the brand expands its presence in the hybrid/electric market. One way or another, Jeep ended up building cars to conserve the very environments that it designed them to play in. And that’s a beautiful thing.