It’s hard to google Jeep these days and not land on a review of the exciting new 2021 Jeep Wrangler 4xe. It’s dominating headlines everywhere, from the usual automotive review sites to more mainstream publications, because this all-new hybrid Wrangler is a first for Jeep. And from everything we’ve read, they hit it out of the park.
The 2021 Wrangler 4xe is special primarily because it represents a departure for Jeep. The company has always relied on gas and diesel-powered engines to propel their gritty, trail-rated fleet of off-roaders. There is a kind of reassuring certainty to Jeep’s commitment to consistency in its powertrains, which is why at first, we wondered how it would affect Jeep’s overall brand image. Would adding a hybrid Jeep to its fleet diminish the ‘toughest truck on the block’ reputation Jeep has earned over the years? Remember, this is the automaker that builds vehicles with hose-down vinyl seating and ground clearance sufficient to ford raging rivers. A hybrid? Isn’t that a little, well, fluffy?
Nothing could be further from the truth, though (thankfully). We’re happy to report that the 2021 Jeep Wrangler 4xe not only continues the Jeep tradition of might, grit, and mud-caked aggressive styling but dare we say this model actually enhances all of Jeep’s best qualities? From capability to an indescribable near-silent off-roading experience, the 4xe delights and will undoubtedly win over even the most staunch hybrid holdouts.
What are our favorite features of this all-new Wrangler? There are plenty, but we’ll review the headlines here. We think the Wrangler 4xe is the beginning of a paradigm shift within Jeep, but one that doesn’t abandon the brand’s core values; rather, it brings them to life in a whole new – and, arguably, better – way.
Dubbed the Jeep that offers “hybrid innovation with no compromises,” Jeep’s marketing team successfully sums up what we love most about the 2021 Wrangler 4xe. It simply doesn’t waver from the Jeep off-roading, Trail Ready heritage that undergirds every model in the lineup. In fact, this Wrangler is more powerful than any of its brethren, including Wranglers equipped with Jeep’s powerful diesel engine.
Starting at a very reasonable $47,995, the Wrangler 4xe is already racking up the accolades. Winner of the Hybrid Technology Solution of the Year award at 2020’s Auto Tech Breakthrough Awards ceremony, the 4xe contains technology that affords owners all the benefits of hybrid technology without even a hint of reduction in off-roading prowess. All while practicing good environmental stewardship. We say that’s a great combination.
It’s enlightening to take a deeper dive into Jeep’s hybrid technology to gain a genuine appreciation for its complexity. Drivers can choose from several driving modes, including hybrid mode – the default mode – which derives power from both the 2.0-liter turbo engine and the electric motors, with electric power depleted first.
Next, electric mode. This is where you’ll have a chance to experience near-silent off-roading. We’re talking about no engine noise whatsoever. It’s a life-changing experience, and one Jeep emphasizes as a key benefit of choosing the 4xe. As long as the onboard battery has at least 1% charge, the full-electric mode is available. That means zero emissions. Zero. And the range is decent, too, at 21 miles.
Switch to e-Save mode to conserve battery, and let the innovative regenerative braking capability charge the battery every time you decelerate and apply the brakes. The lower the gas pedal, the more quickly the battery regenerates, and it’s designed to slow the vehicle down without having to use the brake pedal. Recharging the battery takes approximately 2 hours if you have access to a Level II (240-volt) charger.
Let’s start with range, a topic that has halted many would-be hybrid buyers. The Wrangler 4xe is equipped to reach approximately 370 miles in certain modes and deliver 49 MPGe of fuel economy in the process. And did we mention the 375 horsepower and max 470 lb-ft of torque availability? Not just availability in the traditional sense, but instant availability, which is a whole new animal.
All Jeep Wranglers are Trail Rated, and the 4xe is no exception. What exactly does the Trail Rated badge mean? It’s how Jeep labels the models that meet rigorous off-roading standards, from water fording to articulation. The Wrangler 4xe was put through punishing testing before earning the Trail Rated badge, which means it handles pretty much any trail, river crossing, or stretch of desert with Jeep-like capability.
Green Car Journal’s 2021 Green SUV of the Year still looks best covered in dirt and grime, and it’s still most at home on the road less traveled. Enjoy all the benefits of a Trail Rated Jeep in this latest hybrid 4xe, including off-road-worthy traction from either full-time or part-time 4×4 capability. The instantly-available torque of the 4xe’s hybrid powertrain works especially well when navigating uneven terrain.
Other Trail Rated attributes include high air intakes and sealed electrical connections for successful water fording, exceptional articulation, and maneuverability, which comes in handy over rocky terrain and through tight ravines where angling around obstacles is necessary. Trail Rated Jeeps also offer extra ground clearance and protective skid plates. Now imagine all that off-roading prowess with no distracting engine noise. That’s the beauty of the Wrangler 4xe.
The Jeep Wrangler 4xe comes in three different and distinct trims: the base Sahara, the mid-range off-roading Rubicon, and the luxurious High Altitude. The Sahara starts at just under $48,000 and features 20-inch wheels surrounded by mono-toned body-color fender flares. Leather-trimmed seats are standard, as is a center dash-mounted 8.4-inch infotainment touchscreen.
Jump up to the well-equipped Rubicon, and all the necessary off-roading equipment is standard. For a starting MSRP of $51,940, the Wrangler 4xe Rubicon includes giant 33-inch all-terrain tires that afford a generous 10.9 inches of ground clearance. The low-gear ratio achieved via Jeep’s full-time Rock-Trac 4×4 system means better low-speed crawling ability. It’s the go-anywhere Wrangler on steroids.
Luxury is the buzzword of choice for the top-end Wrangler High Altitude 4xe. With a base sticker price of $53,815, you can expect the High Altitude to overflow with extras, and it does. That 8.4-inch infotainment touchscreen gets navigation and a nine-speaker Alpine Premium Audio System. Special quilted leather seats and a leather-trimmed interior almost make you forget you’re in a machine designed for grit and grime.
Because the Wrangler 4xe is a plug-in hybrid electric vehicle (PHEV), it contains both a gas engine and an electric motor that’s powered by a special lithium-ion battery. Home charging is necessary, which can seem complex at first, but luckily Jeep is making it easy. They’ve partnered with Amazon to supply a Level II fast charger that fully charges the vehicle in roughly two hours. That charger comes at an additional cost, so buyers looking to save will have to make do with the included Level 1 charging cable (12 hours to full charge).
A Jeep Is Still a Jeep, Even a Hybrid One
All this capability and performance can make us forget that the 2021 Jeep Wrangler 4xe is an environmentally-friendly, low emissions SUV that opens the door to potential Federal tax credits, as well as state and local incentives, making it a smart buy too. There’s something poetic about driving a vehicle that gets you closer to the great outdoors in a way that honors and respects it. We wanted a Jeep that was better for the environment but wouldn’t make us lose the power and versatility that we love, and we think that the Wrangler 4xe does all that and more.