Over the past several years, many auto manufacturers have announced plans for an all-electric future. Most surprising of all, Jeep—the brand most closely associated with off-roading—not only announced electric plans but has already come through with two plug-in hybrid vehicles. Jeep has also recently revealed that two more all-electric vehicles will join the lineup in 2024. While it will be a while before you see the Recon and Wagoneer EV at your local Jeep dealership, this announcement has sparked a lot of curiosity about the current Jeep 4xe models.
So what’s the deal with an electrified Jeep? Generally speaking, there are very few charging stations in the muddy, sandy, and rocky areas where many drivers enjoy their Jeeps the most. Do you need to invest in a really, really long extension cord? Jeep has answers to all of these questions and more. The electrified Jeep lineup has been carefully considered and engineered to keep things fun while reducing emissions and fuel consumption. Let’s take a look at the current Jeep 4xe models and what they offer.
What Is a Jeep 4xe?
First, a brief pronunciation guide: “4xe” is pronounced “four-by-e,” a nod to the 4×4 configuration that Jeep drivers prefer. Currently, there are two 4xe vehicles available in the American market. The Wrangler and the Grand Cherokee have already received the electrified treatment. But bear in mind, neither of these vehicles is fully electric. Instead, they’re considered Plug-in Hybrid Electric Vehicles, or PHEVs. That means they have a limited electric-only range, but with the assistance of a standard gasoline-powered engine, they can cruise significantly further than a pure electric vehicle. Can you get stuck in the wilderness in a 4xe vehicle? Yes, but no more easily than any other gasoline-powered Jeep.
In many ways, the 4xe Wrangler and Grand Cherokee are very much like their gas-chugging counterparts, though there are a few significant differences. For example, the Wrangler 4xe is offered as a four-door model only. It also delivers an impressive 375 hp and 470 lb-ft of torque, which is strikingly similar to the type of power provided by the 6.4L V8 included in the Wrangler Rubicon 392. The biggest difference, unsurprisingly, is fuel economy. While the 2022 Rubicon 392 has a fuel economy of just 14 MPG combined, the Wrangler 4xe has a gas-only rating of 20 MPG combined, which jumps to 49 MPGe when the battery is considered. While the EPA’s MPGe math can be a little hard to follow, Jeep assures drivers that with a full battery and a full tank, the Wrangler 4xe is good for 370 miles of sheer fun.
The Grand Cherokee 4xe uses the same power source as the Wrangler 4xe––a 2.0L turbocharged inline-4 with two electric motors. As a result, it has the same performance numbers for horsepower and torque. However, it is more efficient than the rolling brick known as the Wrangler; the hybrid Grand Cherokee has an electric efficiency of 56 MPGe and gets 23 MPG combined when using gasoline only. With both power sources topped off, it has a range of 470 miles.
What’s It Like Driving a Jeep 4xe?
For the most part, driving is much quieter. However, many drivers don’t really notice the difference between a traditional gasoline-powered Jeep and a plug-in hybrid Jeep. That’s because the manufacturer has intelligently provided drivers with all of the features they’re used to in a typical Wrangler or Grand Cherokee. However, the trim levels for the 4xe lineup on both models are different from the standard lineups.
The 2023 Wrangler 4xe is offered in the Willys, Sahara, Rubicon, and High Altitude configurations, leaving the more basic trims behind. As a result, all trims include features like a premium Alpine sound system, a touchscreen infotainment system with smartphone integration, and Jeep’s most capable full-time 4×4 systems, which allows drivers to choose the right level of torque and power for the situation at hand. Ruggedness is key in the Wrangler, so features like power-adjustable seats and charming interior decor are not part of the package. And yes, it still does that thing where the roof comes off so you can get the wind in your hair.
The 2023 Grand Cherokee 4xe trims include the base 4xe, Trailhawk, Overland, Summit, and Summit Reserve models. Quadra-Trac II four-wheel drive is standard on all trims. However, the Trailhawk trim is particularly well suited for off-road work, with a sway bar disconnect, electronic limited-slip differential, and front and rear tow hooks.
The Grand Cherokee has a more sophisticated approach to driving, with interior creature comforts like heated seats for the front and second row, leather-trimmed seating, and driver assistance features like adaptive cruise control, lane management, and forward collision mitigation with automatic braking. The top Summit Reserve trim even includes quilted Palermo leather seating and a 19-speaker McIntosh sound system for those who want all the bells and whistles.
How Hard Is This Whole Hybrid Thing?
Of all the automobile manufacturers, Jeep is intimately aware that drivers rarely experience the same exact drive more than once. Whether your way is blocked by a stream of traffic or an actual stream of water, there’s always something that requires driver attention.
Therefore, Jeep has created various drive modes for the 4xe vehicles, each activated by a clearly labeled and easy-to-reach button––there’s no guessing which mode you’re in. The default mode is Hybrid Mode, which combines the gasoline-powered engine and electric motor for the greatest horsepower and performance. Switching to eSave Mode allows the 4xe models to run strictly on gasoline power, which saves the battery for later. Electric Mode does the exact opposite, allowing the 4xe to run strictly on battery power.
Both Jeep 4xe models are powered by a 17.3 kWh battery, which can be charged completely in just two hours with a Level II battery charger. This charger is available with your vehicle, and Jeep is partnering with Qmerit to help drivers install Level II chargers at home to make life easier. Jeep is also working to install public charging stations at popular trailheads around the country to make it easier for drivers to top off their batteries before heading into the wilderness.
For those who are concerned about the perils of off-roading when carrying around a big battery pack, fear not. Jeep has designed a waterproof casing to keep the batteries safe wherever you may travel–including into water up to 31.5 inches deep in the Wrangler 4xe.
Buying a Jeep Wrangler 4xe or Grand Cherokee 4xe
At the end of the day, purchasing a Jeep 4xe isn’t very much different from buying any other Jeep. You’ll want to check out the different trims and their standard equipment, then look at all the cool mods you can have installed, maybe get some new off-road tires, and then head off with your favorite tunes blasting as you conquer the world.
However, you’ll also get the benefit of knowing that the next time you’re climbing a rocky trail or sitting in the carpool lane for the umpteenth time this week, you’re not only saving the planet, but you’re saving your wallet by burning less gas. All told, there are many benefits to the 4xe lineup of the Wrangler and Grand Cherokee. From upscale trims to well-considered features, there’s no reason to shop for a 4xe any differently than you would a vehicle that drinks twice as much fuel.