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 hybrid vehicles. Recently, Jeep announced that two more electric-powered vehicles would be joining 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 Jeep 4xe initiative.
So what’s the deal with an electric Jeep? Generally speaking, there are very few charging stations in the mud, sand, and rocky areas where many drivers enjoy their Jeeps the most. Do you just need to invest in a really, really long extension cord?
Jeep has answers to all of these questions and more. It turns out, the electric Jeep lineup has been very carefully considered and engineered to keep things fun without blowing exhaust all over nature. Take a look at the 4xe lineup, and what’s still to come.
What Is a Jeep 4xe?
First, a brief pronunciation guide: “4xe” is pronounced “four-by-e,” a nod to the 4×4 configuration that many Jeep drivers prefer. Currently, there are two 4xe vehicles available in the American market. The Wrangler and the Grand Cherokee have already received the electric treatment. But bear in mind, neither of these vehicles is fully electrified. 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 a significantly further distance with fewer emissions. Can you get stuck in the wilderness in a 4xe vehicle? Yes, but only if you didn’t plan ahead with fuel.
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 offers an impressive 375 horsepower 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 Rubicon 392 has a combined fuel economy of 15 miles per gallon, the 4xe models have a combined gas-only economy of 20 miles per gallon, which figures to 49 MPGe when the hybrid setup is included. 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 4xe Grand Cherokee 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 sips power more delicately; the hybrid Grand Cherokee has a combined electric and gasoline economy of 56 MPGe, or 23 miles per gallon when using gasoline only. With both power sources topped off, it has a full range of 470 miles.
What’s It Like Driving a Jeep 4xe Model?
For the most part, driving is much quieter. However, many drivers don’t really notice the difference between a gasoline-powered Jeep and a 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.
The trim levels for the 4xe lineup on both models is different from the standard lineup. The Wrangler 4xe is offered in Sahara, Rubicon, and High Altitude configurations, leaving the more basic trims behind. As a result, all three trims include features like a premium Alpine sound system, touchscreen infotainment system with Bluetooth, smartphone integration, and Jeep’s famous SelecTrac 4×4 system, 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 Grand Cherokee 4xe trims include the base self-named 4xe, Trailhawk, Overland, Summit, and Summit Reserve models. Quadra-Drive II four-wheel drive is standard on all trims, though the Trailhawk trim is particularly well suited for off-road work, with sway bar disconnect, electronic limited-slip differential, and off-road performance tracking capability.
The Grand Cherokee has a more sophisticated approach to driving, however, 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 of which is activated by a clearly labeled and easy-to-reach button–there’s no guessing which mode you’re in. The default mode is Hybrid, 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. Electric mode does the exact opposite, allowing the 4xe to run strictly on battery power.
Each Jeep 4xe model is 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 chargers at home to make life easier. Jeep is also working to install charging stations at popular trailheads around the country to make it easier for drivers to top off their charge 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.
Buying a Jeep 4xe Wrangler or Grand Cherokee
At the end of the day, purchasing a Jeep with the 4xe branding 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 of the cool mods you can have factory installed, maybe get some new 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; you’re saving on your gasoline spending, as well.
All told, there are many benefits to the 4xe lineup of both 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.