If you’re ready to pull the trigger on a 4×4 SUV but aren’t quite sure which one to choose, a visit to the Jeep dealership might be a difference-maker. This holds true especially if you lean toward making environmentally conscious decisions because Jeep’s 2022 Wrangler 4xe delivers all the off-road capability you’ll ever need in pure hybrid form. As the first-ever hybrid Jeep, the Wrangler 4xe has a lot riding on it. Jeep is iconic in off-roading circles, and any reduction in capability would be immediately noticed. The engineers at the factory must have had this in mind since the first-ever hybrid Jeep is almost the most powerful Wrangler ever built.
It’s hard to imagine trail riding with zero engine noise, but in an open-air Wrangler 4xe with the windshield down and the doors and roof removed, it’s finally possible. Since the Wrangler 4xe is more powerful, more efficient, and every bit as fun to drive, it definitely deserves a spot at the top of your consideration list. Which features headline the Wrangler 4xe’s list of attributes? Given it’s still a Wrangler with all its signature capability, we’re focused on the 4xe’s advanced hybrid technology.
What’s (Not) Under the Hood?
The architecture of a hybrid Jeep is a subject of deep curiosity among aficionados. After all, Jeep took its time entering the hybrid market. This is a plug-in hybrid that’s capable of running on electric-only power. It features a 2.0-liter 4-cylinder turbo engine with direct fuel injection and dual overhead cams, mated to a 17-kWh lithium-ion battery.
Jeep equips the Wrangler 4xe with an eight-speed transmission tuned for plenty of low-range torque. The powertrain also features regenerative braking, which contributes to the efficient distribution of power to both axles and to each individual wheel. Don’t worry about shorting the battery if you ford a 30-inch stream (as you should in a Trail Rated Jeep): it’s completely waterproof.
What you won’t find in this Jeep is a big gas or diesel-powered motor. Instead, the hybrid powertrain sips fuel while paradoxically traveling from 0-60 in a scant 6 seconds. That’s thanks to 375 horsepower and a whopping 470 lb-ft of torque, which is more than enough power for all kinds of driving, from highway acceleration to crawling over boulders on the side of a mountain. The best part of a hybrid powertrain is the complete absence of range anxiety. The gas engine is there when you need it, but for short trips, you can switch to all-electric power and expect 21 miles of all-electric range. Altogether, the powertrain delivers roughly 370 miles of total range and a 49 MPGe fuel economy rating. It defaults to Hybrid mode, squeezing power from both sources to optimize performance.
Infotainment Technology and Connectivity
It’s an exciting time to buy a new car because the latest models contain all measure of advanced technology features that boost safety, add convenience, and, best of all, keep us connected even when we’re driving. Most new vehicles include connected services, but there’s something about seeing it exist alongside classic Wrangler styling that makes it even more special.
Situating an advanced infotainment touchscreen between a set of retro round air vents is the perfect juxtaposition of past and future. The Wrangler’s dash features such an arrangement. The touchscreen functions as a communications and entertainment hub, but it’s also an off-roading aid. The available Forward Facing camera previews the upcoming trail in real-time, so drivers stay in control and maneuver expertly through all kinds of terrain.
The touchscreen facilitates easy connectivity via standard Apple CarPlay and Android Auto, providing access to popular apps and streaming content. Jeep’s Uconnect operating system is responsive and fast, so delays are minimal, and touch commands are easily understood and executed without errors. The system is compatible with Amazon Alexa for further device and smart home integration.
We like the optional 7-inch Driver Information Digital Cluster Display that puts key vehicle and driving data within the driver’s sightline. It’s customizable for different driving scenarios and easily tracks speed, pitch, and other actions with crisp graphics that are easy to see and read. It functions like a hub, turning the driver’s seat into a true cockpit.
Trims and Equipment Extras
Within the 4xe family of Wranglers are three trims to choose from: the Sahara, the Rubicon, and the High Altitude. Each occupies a specific slot, with the Sahara functioning as a budget-oriented option, the Rubicon reserved for true off-roaders, and the High Altitude appealing to luxury seekers who crave creature comforts. They all share the same powertrain and capabilities.
The Sahara includes plenty of high-end standard features. It comes with 20-inch wheels, leather-trimmed seating embroidered with the Sahara logo, and an 8.4-inch infotainment touchscreen with navigation. You can add the available Advanced Safety Group package and equip the Sahara with several driver-assist safety systems, including adaptive cruise control, automatic high beams, and a forward collision warning system that works at full speeds.
If you’re seeking a Wrangler 4xe that can tackle the roughest terrain, check out the Rubicon. It features larger 33-inch all-terrain tires, a 10.9-inch ground clearance, and a Rock-Trac 4×4 system featuring a locking differential for dialed-in traction. The Rubicon is styled with blue stitching and blue-accented Rubicon badging.
Style and luxury highlight the High Altitude. The quilted leather seats and accent trim up the style quotient, and a standard nine-speaker premium Alpine audio system with a 552-watt amplifier boosts interior audio quality substantially. The audio system also includes an overhead soundbar for outdoor listening, and the included subwoofer is weather resistant.
While all three trims offer something different, they share the same architecture and Trail Rated capabilities. In other words, they’re Jeeps, albeit hybrid Jeeps. Buyers with a penchant for the Jeep lifestyle who have held off due to fuel efficiency concerns finally have an option that doesn’t subtract any functionality yet adds an environmentally friendly powertrain. It’s a win-win.
Traditionally, buying a hybrid meant compromising on just about everything else, including performance to style. Automakers have flipped the script in recent model years, finding ways to incorporate alternative fuel power into existing popular models. It was only a matter of time until Jeep threw its hat into the ring, and choosing the Wrangler indicates they’re not finished refining the lineup.
It Might Be Time to Try a Hybrid Jeep
Whether you’re in the beginning stages of shopping or you’ve narrowed your search down to a few choices, the 2021 Jeep Wrangler 4xe is a surprisingly practical SUV contender. This holds true especially for buyers looking to escape vanilla styling and crossover-esque car-like handling. The Wrangler comfortably seats five passengers with additional room for cargo, providing the family-oriented utility necessary for everyday driving.
As for charging, the 4xe is fully rechargeable in just two hours with DC fast charging and 12 hours with a conventional 120-volt connection. The company is partnering with Electrify America to construct dedicated solar-powered Jeep charging stations at every Jeep Badge of Honor trailhead in the country, furthering its commitment to an electrified future.
Overall, the buyer checklist favors a 2021 Jeep Wrangler 4xe if hybrid power and off-roading capability are in the mix. There isn’t much compromise required and let’s face it: mom looks a lot cooler in the school pick-up line behind the wheel of a mud-caked Jeep with 33-inch tires.