This month here at Landmark Dodge and many other dealers nationwide, the Jeep Wrangler 4XE plugin hybrids are proudly rolling into dealerships with their high-tech brand of electrified operation. This particular model will be followed by a steadily growing lineup of others, including a plug-in version of the all-new Jeep Grand Cherokee later this fall. Jeep brand leader Jim Morrison claimed last week that the commitment has been officially made and implemented to the be greenest SUV brand while staying loyal and thoroughly true to its adventuresome and exploratory roots.
This 4XE model boasts a towing ability of 3,500 pounds, traverses water up to 30 inches deep, with a 40-degree breakover angle climb and descends the toughest grades any SUV out there can conquer. Both the Wrangler Sahara 4XE and the Rubicon 4XE are Trail Rated, and are powered by the same drivetrain layout. The Rubicon plug-in is even more capable off-road, with more ground clearance and much heftier tires. This particular setup is completely unique to the wildly capable 4XE line, solidified by the decision not to share the PHEV system that was specifically designed for the Pacifica minivan.
It begins with the identical 2.0-liter inline-4 offered in conventional Wrangler models for the last 3 years, then adding two electric motors to the mix. One of them is a complete replacement for the starter/alternator and a second is fitted into the 8-speed automatic transmission, which no longer uses its standard torque converter. The peak output jump is 375 horsepower and 470 lb-ft of torque, accomplishing a 0-60 launch time of 6 seconds. The way this particular setup is precisely engineered and put together provides a noticeable increase in the type of low-speed muscle that is a great boost for off-roaders climbing their way across the most demanding terrain.
There's one operating mode that lets you drive with just the power derived from the 17-kilowatt-hour battery, offering up an EPA estimated 21 miles range per charge. The conventional hybrid mode combines the gas engine and electric motors' power sources, and the “e-Save” mode puts a priority on regenerating energy that is lost during coasting and braking to instantaneously build off the battery pack's full charge. In situations where you are far off the beaten path, this saved-up energy is very practical in case of weather or abrupt change in plans.
Another great advantage of going completely electric is in audible terms: you can shut off the gas engine and enjoy the many sounds of nature, especially with the addition of a removable top. You can also increase this brake regeneration feature to capture even more power lost when slowing down and incorporate one-pedal driving by lifting off the throttle and not having to tap the brakes. The 240-volt charging option is where you get to step up and quickly rejuvenate a fully-drained pack, with a full charge of 2.5 hours that would typically take 12.5 hours on a 120-volt outlet.