Batteries required: Jeep Wrangler 4xe detailed

2021 Jeep® Wrangler Rubicon 4xe

Australia isn’t on the list for the Jeep Wrangler 4xe, and that means we’re missing out on the most powerful Jeep Wrangler.

The Jeep Wrangler 4xe has been detailed and will make its way to the US, Europe and China, but not Australia, from early 2021. But, what is it?

The Wrangler 4xe is a plug-in hybrid version of the Wrangler with a claimed 40km of electric-only range. It runs two electric motors and a 2.0-litre turbocharged four-cylinder engine with combined oomph of 280kW and 637Nm of torque.

The Wrangler 4xe bins the conventional alternator and starter motor from the regular Wrangler and replaces them with motor generators instead. The idea here is that the motor generator, which is connected to the engine crankshaft pulley via a belt, springs the engine and generates electricity for the battery pack at the same time. That means, the 12-volt battery is just used for powering accessories, while a second motor generator is mounted at the front of the transmission case, replacing the torque converter for the automatic transmission.

2021 Jeep® Wrangler Rubicon 4xe

Two clutches work to manage power and torque from the e-motor and engine. A binary clutch (on/off) is mounted between the engine and the motor. When this clutch is open there is no mechanical linkage between the engine and the e-motor, which enables it to propel the Wrangler 4xe in electric-only mode.

When the binary clutch is closed, torque from the 2.0-litre engine and the e-motor combine through the automatic transmission. A variable clutch mounted behind the e-motor manages engagement with the transmission.

2021 Jeep® Wrangler Rubicon 4xe

All high-voltage electronics, including the wiring between the battery pack and the electric motors, are sealed and waterproof with the Wrangler 4xe offering water fording of 760mm.

The Wrangler 4xe’s 400-volt, 17-kWh, 96-cell lithium-ion battery pack is mounted underneath the backseat. The base of the seat can be flipped forward to access the battery pack which includes a dedicated heating and cooling thermostat and can direct air conditioning refrigerant to reduce coolant temperature when needed.

The Wrangler 4xe has three modes of operation, known as E Selec. Regardless of the mode selected the Wrangler 4xe operates as hybrid once the battery nears its minimum state of charge.

  • Hybrid: The default mode blends torque from the 2.0-litre engine and electric motor. In this mode the powertrain will use battery power first, then add in propulsion from the 2.0-litre turbocharged I-4 when the battery reaches minimum state of charge;
  • Electric: The powertrain operates on electric power only until the battery reaches the minimum charge or the driver requests more torque (such as wide-open throttle), which engages the 2.0-litre engine; and
  • eSave: Prioritizes propulsion from the 2.0-litre engine, saving the battery charge for later use such as EV off-roading or urban areas where internal combustion propulsion is restricted.

The new Jeep Wrangler 4xe is available in three models: 4xe, Sahara 4xe and Rubicon 4xe, all are ‘Trail Rated’.

The Wrangler 4xe boasts some key styling changes to help it stand out from the rest of the range, like Electric Blue colouring on the front and rear Rubicon tow hooks. The unique blue colouring also traces the Rubicon name on the hood, Jeep badge and the Trail Rated badge. Inside, the Wrangler 4xe Rubicon includes unique Electric Blue stitching on the seats and trim.

“Our Jeep 4xe vehicles will be the most efficient, responsible and capable that the brand has ever created,” said Christian Meunier, Global President of Jeep Brand – FCA. “We are committed to make Jeep the greenest SUV brand. The electrification of the Jeep lineup will allow commuters to travel solely on electric power, delivering an efficient and fun on-road experience and offering an ability to enjoy even more Jeep capability off-road in nearly complete silence.”

Question: Should Jeep bring the Wrangler 4xe Down Under?

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Isaac Bober has been writing about cars and 4x4s for more than 20 years, has worked on some of the country's biggest motoring magazines (remember what they were?), and launched Practical Motoring. Now he's back, back again... to share dad jokes and much more.