Jeep is more often associated with go-anywhere off-roaders than with fuel-sipping hybrids, but it wants to prove these two types of vehicles aren’t mutually exclusive with a gasoline-electric variant of the Wrangler. Called 4xe, it will be capable of driving on electricity alone for short distances when it arrives in the coming months.
Giving the Wrangler electric motors and a battery pack allowed Jeep to turn it into a different kind of off-roader than fans are used to. With a full charge, the Wrangler can explore the great outdoors in almost complete silence; the only noise comes from the tires. And, an electric motor delivers its full torque output as soon as the driver presses the accelerator pedal, so crawling over boulders, logs, or anything else that’s in the way is relatively easy.
Jeep hasn’t revealed technical specifications yet, so it’s too early to tell how long the Wrangler will be able to keep its gasoline-burning engine off for. Unverified rumors claim the 4xe will receive an evolution of the plug-in hybrid powertrain found in the Chrysler Pacifica, however. If that’s the case, the system will consist of a 3.6-liter V6, a compact battery pack, and a pair of electric motors. For context, the Pacifica has a 32-mile electric range.
Visually, not a lot will differentiate the 4xe from the non-electrified Wrangler. Eagle-eyed car-spotters will note engineers put the charging port at the base of the windshield, and stylists added blue accents all around to denote the hybrid powertrain. Inside, it’s reasonable to assume the driver will face a plug-in-specific instrument cluster.
Jeep hasn’t said when it will introduce the Wrangler 4xe, but it’s expected to arrive in showrooms in time for the 2021 model year, meaning it will break cover during the second half of 2020. It won’t be cheap, hybrid cars rarely are, but some buyers will be eligible to claim a one-time tax credit from the federal government.
At the other end of the spectrum, the company strongly suggested it’s going to drop a mighty, 6.4-liter Hemi V8 with a 450-horsepower output into the Wrangler. The range is going to grow in two drastically different directions.
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