Start »Engines» 2021 Jeep Wrangler 4Xe Rubicon Review: Electric drive off-road
We finally got the chance to get behind the wheel of the very first electric jeep, the 2021 Jeep Wrangler 4Xe. While it comes in three flavors (Sahara, Rubicon, and High Altitude), we got to know the off-road focused Rubicon model.
First, let’s get straight to the point: This hybrid is still a trail rated jeep, and an almost noiseless, high-torque electric drive is a lot of fun off-road.
The 2021 Wrangler 4Xe is a milestone for Jeep. And it’s just the beginning, as the brand will electrify its entire range of vehicles – both hybrid and fully electric – over the next few years. Whether you love the performance, the eco-friendliness, the savings on the pump, or the ability to sneak up on wildlife more easily, this new Jeep PHEV is a compelling vehicle.
Let’s examine what it’s like to be behind the wheel of the 2021 Jeep Wrangler 4Xe Rubicon.
Still a jeep
Aside from the electric blue accents, hood stickers, badges, and the addition of a charging port, picking the 4Xe out of a crowd of Wranglers would be tough. That is until it makes extremely quiet noises from electric motors.
Somehow, Jeep was able to keep all the things we love about the Wrangler without compromising too much. The Wrangler 4Xe still offers up to 30 inches of water fording, a payload limit of 1,110 pounds, and a towing capacity of 3,500 pounds.
It is also very responsive to two-footed driving, which is necessary for smooth off-road driving in technical terrain that computer nannies in electric vehicles often cannot handle.
The battery is well packed under the rear seats
The cargo volume in the interior is almost the same, except that the battery is now under the rear seats. That doesn’t change much, but it does mean the rear seats will no longer fold flat. This could result in some overland accessories, such as B. drawer systems, no longer fit.
Hybrid electric drive
Jeep built the Wrangler 4Xe from its 2.0-liter four-cylinder turbo gas base engine, then added a full hybrid electric propulsion system. The PHEV system consists of two electric motors, one on the motor and one in the bell housing and a battery under the rear seats. All in all, these hybrid electric components add 500 to 700 pounds to the Wrangler.
All electrical blue painted parts of this chassis have been added or modified for the 4Xe
The 400W 17kWh battery offers 21 miles of fully electric range. We even did a few better in our tests. A Jeep engineer quoted “3 to 4 hours on electricity” when talking about the range of rocks in the field. The EPA rates the Wrangler 4Xe at 49 MPGe (miles per gallon equivalent), but the best we got was around 24 mpg in our mixed use tests with my heavy right foot.
Charging the 2021 Jeep Wrangler 4Xe with a level 1 EV charger takes approximately 12.5 hours and with a level 2 charger it takes approximately 2.5 hours. The key to the 4Xe is that it is a hybrid rather than an all-electric vehicle that allows you to refill gasoline and explore further no matter where your adventures take you. Basically, you get the advantages of an electric vehicle, but without fear of range.
The 2021 Wrangler 4Xe has three driving modes to choose from. Hybrid mode is the default setting and prioritizes the most cost-effective combination of gas and electric motors. Electric propulsion mode prioritizes burning electrons – unless you hit the accelerator pedal. At this point the gas engine will ignite to provide you with full power.
The third drive mode is called eSave and uses only the gas engine. The idea here is that you can choose to get to the trailhead’s burning fuel for all-electric off-road driving on the trail.
In electric mode, the 2021 Jeep Wrangler 4Xe Rubicon is virtually silent. However, below about 20 mph, it produces a unique amplified electrical sound to alert pedestrians that the Jeep is moving. This sound is much quieter than a running gas engine, which makes the 4Xe less annoying in the wild.
Jeep Hybrid Performance: More torque and power
The ICE and EV drive systems together ensure great performance. You get a massive 470 pound-feet of torque – 28 pound-feet more torque than that Diesel Wrangler. You also get about 100 horsepower more than the V6 Wrangler, but about 100 horsepower less than the new one Hemi V8 Wrangler.
That said, you never want performance in the Wrangler 4Xe. In general, you’ll get a 10% better power-to-weight ratio than other Wranglers.
The 4Xe delivers 60 mph from a standing start in just 6 seconds. It’s fast, but it doesn’t feel that fast.
On the other hand, it feels pretty fast when you’re driving at higher speeds. It pulls hard until you hit three digits, where the boxy shape and big tires work against more speed.
Electric off-road driving experience
Sure, the Wrangler 4Xe would make a pretty decent city commuter, but it really does seem off the road. There you really appreciate the almost instant extra torque as this jeep quickly overcomes almost every obstacle on its way. This is also where you can appreciate the almost single-pedal driving experience the most.
Single-pedal travel is common in electric vehicles, but less so in hybrids. However, Jeep cannot call this a true single-pedal propulsion system because you have to use the brake pedal to come to a complete stop.
When you press the max rain button on the center stack while in electric propulsion mode, you get an almost single-pedal driving experience that is great for slow, smooth off-road control of the vehicle.
In this setup, the accelerator pedal feels very heavy, with a lot of resistance against your foot, which can be tiring.
2021 Jeep Wrangler 4Xe availability & prices
The Wrangler 4Xe is now available at Jeep dealerships across North America. Expect a premium of $ 4,000 to $ 6,000 versus comparable gas-powered Wranglers.
That means you can get about $ 50,000 to $ 60,000 back with a Wrangler 4Xe. The Jeep Wrangler Sahara 4Xe starts at $ 49,490, the Rubicon 4Xe starts at $ 53,190, and the High Altitude starts at $ 55,065.
2021 Jeep Wrangler 4Xe Rubicon review
All in all, the 2021 Jeep Wrangler 4Xe Rubicon is a powerful four-door SUV that’s ready to tackle city streets and back roads with ease. Add some green references, no fear of range, savings on the pump and just a little extra weight on board and you have a compelling vehicle.
The only question here is whether the extra upfront money is worth it for your use case, as it is very unlikely that you will get the money back with savings on the pump alone. However, more torque and almost noiseless operation are reason enough to give the 4Xe a thorough consideration.
The 2021 Wrangler 4Xe is just the first step in Jeep’s move to electric vehicles. We can expect more vehicles like the all-electric one Magneto EJS concept soon from Jeep, with variants of each of the vehicles that will be electrified over the next few years.
With the help of Electrify America, Jeep is also building branded infrastructures for off-grid and off-grid electric vehicles at remote locations. First up are over 60 Jeep Badge of Honor trailheads. Over the next several months, chargers are popping up in Moab, Big Bear, and the Rubicon Trail.
Also check out this video about my experience with the 4Xe in Austin, Texas and the surrounding hill country: