What’s not to like?
There are some things in the world of four-wheel transportation many people probably thought they'd never see, such as two-wheel-drive Land Rover, a four-cylinder Ford Mustang or a Dacia winning Car of the Year awards. All of those are now pretty commonplace these days, and another "it'll never happen" is now coming to pass in the shape of an electric Jeep Wrangler.
Okay, the new addition to the Jeep stable isn’t a fully-electric take on the legendary Wrangler, but it is a plug-in hybrid that can run on electric alone for a claimed distance of up to 25 miles. Despite the Wrangler's legendary off-road prowess, most new Wranglers probably never leave the road, so this commuter-friendly version that's more economical to run and puts out considerably fewer emissions than a regular V-6 petrol version is probably a smart move by FCA.
This isn’t the first electrified Jeep the company has announced either, as we're already getting used to the idea of hybrid versions of both the Renegade and Compass that have already just arrived on the scene. Jeep calls its electrified variants 4xe models, so the new Wrangler 4xe will start landing in showrooms early next year to join the Compass 4xe and Renegade 4xe that went on sale just recently.
The Wrangler 4xe will be powered by a plug-in-hybrid powertrain that's comprised of a 2.0-litre turbocharged inline-four petrol engine, a couple of electric motors and a 400-volt, 17 kWh battery pack. The system generates an impressive 375 horsepower (280kW) and an even more impressive 470 lb.-ft. (637Nm) of torque, which is sent to all four wheels through a TorqueFlite eight-speed automatic transmission.
Three different drive-modes are available which are designed to suit the various environments a Jeep Wrangler will be expected to navigate. The first is Hybrid mode, which is the default setting where the powertrain uses battery power first, then adds in propulsion from the petrol engine when the battery reaches the minimum state of charge.
The second mode is Electric, which as you'd probably expect means the Wrangler operates using zero-emission electric power only until the battery reaches its minimum charge or the driver requests more torque (such as wide-open throttle), which then sees the 2.0-litre engine come into play.
Last of the three is eSave, which actually prioritises propulsion from the petrol combustion engine to save battery charge for use at a later time, such as electric-only off-roading or negotiating urban areas where internal combustion propulsion may be restricted or even forbidden.
And if you thought this new powerplant might risk turning the Wrangler into another pseudo-off-roader you couldn’t be more wrong. The Wrangler 4xe has a low-range setting that's available in all power modes, so this could turn out to be the most off-road capable Wrangler straight from the factory yet.