Jeep has pulled the cover off the final powertrain option for the 2021 Wrangler. The 4xe plug-in hybrid powertrain combines a 2.0-liter turbocharged gasoline four-cylinder with a 134-hp electric motor for a generous 470 lb-ft of torque at 3000 rpm. That motor is integrated with the TorqueFlite eight-speed automatic transmission and with the eTorque mild hybrid system and its 44-hp starter/generator mounted on the engine. The larger electric unit is backed by a 17.3-kWh lithium-ion battery that allows for up to 25 miles of electric-only driving per charge.
You’ll be able to choose three modes of propulsion to suit your needs. Electric mode prioritizes the electric motor for efficient commuting and lasts until the battery is depleted or until the driver stomps on the throttle. eSave mode can the battery charge for silent off-roading and let the turbocharged engine handle the thrust until you reach the trailhead. Hybrid mode is the default setting and uses the electric motor to get the Wrangler moving and adds gasoline power as needed. The maximum full-throttle output is 375 hp, making this hybrid model the most powerful Wrangler Jeep has ever produced.
The 4xe powertrain will be available in three Wrangler trim levels to start with: 4xe, Sahara 4xe, and Rubicon 4xe. A Selec-Trac transfer case that allows for full-time four-wheel-drive will come on the 4xe and on the Sahara 4xe models. For the first time, in 2021 full-time four-wheel-drive will be available with the Rock-Trac transfer case on the Rubicon. Both transfer cases still have 2WD-high modes, essentially making each a selectable all-wheel-drive system.
The 4xe’s 400-volt lithium-ion battery is mounted under the rear seats, which have been redesigned to flip forward for battery access. They provide juice for the electric motor, which is located where Jeep would normally place the fluid torque converter for a TorqueFlite automatic. Under electric-only propulsion, the gasoline engine is disconnected from the transmission’s electric motor using a binary clutch. A second clutch behind the main electric motor smooths power delivery to the rest of the transmission.
Regenerative braking from both electric motors can supply up to .25 g of braking force and, of course, helps keep the battery charged. The regen system boosts fuel efficiency and also extends the service life of the brake pads. A selectable Max Regen mode uses a more aggressive configuration that begins slowing the vehicle when the throttle is lifted. Regen is even more effective in four-wheel drive, as the system can scavenge energy from all four wheels rather than relying on brakes alone. This may just be the most efficient rock-crawler yet.
The 4xe Wranglers are set to arrive at dealers in early 2021, but Jeep hasn’t provided an MSRP yet. Expect it to be a premium option and for the 4xe serve as the Wrangler’s halo model until we get the long-awaited V-8 model that Jeep has teased us with recently.