Something new is coming to your local Jeep Dealer. With the 4xe line, Jeep has started pairing electric motors with standard internal combustion engines to provide the best of both worlds, both on and off the road. These new trim levels combine the long-range and familiarity of a modern internal combustion engine with the extreme efficiency and instant wall of torque that only an electric motor can provide. Combined, these propulsion methods make up the 4xe vehicles, beginning the partial hybridization of the Jeep lineup. The Wrangler, the Grand Cherokee, and perhaps more American-market Jeeps will get this new trim level treatment and are scheduled to go on sale this year.
The Wrangler has always been a showcase for new technologies applicable to off-road driving, and that tradition continues with the new option of the 4xe trim level. While the addition of an electric powertrain adds significant capability to the Wrangler, the rest of the vehicle retains the same comfort, practicality, and versatility as the standard models.
The Jeep Wrangler 4xe’s powertrain melds a turbocharged 2.0-liter inline four-cylinder engine with a torquey electric motor that boosts total output to 375 horsepower and 470 pound-feet of torque. For a medium-weight truck, those are impressive numbers, and those figures do not take into account the instant electric torque that the system provides.
The main electric motor is mounted inline with the transmission for optimal engineering and operational efficiency, and with the onboard 17-kilowatt hour battery, the vehicle has an electric-only range of 22 miles. While capable of running solely on battery electric power, the Wrangler 4xe is designed to use the hybrid system to boost the Wrangler’s overall power and efficiency.
The real success of that endeavor can be seen in the Wrangler’s EPA-tested 49 MPGe rating, which is a shockingly high number for the boxy Wrangler. Other contributors to this incredibly high efficiency include a true regenerative braking system, which uses the electric motors as generators under braking to put energy back into the battery pack. This quite simply isn’t possible without the 4xe hybrid system’s electric motor.
The Wrangler 4xe has three powertrain modes, which include E-Save, Electric, and Hybrid. E-Save primarily uses the 2.0-liter gasoline engine, electric relies solely on the 17-kilowatt hour battery and the electric motor, while Hybrid is the 4xe’s main mode and utilizes both propulsion systems to their fullest extent.
The Wrangler 4xe line is available in three different trims. The most inexpensive is the Sahara, which includes the same 4xe powertrain as the other options. The Rubicon is the off-road-focused version that is also in the center of the group in terms of cost. The High Altitude is the most luxurious 4xe Wrangler, boasting quilted leather seats, a premium sound system, and body-color exterior accents.
However, no Wrangler 4xe is underequipped, with even the entry-level Sahara trim having a full Uconnect system, leather-trimmed upholstery, and 20-inch wheels standard. The Rubicon 4xe is the same serious off-road machine as it is with the standard Wrangler, with an off-road-focused Rock-Trac two-speed transfer case and large 33-inch off-road tires standard.
Grand Cherokee 4xe
The Wrangler 4xe is only the tip of the iceberg when it comes to the full 4xe vehicle line. While not yet officially released, the redesigned 2022 Grand Cherokee is expected to debut with its own 4xe system, offering the same advantages seen in the Wrangler 4xe vehicle. But while the benefits of hybridization will largely be the same, the Grand Cherokee is a very different beast when compared to the Wrangler.
The Wrangler is purpose-built to be an enthusiast-focused off-road vehicle that is still friendly to those unfamiliar with going beyond the beaten path. The Grand Cherokee is made to trade that sporting nature for luxury while retaining that signature Jeep ability to go anywhere. That means that while the Wrangler is meant to be rugged, the Grand Cherokee oozes style and sophistication, whether cruising down the boulevard or crossing a shallow river.
While the 4xe system as installed on the Wrangler was about improving the Wrangler’s efficiency on the road and capability off the road, the Grand Cherokee will benefit from the system most in terms of cruising efficiency and towing. The electric motor’s instant and extremely consistent torque will improve the torque band of the Grand Cherokee’s engine, especially down low in the RPM range where grunt is often needed the most.
In terms of highway cruising and driving around town without a trailer, the system will also dramatically increase efficiency by supplementing the Grand Cherokee’s engine where all internal combustion engines are least efficient: initial acceleration. As a bonus, regenerative braking will once again play a role in keeping the battery pack topped up and the MPGe numbers astronomically high. Getting over 30 miles to the gallon in a large SUV used to be impossible, but with a 4xe Grand Cherokee, 30 MPG will likely seem like a low number.
When the Grand Cherokee 4xe is released, it will almost certainly have all the normal luxuries of the standard Grand Cherokee line, including a gorgeous and sumptuous interior, powerful audio system, state of the art infotainment capabilities, and an array of driver-assist features. Put simply, riding in any Grand Cherokee means experiencing unmatched style, while driving a Grand Cherokee 4xe will also offer unmatched efficiency.
The construction, chassis, brakes, and running gear will also be broadly similar to the standard Grand Cherokee models, imparting their stability, grace, and comfort to the largest currently planned Jeep hybrid. With the Grand Cherokee 4xe, taking friends and family for a ride in modern style and sophisticated luxury meets advanced technology and high efficiency.
Compass and Renegade 4xe
While perhaps not immediately available here in America, 4xe variants of the smaller Jeep crossovers have already been engineered and built for the European market. These smaller vehicles are perfect runabouts to bounce around town in and are well-suited to get the most out of hybridization. With the current level of technology, the largest improvement electric motors and battery electric vehicles have over internal combustion engines and gasoline is their extreme efficiency and high levels of power for short-range applications.
If one’s commute is less than ten or fifteen miles, it would be possible to use these vehicles in pure electric mode virtually all the time, meaning that gas station stops would only be required during road trips. This would be made possible by the plug-in hybrid function of 4xe, allowing the 4xe Compass and 4xe Renegade to charge overnight. In addition to cutting running costs dramatically for those who did not need to travel far, the 4xe systems would also add a great deal to the off-the-line acceleration of these smaller vehicles.
The Future of Jeep
The 4xe hybrid drive systems represent a new frontier for Jeep, one where greater power isn’t hindered by the drive for efficiency but instead bolstered by it. Even though these hybrid systems are rather mild retrofits overall, they add a whole new level of utility to an already extremely capable brand of vehicles. Efficiency and power now work hand in hand, and 4xe vehicles now have more of both when compared to their direct counterparts powered exclusively by gasoline. Plug-in overnight charging and regenerative braking allow these new Jeeps to do things no Jeep could do before, and we expect even more good things to come.