A gray 2021 Jeep Wrangler 4xe is shown driving through a tunnel.

Off-Roading Goes Electric: Jeep EVs and the Path Less Traveled

For off-roading enthusiasts, the Jeep brand is guaranteed to come up in any conversation about which vehicles are the best for tackling tough terrain. A few notable features are necessary to partake in such adventures, and Jeep is known to provide them. Four-wheel drive, an elevated ground clearance, underbody skid plates, and tires that can climb any obstacles that present themselves along the way are all part and parcel of the off-roading experience.

That said, there’s a new feature to add to that list, and it’s one that would have been the last thing on anyone’s mind not long ago: an all-electric drivetrain. That’s right, the future of off-roading will belong to the EV. The days of small electric sedans that offered little in the way of high-grade performance are now in the rearview mirror. All-electric Jeep vehicles are poised to make an impact worthy of their gas-fueled predecessors. Today we’ll be exploring this new chapter in the history of off-roading.

A grey 2023 Jeep Grand Cherokee 4xe is shown from the side parked on a beach.

Plug in the Power

The combination of off-road prowess and plugging into a charging station isn’t a brand-new concept for Jeep. Recent model years have seen two of Jeep’s most revered vehicles demonstrate the benefits of electric power. The Wrangler and Grand Cherokee received plug-in hybrid upgrades that were given the 4xe badge. A combination of gas and electric motors elevated performance and fuel efficiency for both models.

Introduced in 2021, the Wrangler 4xe offers 21 miles of electric-only power, making it perfect for short city driving trips. While enthusiasts might have been skeptical regarding any hybrid’s ability to deliver earth-shaking power, this model’s 375 hp and 470 lb-ft of torque are enough to satisfy the needs of any off-roader. The Wrangler 4xe continues to provide all the off-road features of the standard Wrangler and is even available in the Rubicon trim. Additional versatility is found in the e-Selec Modes, which allow the driver to switch between gasoline power, electric power, or a combination of the two at the press of a button.

As for the Grand Cherokee 4xe, the flagship of Jeep SUVs, a 26-mile electric range makes it an effective choice for the family-oriented consumer. When the weekend arrives, the family taxi can travel off the pavement and embrace the rugged world that other vehicles simply can’t. The formidable electrified powertrain produces the same impressive 370 hp as the Wrangler 4xe, while an eight-speed automatic transmission, multiple driving modes, and heavy-duty suspension merge performance and practicality in one of the most versatile off-road packages that we’ve ever seen. This electrified midsize SUV can even tow 6,000 lbs if you have a camper or boat to move.

Is an Electric Wrangler Coming?

If the two 4xe models were the end of the story, they would still be a testament to the large strides that electrification has made in the past two decades. We would look upon both with awe and reverence and applaud Jeep’s efforts to retain its reputation for rough and tough performance while demonstrating a desire to be more ecologically friendly. However, the story does not end there. As a matter of fact, it’s only the beginning. Jeep’s ambitions to have half its fleet be electric by 2030 might appear lofty, but if the vehicles it has recently announced are any indication, this goal will be accomplished sooner than we think.

If the Wrangler 4xe was an indication that Jeep is making a serious change in direction, then the all-electric Wrangler prototypes it has displayed are proof positive of its commitment. Unveiled at the 2021 Easter Jeep Safari and dubbed the Magneto, the specifications of the first all-electric Wrangler concept are impressive, to say the least. With 70 kWh of batteries powering an electric motor producing 285 hp and 273 lb-ft of torque, the Magneto emulates the performance of the Pentastar V6 right down to the six-speed manual transmission.

In 2022, a second prototype, appropriately named the Magneto 2.0, raised the stakes at the table. With 625 hp and 850 lb-ft of torque, it’s more than apparent that the world of off-roading will never be the same again. With that much power, it can leap from zero to 60 mph in just two seconds, leaving even the Wrangler Rubicon 392 in its dust. By all accounts, the Magneto 2.0 retains all the same features and advantages of the traditional Wrangler but now has the ability to skip filling up at the pump.

A green 2024 Jeep Recon is shown parked on a beach.

2024 Jeep Recon: Surpassing Limits and Expectations

However, a production Wrangler EV has not yet been unveiled. Instead, the honor of being the first electric Jeep will go to the 2024 Jeep Recon. If one were to take the Jeep Wrangler’s prowess and the Jeep Cherokee’s versatility and combine both with an all-electric powertrain that eliminated the need for fill-ups, you would get the Jeep Recon. Brandishing the front grill of the Cherokee with a body style very reminiscent of the Wrangler, this all-electric SUV is set to revolutionize the world of off-roading. The Recon will have many of the attributes of the classic Wrangler, such as removable doors and locking differentials, making it a true Jeep in every way.

Information on the specifications and other details of the Recon has been limited, but the news that Jeep has confirmed to the public is grounds for excitement. Another incentive regarding the Recon is the fact that the vehicle is being manufactured in North America, making it eligible for the income tax credit the government is granting to consumers who purchase an EV. While there is no indication of what the range of the Recon will be, it’s easy to see why this model could very well turn the tide in the SUV marketplace in Jeep’s favor. By offering the practicality of a family vehicle and the endurance to tame any off-road landscapes, the Recon is what some would refer to as “the best of both worlds.”

Off the Road and Beyond the Limits

For decades, Jeep has always given consumers the option to embark on adventures that don’t have to take place on the pavement and inside the lines. It’s this tradition of thinking outside the box that has allowed Jeep to go from turning the tides of war to challenging preconceptions of what a consumer-oriented vehicle can accomplish. The collective effort of the entire automotive industry to produce a better vehicle that creates fewer emissions and ensures better care of the planet shows the desire to provide change for the greater good.

Jeep has elected to take things in a slightly different direction. It strives to be environmentally responsible and ensure a better world for future generations. At the same time, the brand believes in retaining the prowess and attributes that made Jeep so successful, to begin with. This means that the devotees and brand loyalists who have always looked to Jeep for the best off-road-capable vehicles can still traverse the wild and follow the path less traveled while doing their part to reduce the carbon footprint left by fossil fuels each and every year. The future of off-roading belongs to the EV, and Jeep is providing us with the best options.