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Jeep aims to ambush Ford Bronco with silent Wrangler 4xe electric off-roading

By Mark Phelan, Detroit Free Press on

Published in Automotive News

The computer controlled electric mode will deliver torque faster and more precisely than any gasoline engine can, Mike Wiacek, Jeep chief engineer for electrified vehicles, said. Despite the high-voltage battery pack under the rear seat and cargo floor, the 4xe can ford 30 inches of water, the same as conventionally powered Jeeps.

Ground clearance for the Rubicon off-road specialist is unchanged, while the Sahara model is lowered slightly to 10 inches. The 4xe's approach, breakover and departure angles, the dimensions that allow it to go up, down and crest steep hills without scraping undercarriage or bumpers, are unchanged.

On the road, the 4xe also accelerates to 60 mph in an un-Wrangler-like 6 seconds.

All Wrangler 4xes will have four-wheel drive. Prices will be announced closer to when sales begin in early 2021.

Questions for Wrangler and Bronco

With all that, what could go wrong? For starters, the Wrangler 4xe Rubicon outweighs its gasoline-powered counterpart. The Sahara 4xe is about 700 pounds heavier than its equivalent.

 

That's a massive gain, and weight is the nemesis of off-road capability. It increases the likelihood you'll bog down in sand or mud and makes it harder to scale boulders and rock fields. Jeep's fabled off-road engineering has never faced a tougher challenge than making a half-ton heavier Wrangler out-climb the conventional model.

Expect Ford to strike back, unveiling bragging points for the new Bronco regularly between now and when sales begin next spring.

A more powerful Bronco desert-racing model is all but certain, but not immediately. By the time it arrives, the Hemi V8 Wrangler concept Jeep recently teased us with will probably be on sale.

To take the crown, ya gotta knock the champ out. Jeep intends to make this fight go the distance.

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