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Debut: Jeep Wrangler 4xe plug-in hybrid promises smooth rock-crawling

By Henry Payne, The Detroit News on

Published in Automotive News

The long-awaited Jeep Grand Wagoneer SUV is coming back, and that's not the off-road brand's only new offering.

The 2021 Jeep Wrangler 4xe plug-in that debuted Thursday is a greener, more-premium version of the brand's iconic dirt-kicker. Just as the Grand Wagoneer offers a teak-trimmed alternative to gold-plated Range Rovers, the 4xe is aimed at the lifestyles of the rich and adventurous.

The Wrangler 4xe will mate twin electric motors to a 2.0-liter turbo 4-cylinder gasoline engine for a combined 375 horsepower and stump-pulling 470 pound-feet of torque. The system claims about 400 miles of hybrid range with a towing capability of up to 3,500 pounds. The 4xe will get a claimed 25 miles on its 17-kWh battery alone.

Offered only in upscale 4xe, Sahara and Rubicon trims, the Wrangler 4xe will start well north of the standard $29,790 Wrangler. Gas-powered Rubicon and Sahara trims start at about $40,000 and fully loaded models can push $60,000. Expect 4xe models to climb even higher. Prices will be announced as the 4xe comes to market in the US, Europe and China next year.

Just as Wrangler defines Jeep's off-road ethic, so will the 4xe wear a green halo. It will lead a Jeep march of 30 electrified vehicles in the next few years as manufacturers strain to meet stringent government emissions mandates. At the premium end of the market where sleek EVs like the Tesla Model Y have gained traction, the 4xe plug-in offers a rugged choice without range anxiety..

Electric Blue will be the 4xe's signature.

 

The unique color will trace Jeep badges as well as the Rubicon name on the hood. Electric Blue Rubicon tow hooks stand out against black bumpers. Inside, Electric Blue stitching highlights seats and trim in the 4xe Rubicon.

The Wrangler 4xe is armed for the Outback with a ladder frame, trail-rated gear, solid front and rear axles, full-time 4x4 two-speed transfer case, articulating suspension and 30 inches of water-fording capability (with the battery sealed under the rear seat to prevent damage).

Buttons left of the steering wheel control three modes of its "E Selec" energy-storage system.

- eSave: Saves the battery for pure-EV off-roading or in urban areas (like European cities) were gas engines are banned.

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