Review: Jeep Wrangler goes green with electric 4Xe

The 2021 Jeep Wrangler 4Xe can travel 49 mpge combined electricity-gasoline. 

The 2021 Jeep Wrangler 4Xe can travel 49 mpge combined electricity-gasoline. 

Jeep Media/ Stellantis/ Contributed photo

What does the 2021 Jeep Wrangler 4Xe have in common with the Toyota Prius? Less than nothing, right? Wrong. Both have battery-powered electric motors that can propel them for relatively short distances without spewing any carbon dioxide.

That's right - Jeep's most rough-and-tough model, the iconic Wrangler, can be equipped with a plug-in hybrid system that will provide power to keep this Jeep in motion for up to 21 miles. The plug-in Prius Prime will go about 25 miles in EV (electric-vehicle) mode. 
The Jeep's system is a bit complicated and requires the driver's attention. A trio of buttons reside on the lower left side of the dashboard, concealed from the driver’s view most of the time by the steering wheel's hub. Left to right, they activate hybrid, EV and engine-only modes. Drive far enough in engine-only mode and the system will recharge the battery, enabling the driver to switch it back to EV or hybrid mode. Alternatively, plug the Jeep in and it will charge in two to 12 hours, depending on whether it's wired to a public charger or household system.

All this technology might lead one to wonder - does this Jeep have the same capabilities as a conventional Wrangler? It sure does. With a full-time 4-wheel drive system, 10.1 inches of ground clearance and a 375 turbocharged horses under the hood, it will go anywhere a full charge and 17.2 gallons of gasoline will take it.

The 2021 Jeep Wrangler 4Xe can travel 49 mpge combined electricity-gasoline. 

The 2021 Jeep Wrangler 4Xe can travel 49 mpge combined electricity-gasoline. 

Jeep Media/ Stellantis/ Contributed photo

Thanks to the hybrid system, the Wrangler 4Xe is comparatively fuel-efficient, especially for drivers with the inclination and the facilities to charge the hybrid batteries overnight. It's rated at 49 mpge (miles per gallon equivalent) or 20 mpg on gasoline alone. A conventional Wrangler can deliver a maximum of 21 mpg city, 26 highway. But there are plenty of alternatives. In addition to the hybrid, Jeep offers four engine choices, including 4-cylinder and V-6 gasoline engines, and a 6-cylinder diesel. 
Without using the plug-in system, we eked out 22.5 mpg in mostly highway driving.

Jeep fans can choose among two doors or four, with soft top or hardtop, and the Gladiator, with a Wrangler frame and a pickup bed. Prices range from $29,070 for the base 2022 Wrangler S 2-door, to $74,395 for the Unlimited Rubicon 392. Our 2021 Unlimited Sahara 4Xe had a sticker price of $54,030, with options and destination charge adding $6,035 to the base $47,995 base price.
So, what are the alternatives? There aren't many that can do everything the Wrangler can do, and most cost more. For maximum off-road capability, the Wrangler stands nearly alone in its price range, with only the similarly priced Ford Bronco in the game.

Driving our Wrangler from western Connecticut to southern Maine, we were surprised to note the car provides a fairly pleasant ride and handles comfortably. Because our Wrangler had the soft top, road noise — mostly from pickup trucks and tractor trailers — was fairly loud. We expect a hardtop Wrangler would be comparatively quiet.

Steven Macoy (semacoy@gmail.com) is a longtime car enthusiast and full-time editor who lives in Brookfield, Conn.

More Information

2021 Jeep Wrangler Unlimited Sahara 4XE


Price: $54,030
Engine: 2.0-liter inline Four with gasoline-electric hybrid system, 375 horsepower, 470 lb.-ft. torque
Transmission: 8-speed shiftable automatic
Drive: 4X4
Weight: 5,100 lb.
Ground clearance: 10.1 in.
Suspension: leading link front, trailing arm rear
Wheels: 20x8-in. painted alloy
Tires: P275/55R20 all-season
Seating capacity: 5
Luggage capacity: 27.7 cu. ft.
Maximum cargo capacity: 67.5 cu. ft.
Towing capacity: 3,500 lb.
Fuel capacity: 17.2 gallons
Fuel economy: 20 mpg gasoline-only, 49 mpge combined electricity-gasoline
Fuel type: regular unleaded gasoline