Does the hybrid 4xe add any notable value over the standard Wrangler other than the electric mile range?

Jeep took the wraps off the Wrangler 4xe and it seems like an environment-friendly off-roader. Although there were some apprehensions about this new hybrid version of the off-roader, the automaker has made big claims. While the company has hyped the Wrangler 4xe in general, there was one claim that said “New Level of Benchmark Jeep Off-road Capability”. From what we knew before the launch, the 4xe was going to be a hybrid version of the standard Wrangler that would be more efficient and a little more torquey. Now that it has been unveiled, does it offer a new level of off-road capability?

Jeep has provided some information on the Wrangler 4xe’s models and specs, but there’s still a lot that’s not known. So, for the sake of comparison, we’ll be pitting the Rubicon trims of the standard Wrangler and the Wrangler 4xe, and here’s how they measure:

Engine

Jeep Wrangler Rubicon versus Jeep Wrangler Rubicon 4xe Drivetrain
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The internal combustion-engined Wrangler Rubicon is offered with different engine options, but the Wrangler 4xe comes with just the 2.0-liter, four-cylinder turbocharged mill. This engine makes 270 horses and 295 pound-feet of torque.

In the Wrangler 4xe, the engine is coupled with two electric motors for 375 horses and 470 pound-feet of torque combined. The extra torque will help the SUV climb inclines and grades with lesser efforts. An engine-mounted motor generator unit is in place that replaces the conventional alternator. It also makes use of a 12-volt battery instead of a 12-volt starter motor.

Transmission

2021 Jeep Wrangler 4xe - Awesome Picture Gallery Drivetrain
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When equipped with the 2.0-liter mill, the ICE Wrangler can be had with either the eight-speed automatic 850RE transmission or the eight-speed automatic 8HP75 automatic. While both are capable gearboxes, the latter is better suited for higher torque output. But, again, that mainly matters when you have a diesel engine.

In the Wrangler 4xe, Jeeps offers the eight-speed automatic 8P75PH gearbox. This is also sourced from ZF, but is specially developed for plug-in hybrids. Jeep says its second high-voltage motor-generator is mounted at the front of the transmission case, replacing the conventional torque converter of an automatic transmission. Two clutches work in tandem to manage the power and torque from the electric motors and the engine.

Angles, Water Wading, Ground Clearance, Weight

Jeep Wrangler Rubicon versus Jeep Wrangler Rubicon 4xe Exterior
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Since the Wrangler 4xe carries a 17-kWh battery pack underneath the second-row seat, you’d expect it to interfere with the angles and especially the water wading capability. But it looks like Jeep has that covered very well. On the ICE Wrangler Rubicon, these are the numbers:

Approach Angle 43.9 degrees
Breakover Angle 22.6 degrees
Departure Angle 37 degrees
Ground Clearance 10.8 inches
Water Wading Depth Up to 30 inches
Jeep Wrangler Rubicon versus Jeep Wrangler Rubicon 4xe Exterior
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The numbers are pretty much identical on the 4xe as well:

Approach Angle 44 degrees
Breakover Angle 22.5 degrees
Departure Angle 35.6 degrees
Ground Clearance 10.8 inches
Water Fording Up to 30 inches

If you compare the curb weights of both these vehicles, there is a significant difference.

The ICE Wrangler Rubicon weighs 4,449 pounds, whereas the Wrangler Rubicon 4xe weighs 5,222 pounds.

Even if you take a higher consideration, a 1-kWh battery weighs roughly around 25 pounds. So, a 17 kWh battery pack shouldn’t add more than 450 pounds. Perhaps some other structural changes add to the weight and we can expect Jeep to throw light on this in the future.

Drive Modes

Jeep Wrangler Rubicon versus Jeep Wrangler Rubicon 4xe
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The standard Wrangler comes with five different drive modes, namely Auto, Snow, Sport, Sand/Mud, and Rock. These are self-explanatory and have been around for a while.

Jeep Wrangler Rubicon versus Jeep Wrangler Rubicon 4xe Exterior
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The Rubicon 4xe, on the other hand, features three completely different modes, that are focused on how the truck draws power. These are most likely going to be different from the regular drive modes, although Jeep is yet to give more clarity on this. These three modes are - Hybrid, Electric, and eSave.

  • The Hybrid mode makes use of power from the batteries as well as the engine, although it draws power from the batteries first.
  • The Electric mode makes use of only the batteries until it runs out of charge.
  • As for the eSave, it allows you to drive on the gasoline engine and save the battery charge/mile-range for later.

Four-Wheel-Drive System

2021 Jeep Wrangler 4xe - Awesome Picture Gallery Drivetrain
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Both Wrangler Rubicons feature the tried-and-tested Rock-Trac four-wheel-drive System and a heavy-duty two-speed transfer case with a 4:1 low range. Even other goodies like Tru-Lok electric front- and rear-axle lockers, third-gen front and rear Dana 44 axles, and electronic sway-bar disconnect are present on both the models. Crawl ratio of 77.2:1 is also the same for both when you consider automatic gearboxes. The 2.0-liter mill isn’t available with a manual gearbox on either of the Wrangler Rubicons.

Towing and Payload Capacities

Jeep Wrangler Rubicon versus Jeep Wrangler Rubicon 4xe Exterior Wallpaper quality
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The towing capacity on the Wrangler Rubicon is 3,500 pounds and the payload capacity is rated at 892 pounds. The towing capacity of the Rubicon 4xe is also rated at 3,500 pounds, but the payload capacity isn’t announced yet. But, thanks to the extra horses and torque output, expect the Rubicon 4xe to take-off better from a standstill even with full towing capacity.

Fuel Economy

Jeep Wrangler Rubicon versus Jeep Wrangler Rubicon 4xe Exterior
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This is where the biggest difference between the two models lies. The standard Wrangler delivers 17 mpg in the city, 23 mpg on the highway, and 19 mpg combined. Whereas the Wrangler Rubicon 4xe delivers an estimated 50 miles per gallon equivalent. Thanks to the 17-kWh battery, you can drive up to 25 miles on electric-mode only.

Aesthetics

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Here’s a list of all the things different on the Wrangler Rubicon 4xe when compared to the standard fuel-powered Wrangler Rubicon:

  • Blue front and rear tow hooks
  • Blue ‘Rubicon’ branding on the hood
  • Blue ‘Jeep’ and ‘Trail Rated’ badges
  • Two new exterior shades – Snazzberry and Hydro Blue – apart from the eight standard colors
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On the inside, changes are even fewer. Unique Electric Blue stitching on the seats and trim that’s exclusive to the Rubicon 4xe and two interior themes are available on the 4xe - Black with Heritage Tan cloth and Black with Dark Saddle leather.

Final Thoughts

Jeep Wrangler Rubicon versus Jeep Wrangler Rubicon 4xe Exterior
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The standard Wrangler Rubicon starts at $42,195, but Jeep still hasn’t announced how much the Wrangler 4xe models are priced at. The SUV is expected to the dealerships in the U.S. in early 2021, so we could know the pricing by the end of this year. Another good news is that all the Jeep Performance Parts from Mopar will be available for the Wrangler 4xe when it arrives at the dealerships.

Sidd Dhimaan
Associate Editor and Truck Expert - sidd@topspeed.com
Sidd joined the Topspeed.com team in 2017 as an intern and in less than a year he earned a full-time position as an associate editor and junior automotive expert. He is currently our pickup truck expert and focuses his attention on heavy-duty and off-road vehicles.  Read More
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