With the introduction of the Grand Wagoneer Concept highlighting the press conference the Jeep® brand held this morning, there was one other vehicle introduction that will play an important role in the brand’s lineup. The 2021 Jeep Wrangler 4xe lineup, marks the arrival of the most capable and eco-friendly Wrangler to date. It joins the plug-in hybrid electric vehicle (PHEV) lineup that currently consists of the Jeep Renegade 4xe and Jeep Compass 4xe (both introduced this summer in the European market), as well as the Chinese-exclusive Jeep Commander PHEV (which is expected to add the 4xe name, after its mid-cycle-action or MCA, next year).
The 2021 Jeep Wrangler 4xe offers a plug-in hybrid powertrain for the first-time to the public and can provide up to 25 miles of driving on a single charge. For those who worry about range anxiety, the Wrangler 4xe’s powertrain consists of two electric motors, a high-voltage battery pack, a high-tech 2.0-liter turbocharged inline-four engine, and robust TorqueFlite 8-speed automatic hybrid transmission, which allows the Wrangler to maximize efficiency with an estimated 50 miles per gallon equivalent (MPGe) for when you need more than 25 miles of range to get to your destination.
The new hybrid powertrain makes a combined 375 horsepower (280 kW), 470 lb.-ft. (637 N•m) of torque. That is the most powerful powertrain to currently ever be put into a Wrangler. The electric motors in the Wrangler 4xe’s hybrid powertrain can deliver instant torque whenever the driver demands, which is great in off-road conditions. Torque from the electric motors in the Wrangler 4xe’s hybrid powertrain arrives instantly on-demand from the driver. The powertrain also delivers fuel-saving, seamless, start-stop operation of the engine.
So just how does the new hybrid powertrain work? The 2.0-liter turbocharged inline-four cylinder engine is part of FCA’s Global Medium Engine (or GME) family. The high-tech, direct-injection engine uses a twin-scroll, low-inertia turbocharger mounted directly to the cylinder head, along with a dedicated cooling circuit for the turbocharger, intake air and throttle body for exceptional responsiveness, performance, and fuel efficiency.
A high-voltage, liquid-cooled motor generator unit mounts at the front of the engine, replacing the conventional alternator. A robust belt connects the motor-generator to the engine crankshaft pulley. The motor-generator spins the engine for nearly seamless, fuel-saving, start-stop operation and generates electricity for the battery pack. The Wrangler 4xe does not use a conventional 12-volt starter motor. The Wrangler 4xe is equipped with a 12-volt battery to run accessories. The 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 to manage power and torque from the e-motor and engine. A binary clutch (on/off) is mounted between the engine and the motor. When this clutch is open there is no mechanical linkage between the engine and the e-motor, which enables it to propel the Wrangler 4xe in electric-only mode. When the binary clutch is closed, torque from the 2.0-liter engine and the e-motor flow combine through the automatic transmission. A variable clutch mounted behind the e-motor manages engagement with the transmission to improve drivability and efficiency.
The Wrangler 4xe uses a 400-volt, 17-kWh, 96-cell lithium-ion battery pack with nickel manganese cobalt (NMC) graphite chemistry. The pack and controls mount underneath the second-row seat, where it is protected from outside elements. The Wrangler 4xe’s second-row seat is redesigned, allowing the bottom cushion to flip forward for access to the battery. For this reason, the Wrangler 4xe powertrain is only offered on the four-door Unlimited model.
Encased in an aluminum housing, the pack is fitted with a dedicated heating and cooling circuit to keep the battery at its optimum temperature for best performance. The temperature control circuit includes a dedicated heater unit and a chiller that uses the Wrangler air-conditioning refrigerant to reduce coolant temperature when needed.
The Wrangler 4xe hybrid system includes an Integrated Dual Charging Module (ICDM), which combines a battery charger and a DC/DC converter in a single unit that is more compact than two separate components, and a next-generation Power Inverter Module (PIM) that is reduced in size. These components are housed and protected from damage in a steel structure mounted below the battery pack.
All high-voltage electronics, including the wiring between the battery pack and the electric motors, are sealed and waterproof. Like all Trail Rated Jeep Wranglers, the Wrangler 4xe is capable of water fording up to 30-inches (76 cm).
The electric charge port features a push-open/push-close cover and is located on the left front cowl of the Wrangler 4xe for convenient nose-in parking at charging locations. The charge port includes LED indicators of charging status. An LED battery level monitor is mounted on top of the instrument panel, making it easy to check the battery’s state of charge at a glance during charging.
Wrangler 4xe customers can also customize the hybrid powertrain to best suit their next trip. Thanks to the new E Selec modes, the driver can use three different modes to fulfill their driving needs with the simple push of a button on the instrument panel. Regardless of the mode selected, the Wrangler 4xe operates as a hybrid once the battery nears its minimum state of charge.
- Hybrid: The default mode blends torque from the 2.0-liter engine and electric motor. In this mode, the powertrain will use battery power first, then add in propulsion from the 2.0-liter turbocharged I-4 when the battery reaches the minimum state of charge
- Electric: The powertrain operates on zero-emission electric power only until the battery reaches the minimum charge or the driver requests more torque (such as wide-open throttle), which engages the 2.0-liter engine
- eSave: Prioritizes propulsion from the 2.0-liter engine, saving the battery charge for later use, such as EV off-roading or urban areas where internal combustion propulsion is restricted. The driver can also choose between Battery Save and Battery Charge during eSave via the Hybrid Electric Pages in the Uconnect monitor
To help drivers along with the benefits of the E Selec modes, there is a new feature called “Eco Coaching Pages” found in the driver information display on the Uconnect touchscreen. These pages allow for the owner to monitor their hybrid functions power flow and see the impact of regenerative braking, schedule charging times to take advantage of lower electric rates, and view their driving history with detail of electric and gasoline usage.
Speaking of regenerative braking, that system plays a big part in keeping the Wrangler 4xe efficient. When the driver steps on the brake pedal, the powertrain control engages the maximum available regenerative braking, up to 0.25 g, from the electric motors to slow the vehicle, augmented with the Wrangler’s traditional friction brakes. The regenerative braking feature also extends the replacement period for brake pads. With 4×4 engaged, all four wheels feed torque for regenerative braking, maximizing the energy recovery. Electricity due to regenerative braking is fed to the battery pack to maintain or increase the state of charge.
The Wrangler 4xe also features the ability to maximize regenerative energy production via a driver-selectable Max Regen feature. When Max Regen is engaged, a more assertive regenerative braking calibration occurs when the vehicle sees zero throttle input from the driver (coasting). Max Regen can slow the Wrangler 4xe faster than standard regenerative braking and generate more electricity for the battery pack. Once selected, the Max Regen feature remains engaged until the driver deselects it.
All Wrangler 4xe power modes are available when the drivetrain is shifted to 4Lo. The seamless integration of electric power into the 4×4 drivetrain elevates the Wrangler 4xe to new levels of off-road performance. Enthusiasts will find that the instant availability of torque from the Wrangler 4xe’s electric motor delivers a more precise and controlled driving experience for climbing and crawling, so there’s no need to build up engine rpm to get the tires to move, minimizing driveline shock loading and maximizing control and speed.
In EV mode, the Wrangler 4xe treads lightly and silently, conserving fuel and allowing occupants to focus solely on the sights and full sounds of nature.
The 4xe powertrain will be available on three 2021 Jeep Wrangler models which include, 4xe (based on the Sport model), Sahara 4xe, and Rubicon 4xe. Wrangler 4xe and Sahara 4xe models will be equipped with full-time 4×4 systems, front and rear next-generation Dana 44 axles and are fitted with the Selec-Trac two-speed transfer case with a 2.72:1 low-range gear ratio. The intuitive system allows the driver to set it and forget it in any environment. An available Trac-Lok limited-slip rear differential provides extra grip and capability in low-traction situations, such as driving over sand, gravel, snow, or ice.
The Wrangler Rubicon 4xe models will be equipped with the Rock-Trac 4×4 system that includes a two-speed transfer case with a 4:1 low-range gear ratio, full-time 4×4, front and rear next-generation Dana 44 axles, Tru-Lok electric front and rear-axle lockers. The Wrangler Rubicon 4xe has an impressive crawl ratio of 77.2:1, which makes scaling any obstacle easy. Wrangler Rubicon models also offer improved articulation and total suspension travel with help from a front axle, electronic sway-bar disconnect. Together, these components contribute to the maximum off-road prowess Wrangler Rubicon is known for.
The Wrangler 4xe includes Selec-Speed Control with Hill-ascent and Hill-descent Control. This allows drivers to control vehicle speed up and down steep, rugged grades with the transmission shift lever and like every Jeep Wrangler, the Jeep Wrangler 4xe models wear a Trail Rated badge that signifies legendary 4×4 capability with equipment that includes:
- Skid plates and front and rear tow hooks.
- Wrangler Rubicon 4xe approach angle of 44-degrees, breakover angle of 22.5-degrees, departure angle of 35.6-degrees, and ground clearance of 10.8-inches (27.4 cm).
- Aggressive, available, 17-inch, off-road wheels, and 33-inch tires standard on Rubicon 4xe; 20-inch wheels standard on Wrangler 4xe and Sahara 4xe.
- Up to 30 inches (76 cm) of water fording capability.
To set the Wrangler 4xe apart from the rest of the non-electrified models, there will be Electric Blue coloring on the front and rear Rubicon tow hooks, that stand out against the black bumpers. The unique blue coloring also traces the Rubicon name on the hood, Jeep badge, and the Trail Rated badge. Select Easter egg design cues also receive the Electric Blue shade. The black hood decal is outlined in the special color with “4xe” that lets the body color show through, and inside unique Electric Blue stitching will be featured on the seats and trim.
According to Jeep, there will be 10 exterior colors available for the 2021 Jeep Wrangler 4xe lineup. Those colors include Black, Bright White, Firecracker Red, Granite Crystal Metallic, Hella Yella, Hydro Blue (late availability), Sting-Gray, Snazzberry, Sarge, and Billet Silver Metallic.
Jeep Wrangler 4xe models will be available in Europe, China, and the United States by early 2021. Production will start in December at the Toledo Assembly Complex in Toledo, Ohio.
2021 Jeep® Wrangler Rubicon 4xe Image Gallery: