Like the rest of the Stellantis portfolio of brands, the Jeep® brand is committed to moving toward electrification. During its EV Day 2021 Presentation, Christian Meunier, Global President of Jeep Brand, stated that by 2025 each of the brand’s vehicles would offer an electrified 4xe model. The American adventure brand already offers plug-in hybrid (PHEV) capability on several of its models, the Renegade and Compass 4xe in Europe, the Grand Commander-e (front-wheel-drive only) in China, the Wrangler Unlimited 4xe globally, and the soon-to-be Grand Cherokee 4xe on the global stage as well.
But there is one Jeep 4xe vehicle, that we constantly get asked about it – the Gladiator 4xe. Jeep’s midsize pickup was engineered from the ground up to be the most off-capable pickup the brand has ever had, and its popularity continues to grow. But unfortunately, like the Dodge Charger to the Challenger (until recently), the Gladiator continues to take a back seat to the Wrangler and all the additional features that its SUV sibling continues to get.
That seems to be the story with the electrified models as well. However, one of our sources within Stellantis has shed some light on the situation about when we should see the Gladiator 4xe reaching dealer showrooms.
The current Wrangler (JL) has been on the market since the 2018 model year and is due for a mid-cycle-action (MCA) or refresh this next year (2023 model year). We don’t expect the refresh to be a huge change for the Wrangler. But with added competition now from the all-new 2021 Ford Bronco, it will be necessary for the Wrangler to continue to stay at the forefront of the segment.
So what about the Gladiator?
The Jeep Gladiator will also undergo an MCA according to our source, however, it won’t be until the 2024 model year. The source indicates that all of the Wrangler updates and features from the MCA will carry over to the midsize Jeep pickup, this includes the 4xe powertrain.
Now, while we don’t know of or if any changes will be done to the 4xe powertrain during that time. Our source confirms that Gladiator 4xe will be powered by the same PHEV propulsion system that is currently under the hood of the Wrangler Unlimited and Grand Cherokee 4xe models.
The Gladiator 4xe should make its official launch at the start of 2024 model year production.
The 4xe Propulsion System –
Currently, the Wrangler Unlimited 4xe powertrain integrates two electric motors and a 400-volt battery pack with a fuel-efficient, turbocharged, four-cylinder engine and TorqueFlite eight-speed automatic transmission. This configuration maximizes the efficiency of the hybrid propulsion components and mates them with the Wrangler’s world-renowned and proven driveline.
The 4xe powertrain delivers 375 horsepower (280 kW), 470 lb.-ft. (637 N•m) of torque and provides 21 miles of zero-emission all-electric range and is EPA rated at 49 miles per gallon-equivalent (MPGe) in the Wrangler Unlimited 4xe configuration.
A turbocharged 2.0-liter inline-four-cylinder (part of the Stellantis Global Medium Engine or “GME” family), offers a high-tech, direct-injection configuration and 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 Unlimited 4xe does not use a conventional 12-volt starter motor. The Wrangler Unlimited 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 Unlimited 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 Jeep Wrangler Unlimited 4xe’s 400-volt, 17-kWh, 96-cell lithium-ion battery pack uses 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 Unlimited 4xe’s second-row seat is redesigned, allowing the bottom cushion to flip forward for access to the battery.
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 the 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 Unlimited 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” Wranglers, the Wrangler Unlimited 4xe is capable of water fording up to 30 inches (76 cm).
The Wrangler Unlimited 4xe hybrid powertrain has three modes of operation, known as E Selec. The driver can select the desired powertrain mode via buttons mounted on the instrument panel, to the left of the steering wheel. Regardless of the mode selected, the Wrangler Unlimited 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 engine when the battery reaches a 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 optimize the benefit of the E Selec modes, the Wrangler Unlimited 4xe driver information display and the Uconnect touchscreen feature Eco Coaching Pages. The Eco Coaching Pages let owners monitor power flow and see the impact of regenerative braking, schedule charging times to take advantage of lower electric rates, and view the driving history details of their electric and gasoline usage.
Regenerative braking is a key part of the Wrangler Unlimited 4xe eco-friendly equation. 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.
We expect that there will be prototypes of the Gladiator 4xe testing on public roads within the next several months. Jeep fans recently depicted a photo on the official Jeep Facebook page, which looked to be a current Gladiator with the Wrangler Unlimited 4xe’s E Selec button controls, leaving us to wonder just how far along testing is.
Let us know your thoughts about the upcoming Jeep Gladiator 4xe in the comments below or in the MoparInsiders.com forums.