First Drive: 2021 Jeep Wrangler 4xe Offers Silent Off-Roading for a Price

First-ever plug-in hybrid Wrangler is impressively quick but not all that efficient

2021 Jeep Wrangler 4xe Photo: John Powers/Consumer Reports

The 2021 Jeep Wrangler 4xe is the first-ever plug-in hybrid version of the iconic American off-roader. The 4xe’s combination of a turbocharged four-cylinder engine paired with two electric motors gives the Jeep mighty quick acceleration, thanks to a total system output of 375 hp and 470 lb.-ft. of torque. It adds yet another powertrain choice to the already lengthy options list of the popular Wrangler SUV that includes a turbo-four, V6, and a V8.

But the bigger selling point of the 4xe (pronounced “four-by-E”) may be its electric-only driving range of about 22 miles, which comes courtesy of a 17-kilowatt-hour battery pack located under the rear seat. That’s enough range to save some fuel and appease your inner environmentalist, especially for drivers who mostly stay local. Plus, it can make for some very quiet off-roading.

While the 4xe version—especially in the Rubicon trim that we rented from Jeep—retains all of the Wrangler’s vaunted off-roading chops, the hybrid powertrain does have some hiccups, and the vehicle is efficient only if buyers plug it in to recharge its battery every day. Plus, longstanding Wrangler downsides remain, including clumsy handling and a boisterous cabin.

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The Wrangler 4xe comes only in the four-door Unlimited body style. Pricing begins at $51,025 for the Sahara 4xe, followed by the more off-road-oriented Rubicon 4xe at $54,725, and caps off at $56,845 for the High Altitude 4xe, with all models subject to a $1,495 destination charge. We rented a Wrangler Unlimited Rubicon 4xe from Jeep for this first drive evaluation. 

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What we rented: 2021 Jeep Wrangler Unlimited Rubicon 4xe
Powertrain: 375-hp, 2.0-liter turbocharged four-cylinder hybrid engine; eight-speed automatic transmission; four-wheel drive
MSRP: $54,725
Options: Body-color three-piece hardtop, $2,495; Steel-Bumper Group, $1,745; leather-trimmed seats, $1,695; Cold Weather Group (heated front seats, remote-start), $995; Safety Group (rear park-assist system), $995; Trailer-tow and Heavy-Duty Electrical Group (auxiliary switches, 700-amp battery, Class-II receiver hitch, 7- and 4-pin wiring harness), $795; Advanced Safety Group (Full-speed Forward-Collision Warning Plus, Adaptive Cruise Control with Stop, Advanced Brake-Assist), $795; remote proximity keyless-entry, $645; hardtop headliner by Mopar, $525; Firecracker Red clearcoat exterior paint, $245; Cargo Group with Trail Rail System, $195
Total options: $11,125
Destination fee: $1,495
Total cost: $67,345

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