It’s uncommon to be able to drive off-roading completely silently, but the 2021 Jeep Wrangler Unlimited Sahara 4xe provides exactly that: an unexpectedly peaceful trip through the woods.
That’s because the Wrangler 4xe (pronounced “four by e”) has a 400-volt, 17-kilowatt-hour, 96-cell battery pack mounted in the middle of the vehicle, providing enough power for around 22 miles of silent electric driving.
The Jeep Wrangler 4xe is a plug-in hybrid-electric vehicle with a turbocharged, four-cylinder engine.
There’s no electric range anxiety here thanks to the direct-injected 2.0-litre four-cylinder engine, which gives 370 miles of total driving range.
They don’t indicate how many 4xe Wranglers are being sold, but Jeep execs claim that this plug-in off-roader is the best-selling plug-in hybrid electric in the country, so it has a following.
The hybrid’s gas engine is backed by a ZF 8-speed automatic transmission, and instead of a hydraulic torque converter, the Wrangler’s electric drive is provided by an electric motor/generator.
A 48-volt belt alternator-starter from LG Electronics is also installed to the front of the engine, providing instantaneous engine stop/start as the hybrid changes between gas and electric power.
The combined output of the gas and electric engines is 375 horsepower and 470 pound-feet of torque.
This is 100 horsepower more than the standard four-cylinder Wrangler and 85 horsepower more than the 3.6-litre V6.
with torque comparable to the 6.4-liter Hemi V8, which is only available in the Rubicon. Using the combined hybrid power, the 0-60 mph time is a quick 6.0 seconds.
IN THE WRANGLER 4XE, OFF-ROADING
With the roof and doors removed, the Wrangler creeps along Virginia’s Tasker’s Gap off-highway vehicle trail.
The only sound was the snapping of felled branches under the Jeep’s Bridgestone tires.
Our test car was a Jeep Wrangler Sahara, which is the top-of-the-line model ($47,995 base price, $56,380 when tested) aimed at suburbanites looking for light trail-going capacity for camping or hiking.
The 4xe is also offered in two trim levels: urban-oriented High Altitude and maximal off-road Rubicon.
Our Sahara is Jeep’s “Trail Rated” model, and it comes with some off-road equipment to back it up.
Skid plates protect the Wrangler’s underbelly, a two-speed transfer case with a 2.72:1 low range ratio, and legendary Dana 44 front and rear differentials are among the extras.
Off-road features include Selec-Speed Control with Hill Ascent.
It’s practically trail cruise control, which allows the driver to concentrate on maneuvering around hazards.
Hill Descent Manage, which uses the engine and brakes to automatically control the vehicle’s speed when it descends steep and slick inclines; the computer can brake each wheel separately.
All of the electrical components of the 4xe system have been armored and sealed as thoroughly as the mechanical components. Carney, Dan
TIRES, DOORS, AND OTHER THINGS
The fact that it rides on stylish gloss black 20-inch aluminum wheels with low-profile Bridgestone Dueler H/L Alenza tires
We were concerned about the chance of puncturing a tire on a sharp rock because the tires are meant for smooth and quiet highway travel rather than off-roading.
We were even more cautious on the route as a result of this.
The Wrangler fearlessly scrambled over steep slopes, threaded through trees, and splashed through the mud.
In the woods, a shorter two-door Wrangler might be easier to maneuver, however, thanks to the Unlimited’s greater length, we only made one three-point turn.
It would also be easy to remove the two-removable door’s fiberglass hardtop roof.
The extra $525 sound deadening on our test Unlimited made it much heavier and more difficult for two adults to lift and carry.
Eight Torx head bolts secure the main piece of the hardtop, and the Wrangler comes equipped with a tiny ratchet and the necessary bits.
The two panels above the front seat do not require any tools to remove, and they are light enough to be easily removed and replaced.
The doors may also be removed, which allows for an immersive open-air experience while driving around town.
However, it also results in a significant increase in visibility in confined spaces on the route.
It’s also much easier for your spotter to hop out and provide direction over difficult terrain and round pebbles that could harm the Wrangler’s key organs.
It’s worth noting that Jeep has armored and sealed all of the 4xe system’s electrical components just as thoroughly as its mechanical components.
As a result, the hybrid-electric vehicle’s 30-inch water fording rating is the same as the combustion-only type.
We weren’t able to find 30 inches of water to put that rating to the test, but we did manage to splash through a few major mud holes.
The procedure of removing everything that can be removed takes roughly half an hour.
a reasonable amount of energy, and enough room to store all of the removed components
While the Sahara was more comfortable on the highway, a Rubicon with its 4:1 low range, locking axles, disconnectable sway bar, and off-road grade 33-inch balloon tires would have been much more capable.
HOW DOES IT FEEL TO BE BACK ON THE ASPHALT?
Regardless, Wrangler drivers will discover that driving at 55 mph on two-lane country roadways is far more relaxing than driving at 70 mph on the Interstate.
There’s only so much that placing car tires on a solid front axle truck can do, especially at 70 mph.
The necessity for corrections and the head shake through the steering wheel in response to bumps and potholes remind the driver of this fact.
Ford’s new Bronco has a significant advantage in terms of on-road refinement.
Instead of the solid axle front suspension seen on the Wrangler, this model sports an independent front suspension.
Our examination Jeep’s Advanced Safety Group option package, which includes adaptive cruise control, was installed on the Wrangler.
This is especially true with the 4xe hybrid drivetrain because the system can accurately apply the electric motor’s torque to maintain the specified speed while ascending hills and use regenerative braking to keep the correct speed while descending.
We used the 4xe’s ‘eSave’ button on the highway, which prioritizes the Wrangler’s gas engine and saves the battery for later usage.
At Tasker’s Gap, where we pressed the ‘Electric’ button to keep the combustion engine dormant, we saved the battery pack for our two hours of off-road driving.
We also maintain the ‘Max Regen’ button selected at all times.
This means that as soon as the driver lifts off the throttle pedal, the Wrangler’s electric motor turns into a generator, offering up to 0.25 g of deceleration without touching the brake pedal.
Unfortunately, every time the Wrangler is switched off, this function is reverted to “off.”
For drivers who favor this mode, having to press the button every time they drive is inconvenient.
Perhaps Jeep will revisit this in the future with a software update that allows the driver to make this choice permanent.
The 4xe powertrain option adds $8,500 to the MSRP of the Wrangler Sahara over a conventionally powered variant.
However, the $7,500 tax reimbursement from the federal government takes the sting off of the fee.
Of course, if your budget only allows for one of the lower trim levels, upgrading to the Sahara will increase the price.
The goal is to make up for the difference in fuel savings in terms of cost. The normal Sahara, on the other hand, gets 21 mpg in combined city/highway driving, according to the EPA.
Using electric power entirely around town and on the trail, and gas power for the ride out to the off-road park, we averaged 25 mpg in mixed driving with the 4xe.
The trip computer indicated that the Wrangler was getting 18 mpg on the highway throughout the trip.
While driving around town on electric-only power, we frequently traveled a few miles further than the EPA’s rating of 22 miles of EV driving range.
Due to the increased effect of aerodynamic drag on the highway, the blunt-nosed Wrangler would most likely fall short of that rating.
Even with boring street-oriented tires installed, the highway isn’t a Wrangler’s natural environment.
It yearns to be on an off-road trail. You can hear it begging to go for a quiet stroll through the woods after removing all the bodywork and switching to the silent electric motor.