Jan
24
2021 Jeep Wrangler Unlimited Rubicon 4xe

2021 Jeep Wrangler Unlimited Rubicon 4xe in Hydro Blue Pearl-Coat (a $295 option)

Car Stuff Podcast 2021 Jeep Wrangler Unlimited Rubicon 4xe

Class: Compact Crossover/SUV

Miles driven: 218

Fuel used: 6.7 gallons

Real-world fuel economy: 32.5 mpg

Driving mix: 55% city, 45% highway

EPA-estimated fuel economy: 49 MPGe/20 mpg (city/highway combined)

CG Report Card
Room and ComfortB
Power and PerformanceB+
Fit and FinishB
Fuel EconomyB-
ValueC+
Report-card grades are derived from a consensus of test-driver evaluations. All grades are versus other vehicles in the same class. Value grade is for specific trim level evaluated, and may not reflect Consumer Guide's impressions of the entire model lineup.
Big & Tall Comfort
Big GuyC+
Tall GuyC+
Big & Tall comfort ratings are for front seats only. "Big" rating based on male tester weighing approximately 350 pounds, "Tall" rating based on 6'6"-tall male tester.
Drivetrain
Engine Specs375-hp 2.0-liter
Engine Typeplug-in-hybrid 4-cylinder
Transmission 8-speed automatic
Drive Wheels4WD

Fuel type: Regular gas

Base price: $55,225 (not including $1595 destination charge)

Options on test car: Hydro Blue Pearl-Coat paint ($295); leather-trimmed bucket seats ($1725); Trailer-Tow and Heavy-Duty Electrical Group ($845); Safety Group ($995); Advanced Safety Group ($795); Steel Bumper Group ($1745); windshield with Corning Gorilla Glass ($195); remote-proximity keyless entry ($695); body-color fender flares ($695); Sky One-Touch Power Top ($4145); integrated off-road camera ($595)

Price as tested: $69,545

 

Quick Hits

The great:  Smooth, torque-y power; pure-electric driving capability and selectable drive modes of plug-in-hybrid powertrain; off-road prowess

The good: Control layout; nicely finished interior for an off-road vehicle; broad range of options

The not so good: Fuel economy isn’t great if you’re not diligent about plugging in; steep pricing, particularly as options are added; on-road ride/handling refinement; so-so cargo volume

More Wrangler price and availability information

 

John Biel

It seems that 2021 was the year of powerplants for the Jeep Wrangler, with two new ones slipping under their hoods. One was mean: the 470-horsepower Hemi V8 for the Rubicon 392. The other was green: the gas/electric hybrid for a trio of 4Xe models.

The 4Xe brings together a turbocharged 2.0-liter 4-cylinder gas engine and two electric motors to produce a combined 375 horsepower and 470 lb-ft of torque. As a plug-in hybrid, the 4Xe is capable of running solely on electric power for a limited distance—an estimated 21 miles in this case. It’s also a preview of future Jeeps. The manufacturer says that by 2025 it plans to offer 4Xe versions of all its product lines.

2021 Jeep Wrangler Unlimited Rubicon 4xe

The 2021 Wrangler 4xe is Jeep’s first plug-in-hybrid model; it’s offered in Sahara, off-road-focused Rubicon (like our test vehicle) and High Altitude trim levels, but only on the Wrangler’s Unlimited 4-door body style.

Consumer Guide’s first home-turf exposure to a 4Xe Jeep was a in a Wrangler Unlimited Rubicon, the most off-road attuned of the iconic compact SUV’s many guises. Apart from a few standard-equipment differences that we’ll mention later, it was like most other 4-door “Rubes.” The Rubicon hybrid is priced in the middle of the 4Xe range, between the Sahara and the top-end High Altitude. For their debuts, the hybrids are confined to Wrangler’s 4-door Unlimited body style.

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The Wrangler 4xe’s dashboard layout is pretty much the same as other Wranglers, with the addition of expected hybrid-system features such as a battery-charge indicator and drive-mode selector buttons.

Considering its power figures, the 4Xe is a pretty lively Wrangler (its peak torque is as much as the Hemi V-8 makes); Jeep contends it will go from zero to 60 mph in six seconds. During this driver’s turn, the powerplant worked well under most circumstances in town or on the highway with minimally perceptible gas/electric transitions. The only hiccup was in the “50-to-70” area, when tromping the pedal to take advantage of a lane-change opportunity seemed to catch the truck unaware and acceleration was flat until kickdown from the specially configured 8-speed automatic transmission finally happened. Towing capacity is 3500 pounds, the same as any other 4-door Wrangler.

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Leather-trimmed seats (our tester had them in an attractive color called Dark Saddle) are a $1725 option that also includes a dashboard-trim upgrade. The 4xe’s battery pack is located under the rear seat (see pic in gallery below).

Three power-use modes are available: conventional “Hybrid” that lets the gas engine do most of the work, battery-only “Electric,” and “eSave.” The last selectively preserves electricity usage for low-power-demand episodes in which the gas engine shuts off.

Working from plug-in charges of 84 and 100 percent—plus whatever came through in normal hybrid operation—44 percent of this reviewer’s 108.9 test miles were run under electric power. For a while, the electric motors were doing most of the work—he went about 89 miles before the miles covered with gas-engine power caught up to the electric miles. (A display in the instrument cluster tracks gas and electric travel to the tenth of a mile.) With 52 percent city-type driving, the electric aid stretched overall gas mileage to 34.0 mpg. Fuel-economy strictly during internal-combustion-engine operation worked out to 19.2 mpg, which is not much off the EPA combined city/highway estimate of 20 mpg.

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Jeep 4Xe

Most compact crossover SUVs offer more cargo space, but the Wrangler 4xe does OK: There’s 27.7 cubic feet of volume behind the rear seats, which opens up to 67.4 cubic feet with the rear seat backs folded down.

For CG’s impression of the Rubicon 4Xe’s off-road behavior we direct you to our First Spin report. On streets and expressways, the sites of our local test, brake-pedal feel was the usual hybrid-iffy as regenerative energy capture takes place. (The amount of regeneration is adjustable, by the way.) As we’ve seen in other Wranglers, highway driving requires lots of little steering corrections. The 17×7.5-inch black-painted wheels standard on Rubicons are wrapped in off-road-tread tires that raise some racket. Otherwise, ride quality and passenger comfort are in line with what we’ve reported from past encounters with Wrangler Unlimited Rubicons from the current generation.

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The Wrangler 4xe is powered by a turbocharged 2.0-liter 4-cylinder paired with an electric motor for a total output of 375 hp and an impressive 470 pound-feet of torque. Like other Wrangler Rubicons, the 4xe comes standard with 17-inch machined/black-painted alloy wheels on knobby off-road tires (that create a bit of road noise on the highway).

The test vehicle had a starting price of $56,820, including delivery, though it qualifies for a $7500 federal tax credit and possible state and local credits. It comes with Rock-Trac heavy-duty full-time 4-wheel drive with 4:1 low-range gearing; locking front and rear axles; and Selec-Speed Control, a type of off-road cruise-control that incorporates hill-ascent and hill-descent control. V6 Rubicons can have the full-time 4WD as an extra-cost option and can’t get Selec-Speed at all. Full LED lighting and GPS navigation are other distinctions from the V6 model.

Standard upholstery is cloth but extra-cost leather seating was added to the tester. Leather-wrapped steering wheel, automatic air conditioning, heated power-adjustable mirrors, Wi-Fi hotspot, remote keyless entry, and automatic headlights are other basics. The corporate Uconnect 4C infotainment system is standard—and easy to use. It has an 8.4-inch display screen, Alpine premium audio system, Apple CarPlay/Android Auto smartphone compatibility, and SiriusXM satellite radio and other services.

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Charge Ports, Car Stuff Podcast, Level 2, 4Xe

The Wrangler 4xe’s charge port is located at the base of the windshield on the driver’s side. Even in the cold temps during our test, we experienced pure-electric driving ranges right around the EPA rating of 22 miles on a full charge.

Modern safety monitors are available, but it’s technology that will come at a cost. Blind-spot and rear cross-traffic alerts were in the $995 Safety Group option, as was “ParkSense” rear parking assist. Another $795 for the Advanced Safety Group installed full-speed forward-collision warning, adaptive cruise control with stop, advanced brake assist, and automatic headlight high-beam control. Among the generous catalog of options on the $69,545 test model were a grille-mounted off-road camera that gives drivers advance warning of trail obstacles that may be out of their line of sight and the Sky One-Touch power top, basically a power-operated fabric sunroof that retracts over both seating rows. While the sides and windows of the Sky top aren’t fabric or plastic, highway driving can still get pretty loud through the long expanse of folding material above.

Jeep has always built Wranglers for people who want to go exploring. Now it is exploring new ways of getting them where they want to go.

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2021 Jeep Wrangler Unlimited Rubicon 4xe

The 4xe is yet another novel variation of Jeep’s ultra-popular, ultra-versatile Wrangler. The plug-in-hybrid powertrain adds considerable weight, complexity, and cost, but it provides the benefit of pure-electric driving capability and improved fuel economy–IF you’re diligent about plugging in and you take a lot of short trips to maximize your EV driving.

Listen to the Car Stuff Podcast

2021 Jeep Wrangler Unlimited Rubicon 4xe Gallery

(Click below for enlarged images)

2021 Jeep Wrangler Unlimited Rubicon 4xe

First Spin: 2021 Jeep Wrangler Unlimited 4xe

2021 Jeep Wrangler Unlimited Rubicon 4xe

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