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Road test | Jeep Wrangler 4xe: the adventurer of good conscience

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Marked by the leading role played by its ancestor during the Second World War, the history of the Jeep Wrangler is fascinating. The SUV, designed expressly to deal with the worst conditions imaginable, is one of those legends that refuses to die, ignoring certain modern automotive paradigms. The moral and regulatory obligation to reduce his thirst, however, pushed him to acquire a rechargeable hybrid mechanism. One more string to a well-stocked bow.

Design


PHOTO PROVIDED BY STELLANTIS

The seven grille slots remain clearly visible in the front.

Simply but effectively named 4xe – a play on words alluding to the electrification of its four-wheel drive train – this edition with greener fiber obviously remains a Wrangler. Only available with the four-door Unlimited body, it flaunts its cubic appearance and its wide tracks exposed by wheels sheltered by large trapezoidal fenders. Overhangs are almost absent to negotiate obstacles well. The seven slits of the grille remain clearly visible in the front, and the rear offers lights that can recall a bird’s eye view of the vehicle. How, however, to discern this 4xe from the other Wranglers? Simply by the use of a light blue visible on the hooks and on various fonts all over the vehicle, in addition to the charging plug near the driver’s side mirror.

On board


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The interior of the Jeep Wrangler 4xe

The Wrangler is inevitably the product of various compromises. The cabin is one of those. The game of comparisons does not lie: with 2925 L of volume bequeathed to the occupants, the interior space is barely 100 L more roomy than that of a Honda Civic hatchback. That said, the area is rather well put to good use when the seats are moved forward towards the dashboard, which frees up the rear seats quite well. Note that this 4xe livery is embellished with blue stitching, to color the juxtaposition of dark colors. Accessibility is also not excellent due to the ground clearance and the narrowness of the door openings. Ergonomically, it’s nevertheless quite well executed, but since the driving position is high, you have to constantly look down to check the positioning of the controls. We do not really appreciate the fact that the keys controlling the hybrid system are so badly placed.

Under the hood


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All the components of the hybrid system are visible here on the chassis of the Wrangler on which the body is bolted. It is not a conventional monocoque platform.

The base material of this plug-in version is a 2.0L turbocharged four-cylinder that relies on a starter-alternator and a 134 hp electric motor housed in its transmission. In electric mode, you can hear its sound vary according to the transmission ratios, which is a bit confusing. The range displayed in the instrument cluster when the 17 kWh battery is fully charged projected 37 km during the test drive. This figure obviously dwindles very quickly on the fast track due to the questionable aerodynamics of the object. This handset of 375 hp and 470 hp is however nervous at will and spreads its softness in all its phases of operation. When the four-cylinder comes into operation, however, fuel consumption could be lower. The 10.9 L/100 km obtained in the test are nothing exceptional, but the addition, very close to that of a version of the same level equipped with the 2 L, makes it more acceptable.

Behind the wheel


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We perceive a great acuity to negotiate with the asperities, the undeniable force of this Wrangler.

The addition of a hybrid mechanism increases the weight of the model’s four-cylinder version by just over 300 kg. That’s a lot, but it doesn’t fundamentally change the behavior. Despite a sportier gear ratio than all the other versions, the handling of its hydraulic steering remains rather approximate, a trait that is even more noticeable on the highway. We often have to steer the steering wheel just to keep this Wrangler in a straight line. The feeling of floating over the pavement is continuous due to the presence of front and rear bridges. Despite everything, we perceive a great acuity in negotiating with the asperities, its undeniable strength. The 4×4 system of this 4xe can also operate in electric mode. Moreover, note the presence of regenerative braking to practically drive with the accelerator alone and thus spare the brakes. Without being adjustable, it is well dosed in its interventions.

Embedded technologies


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The Jeep Wrangler infotainment system

We are not revolutionizing anything in terms of technology here. This Jeep relies on the Uconnect system from the previous vintage, which still does a good job. The configurable aspect of the touch screen is appreciated, as is its readability and the fact that it is placed close to the driver. Features focused on off-road driving are also integrated as added value. The tachometer and speedometer needles border a well-designed digital screen that allows you to consult an innumerable amount of data. Apple CarPlay and Android Auto are present, but the connection must invariably be made via a USB port. Note that the usual active safety elements are not offered as standard in this Wrangler 4xe, regardless of the variant chosen. That’s rather questionable for a $57,000 model with no options.

The verdict


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The torque of the electric motor and its ability to move the vehicle in all four-wheel drive modes are an undeniable added value.

We must admit that the integration of a hybrid mechanism in the arsenal of this Wrangler makes a lot of sense. The torque of the electric motor and its ability to move the vehicle in all four-wheel drive modes are an undeniable added value. However, the technology remains transitory and not without downsides. As is often the case with these systems, the heating requires the intervention of the heat engine to operate in cold weather and the electric range is limited in a motorway context, which makes its optimal use limited to an urban enclosure. The consumption of the heat engine is not exceptional either when compared to this same four-cylinder without the contribution of the hybrid. We must therefore consider this purchase in order to benefit from the most balanced and flexible engine of the lot (excluding the thundering 6.4 L V8). It truly refines a recipe that is still somewhat raw with its basic soundproofing and its seats that are not very comfortable, but how endearing and effective off-road.

Notebook

Three modes of operation

The plug-in hybrid system has three modes: Hybrid, which allows the gasoline engine to intervene from time to time, Electric, which promotes the use of the electric motor for as long as possible, and eSave, which ensures charging while driving of the battery, but which increases fuel consumption.

No fast charging

Like other plug-in hybrid models, the Wrangler 4xe is not fast charging compatible. It can be plugged into a conventional residential plug, which increases the total charging time to 12 hours. A 240 V residential charging station reduces the wait to 2 hours.

It can tow as much as the other versions

The Wrangler 4xe can tow a trailer that can reach a moderate weight of 1587 kg.

Little waste of space due to battery

The hybrid system’s battery is placed under the rear seat cushion, which reduces the volume of the load space very little. Jeep says it’s sealed, allowing this Wrangler to venture into 30 inches of water unhindered.

Coming soon to a Grand Cherokee near you

This plug-in hybrid unit will soon be offered under the hood of the Jeep Grand Cherokee, which will reduce its gluttony. The entry bill will however be rather high ($74,995).

Technical sheet

  • Model tested: Jeep Wrangler 4xe Rubicon
  • Engine: L4 DOHC 2L turbocharged + alternator-starter and electric motor
  • Power (combined engines): 375 hp at 5250 rpm
  • Torque: 470 lb-ft at 3000 rpm
  • Transmission: Eight-speed automatic with manual mode
  • Drive architecture: Front transverse engine with electric motor placed in the transmission, adjustable four-wheel drive with automatic mode
  • Consumption (EnerGuide): 11.7 L/100 km (thermal engine) and 35 km of electric range
  • Price (with options, transport and preparation): $74,340 (eligible for the provincial grant of $5,000)
  • Competitors (Wrangler): Ford Bronco and Toyota 4Runner
  • New in 2022? (Wrangler): Arrival in Canada of the Rubicon 392 version with V8 engine



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