INDIANAPOLIS — One might argue it has taken Jeep way too long to embrace the coming age of electric vehicles, especially since Chrysler has offered a plug-in mini-van for years. But, Jeep is reaching to its most iconic model, the all-capable, family-friendly Wrangler Unlimited Rubicon – a vehicle that’s useful for taming trails and suburban boulevards alike. Adding a plug attaches the 4xe moniker for 2022, extends its range of talents, and carves a trail for Jeep’s future.
Styling Tastefully Electrified
From the driveway, only subtle updates differentiate the 4xe from other Wrangler Rubicons that take families and adventurers almost anywhere. It has the same iconic seven-slat grille, snarling hood vents, beaming round LED headlamps, metal bumpers, and reinforced side sills that elevates other Wranglers. Look closer, though, and you’ll notice light blue tow hooks instead of red ones, plus a charging port on the driver’s front fender. Notice unique 17” wheels and a nearly indestructible Gorilla Glass windshield too.
Even with hard sides, this Rubicon opens to the world quickly. Doors can be easily disconnected and removed. Wranglers are available with fully retractable soft tops and ones with removable hard panels, but my favorite is the one that retracts a full-width canvas panel to beyond the rear seats with one press of a button – perfect for enjoying some sunshine at a leisurely pace with the ability to seal up quickly when hitting the highway.
The interior is wash-out rugged to take all life throws at it, but is enhanced with leather seats, stitched dash coverings, and Alpine premium audio for counted luxuries.
Apple CarPlay, Android Auto, and 4G Wi-Fi ease device connections. I appreciated the dual-zone automatic climate control, but would have appreciated heated seats more. Given the Wrangler Unlimited’s family leanings, it’s good to see safety enhanced by adaptive cruise, auto emergency braking, blind spot warning, and rear cross path detection.
Efficient Electric Driving
The 4xe employs a 2.0-liter turbocharged four-cylinder engine, batteries, and motors like other hybrid Wranglers, but can also be plugged in for 22 miles of all-electric range – perfect for running to work or shopping.
Output is a robust 375 horsepower and 470 lb.-ft. of torque, so clawing up the side of a mountain (or just a parking garage ramp) will require little effort.
Fuel economy is rated 49-MPGe after plugging in and 20-MPG otherwise. Drivers choose whether they want to run as a hybrid, full EV, or save electricity for later. The Wrangler Rubicon’s disconnecting sway bars, locking differentials, and off-road tires remain.
It took time for Jeep to find its plug, but the Wrangler Unlimited 4xe is a good start. A 4xe version of the luxurious Grand Cherokee is imminent and a full range of Jeep 4xe models come soon. Not only does the plug make Wrangler’s more efficient, it also makes them more peaceful. Cruising through town on electric power, you can hardly believe you’re driving a Jeep. Of course, all of this comes at a price. The base 4xe starts at $51,225, but came to…hug a stout tree…$69,545 as-tested.
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2022 Jeep Wrangler Unlimited 4xe
5-passengers, 4WD SUV
Powertrain: 2.0-L T4, hybrid
Output: 375 hp/470 lb.-ft.
Suspension f/r: Solid axles
Wheels f/r: 17”/17” alloy
Brakes f/r: disc/disc
Must-have features: MPGs, Capability
Fuel economy: 49-MPGe
Assembly: Toledo, OH
Base/as-tested price: $51,225/69,545