All right, let’s admit that when it comes to naming vehicles that have efficiencies in terms of the resources they consume, Jeep is never near the top of the list. That’s something that may have to change. The ultra-traditional Jeep Wrangler, one of the most instantly recognizable tough guys in automotive history, with almost 80 years of boonie-busting heritage that dates back to the Lend-Lease Program, is going electric. Fiat Chrysler Automobiles is handing its flagship vehicle – that’s a main reason Fiat swallowed Chrysler in the first place, the same reason Chrysler once gobbled up American Motors – a heretofore unimagined identity as a vehicle that’s green in a sense other than olive drab. Jeep even has a name for this, adopting 4xe as its global brand for plug-in hybrid vehicles, of which the 2021 Jeep Wrangler 4xe promises to be only the first.
In the case of the Wrangler, 4xe spells out a 2.0-liter turbocharged four with dual electric motors, a high-voltage battery pack and the TorqueFlite, another fabled name from yesteryear, eight-speed automatic. The driveline is rated at 375 horsepower, and four driver-selectable modes for EV operation, gasoline-fueled motoring or a combination of two. In full EV mode, the Wrangler 4xe has a range of 25 miles between electron replenishment. In combined driving, it can make 50 equivalent MPG. Of course, the 4xe is still a Jeep, meaning a couple of old-fashioned live axles, the ability to ford water 30 inches deep, and final assembly, naturally, in Toledo.