The Jeep Wrangler has long been an American staple for the go-anywhere, versatile, and fan-following vehicle. Entering a new world of electrification, Jeep keeps the Wrangler relevant with the latest 4xe hybrid that gives those off-roading and adventurous enthusiasts something fresh to enjoy without compromising in the scheme of what a Wrangler is capable of. Within those get-down-and-dirty off-roading capabilities, the new Jeep Wrangler Rubicon X 4xe brings a slightly upscale approach to the hard-core Jeep along with the 4xe’s plug-in hybrid electric vehicle (PHEV) multipurpose ability.
Having already experienced the Jeep Wrangler Rubicon 4xe a couple of years ago, there was much to digest – mainly in a good way. Having the newest version of the Wrangler 4xe for the 2024 model year, there’s a bit more to like that mostly focuses on the refreshed front end with a new grille, an upgraded 12.3-inch touchscreen infotainment system, a new 4xe Sport trim for an entry-level PHEV Wrangler, and a new higher-level Wrangler Rubicon X trim.
Just as I’ve said before in my 2021 Jeep Wrangler Rubicon 4xe review, the hard-core Jeep’s character remains with that same adventurous and playful feeling you get when driving such a vehicle. Powering the Wrangler 4xe is a 2.0-liter 4-cylinder engine combined with an electric motor and its 17.3-kWh battery pack mounted under the rear seats. The total system power output is substantial at 375 horsepower and 470 lb-ft of torque. That power comes on in a surge with just a split-second delay upon stomping the throttle. The PHEV system does well to manage power and nearly seamlessly transitions from the electric motor to the gas engine when necessary.
The ample torque of the powertrain, somewhat thanks to the instant power delivery of the electric motor, sometimes may catch you off guard, and you can easily end up spinning the rear wheels when you’re in the two-wheel-drive mode. Switch over to 4WD auto and you have a capable all-wheel-drive machine for the road or some off-roading. When things get rough on the trains or rocks, there’s the gratifying feeling of shifting the transfer case into part-time 4WD or 4-low and enabling the many off-roading tricks such as a front anti-roll bar disconnect, differential locks, and a full-float Dana rear axle for better compatibility if you ever want to upgrade the 35-inch BFGoodrich A/T tires to a larger size. Be assured, there’s no shortage of drivetrain tricks to get you out of a rut. Even if you do manage to get the Wrangler Rubicon X 4xe stuck, there’s a Warn winch with an 8000-pound capacity to save the day as part of the now-available optional equipment on the new Rubicon X trim level.
On the open, road the Wrangler Rubicon X 4xe handles just as you expect, with the occasional steering drift that you must correct but it seems such has been improved over the past few years. The PHEV drivetrain permits 22 miles of all-electric range, which I was only able to get 15 miles out of the heavy Wrangler 4xe before the engine fired up and helped provide power. There are 3 dedicated drive modes for the hybrid system, the default Hybrid mode, Electric, and E-Save. The Electric mode makes use of the electric motor its priority but still manages to keep the engine on standby to fire up if you ever need the extra acceleration. There’s just enough electric oomph to keep you out of the way of other traffic under normal driving conditions. The E-Save mode can be set up for two objectives, to either reserve the current battery charge or to reserve it and charge up the battery from the engine running, which will utilize additional fuel. When you demand all of the beans you’ll get up to 60 mph in about 6.7 seconds.
As far as fuel economy goes, the Wrangler in its 4xe PHEV form, matches the EPA estimate of about 20 mpg in the real world using the hybrid system. The “savings” doesn’t really start until you charge up the Jeep, which takes about 2 hours using a Level 2 240-volt charger (40 amp). Here, you can expect to muster out the 49 MPGe figure using a fully charged battery. There’s a nifty feature to enable maximum regenerative braking, which is almost a one-pedal driving experience, but you still must use the brakes to come to a complete stop. Thankfully, the braking does feel mostly natural, with a nice progression from the motor-generator’s braking regen to the use of the friction brakes. Just watch out for that typical nosedive under heavy braking as the Wrangler Rubicon X’s soft suspension gives away up front.
Full vehicle range with a full tank of gas and a fully charged battery comes to about 370 miles, if you drive conservatively.
Where you would not expect much technology in a Jeep Wrangler, there’s a big surprise in the new Wrangler Rubicon X 4xe. Not only do you get the advancements of a smart PHEV powertrain setup, but Jeep has included their latest infotainment unit fed through a larger 12.3-inch touchscreen. The new setup requires a reworking of the center area where there are new rectangle vents instead of the outgoing circular vents in the center. You still get the circle vents on the outboard sides of the front dashboard.
The new infotainment unit doesn’t just refresh the interface, but it adds new conveniences and the unique Trails Offroad software that has useful features of tracking your path so you can use it again to make your way back off the trails to trace your way back home. The software has access to guides for Jeep’s 62 Badge of Honor trails, which opens up access to over 3,000 trail guides in the system. Also, now, wireless Apple CarPlay and Android Auto are standard features.
Across the dashboard and throughout the door trim are soft-touch surfaces with accented stitching, along with the heated leather seats up front. For an Unlimited (4-door) Wrangler, the only way a 4xe comes, you still have a cabin that’s not as large as other similar-sized SUVs, in addition to the fabric power-opening roof not insulating the vehicle much on steamy-hot 98-degree days here in sunny Florida. However, that’s the compromise you make in having a Wrangler, which most enthusiasts don’t mind.
While the Jeep Wrangler has never been one to excel in the area of safety, there are still plenty of active safety features to help the cause – such as forward collision warning/emergency braking, blind spot warning monitor/cross path detection, adaptive cruise control, rear parking sensors, and a front off-road/rear-angle camera system.
The Jeep Wrangler Rubicon X 4xe comes at a slight premium, but you do get a lot bundled up in a rather unique package that will set you back $76,935 for my test vehicle. If you ever want to get into just the PHEV side of things for a new Jeep Wrangler, a new Wrangler Sport S 4xe model without all the add-on frills of my test vehicle starts at $49,995 before any fees or options.