Expert Insights

Road Test: Jeep Wrangler 4xe

Michael Bettencourt
February 27, 2024
The plug-in hybrid Jeep offers lots of power, open-air adventure appeal, and a dash of electric refinement. It adds a new efficiency boost to the Wrangler’s traditional strengths in off-road prowess and aftermarket possibilities – especially with regular access to a Level 2 charger.
Jeep Wrangler 4xe driving on a dirt path

Jeep Wrangler: Electric Evolution

When it comes to the Jeep Wrangler, change tends to be evolutionary. You can still remove its doors – two or all four of them – lower its windshield, and remove the entire roof, with styling still largely based on the military Willys MB vehicles dubbed jeeps in the 1940s. But in 2021, Jeep added a plug-in hybrid 4xe version to the lineup, using the same 17.3 kWh battery as in the Pacifica Hybrid, providing 22 miles of all-electric range and one of the most significant powertrain changes in the Wrangler’s history.

The Jeep Wrangler 4xe soon became the best-selling plug-in hybrid (PHEV) on the market in both the U.S. and Canada, and in the 14 CARB states. Indeed, it may even be hard to find a non-4xe (pronounced ‘four-by-ee’) at the dealer. An adventurous off-roader first and foremost, the Wrangler 4xe is also the only four-door convertible on the market in North America – and the only plug-in convertible available new in dealer showrooms. (Unless you count the GMC Hummer EV pickup’s removable panel roof as a convertible, though it’s really more of a T-roof that’s so large it needs four panels.)

White Jeep Wrangler 4xe driving on the road

Wrangler 4xe Pricing and Trim Options

Some good news on the affordability front: the Wrangler 4xe for 2024 offers a new and lower-priced Sport S model, which Jeep announced in mid-2023 at $51,790 (all prices including freight), but is now listed at $52,590 on the Jeep site. This price is roughly $10,000 higher than its gas Wrangler Sport S four-door equivalent with the same turbocharged 2.0-litre four, but without plug-in capability or the large lithium-ion battery.

The one I drove was a Willys 4xe four-door, which starts at $56,510 for the ’24 model. This again is a roughly $10,000 difference over the Willys gas version, a delta which lasts right up to the most off-road-ready (though likely least efficient) Wrangler Rubicon X 4xe, which currently lists at $72,290. This particular tester was a ’23 Willys 4xe, so it didn’t have a number of refinements that are new for all ’24 Wranglers, like the antenna integrated into the windshield, a larger 12.3-inch screen inside and the tweaked grille and wheel designs, so we’ve included mostly photos of the ’24 here.

For the ’24 4xe specifically, Jeep also adds what it calls a Power Box, an optional four-pack of 120-volt outlets in the back that can provide up to 30 amps of total output from the rechargeable battery pack, allowing camp-side kettles or laptops or most anything else to be powered simultaneously.

Jeep Wrangler 4xe interior view

Off-Road Capability with Increased Comfort

This Wrangler 4xe’s off-road-over-all personality is evident right from its high step-in height, which needs a stretch (and ideally loose pants) to clamber into, especially when equipped with the knobbier 33-inch tires of this Willys version, along with Selec-Trac full-time four-wheel drive capability, and other trail-hunting upgrades.

Unfortunately, the 4xe also puts key buttons right where the driver’s knee tends to enter the Wrangler, so drivers will learn to be careful on that step-in, or else it’s easy to hit the fuel filler door open button, and have to climb back down, then do it all again. You’ll certainly want to test-drive the Wrangler 4xe beforehand in the trim you’re looking at beforehand – perhaps even more so than in most other vehicles, as the high step-in height may be tougher for the less mobile out there.

But it’s super-comfortable once inside, with a rugged overall design and look that still has some Jeep quirks, like the four power window switches on the center console below the infotainment system. New this year are available 12-way power seats, along with standard wireless Apple CarPlay and Android Auto, and a system that can connect two phones at once.

There’s also some new standard safety equipment inside of all Wrangler 4xe models, with first- and second-row side-curtain airbags, standard forward collision warning and advanced cruise control with stop capabilities.

Jeep Wrangler 4xe driving on a dirt path

Wrangler 4xe: Range, Charging, and Performance

The Wrangler is still loud to drive on the highway, but in town, 4xe versions – when charged up – make for a quiet and totally different driving feel around town. Sure, it’s still a tall vehicle with a relatively rumbly ride, accentuated more the beefier the tires you choose, which likely don’t help it approach its relatively minimal 22 miles of all-electric range either.

That rated all-electric range is an ambitious but achievable range target in the real world, at least outside of winter, as I’ve recorded 21 miles with careful driving, after (likely optimistic) predictions of 28 miles of e-range on the dash in near-ideal mid-70s temperatures.

It’s the Wrangler’s anachronistic overall personality that makes the dropping in of an advanced gas-electric hybrid powertrain feel both welcome and in other ways out of place. Yes, it adds some welcome city and (some) highway refinement, but it also becomes the second-most powerful Wrangler, with the 100-kW motor adding to the turbo four’s 270 hp to add up to a hefty 375 hp and 470 lb-ft of torque when all combined. This matches the huge torque output of the Wrangler 392’s 6.4-liter V8 output, even if it lacks its 475 hp and the booming V8’s soundtrack and visceral thrust.

But there’s no doubt a certain old-school appeal to the high-driving position and go-anywhere-driving feel, providing an undeniably adventurous flavor that help (some) loyal owners overlook such day-to-day grievances.

Owners who’d like to enjoy its full power and refinement the 4xe provides will likely want to invest in a Level 2, 240-volt charger at home, as this Wrangler can chew through its electric range fairly quickly. With such a charger, it can be topped up from empty in roughly 2.5 hours, thanks to the Wrangler’s maximum 7.2-kW charge rate, which is helpful for busy weekends when you’re in and out often. Unlike some newer-tech PHEVs, there’s no Level 3 quick-charge capability here.

Can you plug it in using a regular 110-volt outlet (ideally on its own circuit) with the cable that comes with it? Of course, and it will most likely provide a full charge overnight, after eight to 14 hours. It could be even longer, as in most PHEVs, depending on temperatures in your garage or especially if it’s parked out in the winter elements.

Jeep Wrangler 4xe: The Verdict

Hopefully Wrangler 4xe owners will remember their ABCs (always be charging), because not only is it a much quieter and better experience with some battery range in it, but the Wrangler becomes particularly thirsty once its state of charge hits zero, at 20 mpg officially combined.

Like the Chrysler Pacifica Hybrid, many Wrangler 4xe owners in northern climates have reported that the engine runs constantly in chilly winter weather, so depending on how cold it is, your electric range may shrink accordingly, taking some time to warm itself and the cabin up with the engine before offering any motive electrons.

There will still be a benefit here to plugging in on a Level 2 charger to warm up the cabin on grid power, which at certain sub-zero temperatures won’t be possible if you’re only plugging into a regular outlet. And keep in mind, too, that such temperatures will likely bring its fuel efficient down as well.

So while it overall is certainly not the greenest vehicle out there, the Jeep Wrangler 4xe is certainly among the most unique, providing relatively rare off-road appeal with a convertible feel that’s also rare in a compact SUV. Throw in the fact that there’s currently a government $3,750 rebate for buyers, and $7,500 for those who lease the 4xe version, and there’s also a unique value equation there as well.