Jeep will soon introduce production versions of the all-electric Wagoneer S and Recon concepts. However, I suspect there are more than a few Jeep traditionalists who are open to electrification, but given the difficulty in finding plugs en-route, aren’t quite ready to go all-in. For them, the plug-in 2024 Jeep Wrangler Rubicon 4xe bridges the trail between gas and electric.
For something that looks like a Model T on testosterone, it packs an incredibly sophisticated powertrain. It starts with a 2.0-liter turbocharged four-cylinder connected to the four-wheel-drive system through an eight-speed automatic transmission, but is augmented by batteries to travel 22 miles after a quick recharge. That’s enough for most owners to run errands, drop kids at school, or do most of their commute. After that, the gas engine fires up to continue on to the next gas pump or outlet. Combined fuel economy is rated 49-MPGe, or more like “low 20s” on gas alone.
Only details separate 4xe editions from the snarling, menacing recently updated Wrangler style. It’s clearly a Jeep with its revised black seven-slot grille flanked by round LED headlamps, but turquoise tow hooks, hood graphics, and logos nod towards electricity. The Rubicon’s angry hood extractors, logos, and 17” wheels with off-road tires confirm no loss of capability. Metal bumpers with a front WARN winch and exterior-mounted spare are maximized for capability – as are underbody skid plates and brush rails that protect sensitive bits.
Turquoise accents continue to stitching in the dash and seats, which are heated and feature soft Nappa leather. The turquoise-stitched leather-wrapped steering wheel is heated too. A new 12.3” infotainment screen looks slick, but is still intuitive for audio, phones, climate, and navigation. Redundant knobs/buttons for audio and dual-zone automatic climate control are beneath. Wireless Apple CarPlay and Android Auto make connections super simple. Thump yourself silly with the Alpine sound bar in the roof.
Designers stepped up to add refinement and safety. First, they added acoustic front carpet and glass to deaden sound. Active noise cancellation does its part to make this the quietest Wrangler I’ve yet experienced. Past Wranglers either came with a removable hard top that wasn’t easy to remove, removable panels that also weren’t easy to remove, or a canvas top that was a ridiculous erector set. Instead, our Wrangler has a power-opening canvas section that opens as a nearly full-length sunroof. Perfect – open air at the touch of a button.
Safety is enhanced by adaptive cruise, automatic emergency braking, blind spot warning, and rear cross path detection. A trail camera allows for safe stomping in the muck.
It’s also nice to drive. Combined output from the hybrid powertrain is rated 375 horsepower and 470 lb.-ft. of torque, giving it plenty of pep when launching onto freeways or clamoring up mountainsides. Disconnecting sway bars and electronically locking differential add to the Rubicon’s capability while the four-door Unlimited’s longer wheelbase settles the ride considerably. And those fat tires and suspension travel so essential for off-roading also add comfort on the highway and city streets. On-trail or off, this is one of the best-behaved Wranglers ever created.
No everybody is ready to go full electric, and with the Jeep Wrangler Rubicon 4xe, they don’t have too. It’s an all-capable SUV that can do daily duties on electricity, then fire up to tackle any trail. While Wranglers start at an affordable $32,095, the 4xe rises from $50,695 to our Rubicon’s $76,935.
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