You may see a new Jeep that certainly looks like the iconic Wrangler, but it sounds different. That's because this particular model can run on electricity: the new Wrangler 4xe model, a plug-in hybrid with an official electric range of 21 miles. It's available as the 4-door Wrangler Unlimited configuration only, for a starting price of around $50,000.
Yes, hybrid technology now meets the off-road world. An electric drive system is paired with the 2.0 liter turbocharged four-cylinder engine. The hybrid battery is tucked under the rear seat, so there's not much loss of cargo space. And the combined powertrain produces 470 lb-ft of torque - more than many V8s.
This setup can let you do some four-wheeling out on the trails in relative quiet with the engine off. The driver can save the battery for later use, and even let the vehicle charge the battery while underway. The hybrid system is connected to Jeep's usual four-wheel drive system, so there's still full off-road capability.
And of course, a lot of Wranglers spend time on pavement, and the electric operation shines there too, for city driving, emissions-free. Though without a gas engine going, you do hear wind noise and tire noise that's normally drowned out.
After you charge the 4xe's battery, it'll go about 20 miles on electricity alone. That's certainly enough for the last part of your journey to a campsite, or your favorite fishing spot. And someday, you might be able to buy a Wrangler that runs only on electricity.
Not for sale yet, but being evaluated, is the Magneto, a concept vehicle that Jeep built. Fully electric, it's a preview of what could someday be a production vehicle.
Jeep has a couple of other 4xe hybrid models too, but so far they're only sold in Europe. However, the brand is going to add electric power to its vehicles in the coming years, following the industry trend of electrification.
"We are committed to make Jeep the greenest SUV brand. The electrification of the Jeep lineup will allow commuters to travel solely on electric power, delivering an efficient and fun on-road experience and offering an ability to enjoy even more Jeep capability off-road in nearly complete silence," said Christian Meunier, the CEO of the Jeep brand for parent company Stellantis.
This is by all accounts the beginning of the future for Jeep. A future that includes traditional rugged looks and ability, with a non-traditional source of propulsion.