Jeep’s wildly popular plug-in hybrid Wrangler SUV is getting an upgrade. The automaker is rolling out two new trim levels for the 2024 model year, as well as a host of new tech features that it says are designed to chart a path to a completely electrified lineup by 2025.
This represents the first major update to the hybrid Wrangler since the first 4xe (pronounced “four by E”) version rolled out in 2021. Jeep is hoping to capitalize on the Wrangler 4xe’s popularity with its adventure-minded customers. According to Stellantis, roughly 1 in 4 Jeep Wranglers sold last year was a plug-in hybrid. That amounted to more than 43,000 Wrangler 4xe models sold in 2022, which was up 46 percent compared to 2021.
Jeep’s hoping to keep the momentum going for the 2024 Wrangler 4xe. To do that, it’s doubling down on a lot of the features that made the first version so popular, namely more off-road capabilities, better towing, and enhanced in-car technology.
Most importantly, Jeep is introducing two new trim levels designed to hit a broader swath of the car-buying population. The Wrangler Sport S 4xe will bring a “lower entry price point” to the lineup, while the Rubicon X will feature bigger 35-inch tires, steel bumpers, and a host of other premium parts.
Jeep revealed a lot of these details and more during a briefing with reporters last month. The automaker’s executives didn’t answer any questions about the price of its forthcoming Wrangler, but if the 2021 Wrangler 4xe’s window sticker is any indication, they won’t be cheap. The 2021 Wrangler 4xe Sahara starts at $52,520, the Rubicon at $56,220, and the High Altitude at $58,340.
The first thing to get upgraded is Jeep’s iconic seven-slotted grilled. But the automaker isn’t changing the number of slots or anything quite so radical; instead, it’s giving them a black textured look and a bezel that either match the slot or the body color of the Jeep, depending on the trim level. “Slimmer both visually and literally” is how the automaker describes its new front-facing look.
Also available to the 2024 Wrangler 4xe is a factory-installed Warn winch with 8,000 lbs of capacity, so you never have to worry about getting stuck somewhere out in the wild. Warn makes some of the most capable winches on the market, so it makes sense that Jeep would turn to the company for its towing needs.
Of course, there will be a range of features designed to appeal to Jeep owners who relish the opportunity to leave all their paved roads in the rearview. In addition to the option for a factory-installed winch, the 2024 Wrangler 4xe will feature for the first time a full-float Dana rear axle with available 100:1 crawl ratio. This will make it possible for Jeep owners to upsize their tires for improved off-roading and comfort.
Jeep claims that the 2024 Wrangler 4xe’s powertrain will be its more efficient and, well, powerful to date. The Wrangler 4xe is estimated to get 21 miles of all-electric range and 49 miles per gallon equivalent (MPGe). Jeep didn’t disclose the full driving range, but those numbers are basically on par with the 2021 model.
But this facelift seems to be all about options. Jeep doesn’t want to force its customers to go electric if they’re not ready. To that end, the Rubicon 392 sports a 470-horsepower, 6.4-liter V-8 engine with 470 lb-ft of torque. If you’re partial to the hum of the electric motor, the plug-in hybrid Wrangler offers a still lusty 2.0-liter turbocharged engine with 375 horsepower and 470 lb-ft of torque. And there’s even a 3.6-liter gas engine version that offers both a six-speed manual transmission and an eight-speed automatic transmission. Choices!
The Wrangler 4xe draws its power from a 17.3 kWh lithium-ion battery stashed under the rear seats — a bump in capacity over the 2021 Wrangler’s 14 kWh battery. The maximum charge rate is only 7.2 kW, so no need for any DC fast charging.
Inside the Wrangler, you’ll find a new 12.3-inch touchscreen that runs Stellantis’ Uconnect 5 operating system. For this model, Jeep is introducing a new feature called Trails Offroad, which it claims “delivers comprehensive off-road trail guides for the 62 Jeep Badge of Honor trails loaded right into the Uconnect 5 system, with an upgradable subscription that unlocks full catalog of 3,000-plus Trails Offroad trail guides.”
Built-in off-road maps are sure to be a popular feature among the trail enthusiasts, but for those suburban Jeep owners, the benefits are less clear. For those who prefer their phone’s interface, the 2024 Wrangler will come with wireless Apple CarPlay and Android Auto capabilities.
Consider it an appetizer as we wait for the fully electric Jeep’s to make their first appearance in 2025. The automaker is currently working on a full lineup, including the Wrangler-inspired Jeep Recon, the Wagoneer S, and a Europe-only compact electric SUV, the Jeep Avenger.
The aim is to improve the fortunes of a brand that is seen as lagging behind the rest of the auto industry in terms of electrification. Most major automakers have electric SUVs and trucks for sale or in the pipeline, and many have signaled that off-road and adventure vehicles — which are Jeep’s bread and butter — are high on the list for electrification.
While the PHEV Wrangler is certainly popular with the masses, the critics have been less kind to the previous Wrangler. Car and Driver said the transitions between electric driving and hybrid operation were “slow and jarring.” The Wall Street Journal’s Dan Neil was even harsher, calling it a “shameless greenwashing, unable to clear the lowest speed bump of skepticism.”
Whether Jeep took any of these criticisms to heart, we don’t know. We’ll have to wait until the new Wrangler hits the road later this year to find out.