2023 Jeep Wrangler Rubicon 4xe Foreshadows The Future Of Silent Off-Roading - IMBOLDN
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The new 2023 Jeep Wrangler 4xe is plug-in hybrid 4×4 using gas and electricity to foreshadow the future of stealth off-roading. 

While people debate gasoline over battery-electric, the plug-in hybrid is the quiet middle of the spectrum, offering the best of both worlds. We’ve already seen the benefits of hybrid technology: supercars turning into hypercars, giving V6 engines the strength of a V8, and improving the fuel economy of sports cars and heavy SUVs. 

In the Jeep Wrangler 4xe, its hybrid drivetrain combines the torque of a Hemi V8 with the tranquility of an EV for a capable 4×4 that won’t scare away the birds when it drives off the beaten path. 

I had the opportunity to experience battery-powered off-roading at the 2022 Texas Motor Press Off-Road Invitational. The internet often only shows opinions set in concrete, but I want you to know that ideas, like people, can change – or at the very least mature. The Jeep Wrangler 4xe Rubicon completely changed my perspective on plug-in hybrids. 

Back in my day, the word “hybrid” was often spotted at the butt of a joke. The Toyota Prius had to crawl through years of hazing so today’s plug-in electric vehicles (PHEV) could walk tall.

Back in my day, the word “hybrid” was often spotted at the butt of a joke. The Toyota Prius had to crawl through years of hazing so today’s plug-in electric vehicles (PHEV) could walk tall. Only hacks make Prius jokes today, and PHEVs are no longer seen as the slow, dorky, compact car serving as mobile billboards for Greenpeace decals. Becoming an automotive journalist and getting to test drive the latest PHEVs has matured my once-juvenile mentality on these vehicles. But the Jeep Wrangler 4xe topped it by letting me experience the peaceful sounds of silence at 15 mph in all terrain. 

Interior Quality 

The 2023 Jeep Wrangler 4xe Rubicon featured came well equipped with leather-trimmed bucket seats (a $1995 option). The tan leather upholstery prompted a luxurious allure when you climb and plop down on the seats. Every time I drive a Wrangler, I endure the muscle memory growing pains of remembering that the power window controls are located in the center of the dashboard. 

Beyond that, the interior layout of the dashboard is a hybrid of analog and digital controls. The popular, most-often-used amenities like power windows, sunroof, and climate control require physical movement, while audio and navigation are managed on an 8.4-inch U-Connect infotainment screen.

Photo by Jesus R. Garcia

The ride quality was notably comfortable while driving over loose gravel, dry dirt roads, and overgrown grass trails. At low speeds, I could embrace the Cliff Bar eating, cargo short pocket filled, active lifestyle by listening to the sounds of nature while traversing silently through the Texas hill country. 

Jeep Wrangler 4xe Hybrid Drivetrain 

The Jeep Wrangler 4xe features a 2.0-liter turbocharged four-cylinder engine. On its own, the turbo four-banger cranks out 270 horsepower. However, with the aid of electric motors, the small two-liter engine’s total power output rivals naturally aspirated V8s with 375 hp and a whopping 470 lb.-ft of torque. 

For comparison, a 2022 Dodge Challenger R/T 5.7-liter HEMI V8 offers 375 hp and 410 lb.-ft of torque. Moreover, the 4xe produces the same amount of torque as the supercharged 6.4-liter HEMI V8 in the top tier Jeep Wrangler Rubicon 392.

Photo by Jesus R. Garcia

Tire spinning levels of turning force are sent to the rear or all four wheels via an eight-speed automatic transmission to a set of Heavy-Duty Dana 44 axles. In terms of being a city commuter with off-road prowess, the hybrid drivetrain in the Jeep Wrangler 4xe is an example of having your cake and eating it too. In addition to a max towing capacity of 3,500 pounds. 

Jeep claims the Wrangler 4xe offers 56 miles of all-electric range and 470 miles of total range. However, it’s how it delivers its range that impressed me. When driving slowly through the off-road brush, the electric battery provided moments of stealth off-roading. 

Once the trail smoothed out, I could give the throttle a full boot and feel the capable torque propel me forward with the brutality of engines double their size and cylinder count. Moreover, unlike many V8s, the gas needle didn’t violently drop after testing the Wrangler 4xe over varying terrains. According to Jeep, the Wrangler 4xe achieves a combined 20 mpg using gasoline only, and up to 49 mpg combined with electric and gasoline. 

In addition, the SUV’s battery pack is sealed behind a waterproof casing. As a result, the Jeep Wrangler 4xe can safely cross through 31.5-inches of water. Thus, the Jeep Wrangler 4xe can keep up with its ICE variants without compromise. Its charging port is located at the top of the front fender near the windshield. Jeep engineers designed the charging port to be strong enough to hold the windscreen when it’s folded down. 

Jeep Wrangler 4xe Electric Drive Modes  

Jeep engineers provided the Wrangler 4xe with specific drive modes allowing the driver to control the vehicle’s battery use. These modes are called E-Selec and are accessed on a control panel on the steering wheel’s left-hand side. The driver can choose between the default 

Electric Mode can be used even when the battery is at 1%. This drive mode will run solely on battery power.

The default Hybrid Mode is what you’d expect. It allows the Wrangler 4xe to use its gas engine and electric motors to provide maximum performance and efficiency. The combination of its hybrid drivetrain allows the compact engine to deliver surprising amounts of power and acceleration thanks to instant torque provided by the electric motors while delivering an estimated range of 370 miles. 

When in eSave Mode, the Wrangler 4xe favors using the turbocharged 2.0-liter gas engine to save the battery’s life for later use. In addition, this mode can help charge the battery using the Max Regeneration feature. It remaps the Jeep’s gas pedal to work similarly to regenerative braking or “one-pedal driving” in that when the driver takes their foot off the gas, the Wrangler 4xe slows down without using the brake pedal. 

Photo by Jesus R. Garcia

Electric Mode can be used even when the battery is at 1%. This drive mode will run solely on battery power. According to Jeep, the Wrangler 4xe can run for up to 21 miles on all-electric power. It’s useful for running small errands around town or silent off-road cruising. 

Jeep Wrangler 4xe Trim Levels 

Buyers have a choice of trim levels for the Jeep Wrangler 4xe. The lineup starts with the Willys Edition at $53k. Following the Willys is the Sahara at $55k, then the Rubicon (featured in this article) at $58k. Finally, the top of the line model is the Jeep Wrangler 4xe High Altitude at $60k. Each trim level offers specific color options, and all can be equipped with standard options like soft tops, different wheel designs, and equipment packages. 

The lineup starts with the Willys Edition at $53k. Following the Willys is the Sahara at $55k, then the Rubicon (featured in this article) at $58k.

The 2023 Jeep Wrangler 4xe Rubicon  shown in this article carried an MSRP of $69, 780. While that may seem high for a Jeep Wrangler, this model came equipped with multiple options. The most expensive option being the Sky One-Touch Power Top roof at $4,145. This hard top features removable rear quarter windows, rear window defroster and wiper, and a storage bag. 

A Foreshadow to Silent Off-Roading 

Recently Jeep announced four new EVs scheduled for 2025. One of these new all-electric vehicles is called the Recon and is said to be based on the Wrangler. The Recon will be an EV designed to handle places like Moab, Utah. While that is still several years away, the Wrangler 4xe provides a sample taste of what an EV 4×4 will be like out in the wild. In addition, national parks are starting to offer charging stations for EVs. 

Whether or not people want to rely solely on batteries while exploring a weekend in the woods is left to be seen. However, the Jeep Wrangler 4xe provides peace of mind on two fronts. If you run low on battery, the 4xe has a 2.0-liter onboard generator to get you home. On the same note, if you burn more fuel than you brought, you can trust at least 20 miles of battery power to reach safety. 

The 2023 Jeep Wrangler 4xe embodies the words associated with former President Theodore “Teddy” Roosevelt, “speak softly and carry a big stick – you will go far.”