LAS VEGAS — Under normal circumstances, Jeep doesn’t have much to show at CES in Las Vegas. Autonomous electric pods take center stage, while the gas-guzzling, off-roading Wrangler hangs out on the sidelines. This year was different, as Jeep showed up with a full range of plug-in hybrid SUVs going by the 4xe name. The one we’re most interested in is the Wrangler 4xe, which was displayed with the plug in the charge port. Oh, how far we’ve come.
We’ve known that a plug-in Wrangler was on its way for a while now, and we’ve even seen detailed spy shots of it. So, now that Jeep has pulled the covers off at the glamorous Consumer Electronics Show, we get to hear all the gritty details, right? Wrong. FCA isn’t talking about the Wrangler 4xe until a later date. An FCA spokesperson told us that all the details will be revealed at an auto show later this year, but we don’t know which one it’ll be yet. Chicago is next up, but the New York show isn’t far off after that.
For the time being, we’re allowed to look at the electrified Wrangler on the show floor. Jeep has gone with a blue design theme for the 4xe, and the changes are readily apparent. The exterior badging has blue accents — even the “Trail Rated” badge features blue lettering and blue mountains in the background. “Jeep” is surrounded by a blue outline, and the Rubicon decal on the hood is outlined in blue, too. Other notable blue additions include the tow hooks in front and rear and a hood decal with plenty of blue incorporated in it. We’re especially excited to see the plug-in Wrangler be revealed in Rubicon trim, giving us even greater assurance that it’ll be just as capable off-road as the Wrangler with traditional combustion engine-only powertrains. Using blue to denote efficiency and hybrid technology is nothing new for manufacturers, but Jeep still isn’t letting on as to why it made these particular styling changes for the plug-in Wrangler.
Our best guess for a powertrain would be a heavily modified variant of the Pacifica Hybrid’s drive unit. That plug-in van uses the 3.6-liter Pentastar V6 in concert with two electric motors for forward motivation. It’s also front-wheel drive only, so Jeep would’ve had some work to do if it wanted to use the tech in the Wrangler. The 16 kWh battery pack in the Pacifica Hybrid is good for 33 miles of electric-only driving on a full charge, but a Wrangler with a similar battery pack wouldn’t get anywhere near that.
It’s great to see Jeep expanding the powertrain options on the Wrangler to such a degree, as the EcoDiesel just launched, too. Adding the PHEV brings the total number of choices up to four, as the regular gas-only V6 and turbo four-cylinder continue on. Jeep hasn’t indicated where the Wrangler 4xe will slot into the lineup from a pricing perspective, but it’ll likely be the most expensive Wrangler available before the tax rebate is taken into consideration. Look out for more details on the plug-in Wrangler over the coming months.