The Plug In Hybrid Wrangler
Be sure to scroll to the bottom to check out the videos.
Outside of the Rubicon 4xe we find all of the features on a standard Rubicon. However, many of those features come in a different accent.
Starting from the front, we can see blue colored accents on the recovery points and on the hood decal. While the headlights are a traditional round shape, they are modern LED’s that are very bright with an excellent cutoff. Down in the steel bumper are a set of real fog lights. Also traditional to the wrangler, are a set of external hood latches securing the hood.
Moving down the driver’s side, the most unique item that separates the Rubicon 4xe from a regular Rubicon is the battery charge port just in front of the side mirror. Also setting it apart visually are blue outlines around the Jeep and Trail Rated badges and Rubicon and Wrangler Unlimited stickers.
On to the rear of the Rubicon 4xe we see a 4xe badge and rear recovery hook with blue accents as well.
While all of this is somewhat subtle, it’s also easily noticeable to those who know what to look for. There are no body changes, design cues, or ride height differences on the Rubicon 4xe when compared to a normal Rubicon. This idea is a good representation of the 4xe as a whole.
Inside the Wrangler Rubicon 4xe
Much like the exterior we see many differences inside the 4xe vs a normal Wrangler, however they are all subtle. The major standout for us, that we also found very tasteful, is the blue stitching throughout. Seats, steering wheel, shift lever boots, parking brake handle, and many other areas are all double stitched with a blue thread.
For the Rubicon 4xe there are some additional buttons that are for the hybrid mode only. In the center stack is a button that sets how much regeneration there is when the throttle is released. On the left hand side of the steering wheel are three buttons, hybrid, electric, and E-save, which dictate the drive mode of the 4xe.
All of the fun features remain like a removable top, or in our case a folding soft top, removable doors, and a front folding windshield.
One thing that the 4xe is equipped with that our 2020 Ecodiesel wasn’t is a 4wd-auto position in the transfer-case. This is a great feature for driving in environments where a part time system might cause driveline binding, but 2wd won’t have the needed traction.
In the rear seat, rather under it, we find a 17.3 KWh batterypack. While this does take up some of the space that could otherwise be used for storage, it’s unobtrusive for the passengers.
All the useful features of a regular Wrangler remain in the Rubicon 4xe’s cargo area. There is storage for the bolts from the doors, roof, and windshield. The plaque with the vehicle dimensions and fording depth remain on the rear door, and there is additional storage under the rear cargo area.
Driving the Rubicon 4xe On Road
When driving, the hybrid system makes the Wrangler completely different while somehow remaining very much the same.
Primarily, the electric only mode drastically changes the driving experience. Jeep placed the electric motor between the engine and the transmission, which means the electric motor gets all the benefits of the 8-speed automatic transmission. Driving around without the sound of the turbo charged engine is a treat, especially when off-road. One other thing we noticed was the noteworthy difference in ride between the Ecodiesel Rubicon and the 4xe Rubicon. The 4xe felt much more compliant and handled larger bumps at higher speeds without any banging or being otherwise upset.
On the other side of the equation, the 4xe has just as much of a tendency to wander at freeway speeds as all other Rubicons we’ve tested. The soft tops are noisy, as are the 33-inch tires. Bumps are transferred side to side due to the solid axles. When cornering there is a decent amount of body lean from the flexy suspension. All of this is to be expected for the rock crawling capability that the Rubicon 4xe brings.
One of our favorite features of the Rubicon 4xe is the off-pavement capability in electric mode. The Rubicon 4xe is a Rubicon at heart. It has locking front and rear differentials, a disconnecting front sway bar, and 33-inch tall all-terrain tires. Driving in electric mode is fun and unique as the driver really gets to hear exactly what the tires are doing. Experienced off-roaders already get this feedback by feel, but adding in the ability to hear which tires are slipping, and how much, gives the driver some very useful information.
With a base price of $51,695, the Jeep Wrangler Rubicon 4xe is on the upper end of the Wrangler lineup. Our tester included a variety of options both for comfort and functionality. Things like heated leather seats, steel bumpers, and advanced safety features increased the price significantly. With the $1,495 destination charge the total MSRP of our tester was $61,265.
Wrapping Up the Wrangler Rubicon 4xe
Jeep has brought the Wrangler a long way from where it began. Even in the JL family we have seen the addition of a diesel engine, 6.4 liter V8, and now a plug in hybrid. All of those have helped overcome one of the Wrangler’s biggest drawbacks, lack of torque. The 4xe provides all the torque a Wrangler needs and more. Having the hybrid setup increases fuel economy economy appreciably over the standard Wrangler. Overall, if we were to choose a Wrangler to fill our daily driver needs while getting us out there on the weekends it would be a close battle between the 4xe and the EcoDiesel.
Matthew Barnes is an experienced towing expert. He works as a mechanical engineer and his day job involves testing a variety of vehicles while towing trailers of all types and sizes. Matt shares his knowledge by writing for automotive news outlets in the evenings. When he’s not working he can be found spending time in the great outdoors with his family. He enjoys camping, hiking, canyoneering, and backpacking. Whenever possible he spends time riding in or on any power sports vehicle he can find and claims he can drive anything with a motor, which probably isn’t true.