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New Jeep Wrangler 4xe 2023 review

Is hybrid power a good match for the Jeep Wrangler? We head off road to find out

Overall Auto Express Rating

4.0 out of 5

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Verdict

The Wrangler 4xe may remain a forbidden fruit for UK buyers – at least for the time being – but it’s already the best-selling PHEV in the US. We can’t wait to try the all-electric version – and put that 12-out-of-10 Rubicon trail rating to the test.

While the idea of a pure-electric Jeep Wrangler may still be a few years off, we’ve already sampled the future of hardcore off-roading with a drive in the not-for-UK Wrangler hybrid.

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Powered by a 270bhp 2.0-litre turbo petrol engine mated to a 17kWh battery and a pair of electric motors, the 4xe claims a 31-mile EV range – more than enough for our low-speed crawl over the specially-designed mud, ruts and water features.

Moving off, you’ll not notice anything particularly untoward. Sure, it’s quieter than the standard car, but we’re so used to electric powertrains these days that pulling away in silence isn’t that unusual. On firm ground the Wrangler feels characteristically vague, but it’s only when we’re told to put the car into its low-range mode that things get really interesting.

Almost immediately, we’re up on three wheels and testing the Wrangler platform’s inherent stiffness. Just a light prod on the throttle and the 637Nm of torque – sent to all four wheels, of course – sets us back on track; despite the prodigious on-paper performance, power eases in gently. But it’s on the steep slopes that the muscle really comes into its own. With drive sent to each of the four wheels on the fly, the electrified Wrangler just grips and goes.

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Rubicon models like ours are fully kitted out. All cars get 17-inch alloy wheels, and off-road-rated tyres are standard fit. The seats are manually adjustable; Jeep still hasn’t come up with an electrically-operated solution for a car that could quite reasonably have water sloshing around the cabin. Bizarrely, you can spec heated leather, and of course, Jeep’s touchscreen infotainment system is included.

The Wrangler’s luxury trim is the least of our worries, though. At least that’s true until we crest a particularly steep hill, and the complex camera systems allow us an unparalleled view of the track ahead via the dash-mounted touchscreen. We ease over the top – silently, again – and creep down the other side using the car’s trick hill descent control system.

Experiencing all of this in EV mode with the doors and roof removed – the latter a Wrangler speciality – results in a truly immersive off-road experience. Jeep CEO Christian Meunier tells us he’s taken a 4xe over the legendary Rubicon Trail in the US, and even without modifications, the hybrid matched the standard Wrangler: “4xe is the new 4x4. There is no negative to electrification for Jeep,” he said. 

Model:Jeep Wrangler Rubicon 4xe
Price: N/A
Engine: 2.0-litre turbo petrol, 2x e-motors
Power/torque: 375bhp/637Nm
Transmission: Eight-speed auto, four-wheel drive
0-62mph: 6.4 seconds
Top speed: 124mph
MPG/CO2: 69mpg/94g/km (est)
On sale: Not for UK
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Deputy editor

Richard has been part of the team for over a decade. During this time he has covered a huge amount of news and reviews for Auto Express, as well as being the face of Carbuyer and DrivingElectric on Youtube. In his current role as deputy editor, he is now responsible for keeping our content flowing and managing our team of talented writers.

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