Known for its tough, off-road vehicles and sleek, stylish SUVs, Jeep has been a driving force in the automotive industry since its inception in 1941. While they haven’t always been known for their fuel efficiency, Jeep has made great strides in recent years to produce more eco-friendly and fuel-efficient vehicles without sacrificing power and performance.
Jeep makes a hybrid; the Wrangler 4xe is the manufacturer’s first plug-in hybrid electric vehicle. It offers off-road capabilities and rugged style, with the added benefit of increased fuel efficiency. The 2022 Grand Cherokee 4xe, set to be released in the spring, will be Jeep’s second hybrid car.
This article will explore more topics related to Jeep’s hybrid models, such as their line-up of hybrid vehicles, features, benefits, and drawbacks. If you’re curious about Jeep’s foray into the world of hybrid vehicles, read on for more information.
What Is a Hybrid?
A hybrid is a vehicle that uses two or more power sources to move. The most common type of hybrid car is a gas-electric hybrid, which uses a gasoline engine and an electric motor to power the vehicle.
The power sources work interdependently, with the gas engine taking over when the electric battery needs recharging and the electric motor kicking in to help with acceleration. This makes for a more fuel-efficient ride, as the electric motor uses less fuel than the gas engine.
The electricity of a hybrid comes from a battery pack, which is recharged by the gas engine and regenerative braking. Regenerative braking is a process where the electric motor slows down the car, and the energy normally lost in braking is used to recharge the battery.
Types of Hybrid Cars
Car manufacturers use different hybrid designs depending on their needs and the type of vehicle they are trying to create. The three most common types of hybrid cars are as follows:
- Parallel hybrids
- Series hybrids
- Plug-in hybrids
The most common type of hybrid, a parallel hybrid has a gasoline engine and an electric motor that work together to power the car. The transmission can be manual, automatic, or a continuously variable transmission (CVT). Its acceleration, feel, and sound are determined by the gas engine and transmission type.
A series hybrid has an electric motor that powers the car, with a gasoline engine that acts as a generator to recharge the battery. There is no connection between the gasoline engine and the drivetrain in a series hybrid, so the car is propelled solely by the electric motor.
This results in a smoother, quieter ride as there is no engine noise. With less vibration and no shifting, series hybrids tend to have a longer lifespan.
A plug-in hybrid (PHEV) is similar to a parallel hybrid but with a larger battery that can be plugged into an electrical outlet to recharge. This allows the car to run on electricity alone for shorter distances, which is more fuel-efficient.
PHEVs have a gas engine that kicks in when the battery needs recharging or when the car needs to travel longer distances. PHEVs allow all-electric driving between 15 and 55 mi/h (24.14 -88.51 km/h), which is the sweet spot for most commuters, depending on the model.
Jeep’s Line-Up of Hybrid Vehicles
As of right now, Jeep only has two hybrid models: the Wrangler 4xe and the upcoming Grand Cherokee 4xe. With Jeep’s commitment to producing more fuel-efficient and eco-friendly vehicles, it’s safe to say that more hybrid models will be on the way.
The Jeep Wrangler 4xe
Launched in 2020, the Wrangler 4xe (pronounced “four-by-e”) is Jeep’s first-ever plug-in hybrid electric vehicle. It’s also the industry’s first plug-in hybrid with a front and rear locking differential.
The Wrangler 4xe combines the off-road capabilities and rugged style that Jeep is known for with the fuel efficiency of an electric vehicle.
It combines a 2.0-liter (0.52 gal) turbo engine with a robust electric motor and a 17-kWh lithium-ion battery pack to give you up to 375 horsepower and 470 lb-ft (639.2 Nm) of torque. It accelerates 0-60 mph in exactly six seconds. The battery pack can be recharged in two hours with a Level 2 charger or in eight hours with a Level 1 charger (standard 120-volt household outlet).
On a single charge, the Wrangler 4xe can travel up to 21 miles (33.79 km) on electric power alone and deliver an EPA-estimated fuel economy of 50 MPGe. When you’re running low on juice, the 2.0-liter (gal) turbo engine will kick in and automatically recharge the battery while you’re driving. The Wrangler 4xe has a total range of 370 miles (595.45 km).
The Wrangler 4xe comes with three different drive modes: electric, Hybrid, and e-Save.
- Electric: The Wrangler 4xe runs solely on electric power in this mode. This is great for short distances and low speeds, like city driving or running errands around town. Here the 2-liter (0.52 gal) turbocharged engine is disengaged, and all power comes from the electric motor.
- Hybrid: The default drive mode, hybrid automatically switches between the gas engine and electric motor to give you the best possible performance and fuel efficiency. The computer calculates the most efficient way to use gas and electric power based on your current driving conditions.
- E-Save: This mode allows you to “save” the battery power for later use. If you know you’ll be driving in the city later, you can switch to E-Save mode while on the highway. This will preserve the battery power so you can use it when you need it most. The e-Save mode also has an additional setting that allows you to charge the battery using the 4-cylinder gas engine while driving.
The 2022 Grand Cherokee 4xe
Coming soon, the Grand Cherokee 4xe is Jeep’s second plug-in hybrid electric vehicle. This hybrid is Jeep’s attempt to shift its SUVs from gas guzzlers to gas sippers. It’s a sleek and stylish SUV with the same off-road capabilities that Jeep is known for, but with much better fuel efficiency.
The Grand Cherokee 4xe combines two electric motors with a 2.0-liter (0.52 gal), four-cylinder, turbocharged engine to give you 375 horsepower and 470 lb-ft (639.2 Nm) of torque. It’s EPA-estimated to get 25 miles (40.23 km) of all-electric range and 57 MPGe with a total range of over 440 miles (708.11 km). The Cherokee’s plug-in hybrid propulsion also features a 400-volt battery pack and an eight-speed automatic transmission.
Like the Wrangler 4xe, the Grand Cherokee 4xe comes with three different drive modes: electric, Hybrid, and e-Save.
- Electric: The Cherokee operates on zero-emission electric power until the battery is depleted, at which point the gasoline engine will automatically kick in.
- Hybrid: The default mode, Hybrid, automatically and seamlessly switches between electric and gas power, depending on which is most efficient at the given moment.
- E-Save: In this mode, the car will prioritize fuel economy over performance, saving battery power for later. This improves your gas mileage and helps you preserve the battery’s charge.
The Grand Cherokee 4xe comes with an 8.4-inch (21.33 cm) infotainment system where you can monitor the hybrid system and the amount of power regenerative braking provides. The MSRP for the Grand Cherokee 4xe is $55,865, with a standard destination fee of $1,795 for all Grand Cherokee 4xe models.
Benefits of Hybrid Cars
The growing demand for hybrid cars is no surprise. With gas prices on the rise and the need to be more environmentally conscious, hybrids offer the best of both worlds. Some of the benefits of hybrid cars include the following:
- Fuel efficiency: Since hybrids use gas and electric power, they are more fuel-efficient than traditional gas cars. When the battery is charged, the car can run on electric power alone, which uses less fuel.
- Environmental friendliness: Hybrid cars produce fewer emissions than gas cars, making them more environmentally friendly.
- Increased power: Hybrid cars often have more torque than traditional gas cars, thanks to the electric motor. This makes them more powerful and better able to handle hills and other challenging terrains.
- Smooth ride: The electric motor provides a smooth ride, thanks to the instant torque it produces. This makes for a more comfortable ride, especially on rough roads.
Drawbacks of Hybrid Cars
Of course, hybrid cars are not perfect. Some of the drawbacks of hybrid cars include the following:
- Higher price tag: Hybrid cars often cost more than traditional gas cars. However, the fuel savings and other benefits can offset the higher price tag over time.
- Limited range: The electric battery in hybrid cars has a limited range. Once the battery is depleted, the car will switch to gas power. This can be a problem if you’re driving in an area with limited access to charging stations.
- Longer charge time: It can take longer to charge a hybrid car than it does to fill up a gas tank. This can be a problem if you’re in a hurry or on a long road trip.
The Wrangler 4xe and Grand Cherokee 4xe are the first two hybrid models released by Jeep. With the company’s goal to release “zero-emission” versions of all its models by 2025, we can expect to see more hybrid Jeeps in the near future.
In the meantime, these two models offer Jeep fans a chance to experience the benefits of hybrid technology without sacrificing the performance and capability that Jeep is known for. If you’re looking for a hybrid SUV that can handle off-road adventures and daily commutes, the Wrangler 4xe and Grand Cherokee 4xe are worth considering.