It's getting harder and harder to be a neanderthal when it comes to electrification. Especially when the mad geniuses at Stellantis (the parent company of Chrysler, Dodge, Jeep, Fiat, Alfa Romeo and Maserati) cook up something like the 2021 Jeep Wrangler Unlimited Sahara 4XE.
Let's take that mouthful of a name a bite at a time. Jeep Wrangler is, of course, the traditional Jeep---an all-wheel drive utility vehicle whose roots go all the way back to 1941 and its deployment in the U.S. Army during World War II. Unlimited is the name for all four-door Wranglers. Sahara is the most luxury-oriented of ten distinct Jeep Wrangler trim levels.
And 4XE? Well, that signifies that it, like all Wranglers, is four-wheel drive (and Trail Rated) and---electrified.
In the case of the 2021 Jeep Wrangler Unlimited Sahara 4XE, that does not mean it is an EV. Instead, it's a plug-in hybrid. And there's a whole lot to get excited about here.
That's because the 4XE formula combines a 270 horsepower 2.0-liter turbocharged gasoline engine and two electric motors for a combined output of 375 horsepower. That's a jump of more than 100 from the gasoline-powered 2019 Jeep Wrangler Unlimited Sahara I reviewed on the old TireKicker site a couple of years ago.
Now let's talk torque. 470 pounds per foot of instantaneous torque---the same number as the bonkers Jeep Wrangler Rubicon 392, which needs some RPMs to deliver that maximum twist.
The 2021 Jeep Wrangler Unlimited Sahara 4XE also allows you to choose how you want to use that power. There's 25 miles of pure electric driving to be had before the hybrid gas/electric system kicks in (providing, of course, you---um---remember or bother to charge it). But, with the touch of a button, you can save that power for later and drive it either a purely on the gasoline engine or as a hybrid, which will deliver the best fuel economy (an EPA-estimated 20 miles per gallon combined city/highway after the 25 gasoline-free miles are used).
The base price of the 2021 Jeep Wrangler Unlimited Sahara 4XE is $51,525. The window sticker is at the end of this review so you can see for yourself, but among the standard equipment highlights at that price are leather-trimmed seats and steering wheel, a premium audio system and automatic temperature control.
Our tester included a little over $4,500 in extra-cost options including the Billet Silver Metallic clear coat paint ($245), the Cold Weather Group ($995), the Safety Group ($995), the Advanced Safety Group ($795) the Cargo Group ($195), a soft top window storage bag ($75), remote proximity keyless entry ($645) and an upgraded premium black Sunrider soft top ($595).
With $1,495 destination charge, the as-tested price of the 2021 Jeep Wrangler Unlimited Sahara 4XE is $57,760.
Okay, that's not cheap. Especially for a vehicle that, in base two-door form, starts at $29,070. But it's also nearly twenty grand less than the Wrangler Unlimited Rubicon 392, with comparable performance and not only more user-friendly on a day-in/day-out level, but more friendly to the planet as well. Remember to plug it in and you could, depending on your daily commute, go weeks or months before you need to put gas in it again. As the world takes climate change more seriously and the internal combustion engine begins its fadeout, the 2021 Jeep Wrangler Unlimited Sahara 4XE makes a lot of sense, while making 100 more horsepower than a gasoline-powered four-cylinder version of the exact same vehicle.