Wrangler PHEV: not an mpg savior, but good for typical commutes

The Jeep Wrangler PHEV’s official fuel economy numbers are out, and they are a bit of a bummer.

The EPA rates the 4xe as having a 21-mile all-electric range, and a 22 mile electric-plus-gasoline range, less than the expected 25 miles. That is enough for a typical driver to go to work and plug in, and sometimes for them to come back as well. That alone would dramatically reduce the Wrangler’s overall environmental impact, since most trips are short trips, even in the land of wide open space; but for those driving a Wrangler for longer trips, the advantages aren’t so good.

Overall, gas mileage of the Wrangler is rated at 20 mpg combined city-and-highway after the first 22 miles are driven; that’s actually less than the 2-liter hybrid version already on the market. The basic V6 model, with an automatic, is rated right between them, with 21 mpg. (All these figures are with the eight-speed automatic.)

The main problem is highway mileage. Most hybrids do better in the city than on the highway; in this case, both the V6 and the other four-cylinder hit a rather poor-for-any-other-kind-of-car 24 mpg on the highway, while the 4xe only reaches 20 mpg (the same as its city mileage). That’s irony! In hybrid mode, the Wrangler 4xe manages to eke out 23 mpg city, but only 21 highway. Again, hybrid mode doesn’t last too long.

Wrangler 4xe system
Putting together a 2.0 hybrid 4xe Jeep Wrangler

In case you were wondering, the all-electric mode provides 52 MPGe in the city, and 45 on the highway. The much larger Pacifica does rather better. In fairness, the Pacifica does not do 0-60 mph in a mere 6 seconds, which is impressive for a heavy off-road-ready machine without the big, heavy 392 V8.

In all, the hybrid will still be quite handy for normal people using Wranglers as commuter cars—as most Wrangler owners do. For those traveling long distances on a regular basis, the non-PHEV 2.0 turbo turns in reasonably respectable mileage, while the basic V6 is just as good on the highway. The only Wrangler, indeed, that turns in mileage like the older models is the 392 version, with its big V8; that‘s good for a 1970s-big-car-like 13 mpg city, 17 highway.

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