Testing open-top vehicles here in Maine is always fun, but the window of time in which they’re comfortably usable is frustratingly short. I was lucky enough to get a 2024 Jeep Wrangler High Altitude 4xe for testing in September, and while there has been plenty of rain, the weather has cooperated for plenty of drive time. The 4xe powertrain is an intriguing addition to the Wrangler line because it seems to be at odds with the SUV’s rugged personality. Still, it offers excellent torque and usable electric range, giving the Wrangler a high-tech feel and superior performance.
Having said that, the Wrangler 4xe is expensive and isn’t all that efficient by plug-in hybrid standards. While Jeep improved its suspension, making it by far the most comfortable Wrangler on the road I’ve experienced, it’s still behind the Bronco in refinement and handling. Those downsides are minor when considered alongside the SUV’s many virtues, among which are fantastic off-road capability and an entertaining open-top driving experience.
I spent a week driving the Wrangler 4xe in several situations, including light off-roading and daily commuting. It’s easily the best iteration of the iconic SUV ever, and I’m happy to say that it’s done a lot to warm me to the idea of buying one someday. To help you get a feel for what I’m talking about, here are ten reasons the new Wrangler 4xe should be on your radar.
The 2024 Wrangler 4xe has two new trim levels
The 2023 Jeep Wrangler 4xe came in four trims: Willys, Sahara, Rubicon, and High Altitude. Jeep expanded the plug-in hybrid powertrain’s availability for 2024 to include the Sport S and Rubicon X trim levels. With the Sport S trim, buyers can get into the 4xe life for less money, and the S variant is the entry point to the Wrangler’s most desirable options and features. The new Rubicon X trim adds 35-inch tires, an off-road camera system, and steel bumpers.
An expansion of the 4xe line is an excellent thing for buyers, as the powertrain is more efficient than the gas-only and surprisingly refined for a beefy off-roader like the Wrangler. It also opens the door to federal year-end tax credits, which can make a difference for some buyers, though it’s not an instant rebate. The Wrangler 4xe was already the best-selling PHEV in the U.S., and this expansion will only grow its appeal.
Jeep equips the Wrangler with a new infotainment touchscreen
With Uconnect, Jeep already had one of the best infotainment systems on the market, but there’s always room for improvement. The new system runs on a powerful 12.3-inch touchscreen with a bright, crisp, and colorful interface. Wireless Apple CarPlay and Android Auto are part of the package, along with Bluetooth, SiriusXM, HD radio, and more. Beyond offering several desirable features, the system is responsive and easy to navigate, and all apps and menus are clearly labeled, making it less distracting to use while driving.
Jeep also included a new Trails Offroad mapping system with trail guides for 62 Jeep Badge of Honor trails and an available subscription service that brings over 3,000 trail maps.
The 2024 Jeep Wrangler 4xe has a much-improved interior
While the Wrangler has always excelled off-road, its interior has missed a few marks on comfort and refinement. Interior refinements for 2024 include power seats, better materials, and a more interesting design. Each trim gets a unique interior look, with different dash and cabin colors, rugged but nice materials, and a more interesting design. The addition of power seats for 2024 is a significant development, as Jeep engineers had to figure out how to include the power components while maintaining waterproof operation. It’s a slight improvement that makes a big difference for daily usability.
The Wrangler 4xe offers fantastic off-road prowess
The Jeep Wrangler has long set the bar for accessible off-road capability, and the 2024 model takes that a few steps further. Updates to the Willys trim have made it more capable off-road, including larger tires with more ground clearance and higher fender flares. On the high end of the trim line, the Rubicon trim is available with a factory-installed 8,000-pound Warn winch and up to a 100:1 crawl ratio. There’s also a Dana 44 HD full float solid rear axle that allows owners to add larger tires, and the configuration enables up to 5,000 pounds of towing capability. Even more basic Wranglers offer great capability, as the SUV brings a water-fording depth of 34 inches, and Jeep gives every trim underbody skid plates for protection when the going gets tough.
The 4xe powertrain offers solid torque and power numbers
The turbocharged 2.0-liter four-cylinder engine is paired with two electric motors. Combined output lands at 375 horsepower and 470 pound-feet of torque, which reaches all four wheels through an eight-speed automatic transmission. The setup also provides up to 49 MPGe combined and 20 mph in hybrid mode only. While not great for a PHEV, they’re an improvement over the standard Wrangler, and it also offers 21 miles of batter-only range.
Though the electric operation is quite smooth and surprisingly refined, there can be some awkwardness in the handoff between gas and electric powertrain systems. At the same time, the electric motors provide excellent torque off the line, giving the Wrangler 4xe healthy acceleration numbers.
Where the PHEV system really plays a significant role is off-road, where the electric motors’ instant torque and strong performance help the Wrangler claw its way out of trouble and tackle rugged terrain with ease. While it’s not always possible to charge the 4xe before hitting the trail, PHEVs operate as standard hybrids once they exhaust their battery range, so you’ll still have access to the electric motors, even if there’s no electric range left.
The 2024 Jeep Wrangler 4xe has updated but familiar styling
Part of the challenge with updating an iconic vehicle like the Wrangler is that there’s no good way to change the look without angering purists. Jeep tiptoed around the update for 2024 and came out with a fresh but familiar face and refined exterior styling. The grille got a new look, and each trim gets unique elements, such as gloss-black bezels on the High Altitude trim. Jeep said the design improves cooling while providing an updated face.
The Wrangler’s antenna is now located in the windshield, eliminating the vertical antenna that could get caught on branches and other obstacles. Jeep offers ten new wheel designs ranging in size from 17 to 2- inches, and buyers can opt for tires up to 35 inches. Several top options are available, and the Wrangler has 11 color choices, including two new hues.
The Wrangler’s body-on-frame construction makes it tough off-road
Body-on-frame construction is common in off-road SUVs, and while it doesn’t provide the best on-road experience, the beefy setup makes life on the trails easier. Jeep uses a five-link suspension system that improves on-road driving, though the Wrangler still lacks the independent suspension that gives the Bronco such surprising comfort on the pavement. Lightweight components include the doors, hinges, hood, and other parts to provide the Wrangler with better performance and handling, and the Rubicon model gets an electronic front sway bar disconnect.
Jeep equips more safety tech for 2024
Safety hasn’t been a strong point for the Wrangler over the years, but that’s changing for 2024. Starting with the 4xe’s entry-level Sport S trim, Jeep gave the SUV standard forward collision warnings and adaptive cruise control with stop-and-go. Blind spot monitoring with rear cross-traffic alerts and a parking sensor system become standard with the High Altitude trim level and are available for other models. First- and second-row airbags are also standard, along with front driver and passenger-side airbags.
The 2024 Jeep Wrangler 4xe has premium-level pricing
While Jeep made the 4xe cheaper in 2024 by adding the Sport S trim to the bottom end, it’s still significantly more expensive than the gas model. Pricing includes:
- 2024 Jeep Wrangler Sport S 4xe: $49,995
- Willys 4xe: $55,330
- Sahara 4xe: $57,490
- High Altitude 4xe: $66,995
- Rubicon X 4xe: $70,290
All models see an expensive $1,895 destination charge tacked on at the bottom line. Compare that to the gas Wrangler, which starts at $32,095, and the 4xe’s benefits begin to seem a little less appealing. That said, the range-topping gas models reach $60,290 for the Rubicon X and a staggering $90,590 for the Hemi-powered Rubicon 392.
Jeep has brutal competition in 2024
A better Wrangler is fantastic for buyers, but it’s not the only off-roader in motion for 2024. The Ford Bronco is an excellent alternative with several configurations, including a high-performance Raptor variant. It’s also better on-road, as its independent suspension makes it feel and drive more like a traditional SUV. Buyers may also eye the new Toyota Tacoma, which got a complete redesign for 2024 with more tech, an improved interior, and more robust off-road capability. There’s also the Toyota 4Runner, the new Ford Ranger, the Chevrolet Colorado, the GMC Canyon, and the upcoming Toyota Land Cruiser with similar pricing, so 2024 is looking like a spectacular year for off-road vehicle enthusiasts.