Earlier this year at the CES show, Jeep showed off a range of upcoming plug-in hybrid models, including the Wrangler. The first of those Jeeps badged ‘four by e’—namely the Renegade 4Xe and the Compass 4Xe,—are now available to order in mainland Europe. Both models offer up to 240 horsepower, and an average of 31 miles per charge in EV-only mode. Jeep says the 4Xe models are significantly more capable off-road than their gasoline-only counterparts.
The Compass and Renegade benefit from the same traditional 1.3-liter turbocharged gasoline 4-cylinder engine up front, which is available in either 130 or 180 horsepower trim. That engine only powers the front wheels. In order to get the Jeep-standard four-driven-wheels, the 4Xe employs a rear-axle-mounted electric motor to provide 60 horsepower. The rear axle is quoted at around 185 lb-ft of torque, while the front axle produces an even 200 lb-ft.
It also appears that the 4Xe models will have a mild belted alternator starter motor on the front axle which doesn’t add any quoted power, but should assist with steady-state cruising and light throttle acceleration. This type of system is best described as a large alternator, and acts as a front-axle high-voltage generator. This is how Jeep describes it, “The [electric motor] on the front axle, is connected to the internal combustion engine and, in addition to operating in synergy with it, it can act as a high voltage generator if necessary.”
The electric drivetrain is not connected to the ICE drivetrain, this configuration is known as “through-the-road series hybrid”. Thanks to an 11.4 kWh battery, Jeep claims either model can drive in electric-only mode up to 31 miles per charge. This battery is held in a protective case under the rear seats. Because of this position, Jeep claims the rear cargo capacities of both models remain largely unchanged, and the spare tire is still mounted under the rear cargo where it is in the ICE versions of these Jeeps.
FCA have deemed Europe as the ideal place to launch this new PHEV line of Jeep models. The reasoning behind this is threefold, because it desperately needs a reduced corporate emissions average, because the vehicles are built at the Lucano plant in Italy, and because Europeans are serious about jumping on the electrified vehicles train.
In keeping with the rest of the European Renegade and Compass lineups, the 4Xe versions will be available in Limited, S, and Trailhawk trims. If you want something more upscale (for a Jeep anyway), Compass buyers can select the Business trim. Unlike the gasoline-only version, however, the 4Xe will all be four-wheel drive with Jeep’s new eAWD system and 6-speed automatic transmissions.
An interesting new mode found in the Jeep 4Xe models is “E-Save”, which is particularly important for European markets. This allows the driver to charge the Jeep overnight and drive only on the gasoline engine in order to preserve the electric range of the vehicle. There are many European cities, London for example, which charge an extra fee for any vehicles not running on electric power. You could theoretically plan a journey to London, arrive with a full battery, and putter around the city on full EV without paying the full congestion tax.
Within E-Save mode, you can choose to maintain the level of battery you have, or you can select a level of battery that you would like to recharge up to through regenerative braking or the BAS motor on the front axle. This is an interesting and versatile way of thinking that I hope makes it to all PHEV models in the future.
While I don’t know a lot of Renegade or Compass owners who typically go off-roading, the new 4Xe versions look quite capable off-road. The Trailhawk 4Xe for example, has about 50 percent more available torque than even the turbodiesel version does. And with a completely detached front and rear axle, the two ends of the car can act independently from each other, allowing more management of where the torque is delivered. Add this to Jeep’s Selec-Terrain traction control system and “locking” 4WD, and it’s plausible the 4Xe could go farther into the great outdoors while causing less damage to the environment from emissions.
We don’t yet know if these specs will carry over when the Compass 4Xe and Renegade 4Xe find their way to the U.S. market, or what the official range numbers will be when these hit the EPA test, or how much the damn thing will cost, but as soon as we know, we’ll make sure you know.
And no, we also don’t know when the Wrangler 4Xe is going to bow, but Jeep says it should be soon.