SUVs might have a reputation for being gas guzzlers, but they’ve come a long way in the past few decades. MotorTrend points out that the average SUV got only 17 MPG in 1991. For comparison, the most efficient gas-powered SUV in 2021, the Ford Escape Plug-In Hybrid, is rated for 102 MPGe. While not quite at that level, there is now a plug-in hybrid Jeep Wrangler, the 2021 Wrangler 4xe, and it’s even more efficient than the 2021 Toyota RAV4 Hybrid.
The powertrain in the 2021 Jeep Wrangler 4xe
It’s likely a surprise that there’s a fuel-efficient Wrangler option. Jeeps are generally not known for their fuel efficiency, says FourWheel Trends. Their boxy shape and heavy weight drag down their efficiency. The 2021 Jeep Wrangler 4xe is rated for 49 MPGe by the EPA, says MotorTrend. It’s new for the 2021 model year and is Jeep’s first plug-in hybrid sold in the U.S.
The 2021 Wrangler 4xe has a 2.0-liter turbocharged I-4 along with two electric motors. Together, they generate 375 hp and 470 lb-ft of torque. It includes an eight-speed automatic transmission and Jeep’s usual four-wheel drive. It has an electric-only range of 21 miles. When the battery is drained, then the Wrangler 4xe’s engine and motors function as a standard hybrid. In that case, the EPA rates it for 20 MPG combined, says MotorTrend
Other 2021 Wrangler models are less fuel-efficient than the Wrangler 4xe, at least when its battery is charged. The standard Wrangler has two regular gas-powered engine options. One gets 20 MPG in the city and 24 MPG on the highway. The other gets 22 MPG in the city and 24 MPG on the highway. With the diesel engine, the Wrangler gets 22 MPG in the city and 29 MPG on the highway. And Wranglers with the V8 engine get just 13 MPG in the city and 17 MPG on the highway, says U.S. News.
The powertrain in the 2021 Toyota RAV4 Hybrid
The 2021 Toyota RAV4 Hybrid isn’t as fuel-efficient, but it’s also a different kind of hybrid SUV. The EPA rates the RAV4 Hybrid at 40 MPG combined. It gets 41 MPG in the city and 38 MPG on the highway. The RAV4 Hybrid has a 2.5-liter I-4 engine and two electric motors, together producing 219 hp. It also has a continuously variable automatic transmission (CVT).
Toyota also offers the 2021 Toyota RAV4 Prime, which is rated for 94 MPGe. Running on just gas, it’s rated for 38 MPG combined. However, the RAV4 Prime is a plug-in hybrid as opposed to the standard hybrid systems used for the RAV4 Hybrid and Jeep Wrangler 4xe. The RAV4 Prime has the same engine as the RAV4 Hybrid, but it has more powerful motors, and its battery is much larger. That means it’s able to generate 302 hp. It has a 42-mile electric-only range.
What’s good about the 2021 Jeep Wrangler 4xe?
The 2021 Jeep Wrangler 4xe is available in three trim levels. The Sahara 4xe starts at $47,995. The Rubicon 4xe starts at $51,695, and the High Altitude 4xe starts at $53,570. These are among the Wrangler’s highest trim levels.
The Jeep Sahara 4xe trim has side steps and larger brakes. It provides leather-trimmed upholstery, an 8.4-inch touchscreen, Apple CarPlay and Android Auto, navigation, satellite radio, and extra USB ports. It also has a leather-wrapped steering wheel, a leather-wrapped parking-brake handle and shift knob, a locking glove box, and ambient LED interior lighting.
The Rubicon 4xe trim has extra off-roading features, like larger tires, locking front and rear differentials, a sway bar, rock rails, and an upgrade to the transfer case and four-wheel-drive system. The High Altitude 4xe trim has leather-trimmed quilted upholstery.
Electric SUVs have the best efficiency, but among gas-powered SUVs, the 2021 Jeep Wrangler 4xe beats out the Toyota RAV4 Hybrid when running on electric and gas power. It’s certainly worth a look for buyers considering a plug-in hybrid SUV.