Now, three years later, Jeep is back with two significant new Wrangler variants, and they’re anything but traditional. In the green corner, the brand’s first ever plug-in hybrid vehicle in America, the EPA-rated 50-mpg-e Wrangler 4xe. And in the other corner, probably beating up the other SUVs and stealing their lunch money, is the 470-hp, howling-mad, and Hemi-packing 392, the first Wrangler to ever come from the factory sporting an honest-to-goodness V-8. Opinions were all over the place.
“Engine Note of the Year,” buyer’s guide director Zach Gale said about the 392. Editorial operations director Mike Floyd called it “the best Wrangler ever, no doubt.” As for myself, since I first drove the 392, I’ve described it as the SUV I’ve been dreaming about my whole life. I might buy one.
Not everyone on staff felt this way. “I don’t care how muscular, efficient, or off-road-capable the Wrangler is,” associate editor Alex Leanse said. “Its abysmal steering would stop me from ever buying one for anything but trail-specific use.” Gale, however, made a more salient point against one of our criteria, efficiency: “The issue, of course, is the 13/17 mpg fuel economy. Look, I love this SUV, but—as one example—our fire season starts earlier and burns more intensely in part because of global warming.”
Surely, then, the PHEV 4xe won us over? Well, we did all like driving the electrified Wrangler with the 2.0-liter turbo I-4 switched off. “It’s tough to beat an electric drivetrain for smooth, quiet driving in town,” technical director Frank Markus said. (A fully electric Wrangler is in the pipeline.) “This Jeep’s Uconnect system is my idea of how electrified vehicles should present information: lots of screens and options for charging or saving the battery pack.”
For the full story, check out this article from Motor Trend.