I can’t believe I’m saying this. If you want to see just where the automotive landscape is these days when it comes to powertrains, look no further than what was at once one of the most humble, and at once one of the most cultish vehicles ever seen in North America: the Jeep Wrangler.
Indeed, the burly and somewhat tippy and not-really-great-on-the-highway Wrangler is soon to be the perfect cross-section of pretty much every powertrain you can get in today’s cars. From a fuel-sipping turbo 4-cylinder gas engine, to a 6-cylinder turbodiesel, to the fire-breathing Hemi V8, and on to a plug-in hybrid version in the 4xe, the Wrangler has more ground covered with its line-up than the world’s best overlanding teams.
Which seems like a completely crazy thought. Surely, the Jeep parent company Stellantis has another vehicle – a pickup, perhaps, or even a large SUV or crossover – that would be better suited to be the flag-bearer when it comes to powertrain availability, no? The kind of vehicle that might sell more, or speak to a broader audience?
Well that may be true, but just hold on for a second – why shouldn’t it be the Wrangler? Who wants to see another SUV with a hybrid powertrain? We know those exist and that they’re usually quite good. There’s no real news there. An off-roader, though, that got its start as a military vehicle and has morphed into something loved by rock-crawlers and beachcombers alike? Now we’re talking.
Not to mention the fact that not only does having such a powertrain variety offer plenty of choice to consumers (which, admittedly, can be argued is a bit of a detriment as it can be overwhelming), but Jeep maintains that the most advanced of the bunch – the 4xe version – isn’t just window dressing, or on-hand to save drivers some cash at the pump. In fact, they say that the instant torque that the 4xe can make when in full-EV mode is actually a boon for off-roading as well as for fuel sipping. Instant torque, it has to be said, that can be sent to whichever wheel needs it the most, so that your forward progress is never impeded.
In short, it could be said that the Wrangler is becoming a “Halo” vehicle – that is to say, a vehicle from a manufacturer that garners the highest level of “want”, and acts as a bit of a showcase for what said manufacturer can do with slightly looser purse strings – not just for Jeep and not just for Stellantis, but for the overall car market as a whole. It’s specialized, but not so much that it needs to be married to a single powertrain – and Jeep’s not done yet.
Recently, in an ongoing bid to reach a fully electrified line-up in the near future, Jeep has also announced that they will be revealing a fully-electrified Wrangler at this year’s edition of the annual Easter Jeep Safari in Moab, Utah, which will leave plenty of stones traversed – but none unturned – when it comes to powertrain choices for the Wrangler.
Which is interesting because there isn’t a single other vehicle available for sale in North America – not a single one — that can boast such a variety when it comes to the available powertrains. It is the nexus of the universe when it comes to how cars today are powered, and one of the world’s most humble vehicles has become a beacon to future mobility.