Gas 2 covers several auto shows throughout the year, with an emphasis on alternative fuel, high-mileage, and low-emission vehicles.
At the Los Angeles auto show this week, Fiat Chrysler confirmed that a PHEV version of the iconic Jeep Wrangler will go on sale in 2020. The plug-in will take advantage of some of the technology developed for the Chrysler Pacifica Hybrid , especially the eFlite transaxle with its planetary gearset and one-way clutch.
Jeep officials aren’t saying which gasoline engine will be mated to that transaxle just yet. The base engine for the next generation Wrangler — designated JL — is a turbocharged 2.0 liter four cylinder with 280 horsepower and 260 pounds-feet of torque. The tried and true 3.6 liter Pentastar V-6 is an option. It has slightly less power but more torque at 295 pounds-feet.
A variation of the V-6 is installed in the Pacifica Hybrid, retuned for maximum efficiency at constant engine speed. Jeep is also planning to offer a 3.0 V-6 diesel engine in the Wrangler soon.
Anyone worried about the wussyfication of the Wrangler to satisfy tree huggers and liberals need have no fear. Not only will the electrified power train for the plug-in models offer more low end grunt from its electric motor, it will still be able to ford through 30 inches of standing water. And when you get to trail’s end, the battery can power an electric winch or as a backup emergency power source at that lakeside cabin located on the other side of the mountains. Those are some things no other vehicles in the Jeep lineup can offer.
Speaking about the PHEV Wrangler, Jeep brand manger Scott Tallon is right up front about why the plug-in exists. “It’s clearly an efficiency play,” he says. “But what it also does is provide other benefits — it will allow us to leverage the technology in a completely different way.”
It is Jeep’s way of future proofing the Wrangler, which is a very important part of the Jeep lineup, without corrupting the design language for the vehicle that Wrangler buyers expect. From that perspective, the Wrangler PHEV is a complete success.