The 2021 Jeep Wrangler 4xe may have unprecedented off-road capability for a plug-in hybrid, but it falls short on electric range.

The official EPA electric-range rating for the Wrangler 4xe is 22 miles. That's 3 miles short of what Jeep estimated when the plug-in hybrid SUV was unveiled last year. The Wrangler 4xe also gets an efficiency rating of 49 MPGe combined, and fuel economy of 20 mpg in hybrid mode.

It's also worth noting that, at 17.3 kilowatt-hours, the Wrangler's battery pack is almost the same size as that of a Toyota RAV4 Prime, yet the Jeep goes half as far in electric mode. That shows the importance of emphasizing efficiency in every aspect design. Simply adding an electric motor and battery pack will only get you so far—literally.

2021 Jeep Wrangler 4xe

2021 Jeep Wrangler 4xe

However, Jeep has said the Wrangler 4xe was designed for maximizing off-road capability, not electric range. Preserving the capability of the non-hybrid Wrangler led Jeep to a more complex powertrain, with a main traction motor at the input shaft of an 8-speed automatic transmission (keeping the mechanical four-wheel drive system intact), and the belt-connected eTorque motor system, which is used in the Ram 1500 pickup truck and marketed as a mild-hybrid system.

The Wrangler 4xe plug-in hybrid system could, in turn, power a plug-in hybrid version of the Ram 1500. Fiat Chrysler Automobiles (FCA) CEO Mike Manley mentioned an "electrified" pickup during a financial call last year, and the choice of "electrified" over "electric" indicates he wasn't talking about an all-electric rival to vehicles like the upcoming Ford F-150 Electric.

Jeep also believes that even limited electric range will be enough for zero-emission off-roading. The famous Rubicon Trail, for example, is exactly 22 miles, and Jeep has said a Wrangler 4xe has covered it entirely on electric power with no issues. Jeep is also setting up solar-powered charging stations on certain off-road trails—again emphasizing electric off-roading versus general use.