We take a new 2021 Jeep Wrangler Rubicon 4xe plug-in hybrid on a very difficult “Red Cone” Colorado off-road trail to compare to the new Ford Bronco and the Land Rover Defender. It is an epic off-road adventure, but we also learned something eye-opening about electric energy consumption during a tough off-road mountain climb. Here is what happened.
According to onX Offroad maps – the “Red Cone” is rated 7/10 on the difficulty scale. You need a very capable off-road SUV or truck with high clearance just to attempt this route. The Wrangler Rubicon has the off-road equipment to do it. It has ground clearance, great suspension articulation, skid plates, front & rear locking differentials, sway-bar disconnect, and grippy BFGoodrich KO2 tires.
The 4xe powertrain combines a 2.0-liter turbocharged I4 engine with an electric motor and a 17 kWh battery pack for a total of 375 horsepower and 470 lb-ft of torque. This is a lot of power, and this is one quick Jeep! We have proven by doing a 0-60 MPH and a drag race. We have also taken this Wrangler 4xe on a mixed city/highway driving loop and got an impressive 27 miles of all-electric driving range.
Now, it’s time to test this electrified Jeep’s off-road electric range. Nathan started out Red Cone mountain climb in 4LO with aired-down tires with about 92% of the battery capacity (as shown on the Jeep’s screen). Nathan was able to negotiate many very difficult obstacles when the gasoline engine finally kicked on after 3.1 miles of off-road driving. Once again, this was climbing over boulders and going uphill.
Let’s do a quick calculation… If Nathan started with close to 100% of the battery capacity, he may have been able to go 3.3 to 3.4 miles in all-electric mode. This Jeep Wrangler Rubicon 4xe weighs about 5,550 lbs at the curb.
How Will Future EV Trucks Do?
This begs a question. If this Jeep can accomplish this on a full charge with a 17 kWh battery, how far will some of the other off-road trucks and SUVs go on their large batteries?
For example, a Rivian R1T truck may be equipped with a battery of up to 180 kWh in size. If climbing over boulders, this EV truck may manage about 36 miles of hard off-road driving on a single charge. This is a simple extrapolation, we have not been able to test a Rivian truck off-road. Of course, it’s difficult to find a mountain with 36 miles of uphill sections, so the driving range may be a bit longer after some downhill driving. The upcoming F-150 Lightning that is estimated to weigh around 6,700 lbs with the extended battery, may have a similar result.
The upcoming GMC Hummer EV truck is estimated to have a 200 kWh battery. This big luxurious beast has a curb weight of around 9,000 lbs. The Hummer’s tough off-road driving range could be around 40 miles. Once again, these are rough theoretical estimates. We still need to test these EV off-roaders to find out exactly how they behave off-road and how far they will drive.
Granted that 36 or 40 miles of hard off-road driving is A LOT for one day, these overland treks are not uncommon. It will take a long time to recharge these off-road trucks in the middle of nowhere – even with a solar-powered level-2 charger.
Get all the details in the video below.