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How To Use The Hybrid Option Of A Plug-In Hybrid Gasoline-Electric Vehicle


Q: When shopping for a Jeep Wrangler, we found the best lease deal was on a Wrangler 4xe. We were, at that time, unaware that it was a plug-in hybrid gasoline-electric model. Now, after three months of driving it, we face a question: Should we start plugging it in? Is it too late? How do we do it?
It is not too late to take advantage of the plug-in hybrid feature that will allow your Jeep to run on electric power alone for up to 21 miles, according to EPA estimates. After that, the 2.0-liter gasoline engine will start, and the vehicle will function as a normal hybrid, which is what it has been doing during the three months you have not plugged it into an electrical outlet.

Again, using EPA estimates, battery-electric operation gives your Jeep a rating of 49 miles per of gallon-equivalent (MPGe). In other words, if your Wrangler were as efficient when running on gasoline as it is when using battery power, its gasoline fuel economy rating would be 49 miles per gallon instead of 20 mpg. This MPGe rating pales in comparison to some pure electric vehicles, though none has the off-road capabilities of your Jeep. A Chevrolet Bolt EUV, for example, is rated at 115 MPGe, while a Tesla Model 3 is rated at 132 MPGe.

With the average price of gasoline in the US now $5 a gallon and the average cost of electricity at 15 cents per kWh, it definitely makes sense to take advantage of your Jeep’s ability to run on electric power alone. Using EPA averages, the Jeep will cost you 10.3 cents per mile for fuel using electricity versus 25 cents a mile when burning gasoline.

To charge the battery, use the Level 1 charger that came with your Jeep. It should be in a compartment under the cargo floor behind the rear seat. The charger is powered by a standard 120-volt household outlet.

When the hybrid battery is depleted fully, it will take about 12 hours to complete a full Level 1 charge. Or, buy a Level 2 charger that plugs into a 240-volt household outlet. Depending on its power rating, this will charge your Jeep’s battery in as little as 2 hours and 15 minutes. The Wrangler 4xe is not equipped to take advantage of Level 3 DC fast charging.