By Nena Barlow
In 2021, Jeep gave me the choice of any vehicle I wanted to compete in the Rebelle Rally. Everyone assumed I would choose the venerable Hemi V8-powered Wrangler 392. But I chose the Jeep Wrangler 4xe. Although I would like to say that environmentally-conscientious things like lower gas consumption and a greener footprint over its life-cycle were my motivators, the old-school 4-wheeler in me can’t make those claims. Here are my top three reasons for choosing the 4xe.
Although the Rebelle Rally isn’t a race for speed, being able to beat feet when you can helps give you more time to hunt those elusive navigation checkpoints. And, with at least three days of every rally hitting some sand dunes, all the power you can get is helpful. Although the 392 boasts 475 horsepower, the 4xe is no slouch at 375 hp. In fact, it’s enough to make me cruise Cottonwood, trolling for Mustangs at stop lights. And the 4xe matches the 392’s 470 lb-feet of torque. The real heartstopper was when I realized my Power Wagon was only rated at 430 lb-ft. Wow. That will do.
Even though the 4xe is only the SECOND fastest Wrangler, I needed a rig that could travel up to 300 miles on a tank of fuel. That is NOT the 392, especially when I am driving it. I average 8 mpg when I drive a 392. I’m sorry I can’t help it. Okay, I’m not sorry, but knowing myself, it made much more sense to go with something with which even I, with my stoplight drag racing habit, can average 17 mpg.
After driving the 4xe in electric mode in my favorite rock crawling spots, I discovered a whole new driving technique–driving by sound. In addition to being able to hear my spotter, or just chit-chat with spectators, I found that I could HEAR what my tires were doing! It is a whole new level of driving control. Now, when I crawl with an internal combustion engine, I find myself irritated at the distracting noise of the engine.
The three things listed above were my primary reasons for choosing the 4xe over the 392, but there were other unexpected benefits as well. The extra weight of the batteries is distributed low and centered, which means a very planted feeling when driving the 4xe. And the price of the 4xe averages about $20,000 less than a 392. That’s a lot of gas.
Finally, although I have not typically been a proponent of growing up, driving the 4xe just feels like such a much more responsible and versatile thing to do. When I get behind the wheel of the 392, suddenly I am a giggling 12-year old with no other motivation than “must go fast”, but when I drive the 4xe, I have this smug feeling of satisfaction knowing that I have the versatility at my fingertips to drive in a variety of conditions, and not worry about fuel range. But I can still beat the Mustang off the line.
Oh, and I should mention that we won the Rebelle Rally with it!