Published on June 29th, 2020 |
by Jo Borrás
June 29th, 2020 by Jo Borrás
It seems like Fiat-Chrysler Automobiles (FCA) just released its 4-cylinder eTorque mild-hybrid Jeep Wrangler models. Indeed, the 2.0 liter turbocharged eTorque hybrids were new for the 2019 model year, but it seems like they’re the latest products getting the axe in the wake of the COVID-19 economic downturn. And I, for one, am taking that news rather hard.
The Best Jeep is Behind Us
So, fine, the mild hybrid system in the 2019 and 2020 Jeep Wrangler isn’t totally going away. In fact, it’ll be found on every 3.6L Pentastar V6 Sport, Sport S, Sahara, and Rubicon model Jeep Wrangler equipped with an automatic transmission. Despite being “better than nothing” and a motorized argument for “any positive change” as we recover from a global addiction to fossil fuels, though. It feels like a step backwards … if you’re not sure why, keep reading as I dip into a less subtle op-ed than usual.
While the 2.0L turbocharged 4 cylinder eTorque mild hybrid wouldn’t have been called “revolutionary” or “advanced” even ten years ago, it gave the impression that Jeep was looking ahead to a future of hybrid technology, electrification, and, ultimately, pure electric off-roaders that could take people out into nature while minimizing their carbon and audible impacts on the environments they’d be exploring. It seemed to say that both Jeep and Chrysler had — finally! — found a replacement for displacement, and that they’d remain relevant for years to come.
Now, where would I get that idea? I’m glad you asked, because it was Chrysler itself which announced that “equipped with technology-rich 2.0-liter engine, each new-generation Jeep® Wrangler Unlimited has potential to account for 14-metric-ton reduction in GHG emissions,” in a press release dated May 20th of this year.
That report conveniently mentions Engine Stop-Start technology (“ESS” in Chrysler-speak), but not the eTorque hybrid. Now we know why, and the worst part isn’t even the emissions or the loss of a forward-looking Chrysler, it’s that the 4-cylinder hybrid Jeep was widely considered the best Jeep.
“From a standstill, it can rocket even a hulking four-door Wrangler to highway speeds with little effort. Sixty miles an hour creeps up a lot faster than you’d ever expect for a vehicle that weighs nearly 4,500 pounds,” writes Auto Guide’s Craig Cole.
“But this powertrain isn’t only enjoyable when your foot’s to the floor. There’s ample torque throughout the rev range, making for relaxed driving in practically any situation, either on road or off … but that’s not all. With a belt-driven motor-generator and a briefcase-sized battery pack mounted under the floor, this system provides numerous other benefits including things like seamless engine stop-start, which kills combustion when the vehicle is stationary in order to save fuel. Regenerative braking is another feather in its cap, further improving efficiency, something intelligent battery charging does as well. eTorque also helps smooth out shifts by spinning the engine just a little bit during gearchanges.”
I know, I know — “Craig’s Canadian.” Those people know a thing or two about driving off road and in snowy conditions, though, so I’m inclined to listen to him (despite his obvious shortcomings).
::sigh:: Rant over, I guess. I had hoped for more from Chrysler, but it looks like it is going to hitch its star to a more conservative wagon than I’d like to see. I think it’s going to hurt the company, but that’s just me. What do you guys think? Is this a step backwards, or does hitching a big alternator to the decade old Pentastar V6 make sense? Let us know what you think in the comments.
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