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Sunday Drive: Jeep Rubicon gets a hybrid system update

By Craig and Deanne Conover - Special to the Standard-Examiner | Nov 6, 2021

Craig Conover, Special to the Standard-Examiner

On the way to Grosvenor Arch in the new Jeep Wrangler 4XE as Deanne sits atop the hood on a beautiful fall day.

Jeep has put a hybrid system into their iconic Rubicon and made it even better, giving it the ability to go up to 21 miles on electricity alone. They have even put some charging stations at key trailhead locations for 4×4 experiences, including one in Moab!

With all of this in mind, we decided to take a weekend and head to Southern Utah, give the Rubicon a trial run out on the trail and perhaps get in one last fall weekend journey before bad weather comes in for the Utah winter.

Off we went with a fully charged Jeep and heading south in a blinding rainstorm but with promises from our weather app that things would be better the next day. We found the Jeep uses the 21 miles of electric power in the most efficient way possible; it made it all the way from our home in Springville to just past Nephi on mostly electric power.

It was also possible to put the Jeep into a mode that would conserve and actually add electric miles to the ride by keeping the engine running at all times and using braking and downhill parts of the drive to get even more electric miles on the odometer.

The thought behind the hybrid Jeep is that most folks would not commute more than 21 miles on a normal day and therefore save a huge amount on gasoline by not having to fill up all the time. It made perfect sense to us as either of our normal commutes would fall within this range.

Craig Conover, Special to the Standard-Examiner

Grosvenor Arch after a short hike looks magnificent in the fall weather.

We stopped in the Town of Tropic, just to the east of Bryce Canyon, on Friday night with the rain still coming down hard. We hoped the next day would prove to be a great day for getting out on the trail.

Saturday dawned with a crystal-clear blue sky that contrasted dramatically with the red rock cliffs that surround Tropic. It was going to be a great day for a trek through the backcountry in the Jeep! We had determined that heading south on Cottonwood Canyon Road would eventually bring us back to US 89 just north of Page, Arizona.

We intended our first stop to be the Grosvenor Arch Trailhead. However, having a Jeep and knowing there had to be other places to see along the way, we took a couple of side roads into canyons and over mountains. The Jeep handled it all with ease, even when we took on climbs and descents of 20 degrees and more.

We eventually made it to Grosvenor Arch, which proved to be worth the trip to see — and lo and behold we actually got cell signal on the trail to the arch in the middle of the Utah high desert. This would prove advantageous later on.

The drive to this point — excepting our little side jaunts in the Jeep — could have been accomplished with most any four-wheel-drive vehicle. However, as we headed deeper into Cottonwood Canyon, the dirt road deteriorated into a mud road. We definitely earned our off-roading badge for the day as the Jeep ended covered in mud, but the Rubicon kept us going through the muck.

Craig Conover, Special to the Standard-Examiner

We got into a lot of mud on our way through Cottonwood Canyon and were glad we were in a Wrangler that had no problems, no matter the terrain.

Deep into our drive in Cottonwood Canyon, we came upon a gentleman who had become stranded in a two-wheel-drive vehicle as he was not able to get up the hills in the mud. He had started his adventure in the canyon on Thursday, and with all the rain on Friday, he had become stuck.

We were able to give him a lift back to Grosvenor Arch where he could make a call to his wife and let her know he was OK. He opted to have us take him back to his car where he would wait for the mud to dry the next day and hopefully get out then. We left him after making sure he had all the supplies he would need for another night in the high desert.

After finally reaching Highway 89 around 5 p.m. that evening, we were glad he hadn’t tried to get out that way as we continued to get into more mud and slippery slopes along the way, affirming our faith that the Jeep could go anywhere!

We opted to stay the night in Page, thinking we might make the trek to Escalante the next day as part of our journey back to Springville. After talking with a few locals who indicated the trip would take a little over seven hours, we decided that was a bit more time than we wanted to spend getting home.

It would be hard owning a Jeep as the wanderlust factor just grows and grows — What is over the next ridge? What else can we see today?

Craig Conover, Special to the Standard-Examiner

Our second day out with the Jeep in Monument Valley. What a great, iconic location!

Having the extra addition of the Advanced Safety Group from Jeep proved to be a huge advantage on the way home from Page. Driving almost 300 miles of two-lane road with adaptive cruise control was awesome, as were the automatic high beams when it finally got dark.

Inside, our test ride was dressed in complete comfort with heated leather seats and steering wheel, which we enjoyed in the early mornings that were a frosty 40 degrees. There was also the 8.4-inch center infotainment screen that kept track of us no matter where we wandered. It was even able to give us an exact GPS location.

Our journey on Sunday did include wandering off-road in a couple of locations as we just couldn’t resist the temptation. It is so much fun to just head off in the Jeep. We enjoyed some great views of the Mexican Hat rock in Mexican Hat, along with great off-roading outside of Bluff.

The new Jeep 4XE is the perfect combination to have for everyday driving and a weekend adventure that, for us, would come every weekend!

Base price: $51,695

Craig Conover, Special to the Standard-Examiner

It took some real climbing to get this close to Mexican Hat Rock in the new Wrangler. But with drier conditions on our second day, it was much easier to get around without all the mud!

Destination: $1,495

Price as driven: $61,265

2021 Jeep Wrangler Rubicon 4xe

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