A software issue is to blame but it's already caused two accidents.
Jeep has just issued a voluntary recall for every example of the Wrangler 4xe built between September 2, 2020 and August 17, 2022 due to an issue with the off-roader's powertrain software. Examples built after the latter date are not affected. The plug-in hybrid Wrangler, according to official documents, "may experience an engine shut down condition caused by diagnostic reactions to faults caused by loss of communication."
This could result in an engine shutdown and a power loss while driving, potentially leading to a crash. That loss of communication is traced to three critical systems: the Transmission Control Module, Hybrid Control Processor, and Auxiliary Hybrid Control Processor.
Troublingly, Jeep has confirmed 112 customer service records, 196 warranty claims, and 65 reports from the road that are likely related to this issue. The National Highway Transportation Safety Administration (NHTSA) says that drivers receive no warnings or any other vehicle message prior to the possible and sudden power loss.
All Wrangler 4xe hybrids are powered by a 2.0-liter turbocharged four-cylinder paired with two electric motors and a 17.3 kWh battery pack. Total output comes to a solid 375 horsepower and 470 lb-ft of torque. Equally impressive, the Wrangler 4xe can travel up to 20 miles on electric power only.
Jeep says it's aware of at least two accidents and one injury so far and believes this software issue is to blame. All told, 62,909 examples of the immensely popular SUV are affected by the recall, and troublingly, Jeep suggests that 100% of the models have the defect, meaning it's not a case of if something goes wrong, but when.
New examples rolling off the assembly line have already received the updated software fix. The automaker says that the fix requires an update to the calibration of those three systems, but the software solution is still not completed as of this writing.
Jeep says it will begin notifying dealers and customers on January 12, 2023 with additional information regarding scheduling service appointments. In the meantime, the automaker hasn't stated anything about the vehicles not being drivable, but it's definitely best for owners to proceed with caution until the software updates are implemented.