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This Is Why Jeep May Not Hold On To Their Lead In US Plug-In Hybrid Sales

I’ve interviewed an owner of the most popular plug-in hybrid (PHEV) in the US, the Jeep Wrangler 4xe, whose ownership experience has been a nightmare. If Americans are going to switch to plug-in vehicles, manufacturers must offer a better experience.

I approached this interview out of sincere concern for drivers and a hope that those at Jeep will take such examples of failure to heart and do a better job looking out for their customers and improving the quality and reliability of their vehicles. Of course there are many possible priorities buyers may have when car shopping, such as price, capability, reliability, etc. When a car is new, we expect it will be reliable and should any issues occur that a warranty will cover their repair. But when the issues keep happening and dealerships representing the brand fail to address the issues their vehicles suffer, then suffering is what those brands cause and what they will potentially experience in turn (as their sales decline and their reputation with it). 

I asked an owner of a Jeep Wrangler 4xe about her ownership experience. As I called out in a previous article, this Jeep model has a poor reliability rating and lots of complaints from owners on are upset due to a history of numerous recalls and serious problems, some involving fires and engine failure. Her experience should be nothing short of a wake up call for Jeep and the Santa Rosa, CA dealership she bought it from.

Why did you choose the Wrangler 4xe and had you ever owned a Jeep before?

I had just seen my sister and brother-in-law in Boston and they had a Jeep and told me they were very happy with it. We decided we needed a car that could go off road given that we live in an area that has only one road out and fires are a possibility. We had never owned a Jeep before and this was also our first plug-in hybrid. 

Besides multiple significant recalls, the death wobble and the car stalling randomly what other issues have you had?

I think the car has had 12 recalls and besides the death wobble and the engine stopping [something the dealership never resolved after keeping it over a month as they couldn’t recreate it]. The dealer just assumed we had opened the door to jump out of the car and a safety feature that shuts off the engine came into play. The other two things were: they cracked the windshield because it was installed incorrectly and there was a problem with the engine overheating (the fan would not go off, which is how I realized something wasn’t right).

Has this experience turned you off of the brand or plug-in hybrids?

Yes, this has turned me off plug-in hybrids. To be honest, I will never buy another Jeep or likely an American car ever again. It has been the worst experience I have had owning a car. Jeep has confirmed that our car qualifies as a lemon but continues to delay the resolution.   They likely are taking care of people with lawyers [first]. I could have been an advocate for them, if they [took] the issue seriously and in a client friendly manner, but now, not so much. The woman handling our case took it as far as she can and just updates us every week that she cannot escalate and we are in queue to be resolved. It has to be extremely frustrating for her and also creates a tremendous amount of negative publicity for Jeep by not moving things forward.

Has your Jeep dealer been responsive to your concerns?

As noted above, they have not been the most responsive. For the death wobble, I took it in, and they told me there wasn’t a problem. I guess they thought a girl wouldn’t know if her car was driving right. Then, my husband drove it and confirmed that I wasn’t wrong and we had to take it in again. They still have not resolved the engine shutting off. It didn’t do that until they resolved the death wobble and did nothing to review if they had caused the problem. Zero effort.

What would you advise other drivers considering a Jeep PHEV to research before making a purchase?

I would advise people looking at a plug-in hybrid to look elsewhere and not even consider the Jeep. They basically sold us a prototype. 

What would you tell the heads of Jeep if you could have a sit down with them about your Wrangler 4xe?

If I could sit down with Jeep I would tell them that negative feedback is always [much] worse than positive feedback. They should put resources into resolving the problem to make us advocates of how positive the customer experience is under difficult circumstances and how they took responsibility and made it right for us all. This is going to cost them more than they are saving by not resolving [the issues].

What might you replace your Wrangler with?

I will likely be replacing the Jeep with a tried and true Toyota.

Would you consider a Jeep PHEV after reading this? If so, why? Would you consider other PHEVs from other brands instead? Please leave your questions and comments below.

Image courtesy of Jeep.

Justin Hart has owned and driven electric vehicles for over 15 years, including a first generation Nissan LEAF, second generation Chevy Volt, Tesla Model 3, an electric bicycle and most recently a Kia Sorento PHEV. He is also an avid SUP rider, poet, photographer and wine lover. He enjoys taking long EV and PHEV road trips to beautiful and serene places with the people he loves. Follow Justin on Torque News Kia or X for regular electric and hybrid news coverage.