There aren’t many electric off-roaders on the market now, but the few here and the few that are imminent have already shown how much two or four electric motors can enhance capability on the trail. Tank Turns, Crab Walks, and Creeper Modes are cherries on the sundae of instant, prodigious, precisely modulated torque. Jeep is joining that club in about four years with a battery-electric Wrangler. As the family icon, the e-motor Wrangler will need to earn its Trail Rated badge. But brand boss Christian Meunier wants to use e-motors to up the Wrangler’s potential substantially enough that those motors also improve the value of the Trail Rated ranking system. He told Auto Express, “The Trail Rating is a scale up to 10. At 10 is the two-door Wrangler Rubicon — the five-door Wrangler Rubicon is at nine. We start at four for the Renegade with Trail Rating.”
When it comes to the next-generation Wrangler, he said, “I want to push that to 12.” While Meunier did say, “The great thing about electrification is that it makes a Jeep more capable,” he did not say he wants only the BEV Wrangler to score a 12 on the Trail Rated test. It’s possible he wants both ICE and battery-powered versions to move the game on.
Jeep’s page about the badge explains, “Every Trail Rated 4×4 has succeeded against a series of grueling tests in five categories: Traction, Water Fording, Maneuverability, Articulation and Ground Clearance.” Jeep worked with the Nevada Automotive Testing Center (NATC) to establish the repeatable testing methodology and only began awarding models the accolade began in 2003, the same model year the Rubicon trim debuted. Also, only four-wheel-drive trims get the badge; the short-lived 2WD Wrangler was never Trail Rated.
We don’t know what a Trail Rating of 10 means in precise terms, but it has to be a sliding scale. A 2003 Wrangler Rubicon with 31-inch tires and a 66:1 crawl ratio is at a disadvantage against 2023 Wrangler Rubicon Xtreme Recon on 35s with a 100:1 crawl ratio. Judging by how far we’ve pushed the four-door Wrangler Unlimited, verifying a rating of 10 for the two-door Wrangler would have most people popping heart meds. Increasing the limit to 12 could be as thrilling as it is potentially deadly. The CEO explained that the coming Jeep Recon EV, which looks more like an XXL Renegade than a Wrangler, will come in at half that. “The Jeep Recon will be Trail Rated six on the Rubicon trail … There is the capacity [for the Recon] to go up to eight with a few modifications.”