The broad details of the Jeep Renegade 4xe have been known for over a year now; we first reported on it in June last year. Thirteen months down the line and Jeep has revealed what it is highlighting as offering “the best performance and driving dynamics of any Jeep SUV ever”, as well as “the most fuel-efficient Jeep SUV ever”, not to mention “the most powerful and off-road capable Renegade model ever built”.
That's a lot of 'best evers' from Jeep. But the brand has never exactly been a big seller here in the UK taking less than a quarter of a percent of the market with its perennial problem being that, quite simply, there are better options out there. So, with a move into electrification, Jeep is clearly looking to expand its horizons (not to mention scurry to meet EU emissions targets by the end of the year...).
Jeep's PHEV powertrain is adequate rather than exceptional in any given category. It is a combination of the FCA group's popular 1.3-litre turbo petrol engine, offering 130hp or 180hp depending on specification, and a 60hp electric motor. The petrol engine sends power to the front wheels whilst the electric motor deals with the rear axle, combining to create Jeep's new e-AWD system.
Regardless of power output the petrol engine provides 199lb-ft of torque whilst the electric motor adds 184lb-ft of encouragement to the mix. Whichever way you cut it, the Renegade 4xe isn't lacking in either power or torque, endowing the car with a 0-62mph time of “around” 7.5 seconds and a top speed of 124mph.
Electrical power is held by a relatively small 11.4kWh battery located where traditionally the transfer box and drive shafts would be. Range in 'Electric' mode is 26 miles with a top speed of 81mph. Three distinct driving modes – Hybrid, Electric and E-Save – enable drivers to choose the most efficient way of completing any given journey. 'eCoasting' regenerative braking allows the driver to switch between levels of energy recuperation.
Efficiency on the WLTP cycle is between 123 and 134mpg and emissions come in at less than 50g/km in hybrid mode. Like the battery size and electric range, charging is somewhat behind most rivals, with Jeep making no mention of a charging speed any faster than 7.4kW – the standard output for a home wall box (with charging taking less than two hours).
As you'd expect from a brand that made its name through off-road ability, Jeep has gone to great lengths to point out that the Renegade 4xe maintains this fundamental part of its heritage. The new e-AWD system has five selectable settings (called Jeep Selec-Terrain) depending on the surface and desired use – Auto, Sport, Snow, Sand/Mud and Rock – and also has a 4WD lock and 4WD Low function. Whilst we doubt many will see any mud, at least the option is there.
Three trim levels are available for the Jeep Renegade 4xe; Longitude, Limited and Trailhawk. Each can be customised with a choice of 18 exterior colours and four alloy wheel designs. Blue Jeep, Renegade and 4xe badges denote the car's PHEV credentials.
Inside the cabin, a 7 inch TFT colour display and Uconnect NAV with 8.4 inch touchscreen, Apple CarPlay, Android Auto and DAB radio are offered as standard. Black accents adorn the air vents, speakers, and centre console bezels on the Longitude and Limited trims, while the Trailhawk trim sports Ruby Red accents.
Jeep Uconnect Services have had specific features for electric driving added. On- and off-board connectivity included roadside assistance via My Assistant; My Car enables owners to monitor the car's vital stats at a glance in the cabin; My Remote uses a phone app to schedule charging, locate the car, turn lights on or off, unlock the doors or program various other in-car functions; My Navigation offers live traffic and weather conditions; finally, My eCharge locates the nearest available charging infrastructure. On-board Wi-Fi can be specified.
The Jeep Renegade 4xe will hit showrooms from September this year. The base spec Longitude comes in at £32,600, the mid-level Limited at £34,500 and the top-spec Trailhawk at £36,500. At these prices, the Renegade 4xe is at the cheaper end of the PHEV market, but further up the range Jeep is stepping into territory dominated by cars with more brand appeal and better specification. If you could do without an SUV, a Skoda Superb iV is not only cheaper at the low end; it offers more electric range and very low emissions.
Essentially, you'd have to really want the Jeep to buy it over an equivalent car. If the Renegade isn't for you, the Jeep Compass is likely to follow with the same PHEV powertrain.