Review: Jeep Renegade 4xe plug-in hybrid
It’s all rather likeable and well-considered; smart-looking, capable off-road, comfortable on-road, equipped well and with some genuine green credentials, assuming you keep the battery charged.
What is it?
For a brand that shouts about its heritage, and makes vehicles that stand out from the norm on the road, it’s a little surprising that the only visible clue that this is a plug-in hybrid is the second filler flap on the car.
Plucky achiever gets a plug. – Leasing.com five-word review.
The Renegade is so important to Jeep, it can’t afford to get things wrong. As the firm’s biggest seller across Europe, it’s probably wise not to shout too loud about something so modern as a hybrid powertrain in its compact off-roader. That, and it’s probably just a ploy to reduce its CO2 output and minimise any EU fines.
So what Jeep has done is take the Renegade and slot a fairly conventional plug-in hybrid system underneath. The result is the same 1.3-litre petrol engine under the bonnet that you’d find in other Renegades, but it’s joined by a 60hp electric motor that’s bolted to the rear wheels. It’s four-wheel-drive, then, but with no physical connection between front and back.
The result is the same 1.3-litre petrol engine under the bonnet that you’d find in other Renegades, but it’s joined by a 60hp electric motor that’s bolted to the rear wheels.
It’s also quite a bit heavier. Shoehorning in 11.4kWh of battery pack, as well as all the associated bits and pieces (chargers, control units, that electric motor, and so on) means it can weigh in as much as 200kg more than a regular Renegade.
What’s it like to drive?
You can’t tell that initially, as performance off the line is strong. The electric motor, as with all electric cars, releases all of its pulling power immediately, so there’s a surge from a standstill, backed up by 130 or 180hp of petrol power, depending on the model. The result is a 0-62mph run of 7.5 seconds, which is pretty snappy, but don’t let that fool you into thinking that this is a performance version of a Jeep.
That much is obvious at the first corner, where the Renegade shows every gramme of its 1.6 or so tonnes. The body roll is significant, if not excessive, and there’s an almost physical disconnect between the front wheels and the steering wheel. Perhaps surprisingly, push to the limit and it’s quite well balanced, but that limit is far lower than any of the countless mini-SUVs on the market.
The Renegade is a plucky off-roader that will achieve far more than you might expect - it tackled everything you’d expect a Jeep Cherokee to tackle without issue.
But none of the other mini-SUVs could get where the Renegade can get. That Jeep name requires a certain level of ability as, without its rock-crawling ability, the American brand becomes just a label on another line of fashion accessories. Fortunately, the Renegade is a plucky off-roader that will achieve far more than you might expect - we drove it through the off-road course at Jeep’s European test facility and, apart from one or two places coned off where the Renegade simply isn’t big enough, it tackled everything you’d expect a Jeep Cherokee to tackle without issue.
What’s it like inside?
You can relax while tackling it too, thanks to some comfortable seats, a spacious interior (although the battery pack robs the boot of 20 litres) and lots of equipment - there’s too much to list, but you won’t be wanting for much. It’s all good looking, too, although it doesn't differ from the standard range of models in any way.
Anything else I need to know?
It’s only that filler flap for the charger port that gives the game away, and the 4xe (that’s four-by-ee, not four-ecks-ee, according to Jeep) badging. And the efficiency, of course, although it’s not earth-shattering. Pure electric range is just 26 miles, so there’s no big BIK benefit for company car drivers and, while fuel economy of as much as 134mpg is promised, the reality will be closer to 60mpg or so, depending on your driving patterns.
There’s no rapid charging ability although, with just 11.4kWh to charge, a 7kW home charger will have that dealt with in less than two hours. Even using just a three-pin plug will fill the battery in under five hours, so there really shouldn’t be a problem keeping it topped up at home or work.
What’s the verdict?
If you want a plugin hybrid family car, the Ford Kuga costs less per month by a similar margin, while a pure-electric Hyundai Kona SUV is at least £100 a month cheaper at the time of writing.
It’s all rather likeable and well-considered; smart-looking, capable off-road, comfortable on-road, equipped well and with some genuine green credentials assuming you keep the battery charged. It would be a solid four-star car if not for the incredible price tag - the entry-level model starts at £32,600, rising to £36,500 for the Trailhawk spec. Leasing prices reflect that, with the 4xe costing around £200 a month more than an equivalent petrol-powered Renegade. If you want a plugin hybrid family car, the Ford Kuga costs less per month by a similar margin, while a pure-electric Hyundai Kona SUV is at least £100 a month cheaper.
Which is a real shame. As likeable as the Renegade is, and it really is lovely, unless you really need to venture off-road in a small SUV, other options may serve you better.
Quick stats: Jeep Renegade 4xe Limited
Prices: £23,150 - £36,500
Top speed: 113 mph
0-62 mph: 7.5 seconds
WLTP combined: 134.5 mpg
CO2 emissions: 52 g/km
Car tax: £140
Power: 190 PS (187 bhp)