27.5.2021Jeep Renegade 4xe review
An electrified Jeep? Might sound odd, but the brand is now part of the Stellantis group, which is going through a serious electrification effort. The Renegade 4xe PHEV is part of these changes - though the plug-in Jeep was planned before leadership changes - and offers a compact SUV with decent electric-only range.
Review by Chris Lilly
JEEP RENEGADE 4XE: PERFORMANCE
Power for the Renegade 4xe comes from a combination of a 130 hp 1.3 litre petrol unit and 44 kW (60 hp) electric motor, the former driving the front wheels, the latter driving the rear. As such, the Renegade 4xe is a full all-wheel drive model, but then most Jeeps are. Combined power is 190 hp, which is good enough for a 0-62 mph time of 7.5 seconds. It’s pacy rather than fast, but the Jeep has more than enough performance for most people.
It doesn’t feel particularly fast in normal driving, but you can tell there’s plenty of poke under your right foot when required. Instead, the Renegade 4xe drives smoothly and in a relatively refined manner, particularly when prioritising electric mode. The responsiveness and refinement come largely from this, as the engine can sound rough and loud when pushed hard; a unit not helped by a gearbox that isn’t happy being hustled along. Keep to tighter, twister roads in electric and hold the engine for motorway work and the Renegade 4xe works well. It’s not an ideal all-round PHEV, though Jeep’s expertise in off-roading means it is one of the better picks if venturing off the black stuff.
There are a number of road-focused crossovers on the market that manage to feel like a small car, just a little taller. Jeep’s Renegade 4xe isn’t one. This is a true compact SUV rather than a crossover, and as such the on-road manners can’t compete with come road-biased rivals. Despite that, the Jeep deals well with road driving, it just leans through the corners more than others, and the steering is neither communicative nor sharp.
The Jeep does benefit from a lower centre of gravity than before, thanks to the PHEV set-up. Where a prop shaft would normally be located to create a 4x4, there is no need for one and Jeep has used the space to house the car’s battery. As such, the Renegade can still be threaded through tight spots and run about a car park, with light steering helping with parking.
The Renegade range as a whole is Jeep’s best-selling model in Europe, and much of that is down to the style. It’s every inch a ‘mini Jeep’, building on the brand’s enviable off-road legacy, the likes of which only Land Rover’s Defender and the Toyota Land Cruiser can compete with. There are neat little touches all over the place, from the Jerry Can inspired rear lights, to the grille bars used as a detail within the cabin. All are small, but they combine to create a real sense that this isn’t just a populist model - it really is a Jeep.
The most crucial element is the chunky, squared-off styling. It’s funky, friendly, and rugged, and also helps create a practical car inside. By driving a smaller version of the traditional boxy off-roader shape, you get a similar amount of interior space - just a bit smaller as well. The occupant space is very good for a car in this class, in terms of head-room at least. Rear leg-room is about par for the course. Although the boot loses about 10 litres to hybrid components, it’s still very a useful size and shape, and will deal with family life comfortably.
COMFORT & CONTROLS
Jeep’s Renegade is stuck a little between markets, neither full off-roader nor comfortable crossover. The cabin will either appeal or not then, depending on customers’ views, but if they’re attracted by the exterior, the interior will likely appeal too. The ‘confusion’ comes in terms of materials and equipment levels. There is a ton of kit fitted across the trim levels, but the materials used on surfaces and buttons aren’t of the highest quality. This I suspect is because of the ‘rugged’ impression that Jeep wants, which means that there are large swathes of black plastic for a ‘wash-down’ impression, though this isn’t a full agricultural Jeep. It’s soft up top, but quickly moves to harder plastics not too far down.
It all puts the Renegade 4xe in the middle of the pack, with nothing in the cabin particularly working as a strength for buyers to latch on to, but then there isn’t a huge weakness either. The infotainment system looks a little small and the graphics are slightly dated compared to some models, but it works well enough, and is quick to respond to commands.
JEEP RENEGADE 4XE: RANGE & RUNNING COSTS
A full charge of the Jeep Renegade 4xe’s battery will give a range of up to 26 miles according to official figures, aiding a fuel economy of 134 MPG. As always, a PHEV’s efficiency is hugely dependent on how the driver can use it. If it remains in electric mode most of the time, the fuel economy is easily beaten. But if regularly covering far more than its electric range, the trip computer’s figures will suffer.
Out on actual roads, I was averaging around 20 miles on a charge, depending on the route. When sticking to pottering about town, that went up to about 22 miles. It’s not a great distance, but it’s still certainly more than enough for most short trips to the shops, school, work, etc. On a long run of 260 miles with only half a charge at the start and no recharging, the Renegade 4xe returned 41.5 MPG - which is effectively a worst case scenario. Because it was a single trip, most of the time the car was driven on dual carriageways or A-roads. The trip computer gave a split of more than 60 miles under electric power, and just under 200 on petrol in this instance.
The 4xe is clearly the most efficient model in the Renegade range, and that largely comes down to the 11.4 kWh battery that drives the electric motor. This can be recharged via a Type 2 inlet in less than two hours from a 7 kW unit. Connected car services help drivers pre-condition and check charge, or set charging times, and other familiar electric vehicle features include regenerative braking, eCoasting (stronger regen), and driving modes.
The Renegade 4xe’s modes include Hybrid, Electric, and E-Save. The latter is available as either Passive or Active systems, where the former holds the charge largely by using the engine, and the latter actively charges the battery to 80%
There are three trim levels for the Renegade 4xe - Longitude, Limited, and Trailhawk. Entry level Longitude includes a Uconnect 8.4-inch touchscreen system with Apple CarPlay/Android Auto integration, rear parking sensors, 7-inch colour driver’s display, 17-inch alloy wheels, dual-zone air conditioning, leather steering wheel, and cruise control. All models also get Jeep’s Selec-terrain system with driving/terrain modes and hill descent control.
Limited trim (tested) adds a full LED lighting pack, leather upholstery, adapter cruise control, 18-inch alloys, front parking sensors, and heated seats and steering wheel. Packs available include a parking pack which adds a rear camera, park assist, and blind spot monitoring, keyless entry and start, 19-inch alloys, and Visibility pack for automatic wipers and lights. Finally, there’s a Trailhawk edition, which boosts engine power to 180 hp and adds Trailhawk design elements, off-road skid plates, 17-inch off-road wheels, Rock mode to the Selec-Terrain system, and rear privacy glass.
JEEP RENEGADE 4XE: MODEL SUMMARY
Jeep’s Renegade 4xe has plenty of competitors in the crossover class - including PHEV options. However, if you’re looking for something that can tackle off-roading, the only thing that comes in this size of SUV is the Range Rover Evoque, and that’s considerably more expensive. The electric-only range is not particularly good, but still useful for most drivers, and the Renegade 4xe is a fun car with plenty of character to attract buyers.
Model tested: Jeep Renegade 4xe Limited
Body-style: Compact SUV
Engine / CO2: 1.3 litre petrol engine and 44 kW electric motor / 49 g/km
Trim grades: Longitude, Limited, and Trailhawk
On-road price: From £32,600. Price as tested: £34,500
Warranty: Five Years / 75,000 miles
In the showroom: Now
Review rating: 3.0 Stars