Jeep's popular SUV is back after a makeover, with eco additions and off-road tweaks creating an impressive all-rounder, says Ed Coles
Jeep’s baby SUV burst on to the scene in 2015 and has become a popular little runaround for town and country. So much so that I know of someone who’s bought two — his and hers, so to speak.
The latest version – the Jeep Renegade 4xe Trailhawk – boasts off-road ability with some impressive eco credentials and quite a lot of sexy technology. Welcome to the plug-in hybrid Renegade 4xe Trailhawk.
The Trailhawk is the higher spec version of the Renegade. There are a few styling tweaks, such as the bonnet decals and 17in wheels with mud and slush tyres. It also sits slightly higher than the standard version with 220mm of ground clearance to make the most of its 4×4 capabilities.
It is slightly boxy in appearance, but its overall sporty ruggedness is relatively pleasing on the eye and the black-and-silver wheels work well with the Omaha orange paintwork.
Using the trusty feed bag to check underneath, we’re greeted with independent suspension front and rear and quite a bit of plastic hiding the important stuff. What we can see looks rugged enough to handle a few country excursions.
The Jeep Renegade 4xe Trailhawk is jam-packed with up-to-date technical wizardry. Up front powering the front wheels, we have a 1.3-litre petrol engine that stables an impressive 180 tiny horses. With an electric motor supplying 60 horses to the rear wheels, the Renegade gallops out 240 horsepower overall and 270Nm of torque, which should be enough to deal with any tricky situations and get the pulse racing on the open road.
The Renegade comes with a six-speed automatic gearbox that has a low range function and four-wheel drive lock. With the Terrain select function, there are five driver settings to choose from, Auto, Sport, Snow, Sand/Mud and — exclusive to the Trailhawk — Rock mode. Each one tweaks the engine and traction settings to optimise performance.
There are also three hybrid mode settings: Hybrid uses both the petrol and electric motors, Electric mode gives up to 26 miles of zero emissions driving and E-save mode preserves the battery level by only using the petrol engine to drive. The battery can also be charged in this mode via regenerative brakes that turn the braking force into electricity. Proper witchcraft.
To charge the electric motor battery, there is a standard three-pin charger cable or a wall charger cable. It takes about two hours to charge fully.
There is a reasonable amount of boot space. It’s not massive — 351 litres or, in my measurement, about five full bags of wheat. Sporting kit-wise, a couple of Labradors would be about the limit. It would be cosy but doable. Short barrels will fit, but much over 28in and you’d have to use the back seats. With the seats down, there is a little over 1,200 litres of space.
It’s rather plush inside. The black leather heated seats and steering wheel are nice additions and the interior is stylish, with contrasting trims and stitching. All the controls are close to hand and relatively user-friendly.
The Renegade has the usual creature comforts: satnav, DAB, Apple and Android connectivity and app-based entertainment. Driver aids and safety are taken care of, including lane departure, brake assist, front and rear parking sensors, as well as the optional reversing camera.
Driving the Trailhawk is rather fun, particularly in Sport mode. The electric motor works seamlessly with the petrol engine and it rattles through the six-speed gearbox. Sport mode drains the battery, but selecting E-save mode and being hard on the brakes tops it up.
Jeep Renegade 4xe Trailhawk – spirited
Around country lanes, it’s quite agile for an SUV and holds the road reasonably well. You probably wouldn’t take it for a few laps of the Nürburgring, but it’s spirited and comfortable.
Around town, electric mode works well and it’s fairly responsive and nippy. I still find it odd with no sound, but you soon get used to it. It should apparently get up to 128.4mpg, which is pretty impressive.
It’s time to take it off-piste to check some feeders. Selecting the low setting and Sand/Mud mode, it’s off through the wet wood we go. There is a little slip-sliding, but the onboard witchcraft pulls it straight and deals with the mud and ruts pretty well, negotiating the bumps with relative ease.
The individual settings work well on different terrains, but I do wonder if it could take daily off-road abuse. It is definitely capable of a day picking-up or getting around on a shoot day.
All this newfangled technology does come at a cost and, with a few optional extras fitted, the price creeps up a tad.
The on-the-road price for the Jeep Renegade 4xe Trailhawk is £36,500. Fairly eye-watering, but hybrids aren’t cheap. Hopefully, as the technology progresses, the price may come down in the future.
There are a few optional extras on the test model — Parking pack, Function Pack II Phev Trailhawk, which includes keyless entry, a fancy charger cable and a full-size steel spare wheel. All that bumps up the price to £39,100. Yep, it’s not cheap.
Overall, a good effort from the Renegade. It is definitely capable of getting about, be it in town or country. I’d like a slightly longer electric range than 26 miles and it is a bit pricey, but it’s a solid four out of five from me.
Need to know
- Manufacturer Jeep
- Model Renegade 4xe Trailhawk
- Top speed 124mph
- Power Petrol engine 180hp Electric motor (rear) 60hp 270Nm of torque
- 0-62mph (secs) 7.1 seconds
- Emissions (g/km) CO2 51g/km
- Fuel consumption 128.4mpg
- Towing weight braked 1,500kg
- Ground clearance 220mm