Jeep Renegade 4xe Trailhawk
The first step in Jeep's transition to e-mobility, Richard Gooding discovers that the Renegade 4xe marries proper go-anywhere ability and style with plug-in capability
What is it?
Fiat Chrysler Automobiles (FCA) is now under the vast wings of the Stellantis, the group which spans Citroën, DS, Opel, Peugeot, and Vauxhall. '4xe' is the name given to Jeep's plug-in hybrid models, which, as part of the FCA empire, were developed before FCA was welcomed into the Stellantis embrace. Therefore, the Jeep 4xe models differ from their Stellantis stablemates in terms of powertrain, but their idea is the same. So, simply, the Renegade 4xe is a plug-in hybrid model of the popular 4x4 SUV.
What range does it have?
Jeep quotes an official WLTP test zero-emissions range of up to 31 miles, and the 4xe can travel on electric power up to 81mph. To help recuperate energy and aid range, an 'eCoasting' mode is always active to maximise energy recovery when both the throttle and brake pedals are released. The process can be intensified by the press of a button.
How long does it take to charge?
On a 7.4kW connection, the Renegade 4xe's 11.4kWh battery can be recharged to 80 per cent in around an hour, reaching the magic 100 per cent in a coincidental 100 minutes. A domestic socket connection takes less than four hours.
How does it drive?
Outside, the 4xe looks little different to other Renegade Trailhawk models. Some may take exception to the Renegade's looks – especially with our test car's 'Bikini Turquoise' paint – but its chunky and funky silhouette is appealing, with only blue '4xe' badges giving the plug-in hybrid game away. Inside, it's the same story as a regular Renegade, and while it's not what we'd call premium, the rough and tumble materials are more than up the job.
The 8.4-inch colour touchscreen Uconnect infotainment in the middle of the dashboard features a hybrid and electric 'pages' that show power flow, the amount of energy regeneration, charging and pre-conditioning schedules, as well as 'E-save' battery charge or save settings. It's comprehensive but also perhaps a little too stylised – every on-screen button transitions to a hexagon shape.
Three operating modes – Hybrid (default), Electric and E-Save to hold capacity or charge the battery while driving – tailor the driving experience. The Renegade 4xe's powertrain starts in electric mode, with the combustion engine started when power is needed. When it does fire up, it's not intrusive, and is in keeping with the plug-in Jeep's hushed cruising ability, despite its truck-sized door mirrors.
Perhaps given its chunky tyres and appearance, agility isn't an area where the Renegade excels. It's steering is nicely weighted, but it gives nothing back in feel. However, the ride is comfortable. Not a sporty drive, the Renegade leans a bit in corners, and it's better to leave it in Hybrid mode and enjoy the comfort.
The vast armoury of driving modes is where the Renegade PHEV trumps its competition. Auto is the default setting; Sport sharpens up the responses; and Snow, Mud/Sand and Rock modes provide more grip in loose surface conditions. A pair of 4WD Lock and 4WD Low modes highlight the Renegade's proper 'go-anywhere' ability.
What does it cost?
Jeep offers the Renegade 4xe in three trims. The entry level £32,600 Longitude includes 17-inch alloy wheels, Apple CarPlay and Android Auto connectivity, dual zone climate control, hill descent control, and an 8.4-inch infotainment system. The £34,500 Limited adds LED headlights, as well as heated leather seats and steering wheel. The £36,500 Trailhawk, as tested here features a bonnet decal, privacy glass, a reversible boot floor, skid plates and a tow hook.
How much does it cost to tax?
With CO2 emissions of 51g/km, the Renegade 4xe attracts a £15 VED rate for the first year of registration, rising to £145 for the years thereafter. In terms of Benefit in Kind (BIK) rates, the Jeep sits in the 14 per cent for 2021-2022, increasing by one per cent both in 2022-2023 and 2023-2024.
Why does my fleet need one?
If you manage fleets that care for environmental sites and want a car that's more rough and tumble than a regular SUV and can run on zero emissions off-road, the Renegade 4xe will fit the bill. Its 4x4 SUV style is backed up with proper off-road ability, and the added benefit of its electric running means that it is equally at home nipping around silently in a city or squelching along rutted tracks, free of any environmentally-damaging emissions.