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Driven: 2023 Jeep Avenger. Image by Jeep.

Driven: 2023 Jeep Avenger
Jeep goes all-electric with new compact SUV, but does the Avenger stack up against a growing range of rivals?

   



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2023 Jeep Avenger

3.5 3.5 3.5 3.5 3.5

The transition to electric power is beginning to take hold at Jeep. The Compass is already a hybrid, the new Grand Cherokee will be a hybrid, and there are hybrid Wranglers. But the Avenger is Jeep's first all-electric car, and it's a compact SUV designed to rival the Vauxhall Mokka-e. But will it live up to the Jeep name, and can it challenge the fleet of other battery-powered crossovers with which it must compete?

Test Car Specifications

Model: 2023 Jeep Avenger Summit
Price: £42,125 (as tested)
Motor: 115kW electric motor
Transmission: single-speed automatic, front-wheel drive
Battery: 54kWh lithium-ion battery
Power: 156hp
Torque: 260Nm
Emissions: 0g/km
Range: 249 miles
0-62mph: 9.6 seconds
Top speed: 93mph
Boot space: 380-1,277 litres

Styling

Externally, the Avenger has plenty of Jeep trademarks, from the seven-bar grille to the chunky arches and the squared-off roofline. But it's only a small car, and the overall look is quite remarkable. Like the Evoque, which was somehow too small for its looks when it was launched, yet still attractive, the Avenger has managed to break the rules and come out smelling of roses. It's a really good-looking car, in a sort of robust, small dog kind of way. Especially in a good colour. The only thing we aren't sold on is the 'hidden' rear door handle, which looks and feels like a bit of an afterthought.

Interior

The Avenger's interior is minimalist in a way we haven't really seen from Jeep before. With very little in the way of buttons on the dash, there's just a touchscreen and a small cluster of well-integrated buttons around the air vents, plus a few vital controls lower down the dash. Then, as the dashboard merges into the centre console, there are buttons for gear selection and a large central cubby hole that's covered by a kind of magnetic blind that reminds us of the case/holder arrangements for iPads.

But it's the central touchscreen that dominates everything, operating as the nerve centre for the whole car. It's a screen lifted from other products in the Stellantis stable, and it's far from perfect, but at least it looks pretty good and it generally works well, even if there's occasional lag and some of the menus are a bit confusing. Perhaps more impressive is the clear, easy-to-read instrument display, although any warning or error messages on that can cover other information you might want access to.

Generally speaking, the cabin quality is pretty solid, and we're fans of the colourful trim across the dashboard, which makes the Avenger feel a bit more fun. There are some sharp bits of plastic knocking about, but for a small-ish SUV it largely feels pretty premium.

Practicality

Because it's a little on the small side, the Avenger isn't the most spacious thing on the road, especially for a car that costs more than £40,000 as tested. But as an urban runabout, it works pretty well, with just about enough space for four adults, although those in the rear seats won't want to spend too long there. Headroom is good, but legroom is a bit tight, particularly if you're sitting behind somebody tall. At 380 litres, boot space is on a par with, say, a VW Golf, but it isn't massive by SUV standards. At least it should be enough to work as a family runabout without too much trouble.

Performance

Under the Avengerís bonnet is a 156hp electric motor that drives the front wheels alone Ė if youíre looking for all-wheel-drive, look elsewhere Ė and thatís fed by a 54kWh battery pack. The result is a compact SUV thatís capable of 0-62mph in an unremarkable 9.6 seconds and, more importantly, offers an official range of about 250 miles on a charge. Obviously, that wonít be the case in the real world, where about 170 miles is more realistic on the motorway and 200 miles is probably about right over a mixture of roads. However, itís enough for plenty of customers to be getting on with. And with 100kW charging, it doesnít take too long to top up the battery.

On the road, the propulsion system is as quiet as youíd expect, and while the official performance figures donít make for brilliant reading, the instant get-up-and-go is pretty useful. It feels faster than the data suggests, and overtaking is a simple affair. But some customers will lament the lack of all-wheel-drive performance, and though Jeep has added some clever tech to give it a bit of capability, it doesnít feel like the rough-and-tumble kind of car you might expect from the American brand.

Ride & Handling

Yet despite that, the Avenger still drives like a proper 4x4. It isn't as agricultural as some older SUVs, but the driving position and the suspension combine to give you the feeling of being quite high up, even when you aren't. That's exacerbated by the ride, which isn't unpleasant by any stretch, but it isn't especially supple, either. It's probably best described as "fine", with enough absorption to prevent most bumps troubling your backside, but the occasional sense that it could be a bit more supple.

The advantage of that, and the low centre of gravity provided by the battery under the floor, is that the Avenger's body control is very good. But that's tempered by light steering that seems better suited to crawling around town or low-speed off-roading than cornering on a decent country lane. Still, it's an electric SUV, and it'll spend far more time in town than it will bombing around the English countryside.

Value

At £35,700 for a basic Longitude model, the Avenger isn't a cheap way of getting from A to B. But then nor is it especially expensive in the world of electric cars. Take, for example, the loosely related Peugeot E-308, which costs about £5,000 more but offers little extra space and barely any more quality. And there's plenty of kit as standard, including climate control, a digital instrument display and a touchscreen infotainment system, as well as a reversing camera and 17-inch alloy wheels.

In truth, there isn't much point in choosing the range-topping Summit model tested here, because it gets little more equipment than the mid-range Altitude model. Not only does that car get all the standard kit already mentioned, but it also benefits from bigger wheels, heated front seats and wireless phone charging.

Verdict

Whether the Avenger counts as a Ďproperí Jeep is open to debate. Yes, it has some off-road gubbins, but without all-wheel-drive, does it really deserve the seven-bar grille? But all that Ė and our fears about potential reliability issues Ė aside, itís a likeable little electric car. The range is adequate, rather than ample, and the cabin can feel a bit dark, but it feels pleasantly chunky and cute, all at once. Itís a charmer.



James Fossdyke - 28 Nov 2023



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2023 Jeep Avenger Summit. Image by Jeep.2023 Jeep Avenger Summit. Image by Jeep.2023 Jeep Avenger Summit. Image by Jeep.2023 Jeep Avenger Summit. Image by Jeep.2023 Jeep Avenger Summit. Image by Jeep.

2023 Jeep Avenger Summit. Image by Jeep.2023 Jeep Avenger Summit. Image by Jeep.2023 Jeep Avenger Summit. Image by Jeep.2023 Jeep Avenger Summit. Image by Jeep.2023 Jeep Avenger Summit. Image by Jeep.








 

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