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First drive: Jeep Renegade e-Hybrid. Image by Jeep.

First drive: Jeep Renegade e-Hybrid
Jeep tries to keep the Renegade relevant with some tech updates. Fails, largely.

   



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Jeep Renegade e-Hybrid

2.5 2.5 2.5 2.5 2.5

Flushed by the success of its Avenger compact model, Jeep is trying to refresh all of its more compact vehicles, including the long-serving Renegade. It continues to be available as the 4xe plug-in hybrid or as this e-Hybrid version, a fuel-saving petrol powertrain which joined the range in 2022. With better in-car connectivity and a few interior alterations, can the Renegade still cut the mustard in 2024?

Test Car Specifications

Model: 2024 Jeep Renegade e-Hybrid Summit
Price: Renegade range from 30,500, e-Hybrid Summit from 33,000
Engine: 1.5-litre four-cylinder turbocharged petrol plus 15kW electric motor and 0.8kWh lithium-ion battery
Transmission: seven-speed eDCS7 dual-clutch automatic, front-wheel drive
Power: 130hp at 5,500rpm
Torque: 240Nm at 1,500rpm
Emissions: 128g/km
Economy: 49.6mpg
0-62mph: 9.7 seconds
Top speed: 119mph
Boot space: 351-1,297 litres

Styling

Arguably the Renegade's strong point, if you like a deliberate blocky contrarian stance to the smoothed-off norm in this class. But as the Renegade was last aesthetically updated on the outside for the 2019 model year, nothing much has changed here. The only key feature of this model you need to spot is the small, lower-case, green 'e' on the bootlid, which denotes this is the e-Hybrid variant. Other than that, it's pretty much as you were for the boxy Jeep - which will delight those who have always liked the Renegade, and perhaps underwhelm those who think its set-square design is getting a bit long in the tooth nowadays. Of course, visually it remains something clearly 'different' in this class, so the Jeep still has that USP on its side.

Interior

If the exterior of the Jeep is starting to display the automotive equivalent of crow's feet, it's nothing like as dated as the Renegade's cabin. And yet, all of the main changes for the 2024 model year have taken place in here, rather than on the outside. The American company has gone for the familiar tech headliners, replacing the old 8.4-inch Uconnect screen with a 10.1-inch display that supports wireless Apple CarPlay and Android Auto, while even the cluster can be a 10.25-inch high-def TFT affair, rather than the seven-inch item it was before. There's also a digital rear-view camera, USB-C sockets to complement the USB-As, full 4G connectivity for over-the-air software updates, and even a new design of heated, leather-clad steering wheel.

Impressive enough, but these cosmetic touches can't hide the fact that the basic architecture is well past its best. The plastics used for various surfaces are all charcoal grey and not the most prestigious of material finishing, while the large buttons - designed to be able to be operated by gloved hands in the sort of remote, freezing conditions that, ah... um... B-segment crossovers normally always encounter - also look dated. It all operates well enough and the new in-car technology works smoothly, with crisp graphics as well, but the Renegade's cabin feels antiquated by modern class standards. Strangely squidgy and unsupportive front seats, too, which doesn't help to convey an impression of quality. And that new steering wheel is too big. Bah.

Practicality

There's quite a bit of crossover (if you'll forgive the unintentional pun) at the bottom of Jeep's present product portfolio, as there's not much difference in size or price (to a degree) between all of the Avenger, Renegade and Compass. But whereas the US 4x4 specialist can try and claim the latter of these three is a C-segment car, designed to take on the likes of the Hyundai Tucson and more, both the Avenger and Renegade sit in the B-segment. Jeep tries to say that the Renegade is the more practical, which it is because it's about 15cm longer than the Avenger - so rear-seat space is definitely better in this car than the smaller Jeep. But the Renegade's 351-litre boot is middling by comparison, while in-cabin storage solutions are so-so. At least visibility is good out in most directions, although the Jeep has a very chunky C-pillar which can inhibit the view over the driver's shoulder when reversing.

Performance

Jeep hasn't changed the running gear of the e-Hybrid since it appeared in 2022, but while this car was given its tech update and offered for test drives alongside the all-new Avenger e-Hybrid, the two models don't share the same propulsion system. The smaller crossover has a 1.2-litre, three-cylinder engine as its basis, with a more powerful electric motor (21kW plays 15kW) and a marginally bigger battery (0.9kWh versus 0.8kWh here), as well as a more advanced six-speed eDCS-6 dual-clutch transmission. Whereas the Renegade e-Hybrid pairs a 1.5-litre four-cylinder engine to its electric magubbins, with drive going to the front wheels via a seven-speed gearbox.

It has more power than the Avenger e-Hybrid, at 130hp and 240Nm to 100hp and 205Nm, but that's about where the good news stops for the part-electric Renegade. Maybe it was a case of 'burying bad news' that Jeep allowed us to drive these two crossovers back-to-back, but the problem was that tactic backfired, as it only served to painfully highlight how outmoded the Renegade feels.

Its transmission is jerkier and slower to react than the six-speeder in the Avenger, while the 1.5-litre under the Renegade's flat bonnet is coarse and uncouth. It doesn't feel happy revving, it sounds raucous if you extend it, and at no point does it feel appreciably stronger than the 1.2 in the smaller Jeep model. Regrettably, this e-Hybrid's drivetrain is yet another area where the Renegade feels behind the curve by current standards; it's unrefined, underpowered and unresolved.

Ride & Handling

Things don't get much better for the Renegade e-Hybrid here, either. It's quite a softly sprung machine, which might make you think it's going to ride with genial good grace. But the body control feels quite loose, so the cuboid Jeep wallows in the wake of large compressions, rather than wafts, and generally doesn't smother off smaller imperfections in the road's surface as well as it might.

This average ride comfort doesn't help with the fact that the Renegade's distinguishing feature - that angular bodywork - results in poor aerodynamic performance. This means there's more wind blustering around the upright windscreen and large door mirrors at speed in the Renegade than there strictly should be, while the sound-deadening doesn't insulate occupants very well from the rigours of the tyres, the suspension doing its thing and that shouty 1.5 up front.

Don't expect great handling as the pay-off, mind, because that sloppy suspension on the Renegade makes for distinctly average cornering abilities. There's a lot of lean, pitch and dive if you start trying to up the pace in the Jeep, and while we'll cut it some slack on the basis our test car was perversely fitted with winter tyres when the outside temperature we were driving it in was 17 degrees Centigrade, we nevertheless are confident enough to say it won't turn into some kind of upright road rocket on a set of summer rubber.

In truth, nothing the Jeep Renegade does in the dynamic stakes is appalling - but neither is any facet of its powertrain or chassis capable of matching up to some of the best-in-class competitors, or even getting anywhere near them. It just feels... outmanoeuvred and outdated now. Mainly because it's based on the same underpinnings as the Fiat 500X, which was a fine car. In 2015.

Value

Jeep only sells this Renegade as either the e-Hybrid or the 4xe, with the car we're testing here in lower Altitude specification the most affordable model at 30,500. However, this Summit - with its black-tinged exterior detailing and equipment including adaptive cruise, heated front seats, 18-inch alloys, adaptive parking system and more - is 33,000, which makes it about four grand more expensive than the Avenger e-Hybrid. And unless you need more rear kneeroom than anything else, the smaller Jeep is superior to this Renegade in every measurable regard.

Verdict

We used to like the Jeep Renegade when it was a simpler and more affordable prospect than it is these days. It still has a rugged charm all of its own, but the fact remains that despite being a Jeep, it's not actually notably talented off-road in this spec - the e-Hybrid is front-wheel drive only, so it's no shrunken Wrangler - and in 2024, despite the addition of new in-car technology, the Renegade feels off the pace when you're driving it on the public highway. That's the bad news for Jeep; the good news is that the company at least has the Avenger to show for its efforts, a far more polished and likeable B-segment crossover-SUV, all things considered. Go for one of those instead.



Matt Robinson - 8 Apr 2024



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2024 Jeep Renegade e-Hybrid Summit. Image by Jeep.2024 Jeep Renegade e-Hybrid Summit. Image by Jeep.2024 Jeep Renegade e-Hybrid Summit. Image by Jeep.2024 Jeep Renegade e-Hybrid Summit. Image by Jeep.2024 Jeep Renegade e-Hybrid Summit. Image by Jeep.

2024 Jeep Renegade e-Hybrid Summit. Image by Jeep.2024 Jeep Renegade e-Hybrid Summit. Image by Jeep.2024 Jeep Renegade e-Hybrid Summit. Image by Jeep.2024 Jeep Renegade e-Hybrid Summit. Image by Jeep.2024 Jeep Renegade e-Hybrid Summit. Image by Jeep.








 

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