Orange Jeep is a plug in Hybrid off-roader!

Did you ever imagine speaking of an off-roader as a hybrid? A plug-in hybrid in this case to be exact. The Jeep Renegade has been around since 2015, it shares its underpinnings with the Fiat 500X and is actually made in Italy, rather than the Stateside home of the now legendary and iconic 4×4 marque. 

Being Jeep, like Land Rover, the ability to walk-the-walk when it comes to rough-roading is crucial to the brand’s identity, even if we’re just talking compact family urban SUV, which is essentially what the Renegade is. This car earns its ‘Trail Rated’ badged having been tested in the toughest of terrains – the Rubicon Trail in Sierra Nevada. In reality it has only a small proportion of the mighty Wrangler’s competency when it comes to climbing any mountain, but sits well above the waterline compared to rivals in this segment. 

In fact, the waterline can be up to 40cm high – it’s wading depth. That may not seem like an important figure, but with recent reports confirming that nearly 25% of the global population is more at risk of flooding due to climate change compared to the year 2000, it’s worth keeping in mind when purchasing your next vehicle. As is the whole reality of the damage our individual carbon footprint is doing to the environment. 

Which brings us back to the importance of this Jeep being the first electrified Jeep ahead of a plan to introduce some form of electrification to the entire range within the next two years. Frankly, plug-in hybrids are either brilliant or pointless depending on your approach. With a petrol engine in situ, in this case a 1.3-litre four-cylinder unit driving the front wheels and which, of course, can also charge the 11.4kWh battery running the 60bhp electric motor powering the rear wheels, why do you actually need to plug it in? Seems an unnecessary hassle, and if you don’t have home charging available – I agree. 

However, if you can have a home charger installed and keep this thing plugged-in on your drive you will end up with an electric-only range of 30 miles. By the way, you can select EV mode, hybrid mode or E-Save which preserves electric charge for when you want to deploy it in a low emission urban environment. 

The point however, most pertinent for you the consumer (especially in light of the recent petrol shortage) is that if your daily commute is around that mileage – and most UK motorists don’t do more than 20 miles a day – then it means you could go about your daily chores without ever needing to consume any of the petrol in the tank. Yet if you suddenly need to go see Aunty Samina all the way in Edinburgh, there’s no EV range anxiety concerns to hold you back. 

As such Jeep claims over 100mpg, admittedly I saw only 80 while I still had some battery charge, but driving it like a regular hybrid the mpg is likely to be closer to 50-55mpg. CO2 emissions is way down at 51g/km, so it saves you tax and your conscience. 

You possibly lose a bit of luggage room with a slightly higher floor, but there’s little if any compromise in interior passenger space, which maintains the Renegade’s appeal as a family hauler. Up front when you’ve finished spotting all the Easter Eggs from the Jeep grille hidden behind the review view mirror and a classic jeep in the windscreen (and don’t forget to look for a Sasquatch elsewhere!), it’s a familiar and reasonably ergonomic cabin that keeps you comfortable, provides a good vantage point for all-round visibility and an accommodating driving position even for a 6ft 2in lumboo like me. 

On the go, it doesn’t quite feel as quick as a total power output of 238bhp and 199lb ft of torque might suggest, but then it does weigh 1600kg. Still a 0-62mph acceleration time of 7.1 seconds and top speed of 124mph is all the performance you’ll ever really need if you’re being honest. The ride is good, the steering is responsive, it’s an easy drive and the dimensions keep things manageable around town and supermarket car parks. What’s not to like here quite frankly? Well perhaps the starting price of over £36,000, though that would have to be balanced against savings on petrol, which could amount to £1000 a year depending on your mileage and where and when you charge your car. What you will be assured of, is smug smiles per miles, and if you get it in bright friendly orange, occasionally people even smile back. 

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