Jeep Avenger review
The Jeep Avenger is the 4x4 brand’s first step into the electric age, and one of 2023’s most anticipated EVs
- 249-mile range
- Chunky 4x4 looks
- Surprisingly practical
- Only one mode for the regenerative braking
- Not going to be cheap
- Missing AWD at launch
|Car type||Range||Wallbox charging time||Rapid charging time|
|Electric||248 miles||7hrs 30mins (0-100%, 7.4kW)||30mins (10-80%, 100kW)|
The new, fully electric Jeep Avenger is arguably the most important model the American 4x4 brand has launched for a decade. It’s not only Jeep’s first-ever EV, it’s a car engineered and designed for Europe that'll be produced here, too.
You can now pre-order the compact electric SUV in limited '1st Edition' specification, and deliveries are due to begin in the summer, but we managed to grab some time in a late-stage prototype to get our first taste.
The Avenger will be the smallest model in Jeep’s line-up, and is based on a new version of the e-CMP platform that underpins the Peugeot e-2008, Vauxhall Mokka Electric and recently facelifted DS 3 E-Tense – all from parent company Stellantis. The platform is simply called e-CMP2, with Jeep also giving its car shorter front and rear overhangs compared to the other EVs that use the same running gear.
It’s instantly recognisable as a Jeep because of the Avenger’s chunky, off-road-ready look that incorporates pronounced wheelarches, plus large black plastic bumpers and side cladding. Up front, there’s a blanked-out version of the brand’s iconic seven-slot grille and the blue ‘e’ badging already worn by plug-in hybrid Jeeps. The rear, meanwhile, gets a set of X-shaped tail lights and a flat boot lid that’s distinctively Jeep.
The Avenger is powered by a 51kWh usable battery and a single electric motor producing up to 154bhp and 260Nm of torque, all of which is sent to the front wheels only. A front-wheel drive Jeep will be sacrilegious to die-hard fans of the brand, but we’ve already been told a four-wheel drive version is on its way and could arrive as soon as 2024. This model is likely to get an additional motor on the rear axle.
But a dual-motor version will almost certainly offer less range than front-drive models like the one we drove, which will officially do 248 miles between charges – or as much as 342 miles in stop-start city traffic according to Jeep. The Avenger’s 100kW maximum charging rate is good for a 10-80% top-up in half-an-hour, while a regular 7kW home wallbox should fully recharge the battery in a little under eight hours. So far, so good.
Thankfully, the Avenger isn't just a handsome face. The ride is on the firmer side of comfortable, but stiffer damping means you don’t sacrifice control, as we found on the rougher access roads to Stellantis’s Balocco test track where we drove the Avenger for the first time.
There’s a pleasing amount of weight to the steering, which feels consistent and direct. The Avenger even did a good job of staying flat in corners. We’ll hold off on a definitive verdict on the ride quality until we take the final production out on the road, but we suspect the Avenger will offer a better mix of composure, comfort and control than many of its rivals – including the electric Mokka, 2008 and DS 3.
Refinement was similarly impressive, with the new electric motor under the bonnet emitting next to no whine, even when we put our foot down. We only detected a very slight amount of road noise and a bit of wind rush from around the side mirrors once we passed 60mph.
There are three driving modes designed for the road: Normal gives you 107bhp and 220Nm of torque to play with, which is enough punch for B-roads and motorways, while switching to Eco mode drops the power to 81bhp and 180Nm, and makes the Avenger feel a little lethargic. We’d avoid this setting if you’re not trying to eke out every mile of range possible pottering around town or in the city.
The Avenger’s ability to carry speed through corners means you’re unlikely to find yourself switching to Sport mode very often to get the full 154bhp and 260Nm. But should you feel the need to do so, the steering and pedal modulation in the Jeep aren’t thrown out of whack.
We did try one of the off-road modes as well, specifically ‘Mud’ which allows the front wheels to spin a little more than usual in a bid to clear them of sludge and find better traction. Admittedly, the few puddles we could find didn’t allow us to push the Avenger to the extremes a Jeep should be able to withstand, but the front-wheel drive SUV proved it could cope with slippery, wet conditions no problem.
The increased ride height over its Stellantis sister cars helped avoid ground obstacles that would ding the underside of its rivals, however. The other drive modes in the Jeep are ‘Sand’ and ‘Snow’ – and there’s also a hill-descent control system as well.
We can’t say for sure how realistic the Avenger’s roughly-250-mile range is, though a couple of hours testing it on a chilly November morning indicated the Jeep would deliver around 220 miles on a charge – not too shabby. Flicking into the ‘B’ mode increases the strength of the regenerative braking quite significantly, and would help the car to travel comfortably further in town, though it’s a shame it doesn’t offer multiple regen levels like the Kia Niro EV.
Inside, all models feature a 10.25-inch touchscreen for the infotainment system, complete with Apple CarPlay and Android Auto. That’s paired with a seven-inch digital driver’s display in lower-spec cars, or a larger 10.25-unit in the pricier versions. The user interface is pretty slick, while the central display is quick to respond.
The dashboard design is neat and simple, but also functional, thanks to the use of physical buttons for the drive-selector and climate controls – even the three-spoke steering wheel features proper switches and buttons. You also get some body-coloured inserts that help brighten the cabin and some patterned textures rather than boring grey plastics.
There’s enough space inside for four adults, with noticeably more knee and legroom in the rear than a DS 3 or Mokka Electric offers, although any taller individuals who sit in the centre seat might struggle for headroom. The boot is a decent size at 355 litres, and the adjustable floor uses a washable material on one side, ideal if you plan to use your Avenger to go for walks with your dog.
At the time of writing, UK customers can only order the Avenger in 1st Edition specification, which starts at £36,500. For that you get a generous amount of standard kit, including 18-inch alloy wheels, all-round parking sensors, dual 10.25-inch displays, ambient lighting, a wireless smartphone charger, heated seats and a heated windscreen, plus adaptive cruise control, lane centring, traffic jam assist and a powered tailgate with hands-free gesture control.
The full Avenger range will launch in the UK in June, and we've been told the line-up will include cheaper and more expensive models compared to the 1st Edition. We expect the base Avenger will be equipped with LED lights, keyless go, the full gambit of terrain modes, a seven-inch instrument panel, 10.25-inch touchscreen, rear parking sensors, and 16-inch alloy wheels.
Beyond the standard trim levels, Jeep is planning a relatively simple selection of option packs and a choice of seven colours. But customers will then be able to customise their cars further at their dealership, by applying graphics to everything from the front grille to the roof.
Our time in the Jeep Avenger was limited, but even so we found the compact electric SUV was practical, composed and surprisingly refined. It also features the chunky 4x4 looks and functional touches that Jeep buyers like, as well as a splash of charm, which is something you don’t find in every EV. Purists will scoff at the thought of a front-wheel drive, pure-electric Jeep sitting alongside the legendary Wrangler in dealerships, but the brand’s ‘go-anywhere’ spirit is still present in the Avenger.