Jeep Renegade 4xe plug-in hybrid engines, drive & performance

It's far from being the most engaging SUV on the road, but few cars in its class can match it when the tarmac ends

Jeep Renegade 4xe
0-62mph Top speed Driven wheels Power
7.1–7.5s 124mph Four-wheel drive 187–237bhp

The entry-level Renegade 4xe is powered by a 128bhp 1.3-litre turbocharged petrol engine and a 59bhp electric motor, mated to an 11.4kWh battery, with a total system output of 187bhp; the top-spec Trailhawk model gets a more powerful petrol engine pushing power to 237bhp. Power from the electric portion of the drivetrain is sent exclusively to the rear wheels, while the petrol engine takes care of the front axle.

On the move, the Renegade's new plug-in hybrid drivetrain translates to a comfortable driving experience. In full electric mode there's very little motor noise, just a soft buzz that's paired with plenty of wind noise at higher speeds.

The Trailhawk with its more powerful drivetrain offers punchy performance but also does a better job off road than the standard car thanks to its extra torque and four-wheel drive. As a Jeep product the Renegade has always been one of the better small SUVs for tackling the rough stuff, and the plug-in version continues that trend.

In practice, the most powerful Renegade 4xe does well to eliminate any lag in the petrol engine's delivery, with gaps filled in by the electric motor's torque. You'll have to either select the car's new Sport mode to access this, or in standard Hybrid mode, use large throttle inputs to kick the petrol engine into life. And as is the norm with most other plug-in hybrid systems, electrical power can be saved and deployed later in a journey. In this default mode (and with a charged battery), the petrol engine takes a back seat to electric power as much as possible.

Jeep Renegade 4xe 0-62mph, top speed and acceleration

The less powerful powertrain in Longitude and Limited models get from 0-62mph in 7.5 seconds, while the more powerful Trailhawk cuts that to 7.1 seconds. This swift acceleration feels a little at odds with the car's remit and relative lack of poise on the road, but is welcome for safe overtaking. 

The 4xe can travel on electric power alone at speeds of up to 81mph, while outright top speed is 124mph with help from the petrol engine. 

Handling

While the Renegade is a comfortable car to travel in, it is not terribly engaging from a driver's perspective thanks to a lack of detail in the steering and average body control, and there's not as much grip through corners as we'd like. This is most likely a trade-off that was necessary to ensure the retention of the Renegade's trademark off-roading ability.