The best selling Jeep, the Renegade, recently added a plug-in hybrid model to it’s range. The new model is called the Renegade 4xe, pronounced four-by-e & it’s aimed fairly & squarely at business customers. Whilst there’s plenty of competition in the compact SUV sector, few if any can match the Renegades 4xe’s combination of interior space, standard spec, with serious off-road ability. Competitors include the likes of the KIA Niro PHEV, Peugeot 3008 PHEV, Citroen C5 Aircross PHEV & Renault Captur PHEV & all like the 4xe, are after SME fleet business.
he 4xe is available in three specs, with entry level Longitude costing from £32,600, mid-range Limited from £34,500 & range topper Trailhawk from £36,500. The 4xe uses a 1.3-litre four-cylinder turbocharged petrol engine to drive the front wheels, with an 11.4kWh battery pack & electric motor driving the rear axle. Longitude & Limited models use a 128bhp petrol engine coupled to a 59bhp electric motor, for a combined total of 187bhp. The Trailhawk version gets more power from its 1.3-litre engine, with a total power output of 240bhp with 350Nm’s at 1750 revs.
All 4xe models are more expensive to buy than the petrol or diesel variants of the Renegade, but since the main reason for choosing the plug-in, is tax saving, this isn’t a big deal, as most 4xe customers will be leasing their Renegade. to benefit from the Benefit-in Kind of just 12%.
Jeep say that 31 miles of electric range can be had on a full battery charge in the 4xe. Recharging is handled at a maximum rate of 7.4kW for an 80% recharge in an hour. Depending on the model you select, Jeep claims between 122.8-134.5mpg, with CO2 emissions ranging from 49-52g/km. The claimed range we feel is a little misleading. As we discovered in our week spent in the 4xe, major fuel savings can be made, if you drive in pure electric mode, but if you are taking a long motorway journey, then combined economy will take a hit.
We were testing the range topping Trailhawk. Inside, the majority of the interior has been lifted from the standard Renegade, so you get a high driving position, loads of goodies as standard, including an 8.4″ central touchscreen display with Apple CarPlay & Android Auto, a 7″ PHEV coloured instrument cluster, leather upholstery, heated front seats, a heated steering wheel, six speakers, cruise control GPS SatNav, a reversing camera, LED headlights, LED taillights & blind-spot-assist.
The quality can best be described as rugged- the Renegade is built to drive across a glacier or Cumbrian Fell- & the dashboard finish isn’t as tactile as this you’ll find in many other cars in this category. The dash, central binnacle, finished in red on the Trailhawk & door pockets, feature plenty of hard plastics & compared to many of the clutter-free dashboards out there, the busy Renegade is a bit of a throwback.
All of the controls though are within easy reach & simple to use. Underneath the touchscreen sit the climate controls. Below these to the left are the aux in,12v & USB sockets, as well as the drive mode selectors; HYBRID or ELECTRIC & the E-Save button, which banks battery charge for future use. To the right of these are the off road controls & 4WD dials, which give the 4xe proper go-anywhere credentials, matched perhaps only in this sector by the Range Rover Evoque.
Passengers benefit from loads of leg & head room, both in the front & the rear. But storage is a bit stingy, with small door pocket’s that will only hold a drinks bottle & a poky glove box. There’s one small area in front of the gear stick, large enough to store your keys & another drinks holder located between the two front seats. & thats it. The boot isn’t as large as the petrol or diesel variants, either with 321 litres offered, a loss of 20 litres of space due to the hybrid system.
Climb aboard & it’s as well to know, that in order to retain battery charge & replenish it on the move, you need first, when you start the engine, to select the E-Save button on the dash. Push this in & then then the battery button to the left of the gear stick & you can utilise Hybrid mode to recharge the electric battery.
As we found out, driving in Hybrid mode on a 100 mile motorway trip, will completely replenish the cars pure-electric range, which is a very useful feature. In urban situations, in Hybrid mode, the 4xe will constantly shift the drive between petrol & electric, selecting what’s best for the situation. On the motorway, it’s best to remain in Hybrid mode allowing the car to recharge on the go, although the Renegade 4xe will happily cruise along in electric mode right up to its limited top electric speed of 81mph.
You can also select Sport mode, but we didn’t find this choice particularly enjoyable. The 1.3-litre four-cylinder engine is loud & at higher revs, feels unrefined. Choosing Sport only accentuate’s this. A 0-62mph time of 7.1 seconds is achievable.
Furthermore, due to it’s Tonka-Toy dimensions, the Renegade is quite tall with a short wheelbase. Add in the hybrid drivetrain’s extra weight & the 4xe doesn’t offer the best handling or grip at higher speeds. Better to stick to Hybrid Drive & allow the battery to replenish, whilst enjoying the 4xe as a motorway cruiser, with extremely comfortable seats.
From an economy perspective, in our week & driving over 300 miles in the Trailhawk, much of which was on the motorway, we averaged a combined fuel economy of 42.1 mpg. This may seem way below Jeep’s claimed six figure’s, but as we have tried to explain, the 4xe does offer excellent pure electric driving at lower speeds, on our test up to 26 miles of pure electric range was achieved. This enabled us to drive in pure electric mode for 3 days doing short, local hops. And we didn’t plug it in either, preferring to utilise the E-Save function, which generated a full charge for us to travel 75 electric miles. Brilliant !
Where the Renegade does score numerous Brownie Points, is when you take it off-road. The 4xe retains the regular car’s off-road drive modes & functions, such as Snow, Sand & Mud, with the rear axle still driven exclusively by electric power.
Unfortunately, we weren’t able to experience the 4xe off-road & furthermore, the 4xe went back a week before our locale had 10 cm’s of snow, which hung around for a week & would have been perfect for this purpose. No matter. At launch in Scotland back in 2015, we did get to drive the Renegade off-road. Firstly along a beach, then through deep mud, followed by a section of gravel & we can confirm that it performed admirably.
From a company car drivers perspective, the Renegade 4xe is am n incredibly attractive proposition. Opt for the entry level Longitude or the Limited & you won’t be disappointed & with the UK JEEP network featuring plenty of corporate specialist’s, there’s plenty of locations to try one out. Furthermore, if the £435 a month cost to lease a 4xe is too steep for you, then step forward the Renegade 1.0 T3 Night Eagle II. In January 2020, this model is available for just £210 a month through Jeep’s own leasing company LEASYS, which is an absolute steal !
A Four By E 3.5/5.