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Jeep Renegade 4x4 review 2021: The popular SUV goes green

We test drive the new plug-in hybrid version of Jeep's baby SUV

The Jeep Renegade has always been well worth considering if you're in the market for a compact 4x4 that's as much at home in the city or the countryside. It's now an even more tempting proposition because an electrified version (known as the 4xe) has been launched.

Jeep's first plug-in hybrid vehicle, it combines a 11.4kWh battery and small electric motor with a 1.3-litre petrol turbo engine, meaning this charismatic crossover can travel for 26 miles on electricity alone.

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If you charge it regularly, there’s the possibility of some very low running costs (Jeep claims it can return up to 134mpg), while CO2 emissions start at less than 50g/km. The battery can be topped up in under two hours using a home wallbox or under five from a standard three-pin plug.

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Like all hybrid cars, it's also possible to add charge during braking and coasting. Called regenerative braking, it's a way of saving the wasted energy from the process of slowing down a car and using it to recharge the battery. Despite the addition of hybrid technology, the Renegade remains much the same, which is no bad thing.

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Distinctively styled, it's a great option for families because there's ample space inside (front and back), visibility is excellent, there’s a high-driving position and there are plenty of cubbyholes for smaller items The only slight change (due to the new battery pack) is that boot space is down 20 litres to a still useful 330 litres, while the overall 1,277 litres with the rear seats folded is as impressive as ever.

Available with two versions of the same petrol engine (128bhp or 178bhp), you can choose from three trim levels - starting with Limited and moving up to the better equipped Longitude and off-road orientated Trailhawk models. We'd recommend the mid-range Longitude with the smaller of the engine options.

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Thanks to the boost from the battery and electric motor, it's surprisingly nippy with a 0-62mph time of 7.5 seconds and a top speed of 113mph. During a half-day run incorporating a healthy mix of driving on and off road, we ended up with an average of 55mpg, but fuel economy will depend on journey length (the shorter the better because you'll run in pure electric mode for longer).

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It switches seamlessly from electric to engine power and it's possible to increase the regenerative braking effect by pressing a button on the gear selector (useful for downhill stretches). The Renegade 4xe's rivals include the Vauxhall Grandland X, Mini Countryman PHEV and Kia Niro Plug-in-Hybrid, but none of them can match the Jeep off-road. All Renegade plug-ins are four-wheel drive, and thanks to the electric power boost, they are arguably even more capable when the going gets tough than their petrol-powered siblings. Snow, sand, rock, mud modes are available.

We tried the 4xe on a special course involving thick, slippery mud, steep hills and tricky dips and it coped admirably, especially considering it was shod with standard road tyres. So, if you live in a rural area suspectable to extreme weather conditions, or you don’t want to get stuck in the mud on camping trips and at festivals, then the Renegade is a great option.

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That said, with light steering, a smooth six-speed automatic gearbox and compact dimensions, it's a doddle to drive in town too.

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Overall, it offers a comfortable ride, and you can even have some fun on faster, flowing country roads if you stick it in Sport mode. Naturally, the Renegade is available with all the latest safety and driver assistance kit including Autonomous Emergency Braking (AEB), lane departure warning, blind spot monitoring, traffic sign recognition and drowsy driver detection. It also features the latest a 7.0-inch digital driver's display and an 8.4-inch infotainment system with a sat nav, plus Apple Carplay and Android Auto connectivity.

HELLO!'s verdict: The all-new Jeep Renegade 4xe should definitely be on your shortlist if you're looking for a compact plug-in hybrid SUV with genuine off-road capability. Funky, easy to drive and spacious, it’s available with a three-year servicing and roadside assistance package, plus an eight-year battery warranty for that extra peace of mind. Price: from £32,600. 

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