Life

UK Drive: The Jeep Avenger sees this 4×4 brand enter the electric era

Jeep might be known for its big, fuel-guzzling 4x4s, but the Avenger arrives as a very different breed of car. Ted Welford tries it out?

The Avenger is Jeep’s first electric model. (Jeep)
The Avenger is Jeep’s first electric model. (Jeep)

What is it?

The Avenger is a deceptively small car. (Jeep)
The Avenger is a deceptively small car. (Jeep)

Jeep is as much regarded as a type of vehicle as it is an individual brand, and if someone says something is a ‘Jeep’, they’re usually describing a big, thirsty 4×4. But in the past couple of years, the brand has been slowly changing that – with three of its cars now only available as hybrids, and the Wrangler is currently the only model to exist with ‘regular’ engines.

But Jeep is now taking the next big leap by introducing its first all-electric model, which is quite the departure. It’s not a big 4×4, but rather a small, front-wheel-drive crossover instead. It doesn’t sound all that ‘Jeep’ but is that the case?

What’s new?

The Avenger is based on the same underpinnings of the Peugeot e-2008. (Jeep)
The Avenger is based on the same underpinnings of the Peugeot e-2008. (Jeep)

The most important part of the Avenger is what’s under the bonnet, but there’s lots more to note about this Jeep. It’s been designed and built for Europe only and shares the same underpinnings as fellow Stellantis products like the Peugeot 2008 and Vauxhall Mokka.

But it’s quite a clever piece of design, as – despite the chunky styling – it’s the firm’s smallest car, measuring around four metres long. It’s no bigger than a Volkswagen Polo, in fact. While it might not be a 4×4, Jeep has fitted a clever traction control system with specific modes for sand, mud and snow. There’s rumoured to be a four-wheel-drive car in the works too.

What’s under the bonnet?

The Avenger offers a range of up to 249 miles. (Jeep)
The Avenger offers a range of up to 249 miles. (Jeep)

Jeep initially said there would be nothing but electric versions of the Avenger in the UK, but with demand slowing for EVs in recent months, it’s had a change of heart and introduced a petrol model, with a mild-hybrid expected in 2024. But the highlight remains the battery-powered car, which we’re trying here.

it uses the same powertrain as cars like the Peugeot e-2008, combining a 51kWh battery with an electric motor producing 154bhp and 260Nm of torque. Accelerating to 60mph takes 9.4 seconds, before maxing out at 93mph.

In terms of range, Jeep claims up to 249 miles, with 100kW DC rapid charging capability allowing for an 80 per cent charge in around 30 minutes. We were testing the Avenger during a particularly cold week, and found the range to be quite poor (around 160 miles), though expect it to be much better when the temperature’s a little higher.

What’s it like to drive?

The Avenger is a really quite impressive all-rounder behind the wheel. Its small size makes it brilliant to use around town and it’s especially easy to park with great visibility helping it out further. You know where all four corners of the car are at all times too.

It’s not as quick or alert as some of its battery-powered rivals, but the pick-up from the electric motor is smooth and it should offer enough pace for most. The ride quality is good, too, and soaks up bumps well and even at speed is pretty quiet for such a small car.

Though the Avenger doesn’t have the same off-road prowess as other Jeeps, the traction modes are pretty effective. We tried it down a rutted road that would have challenged many of its rivals, but plentiful ground clearance and ‘mud’ mode ensured plain sailing.

How does it look?

Various styling cues hark back to classic Jeep models. (Jeep)
Various styling cues hark back to classic Jeep models. (Jeep)

While a car’s looks will always be subjective, we love how the Avenger looks. Jeep has successfully managed to give the car a sturdy and chunky design, despite its minimal footprint. There are loads of clever easter eggs across the design, paying tribute to Jeep’s past – such as ‘seven-slot grille’ emblems.

It’s neither as tall nor as long as it seems in photos, either, yet still looks like it means business with lots of plastic cladding and a bold grille. While the yellow paint scheme on our test car certainly helped it to stand out, more reserved shades are available.

What’s it like inside?

The Avenger’s interior is smart and modern. (Jeep)
The Avenger’s interior is smart and modern. (Jeep)

The funky looks extend to the Avenger’s interior, especially if the optional £150 yellow dashboard trim is selected, which instantly brightens things up. There are next to no ‘premium’ materials used across the interior, yet it doesn’t feel cheap. The large touchscreen works well, while unlike cars like the Peugeot 2008, there are still physical climate buttons which are a welcome touch.

Though the Avenger isn’t the roomiest car, it offers a lot of space for such a small model. Rear seat space is fairly tight, but the 355-litre boot is a good size. There’s plenty of storage across the interior, especially under the flip-up cover in the centre console which is a large cubby area.

What’s the spec like?

The Avenger’s 10.25-inch touchscreen is easy and slick to use. (Jeep)
The Avenger’s 10.25-inch touchscreen is easy and slick to use. (Jeep)

All Avengers come with a decent level of equipment, with standard kit including a 10.25-inch touchscreen, keyless start and rear parking sensors, but the Altitude version makes more sense with a large digital instrument cluster added, along with adaptive cruise control and an electric boot.

At the top of the range, the Summit trim brings stylish 18-inch alloy wheels, a reversing camera and heated front seats to name just a few extras.

Prices for the petrol Avenger start from £27,600, though the electric one is quite a bit more expensive at £35,700, and the top-spec Summit model is almost £40,000, which is just too much money for something with a footprint this small.

Verdict

The Avenger is a strong return to form for Jeep, and is, without doubt, the most adventurous car we’ve seen using a Stellantis platform yet. How Jeep has packed as much as it has into a car as small as this is seriously impressive, and though not a proper four-wheel-drive, its surprising talent on different terrains sets it apart from rivals.

Jeeps are usually described as ‘characterful’, a polite way of saying they’re cool but a bit rubbish. But the Avenger manages to be both cool and talented in just about every area. It’s one of the best cars that Jeep has ever made.

  • Model: Jeep Avenger
  • Price from: £27,600
  • Model as tested: Jeep Avenger Summit
  • Price as tested: £41,375
  • Powertrain: Electric motor with 51kWh battery
  • Power: 154bhp
  • Torque: 260Nm
  • Max speed: 93mph
  • 0-60mph: 9.4 seconds
  • CO2 emissions: 0g/km
  • Range: 249 miles
  • Max charging speed: 100kW