|Car type||Scope||Wallbox loading time||Fast loading time|
|Electrical||249 miles||c.7 hours (0-100%, 7 kW)||24 minutes (20-80%, 100 kW)|
Jeep’s status as one of the few mainstream automakers yet to launch an electric vehicle will end in 2023, when the American 4×4 brand gears up to launch the all-new, all-electric Avenger SUV. It’s a car engineered and designed for Europe, and it will be manufactured here as well.
The compact electric SUV won’t go on sale here until January 2023, before deliveries start in the summer, but we managed to get some time in a late prototype to get our first taste.
The Avenger will be the smallest model in Jeep’s range 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 recognizable as a Jeep due to the Avenger’s chunky, off-road appearance that includes pronounced wheel arches, plus large black plastic bumpers and side cladding. Up front is a muted version of the brand’s iconic seven-slot grille and the blue ‘e’ badge already worn by plug-in hybrid Jeeps. The rear, meanwhile, gets a set of X-shaped taillights and a flat boot lid that’s distinctly Jeep.
The first versions to come will have 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 sacrilege for die-hard fans of the brand, but we’ve already been told that an all-wheel-drive version is on the way. This model will likely get an additional engine 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 150 miles between charges—or as much as 210 miles in stop-start city traffic, according to Jeep. The Avenger’s maximum charge rate of 100kW is good for a 20-80% charge in 24 minutes, while a standard 7kW home wallbox should fully charge the battery in around seven hours. So far everything is good.
Thankfully, the Avenger isn’t just a pretty 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 Stellanti’s Balocco test track where we drove the Avenger for the first time.
The steering has a pleasant weight, which feels consistent and direct. The Avenger even did a good job of staying flat in the corners. We’ll wait to make a definitive assessment of ride quality until we take the final production out on the road, but we suspect the Avenger will offer a better mix of poise, comfort, and control than many of its competitors—including the electric Mokka , 2008 and DS 3.
Refinement was equally impressive, with the new electric motor under the hood almost no whine, even when we put our foot down. We detected only a very small amount of road noise and some wind noise around the side mirrors when passing 60 mph.
There are three drive modes designed for the road: Normal gives you 107bhp and 220Nm of torque to play with, which is enough power for B-roads and motorways, while switching to Eco mode drops power to 81bhp and 180Nm, making the Avenger feel a bit dull. We’d avoid this setup unless you’re trying to get every mile of range possible around town or in the city.
The Avenger’s ability to carry speed through corners means you’re unlikely to be switching into 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 is not thrown away.
We also tried one of the off-road modes, specifically ‘Mud’ which allows the front wheels to spin a bit more than usual in an attempt to clear them of mud and find better grip. Admittedly, the few puddles we could find didn’t allow us to push the Avenger to the extremes a Jeep should handle, but the front-wheel-drive SUV proved it could handle slippery, wet conditions no problem.
The increased ride height over its Stellantis sister cars helped avoid ground obstacles that would loop the underside of competitors. The other driving modes in the Jeep are “Sand” and “Snow” – and there is also a hill control system.
We can’t say for sure how realistic the Avenger’s range of around 250 miles is, although a couple of hours of testing on a chilly November morning indicated that the Jeep would deliver around 220 miles on a charge – not too shabby. Flicking into ‘B’ mode increases the strength of the regenerative braking quite significantly and would help the car travel comfortably further around town, although it’s a shame it doesn’t offer multiple regenerations like the Kia Niro EV.
Inside, all models feature a 10.25-inch touchscreen infotainment system, complete with Apple CarPlay, Android Auto and TomTom sat-nav. It’s paired with a seven-inch digital driver display in lower-spec cars, or a larger 10.25 unit in the more expensive versions. The user interface is quite nice, while the central display is quick to respond.
The dashboard design is sleek 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 has appropriate switches and buttons. You also get some body colored inserts to help brighten up the cabin and some patterned textures rather than boring gray plastic.
There’s enough space inside for four adults, with noticeably more rear knee and legroom than a DS 3 or Mokka Electric offers, although any taller middle-seat occupants may struggle for headroom. The boot is a decent size at 355 litres, and the adjustable floor uses a washable material on one side, perfect if you plan to use your Avenger for walking your dog.
UK pricing and specifications have yet to be announced, but we do know UK customers will be offered Jeep’s Longitude and Limited trim levels. The former comes with LED lights, keyless go, the full range of off-road modes, a seven-inch instrument panel, 10.25-inch touchscreen, rear parking sensors and 16-inch alloy wheels. Meanwhile, the more expensive of the two will get 17-inch wheels, the larger dashboard, different front seat upholstery, adaptive cruise control and an electric tailgate with hands-free gesture control.
UK buyers will also be able to get their hands on a First Edition model, which gets 18-inch wheels, all-round parking sensors, ambient lighting, a wireless smartphone charger, heated seats and a heated windscreen, plus folding side mirrors and LED taillights.
In addition to these trim levels, Jeep plans a relatively simple selection of optional packages and a choice of seven colors. But customers will then be able to customize their cars further at their dealer, by applying graphics to everything from the front grill to the roof.
Our time in the Jeep Avenger was limited, but we still found the compact electric SUV to be practical, composed and surprisingly refined. It also has the chunky 4×4 look and functional details that Jeep buyers like, as well as a splash of charm, which is something you don’t find in every electric car. Purists will scoff at the thought of a front-wheel-drive, all-electric Jeep sitting next to the legendary Wrangler in dealerships, but the brand’s go-anywhere spirit is still present in the Avenger.