An electrified Jeep will soon be on the streets of Europe, following the official launch of the Renegade ‘4xe’ plug-in hybrid in July.
Available in Longitude, Limited and Trailhawk grades and identified by blue badging, the Renegade will be followed by 4xe hybrid versions of the Compass and Wrangler, all aimed primarily at European markets that have tougher emissions laws and a larger take-up rate of hybrid and electric vehicles.
The Renegade 4xe runs the familiar 1.3-litre turbocharged four-cylinder petrol engine, driving the front wheels through a six-speed automatic (there’s no nine-speed on the Trailhawk), but adds a pair of electric motors – one on the rear axle driving the rear wheels, with the other up front, serving as a generator for the petrol engine.
On petrol power alone, the 4xe produces 97kW or 134kW, depending on model grade. The 45kW rear-mounted electric motor, fuelled by an 11.4kWh lithium-ion battery, boosts total output to 142kW and 179kW.
On electric power alone, the Renegade 4xe’s range is a meagre 42km, but a regenerative braking function recoups some energy. Listed fuel economy is as little as 1.75lt/100km.
Three basic driving modes are available – Hybrid, Electric and E-save.
Hybrid optimises power and minimizes fuel consumption via an algorithm that modifies joint intervention of the two power sources for the most efficient operation. Electric power is used initially, but when the battery reaches a critical level or when the required performance exceeds that of the electric motor, the 1.3 turbo kicks in.
Electric runs off the 45kW electric motor only, driving the ‘e-axle’ via reduction gear and an integrated diff. A top speed of up to 130km/h is possible, but range is less than 45km. When the battery is exhausted, the system switches to Hybrid mode automatically.
E-save is designed to maintain battery charge level while driving. Two secondary modes - Passive E-save and Active E-save – maintain charge directly via the petrol engine (Passive) or through the front generator (Active).
Regardless of the driving mode, an ‘eCoasting’ mode is always active. This maximizes energy recovery, with a selectable ‘Intense’ function enhancing regenerative braking.
Off-road with e-AWD
Jeep’s Active Drive Low on-demand AWD system is standard on all Renegade 4xe variants. Jeep says it delivers more torque – up to 50 per cent more than a diesel-engined Trailhawk – thanks to the addition of the rear electric motor, and as each axle is powered independently, torque can be controlled more effectively than in a traditional mechanical system, with rear-axle traction available immediately.
Drive characteristics are adjustable via Selec-Terrain traction control that offers four driving modes as standard – Auto, Sport, Snow and Sand/Mud – with the Renegade 4xe Trailhawk adding a Rock mode.
Hill Descent Control is standard on all variants and there’s also a range of selectable four-wheel drive modes, including 4WD Lock that permanently engages drive to both axles at speeds up to 14km/h.
Ensuring drive to all four wheels at all times is a ‘powerlooping’ function that, when the battery level is low, uses the front electric motor to directly fuel the rear motor.
Tech and Features
Chief among the Renegade 4xe’s clever features is the My Uconnect app that allows the vehicle owner to set recharge times to take advantage of reduced electricity rates, as well as check battery charge level and engage heating or air con remotely, to ‘pre-condition’ the vehicle before use.
There are a bunch of functions and features available through Uconnect Services, including enhanced navigation functionality that advises of traffic, weather, speed cameras and even points of interest along a desired route. There are also vehicle location, charge point identification and emergency assistance functions available.
An 8.4-inch centre touchscreen, 7-inch TFT instrument display, smartphone connectivity and DAB radio are all standard. Other interior trims mirror conventional Renegade offerings.
Due for release to European and UK markets from September, the Renegade 4xe will be priced from £32,600 in the UK; a hefty premium of 65 per cent over a conventionally-powered 2WD Renegade Longitude. Priced at £34,500 and £36,500 respectively, the Limited and Trailhawk variants attract premiums of around 50 per cent.
Australian release of the Renegade 4xe, or other Jeep hybrids, is not being considered at this stage.