Jeep Avenger Review 2023 | Top Gear
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Jeep has built an excellent city car, with OK range and quick-enough rapid charging. Chuckable too

Good stuff

Useful as a city car, but fine beyond the ring-road too

Bad stuff

Not (yet) a proper off-roading Jeep

Overview

What is it?

The Avenger is a surprisingly small electric Jeep. So small in fact that if you live in the Americas it won't be at your dealer.

How small? More compact, at 4.08m, than Jeep's own petrol Renegade or almost all the little crossovers you might mention. As an electric Stellantis-brand machine, it's somewhat related to the battery-powered Vauxhall Mokka-e and DS 3 Crossback E-Tense.

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A Toyota Yaris Cross or Nissan Juke Hybrid do a half-decent job on economy so might count as rivals. But as we'll see they can't match the Jeep's rough-ground chops. An electric Ford Puma is coming in 2024. After that the Renault 4. More conventional petrol stuff like the VW T-Cross also comes sniffing around to rival the Avenger.

Fun fact: the only Jeep smaller than this was the original Willys.

The Avenger is a blocky looking thing, but largely free of pointless aggression. At least in all respects other than the name. Like too many SUVs, it sounds like some shoot'em'up computer game. We won't mention a 1970s' Hillman.

The design wraps up lots of current and past Jeep cues but riffs them into something quite progressive. Part of what makes it a proper Jeep is the body protection. The lamps and painted sheetmetal are inset from the plastic all round the perimeter, so those cheap plastic parts really do have a sacrificial role against gentle scrapes.

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This of course isn't handy only when you're greenlaning into the deep countryside for a spot of wild camping. It's also excellent at fending off the biffs of urban manoeuvres.

By the same token, short overhangs and decent ground clearance (a minimum of 200mm, and 230mm under the battery) mean strong off-road creds but also a particularly nonchalant attitude to speed bumps. Water fording is 230mm, which is half-way up your shins and would count as a pretty adventurous puddle on the road.

Unsurprisingly everything we've said so far about the dimensions and design means it'll slot perfectly into urban life, and that of course is where its owners will mostly be.

So just a feeble city runabout?

Actually, no. The battery is 51kWh, the motor 156bhp. The WLTP range lies between 241 and 255 miles depending on wheel size, so you'll probably get more than 200 real-world. With those numbers underneath you, you'll be happy to burst out beyond the ring-road.

And the Avenger copes, It's quick enough, not unpleasant to steer, and it's quiet. More detail in the Driving section of this review.

Most electric cars have a flat slab of battery in the floor. Here it's a different approach, because in some countries (not Britain) there's a petrol version too. So the separate battery modules are tessellated into the spaces where you'd find an exhaust, fuel tank and so on, and into the dead space beneath the seats. But the footwells are left clear. So it's surprisingly roomy for a little car.

All these brands are on the same platform. Boring clones?

Well yes, this started life as the shared platform of the Peugeot e-208, e-2008, DS 3, Vauxhall Corsa Electric, and Mokka. But Jeep did a lot of extracurricular homework.

It wanted shorter front and rear overhangs for better off-road work, so it redesigned the crash structures at the nose and tail, to be just as effective but more compact. That's an expensive job.

It altered the inner wings for bigger-diameter tyres and more wheel travel. It raised the rear seat for extra legroom. It changed the glass. It widened the tailgate aperture for easier loading.

Then Jeep grabbed the latest electrical hardware – all-new (not just modified) permanent-magnet motor, new battery cells, new inverter. Those bits will be cascaded to the other Stellantis cars soonish.

The on-road (and off-road) dynamics have a strongly different flavour too.

What about 4WD?

Jeep had a concept 4xe version at the 2022 Paris show and it's on sale in 2024. We asked how it worked and the engineers kept largely silent. We know the back wheels will be electrically driven, but it's hard to see where the motor will go without elbowing away some battery modules. So we'd expect either an all-electric 4x4 with a smaller boot, or a hybrid using a front-mounted engine, gearbox and generator. See the Renegade 4xe for details.

What's the verdict?

Jeep has built an excellent city car, with OK range and quick-enough rapid charging. Chuckable too

Well, who'da thunk it? Jeep has built an excellent city car. Like any decent EV the powertrain is silent, smooth and locally emissions-free. It qualifies for various cheap parking and congestion-zone incentives. It's small and manoeuvrable and the boxy outline helps you judge the corners. The bash-resistant exterior and speedbump-happy suspension calm your nerves.

That's not all, mind. It has OK range and quick-enough rapid charging, so its long-distance compass is perfectly tolerable. And the cruising manners are fine. It's actually fairly chuckable in corners, even bumpy ones. Thank the small size and long-travel suspension.

So enjoy the irony. A car designed to work reasonably well in one environment, moderate off-road trails, ends up working really well in its precise opposite. Not, of course, that Jeep didn't know that all along.

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