Useful as a city car, but fine beyond the ring-road too. Good efficiency, confident styling
Not (yet) a proper off-roading Jeep, adults will be cosy in the back, interior feels a bit naff in places
What is it?
The Avenger is a surprisingly small electric Jeep. How small? Fun fact: the only Jeep smaller than this was the original Willys. At 4.08m long, it’s more compact 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 Electric and DS 3 Crossback E-Tense. A Toyota Yaris Cross or Nissan Juke Hybrid do a decent job on economy so might count as rivals. But as we'll see they can't match the Jeep's rough-ground chops.
Looks pretty handsome, no?
The Avenger is a blocky looking thing - and as Jeep’s design boss has told TopGear.com, boxy is the brand’s future - but it’s 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.
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 154bhp; WLTP range tops out at 249 miles, depending on wheel size. 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 (0-62mph takes 9.6 seconds), not unpleasant to steer, and it's quiet. More detail in the Driving section of this review.
All these brands are on the same platform. Boring clones?
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 have been cascaded to the other Stellantis cars. The on-road (and off-road) dynamics have a strongly different flavour too.
What about 4WD?
An all-wheel drive, 4xe-badged version of the Avenger is on its way - a concept was previewed at the Paris motor show in 2022 - but as yet Jeep is refusing to say what’ll power it. Dual-motor 4WD is certainly possible, but a plug-in hybrid seems more likely. See the Renegade 4xe for details.
What's the verdict?
Well, who'da thunk it? Jeep has built an excellent city car. Like any decent EV the powertrain is silent and smooth, and 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. The cruising manners are fine, and it’s even fairly chuckable in corners. Thank the small size and long-travel suspension.
So enjoy the irony. A car designed to work reasonably well on moderate off-road trails, ends up working really well in its precise opposite. Not, of course, that Jeep didn't know that all along.