Here we find a 1.3-litre petrol and a single 60PS (44kW) electric motor producing 243PS (132kW) and 350Nm (258lb ft) between them. When working together the little jacked-up Jeep can hit 62mph in a not unimpressive 7.1 seconds and send it on to 124mph. It’s all-wheel-drive but there’s no chat between front and back axles, any balancing between the axles is done digitally.
The six-speed automatic ‘box is perhaps the Renegade’s instant downside, really struggling to wake up should you demand anything from the powertrain. Which is annoying as that driveline is actually quite sprightly with the hybrid systems engaged, it just takes time for the whole car to wake up to it. If you put the car in sport mode you’ll get a response in a far more manageable time, but then you’ll also cruise around in a higher gear, slightly negating the whole plug-in hybrid raison d’etre. The engine is very rev happy, but without providing a particularly enjoyable accompanying noise and sits in a lower gear on cruise for far longer than you really want, altogether it really make the cabin less calm than it needs to be.
Speaking of plugging in, there are three different modes that the 4xe can live in, Hybrid, Electric and E-save. They are all pretty self-explanatory; hybrid uses everything on offer in balance, Electric just uses the rear motor and E-save tries to keep hold of all that electric charge, useful if you’re on a motorway and would like to be in electric mode when you get to a city.
The ride is perfectly acceptable around town and on the more bumpy roads, but can feel a little on the wobbly side when you demand a bit more from the chassis. The extra ride height – up to 210mm – can really be felt as you pitch the car into a corner and the loose steering (the centre is somewhere) isn’t really going to provide too much confidence. Those are the sacrifices you make in order to have more security off road though.
The drive is perfectly nice in and around town and especially when in full electric mode, when the EV powertrain is much more sprightly, having no need to wait for that transmission to splash its face and get into action. On longer trips the tyres have more of a hum to them than you might like, which combined with the unnecessary engine noise can grate. But once that settles down and picks a sensible gear the Renegade becomes a reasonable place to spend time.
Off road the Renegade Trailhawk is unflustered by most things you can throw at it. We wouldn’t recommend taking it for some extreme greenlaning, but with its all-wheel-drive system and impressive ground clearance it’s quite hard to throw the Trailhawk off unless you’re in real Wrangler territory. Here we lament the fact that few will ever use that ability.