Some manufacturers are starting to integrate the technology associated with PHEVs into the driving experience in a pretty slick and seamless way. It’s early days, of course, but Jeep isn’t at that stage.
This firm’s models were among the original ‘dual-purpose’ off-roaders, and you might well consider this one a ‘multi-purpose’ vehicle of a sort. What it lacks, however, is much in the way of overarching consistency between its various and discrete operating roles – a matching strength and refinement about its motorway performance, for example, as it has when running in zero-emissions urban mode, or the ability to cruise sufficiently economically in ‘range-extended mode’ so that you might consider it frugal for more than just short-range pootling.
The car performs well around town when there is charge in its batteries. The electric rear axle is evidently geared short to satisfy Jeep’s requirements for the Renegade off the road. Away from rest and up to about 40mph, then, it’s very easy to avoid rousing the combustion engine (you can simply select Electric driving mode to be sure not to) and there’s plenty of torque for nippy, enjoyable bursts of acceleration.
Seek to maintain the same nippiness between 30mph and 50mph, though, and the engine chimes in pretty frequently when you switch back to Hybrid mode. Above 50mph, that engine runs more often than not – and you’ll know when it is. The 1.3-litre petrol four-pot feels a little rough and sounds particularly noisy when working at revs, and there’s a slightly diesely clatter about it when warming up.