Is this Avenger the car to save Jeep? Jonathan Crouch decides.
Ten Second Review
The Avenger is Jeep's first mainstream compact SUV model, a small, fashionable contender that unlike most of its competitors is a bit more SUV than Crossover. It sells mainly as an EV, but is also offered in conventional petrol and 48V Hybrid forms. Virtually all the Stellantis Group engineering here we've seen before, but it's been delivered with a distinctively Jeep vibe.
The Avenger was the first-ever all-electric Jeep and at its launch in late 2022 represented a key milestone for the brand as it aimed to become a world leader in Zero Emissions SUVs. The Avenger name was one we hadn't seen since the Hillman and Chrysler saloons of the Seventies, a badge attached to the first of the brand's EVs, the smallest Jeep ever made and a fresh entry point into the company's product range. Two larger EVs will follow it - the luxury Wagoneer S and the off-road focused Recon - as part of what will be a four-strong line-up of Jeep EVs by 2025, with the whole range fully electric by 2030.
Jeep still wants to sell you combustion models too though, so the Avenger range was broadened in late 2023 to include a conventional 1.2-litre petrol model and a 48V Hybrid. Whatever their powertrains, all Avengers sit on the same ECMP2 platform as Stellantis Group crossover cousins like the Peugeot 2008, the DS3 and the Vauxhall Mokka, but here that chassis has been adapted for greater ground clearance and a little more off road prowess, even though the car will primarily be sold in front-driven form. It's built at the Group's high-efficiency plant in Tychy, Poland and is positioned just below the familiar Renegade in the Jeep line-up.
If you're looking at an Avenger in EV form, forward motion comes from a single 154bhp electric motor with 260Nm of torque mounted on the front axle and powered by a 54kWh battery. When fully charged, this offers a range of 249 miles. Expect slightly less than that for the forthcoming 4WD version, which adds a further motor on the rear axle. If you want to stick with combustion power, Jeep will sell you an Avenger with two flavours of 1.2-litre three cylinder PureTech petrol engine. One is conventional with 100PS and manual transmission. The other for the Hybrid model uses the same engine paired with a 28bhp electric motor integrated into a bespoke 6-speed dual-clutch automatic gearbox.
Despite the fact that the Avenger is primarily a front-driven design, Jeep is positioning it as the off-road champion of the EV market's growing SUV B segment. There's a higher ride height (minimum 200mm) than is normal in the class and, thanks to short overhangs that mean better approach and departure angles, it should be more capable off piste than a comparable Renegade 4xe Plug-in Hybrid. There are 20-degree breakover and approach angles and a 32-degree departure angle. All of which might sound irrelevant for an urban SUV but which, Jeep says, will make it better suited for dealing with speed humps, high kerbs and steep multi-storey car park ramps; yeah right. An Avenger though, might give you more confidence than its rivals in a snowy snap. This is the first front-driven Jeep fitted with standard Hill Descent Control and 'Selec-Terrain' driving modes: there are six settings - 'Normal', 'Eco', 'Sport', 'Snow' and 'Mud & Sand'.
Design and Build
For some time now, there's been very little indeed that's American about mainstream Jeep models and the Avenger follows that trend. It's the first Jeep to be designed outside the US and won't be sold there, built in Poland and aimed almost entirely at the European market. Despite that, classic brand design cues are everywhere to convince you otherwise; the trapezoidal wheel arches and the shoulder line reference the Willys Jeep of 1941, the 'floating' C-pillar is from the Compass and Grand Cherokee and of course there's the company's usual classic 7-slot front grille (though it's actually closed off, cooling air directed instead beneath the front bumper). At only just over 4-metres in length (16cm shorter than a Renegade), this is the shortest Jeep ever, but there's plenty of pavement presence thanks to at least 200mm of ground clearance, short overhangs and large wheels of up to 18-inches in size.
Inside, there's a lean dashboard supposedly inspired by the Wrangler, with an upper part made up of a single horizontal 'function beam', which includes all the air vents, ambient lighting and a central 10.25-inch Uconnect infotainment touchscreen. Inevitably, another screen resides in the instrument binnacle, of either 7.0 or 10.25-inches in size depending on spec. The lower side of the dash features a wide open storage shell which contributes generously to the 34-litre stowage space total in the cabin - over double the segment average. The centre tunnel can be moved to fit the sizes of various items - or even removed entirely to accommodate larger objects like a handbag. The battery's 17 modules sit beneath both front and rear seats in space designed to improve rear seat legroom, though that's on the tight side as usual in a small B-segment SUV. Out back, the 380-litre boot is reasonably large by class standards and has a low 720mm loading height, a one-metre rear hatch width and the option of hands-free powered tailgate.
Market and Model
For the Hybrid and the EV, there are three trim levels in the mainstream range - 'Longitude', 'Altitude' and 'Summit'. The conventional petrol version will only be sold in a single 'Altitude Plus' trim level, priced from around £27,000. The Hybrid prices from around £30,000, while you'll need from around £36,000 to get an EV version.
Even base 'Longitude' spec gets you quite a lot: 16-inch alloy wheels, full LED headlamps and grey skid plates. Inside, there's a 7-inch full digital cluster and cruise control. Safety kit includes features like Autonomous Emergency Braking, Traffic Sign Recognition, Lane Keep Assist and Driver Attention Assist.
Mid-level 'Altitude'-spec adds 17-inch alloy wheels and silver skid plates. Inside, it gets cloth/vinyl premium seats, a height-adjustable cargo floor and a silver dashboard with interior inserts, complemented by a synthetic leather steering wheel. Additional features such as 10.25-inch full digital cluster, single-zone automatic air conditioning and adaptive cruise control further justify the price premium. Top-spec 'Summit' trim features 18-inch alloy wheels, full LED front projector headlights, keyless entry, rear privacy glass, 360 degree parking sensors, automatic high beam control, power-foldable mirrors, a hands-free liftgate, blind-spot monitoring and Level 2 autonomous driving capabilities. Inside at this level, you get an electrochromic 'frameless' rear-view mirror, a wireless charger and a 180 degree rear camera with a 'drone view'.
Across the Avenger range, there's a choice of seven paint colours and available alloy wheels range in size between 16 and 18-inches. Around 100 accessories are available, including graphics for the roof and flanks. This should mean that it'll be easily possible to ensure that your Avenger looks like no other.
Cost of Ownership
We gave you the driving range figure from the EV model's 54kWh battery (51kWh usable) in our driving section - 249 miles - though Jeep claims that this could rise to as much as 342 miles in urban driving conditions. The battery can recharge from 20-80% in 24 minutes via a 100kW cable when hooked up to a suitably rapid charger. Just 3 minutes on such a fast charger would add 80 miles of range and 24 minutes could get the battery from 20 to 80%. Energy efficiency is rated at 5.0 miles per kWh. Under the Jeep brand's 'Freedom to Choose' initiative that allows the customer to find the most suitable charging solution, customers here can choose a wall box for domestic charging and/or an RFID card for public charging.
As for the combustion versions, well the conventional 1.2-litre petrol model should return around 50mpg and about 125g/km of CO2. For the Hybrid model, think closer to 55mpg and 120g/km.
Away from powertrain efficiency, Jeep has also given some thought about how to reduce damage caused by low speed impacts, which make up around 70% of accident cases in Europe. With that in mind, the Avenger's headlamps are encased and positioned high up away from low speed impacts. And the skid plates are made of a polymer mould which doesn't show visible scratches. In exposed areas like the doors, cladding is set high to offer extra protection. Thanks to these additions, the brand estimates the customer could reduce potential accident damage costs by up to around £1,000. Like other Jeep models, this one comes with a dedicated Jeep Customer Care service where a team of expertly trained agents will be available 24/7 to answer any questions about your journey.
For a brand that wants to lead the all-electric SUV market, Jeep has had a late start, but we can now expect full-battery models thick and fast from the marque for the rest of this decade. Few of which will be more significant than the Avenger. It competes in a segment now accounting for 20% of all European sales and the company hopes it will be key to correcting its lacklustre sales performance in markets such as ours.
There's a chance that might happen. The brief here - to create a fun, boxy Jeep that can be all-electric - has been delivered with the kind of flair likely customers will be looking for. And if you don't want an EV, the Hybrid version's a potentially preferrable alternative. Either way, the Avenger's 'Selec-Terrain' system delivers the kind of poor weather driving confidence that most of this car's competitors lack. You could argue of course that for all kinds of reasons, it's not 'a real Jeep'. But there's no question that it's really what the brand needs right now.