There’s a new Avenger in town, and no, this one isn’t from the Marvel Universe. This one comes from Jeep, the brand known for adventure and it’s iconic Wrangler model, that takes inspiration from the Willy’s Jeep dating back to 1941. The company produced over 600,000 for the US Military during the Second World War.
Fast forward to 2023, and Jeep are releasing their first ever EV in the form of the Avenger. Jeep’s electrification journey began in 2020, with the release of the Renegade 4xe, followed swiftly by the Compass 4xe. Last year, the brand launched their mild hybrid models in the form of the Renegade e-Hybrid and Compass e-Hybrid, and have vowed that by the end of 2025, the brand will have four fully electric models in the range.
The Avenger is not only a milestone in Jeep’s lineup, being their first EV, but will also be the first model designed and manufactured in Europe. This isn’t a model created from a Stellantis parts bin either, as more than 600 components are unique to the small SUV, and more than 60% of the parts are not found in any other Stellantis model. The new model is already a multi-coveted car, winning Autocar’s Car of the Year for 2023, so expectations of driving it in the UK were high.
Gallery: Jeep Avenger UK first drive review
Jeep have opted for a 54 kwh battery, combined with an electric motor to produce 156 bhp and 260 Nm of torque. 0-62 mph takes 9.6 seconds and the SUV has a top speed of 93 mph. The Avenger is fitted with an all-important heat pump, meaning the battery doesn’t get hot when charging, preserving the battery life of the car in the future, and also helps the battery cope with hotter and colder temperatures. The battery is good for 249 miles WLTP cycle, and can take charging speeds of up to 100 kW fast charging, giving the owner 19 miles of range in just 3 minutes.
At 4.08m long, 1.78m and 1.53m high, the Avenger is almost too small to be called an SUV. More a city car that’s been raised up a little bit. It might be classed as a small SUV, but the body has a bold design, with elements reminiscing of Jeep’s brand identity, but also considering practicality for everyday use. The little SUV has a very stylish front end, with the contrasting black front grille and single strip LED daytime running lights giving the Avenger aggression.
Despite it being an EV, Jeep have given the Avenger the 7 slot grille that has been present in all Jeep models since the Willy’s, and it really does add character to the car. There’s even a Jeep grille emblem in the lower front facia, giving a nod to the brand’s history. The same emblem is featured on the 17 inch wheels, too.
At the rear, the tail lights are X-themed, resembling the same ‘X’ you would find on a jerry can, which is weird considering the Avenger is an EV, but the X tail lights were introduced on the Renegade and add to the ‘adventure’ feel of the brand. The exterior features 360 cladding protection. As most impact damage on vehicles in Europe occur at low speeds, this cladding protects against anything from small scrapes, to doors being opened onto the car in car parks. The cladding is unpainted too, meaning there won’t be any costly resprays for repairs, a very clever design aspect of the car.
Inside, the Avenger features two 10.25 inch screens. One for the driver’s instrument screen and the other for infotainment. The dashboard is finished in the same colour as the exterior, and the centre console gets a compartment with a fold up lid, that comes with wireless charging, depending on your spec level. The driver’s instrument screen can be configured on the steering wheel to show different screens, including navigation, driving efficiency and level of charge remaining. Whilst most functions are controlled by the central infotainment screen, the air conditioning and driving modes are still controlled by buttons. Jeep have given the Avenger Eco, Normal and Sport modes, along with Sand, Mud and Snow modes.
Despite this small SUV only having front wheel drive, Jeep have given it mild off road modes and hill descent control, too! This is the first time I’ve seen different driving modes used effectively in an EV, but more on that later.
Initially, the Avenger is available in three trim levels. Longitude, starting from £35,700 in the UK, Altitude, which adds 17 inch alloys, keyless entry and a configurable infotainment screen, whilst Summit tops the range at £39,600, giving you 18 inch wheels, rear camera and heated front seats, along with metallic paint, featuring the launch spec, Sun yellow colour. Jeep are also adding a plug-in hybrid Avenger later this year.
Stepping inside the Avenger for the first time doesn’t feel like stepping into an EV, or even an SUV for that matter. The driver’s seating position is low within the car, making it feel like you are stepping into a city car. The EV has an ‘engine start’ button to kick the motor into action. On the road, the road noise is exceptionally quiet and you forget that you’re even driving an EV. Combine this with the exterior looks, such as the front grille, and the engine start button, and it’s as if Jeep want you to forget that there’s no engine under the bonnet, but that was a very welcome feeling.
There is a real stigma around electric cars, particularly around the infrastructure within the UK, and the Avenger is a welcome, refreshing feeling that seems to be aimed at a younger market, with it’s fun design elements and hints towards internal combustion. Jeep seem to have found a sweet spot between an EV experience and a ICE experience. This continued into the driving modes, and is the first time I’ve seen EV driving modes used effectively.
Eco mode for example used just 60 kW of the battery, producing 82 bhp and 180 Nm of torque, therefore using as little battery power as possible. In Normal mode, the Avenger uses 80 kW and power is increased to 109 bhp and 220 Nm. Sport mode then unleashes the full 156 bhp and maximum 260 Nm of torque. Switching the car into sport mode gives you the kick in the back that you’d expect from a combustion-engined vehicle, something I feel is a really clever touch in an EV.
One minor drawback that I did find was that the Avenger lacked a temporary parking brake. With most modern vehicles, the car has a temporary hold when stopped at traffic lights or in traffic. The Avenger needs to be held on the brake pedal, or with the electronic handbrake, without anything on offer to temporarily hold that car, which made stopping and starting a little frustrating at times.
The Avenger is capable too. Having 200 mm of ground clearance, you could practically take the small SUV on mild off-road terrains and it would be at home. We unfortunately didn’t have the opportunity to do this on our first drive of the model in the UK, but Jeep did showcase the capabilities of the small SUV, demonstrating the approach and departure angles on a small obstacle course. Not that many Avenger owners would take it off-road, but it’s good to know it can tackle tall curbs!
I enjoyed driving the Avenger more than I expected to. Many modern EVs lack character when driving, and it’s very difficult for manufacturers to distinguish the driving characteristics of one EV from another. Jeep have really put time and thought into the Avenger, with elements harking back to Jeep models of old, but at the same time designed to appeal to a younger audience, with its bold design and funky elements. It’s easy to see why this SUV was voted car of the year, and will no doubt be a popular model on UK roads.