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Long-term tests

Jeep Avenger Summit long-term test: a good all-round electric SUV

Third report: love a duck! Electric Avenger still fits the bill for John

Overall Auto Express Rating

4.5 out of 5

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Verdict

Our appreciation for the Avenger continues to grow, even as its return gets close. This is a well judged, neatly package small SUV with an electric powertrain that is delivering solid real-world range.

  • Mileage: 5,802
  • Efficiency: 4.5 miles/kWh

They say you’re not really part of the Jeep family until someone gives you a rubber duck. But as my six months with the Jeep Avenger near their conclusion, I have to admit that I’ve been forced to source my own bathtime buddy. This is a pity, because I feel more affinity with the Jeep brand than ever. It’s driving me quackers.

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The story goes that a kindly Jeep owner from Ontario, Canada, started the ‘ducking’ movement when she placed a rubber duck on a Jeep she came across in a car park. It’s about a connection, a bond – a mutual respect and love of one of America’s most iconic brands. These days it’s not unusual for meetings of Jeep enthusiasts to feature hundreds, if not thousands of plastic ducks, which are exchanged gleefully between fans of the off-roading manufacturer.

It’s admittedly more prevalent in the United States, so perhaps I shouldn’t be too downheartened at my failure to collect even a single duckie so far. Although I think our Avenger’s design has certainly brought a bit of brightness to UK roads and car parks so far in 2024; a year on from its introduction, it still looks sharp, with chunky lines, loads of subtle Jeep brand references and, in our particular example’s case, a shocking yellow paint job that stands out even more now that we’re emerging from winter gloom.

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I’ve reported before on how, even though the Avenger isn’t remotely off-road focused, it somehow manages to feel ready for the rough – and that feeling continues to grow. It’s meant for the urban ratrun, of course, and yet the compact dimensions and really short overhangs mean it’s a doddle to squirt down side streets – helped by the instant punch of our electric version.

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I wasn’t surprised, in fact, to see the regular petrol variant of the Avenger getting a positive review recently. I could see how a considerably cheaper edition, with conventional power, would be as good a small SUV as any.

There are a couple of areas where the Jeep’s shared Stellantis Group components show up, mind. It’s a clever reworking of mechanicals that also underpin the likes of the Peugeot 2008, but the jacked-up stance means that you have quite a hefty sill to lift your foot over, and a relatively deep footwell in which to place it once you’re aboard.

This area, in turn, seems to accumulate dust and dirt at a frightening rate – not just from my 10-year-old son, but also from pretty much anyone who travels in the car. Jeep’s mats aren’t brilliantly shaped either; they don’t fill the space that well, so you end up having to vacuum out the nether regions of the cabin more frequently than you’d like.

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The other glitch can be attributed, I think, to the aforementioned short overhangs. They’re clever and needed, because they give this car the best approach and departure angles in the class (again, delivering the promise of off-road capability, even if the reality is never going to be required).

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But they leave precious little rear bumper – and this, in turn, means that when you’re doing anything in the boot area, anyone with average-sized feet or bigger is likely to trigger the oversensitive gesture control for the Avenger’s powered tailgate.

It’s beyond funny now, really, but I’ve lost count of the number of times when, usually on a cold, dark, wet morning, I’ve been loading soaked charging cables into the Avenger’s boot, only for the warning beeps to kick in and the bootlid to interface with the top of my head. I’d much rather have a manual tailgate altogether, in fact; it would seem to be more in keeping with the car’s pseudo-rugged image.

Otherwise, the Avenger continues to perform family duties better than I could reasonably expect it too. My 10-year-old isn’t exactly sitting in palatial comfort in the back, but he’s yet to moan about a long journey. 

The range continues to creep upwards, too. I can reasonably expect 240 miles from a full charge now, just above the official figure. A standard heat pump meant that the car didn’t fall horrifically short during the winter, but it still feels good to be up on the deal.

Jeep Avenger Summit: second report

For a ‘European’ car, our Jeep has a very American feel

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  • Mileage: 2,623
  • Efficiency: 4.1 miles/kWh

At its launch, the Jeep Avenger was described as a “car designed in Europe, and built in Europe, for Europe”. But as we reach the halfway point in our time with the baby SUV, we’ve been surprised by how much of an American accent it has.

Fact is, Jeep’s global design teams were responsible for the car – with the whole project overseen by Ralph Gilles from HQ in Detroit, US. And as our weeks with the car roll by, I’m increasingly convinced that the Avenger’s styling is a bit of a masterclass in how to take common components – in this case, the Stellantis Group’s CMP platform – and turn them into something distinctive. 

From the seven-bar front grille, to those squared-off wheelarches and incredibly short overhangs, the Avenger has a properly chunky stance that is 100 per cent Jeep. There’s no great pretence of real off-road ability here, yet the Avenger certainly stands out from the crowd in a way its siblings, the Peugeot 2008, Vauxhall Mokka and DS 3, can’t quite manage.

There’s greater familiarity inside, with a few buttons, such as the electric window switches and mirror controls, clearly snaffled from the Stellantis parts bin. And yet the single coloured bar that runs across the Avenger’s dash is another masterstroke, referencing as it does the pared-back, bare-metal environments so often found on the likes of the iconic Wrangler. No, I don’t feel ready to go mud-plugging in the Avenger – but I do feel like I’m sitting in something created with input from the American brand, not just by a bunch of engineers in Italy (the European base for the company).

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The miles are piling on and the Avenger continues to acquit itself well in daily use. It’s a perfect size for the school run, able to nip in and out of traffic, as well as being genuinely compact – handy for the sort of parking half-spaces you find in clogged back streets. There’s no denying that the Jeep’s pint-sized dimensions (and the fact that its boot is a respectable size) mean that rear cabin space is at a bit of a premium, but we’ve just about worked out a layout whereby my wife and I can be comfortable in the front and still leave enough space for our fast-growing son in one of the back seats. He’s only grumbled once, anyhow.

Like most EVs, the Avenger is happiest on country roads and around town, where the stop-start, accelerate/brake nature of the route allows it to recoup some energy that would otherwise be lost under braking. 

The constant drain of motorway mileage is not the Jeep’s friend – but even with single-digit temperatures, this baby SUV is good for just over 200 miles of faster running, and I don’t think that’s too bad, under the circumstances. 

There has been just one snag related to this, but it is a potentially major one: DC charging. The Avenger seems to have a dislike for quick fill-ups, because I’ve tried several different locations, including a few from my preferred public network, InstaVolt. And on every occasion, the car simply reported ‘charging is completed’ and then severed the handshake between itself and the charging point, without a single kWh being added. We even sent the car back to Jeep for its technicians to inspect it, but they couldn’t find any particular fault. 

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Still, the latest software update may have improved matters, because this car was used in a recent triple test (in which it finished first, ahead of the Volkswagen ID.3 and Kia Niro), and chief reviewer Alex Ingram managed to hook it up to a wide variety of terminals during its time with him. On every occasion, it worked flawlessly – although Alex did admit that he hadn’t tried InstaVolt. 

I’ve resolved to make a special trip to my nearest charger to try again; maybe a secret masonic charging-socket handshake and a quick prayer to the god of over-the-air updates will make the difference.

Jeep Avenger Summit: first report

The small Jeep Avenger electric SUV joins the fleet in top-spec Summit trim

Maybe it’s the badge, but our latest fleet car has all the resistance of a three-year-old in wellies when it sees some muddy puddles lurking ahead of it. The Jeep Avenger may not be a true off-roader, but the appalling weather over the Christmas period has allowed it to settle in quickly by demonstrating the rugged (and rather mischievous) side of its character.

We have our tongue slightly in cheek here because, of course, the Avenger is designed as an urban runabout. It even shares plenty of its underpinnings with lots of models in Jeep's parent group Stellantis’s ecosystem – Peugeot’s E-2008, the Vauxhall Mokka Electric, even Citroen’s e-C4. It’s also pure electric for now, although Jeep did renege on its initial promise to keep it exclusively so, with petrol-based versions due to land in the UK shortly.

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And yet there’s something distinct about the Avenger, a bit of Jeep DNA that has somehow made its way through and which sets it apart from those close relations. Perhaps it’s the chunky styling, with even shorter overhangs to help deliver best-in-class approach and departure angles.

Or it could be the softened-off suspension, which does a good job of soaking up urban potholes but also lollops happily about on rougher, unpaved surfaces. It’s almost as if you know for certain that this car couldn’t really do off-roading – and yet somehow it feels as if it might.

We’ve not pulled any punches on our particular example, which is a range-topping Summit. It gets the same electric powertrain as the rest of the range – a single, front-mounted motor producing 154bhp, and a 54kWh battery (51kWh usable) delivering a predicted range of up to 249 miles – or, Jeep claims, 342 miles if you’re pootling around town.

And that environment is already proving to be the Avenger’s natural habitat. This is an extremely small SUV, with a total length of less than 4.1 metres – so you really can think of it as a jacked-up supermini. Those short overhangs make
it easy to position when you’re squeezing through traffic or into a parking space, while instant EV power also means it feels nippy enough when it needs to.

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Our car may face a tougher test on practicality, mind, because it’ll be used as family transport for my wife and me, plus our fast-growing son, Henry. He says he’s happy enough with the amount of space on offer, but then, he’s only been in the back seats for short trips so far; there could be a fresh verdict after he – and maybe some adults – have been on longer journeys while perched there.

Summit spec brings a fair kit list – as it should, with a starting price approaching £40k. You get 18-inch diamond-cut alloys, LED headlights and tail-lights, a 10.25-inch digital instrument panel, heated front seats, a heat pump (useful to keep this EV’s range realistic in colder weather), 11kW three-phase AC charging (less useful, unless your office or business has the right wiring), and another 10.25-inch screen for the Avenger's infotainment system, complete with wireless smartphone hook-ups.

Our car has a couple of Jeep-specced extras that nudge it to just over £42k, although the jury’s out on how worthy they’ll be. Leather upholstery (£900) seems luxurious in such a small vehicle (although it might shake off child-induced scuffs and stains more easily than fabric), while I certainly wouldn’t pay the extra £500 to add navigation to the infotainment system. Charging £25 for a puncture repair kit seems a little rich, too.

The Sun yellow paint and contrast roof option is well worth the £1,100 price, though, because it sets off the Avenger’s chiselled looks beautifully. We’ve already had plenty of admiring comments from locals who a) instantly recognised the car as a Jeep and b) weren’t too fazed by the idea of something this small costing quite this much. Let’s call it a good start.

Model:Jeep Avenger Summit
On fleet since:November 2023
Price new:£39,600
Engine:1x e-motor, 154bhp, 54kWh battery
CO2/tax:0g/km/£0
Options:Sun yellow paint and Volcano roof (£1,100), black leather upholstery (£900), Infotainment Pack (£500), puncture repair kit (£25)
Insurance*:Group: 25/Quote: £994
Mileage:5,802
Efficiency:4.5 miles/kWh
Any problems?DC charging issue

*Insurance quote from AA (0800 107 0680) for a 42-year-old in Banbury, Oxon, with three points.

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Editor-at-large

John started journalism reporting on motorsport – specifically rallying, which he had followed avidly since he was a boy. After a stint as editor of weekly motorsport bible Autosport, he moved across to testing road cars. He’s now been reviewing cars and writing news stories about them for almost 20 years.

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