Jeep Electrifies Renegade & Compass With Plug-In Hybrid Powertrains

  • The Jeep Renegade and Compass are going green in 2020. 
  • However, Jeep isn’t exactly jumping on the typical EV bandwagon. 
  • Both plug-in hybrids feature a revolutionary electric all-wheel drive system.

Jeep found a better way to make a lasting impression at the Geneva International Motor Show recently. The brand unveiled two new plug-in hybrid versions of the Jeep Renegade and Compass for all the world to see.

Yes, you read that right.

After dominating last year’s headlines with the all-new Gladiator pickup truck, Jeep is taking a different route.  I never thought I’d get a chance to say this. But soon, you can order a new Jeep Renegade or Compass with a plug-in hybrid powertrain.

But wait! Before you storm FCA’s headquarters with pitchforks in hand, listen up.

Capturing A Slice of The Growing EV Market

Jeep and Fiat-Chrysler Automobiles (FCA) are on a roll. FCA reported a 14 percent increase in U.S. sales for 2018. The Jeep brand enjoyed a 17 percent increase in sales alone. The Jeep Wrangler, in particular, is a best-seller with 240,032 units sold.

Believe it or not, this has something to do with the rugged, go-anywhere appeal of Jeep vehicles. Mind you, other SUVs are faster, more comfortable, and have more usable space. However, only a select few can offer the clobbering off-road abilities of a Jeep. And a Jeep like this won’t cost more than a loaded midsize sedan.

Naturally, the next step is to go green. In this ever-changing automotive landscape, it’s either go green or go bust. Who would have thought a Jeep would come with an electric motor and battery pack straight from the factory? This is not a surprising move. In fact, Jeep is doing the right thing. If the brand wants to capture a slice of the growing EV market, something needs to be done instead of just harking back to the past.

But rather than jumping straight onto the EV bandwagon, Jeep made the wiser move by engineering a brilliant plug-in hybrid powertrain for the most affordable vehicles in their lineup: the Renegade and Compass. Consider this for a second: both the Jeep Renegade and Jeep Compass have low base prices of $18,000 and $21,000 respectively. Throw in an electric motor and battery pack, raise the base price by $3k to $5k, and you got yourself an eco-friendly, off-road capable, and affordable plug-in hybrid electric vehicle (PHEV).

Still not convinced? Wait until we get to the juicy parts.

Jeep Compass PHEV. Photo: FCA US LLC.

Evolutionary Powertrain

Jeep remains tight-lipped on battery specifications, but the new Renegade and Compass PHEV promise to deliver high power and long range. Similar to other PHEVs, the battery pack is rechargeable from an external power outlet. Both vehicles will have a pure electric range of approximately 31 miles (50 kilometers) and an electric top speed of 80 mph (130 kph).

The electric motor works in unison with a new 1.3-liter turbocharged gasoline motor. Power output for the Jeep Renegade PHEV is around 190 to 240 horsepower. The Jeep Compass PHEV is good for 240 horsepower as well. The result is zero to 60 mph in around seven seconds for both the Renegade and Compass.

Considering a 2017 Jeep Compass Sport 4×4 only musters a zero to 60 time of 8.4 seconds, while a Jeep Renegade 2.4 Sport 4×4 does the same in nine seconds, the PHEV versions offer faster acceleration, better engine response, and cleaner CO2 emissions.

Photo: FCA US LLC.

Related: On the road (and off the road) with the 2019 Jeep Cherokee Trailhawk 4×4.

New Electric Drivetrain: Off-Road Capable

What good is a Jeep if it can’t hack it off-road? Fortunately, the Jeep Renegade and Compass PHEV come with an entirely new electric all-wheel drive system or eAWD. This is the kind of stuff you can find on the Audi e-tron SUV. But since the Audi is a full EV, Jeep threw in something different for the PHEV versions of the Renegade and Compass.

Torque in the rear axle comes courtesy of the electric motor (in the rear of the vehicle) while the front axle is turned by the turbocharged gasoline motor. Due to this setup, there is no need to employ a propeller shaft.

As an added bonus, the torque between the two axles is controlled independently as you forge over rocky terrain or snow-covered roads. The eAWD system will not only benefit you off-road, but on the daily drive as well. But since a fully-charged battery pack is good for 31 miles of pure-electric driving, you can tackle the most extreme off-road trails in total silence. And you can do it while basking in the rugged appeal of your Jeep Renegade or Compass.

Photo: FCA US LLC.

As an added bonus, the torque between the two axles is controlled independently as you forge over rocky terrain or snow-covered roads. #Jeep Click To Tweet

Pricing & Availability

The new Jeep Renegade and Jeep Compass PHEV will arrive at Jeep dealers in early 2020. Pricing is yet to be announced for either vehicle. If you want to experience hybrid technology in a Jeep, the Wrangler with the mild hybrid eTorque system is available now.

Alvin Reyes is the Associate Editor of Automoblog. He studied civil aviation, aeronautics, and accountancy in his younger years and is still very much smitten to his former Lancer GSR and Galant SS. He also likes fried chicken, music, and herbal medicine. 

Jeep Renegade Plug-in Hybrid Gallery

Jeep Compass Plug-in Hybrid Gallery

Photos & Source: FCA US LLC.

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