Skip to main content

Jeep’s smallest SUVs go the plug-in hybrid route for more efficient off-roading

Jeep is big on tradition. That’s not surprising for a brand that traces its roots back to the plucky vehicle that helped win World War II. But even this iconic brand needs to change with the times. At the 2019 Geneva Motor Show, Jeep unveiled plug-in hybrid versions of its two smallest vehicles — the Compass and Renegade. Jeep claims the new powertrains will improve gas mileage without compromising off-road performance.

Both vehicles use a 1.3-liter turbocharged four-cylinder engine, which is essentially the same engine already offered in the Renegade in North America. The gasoline engine gets electric assist, allowing for a total system output of up to 240 horsepower (Jeep hasn’t nailed down a final number yet). That will get the Renegade from 0 to 62 mph in under 7 seconds, according to Jeep. The automaker expects similar performance from the Compass, but hasn’t confirmed that yet.

The advantage of a plug-in hybrid over a conventional hybrid is that the battery pack can be charged from an external source, hence the “plug-in” prefix. That means the pack can be bigger, allowing cars to operate solely on electric power for long periods of time. Jeep claims both the Renegade and Compass plug-in hybrids can drive up to 50 kilometers (31 miles) at speeds up to 130 kph (80 mph) on electricity alone.

Power is sent to all four wheels, but there is no physical connection between the front and rear wheels. An electric motor powers the rear wheels, negating the need for a prop shaft. This is known in the car industry as a “through the road” all-wheel drive system, and it’s already used on vehicles like Volvo’s “T8” models and various all-wheel drive Toyota hybrids. Jeep claims this allows more precise control of the torque split between the two axles — an important factor in off-roading.

That’s not the only benefit of a plug-in hybrid powertrain, according to Jeep. Electric motors provide more torque than would normally be available with the equivalent gasoline powertrains, according to Jeep. Electric motors can also be controlled like dimmer switches, providing instant and infinite adjustability of power output. That’s crucial in off-roading, where power has to be carefully meted out to avoid slipping on low-traction surfaces like mud, dirt, or rocks.

Jeep did not discuss a timeline for the launch of the Compass and Renegade plug-in hybrids, but it previously said the Renegade plug-in hybrid would start production in 2020. The automaker will introduce 10 plug-in hybrid models globally over the next few years as part of parent Fiat Chrysler Automobiles’ (FCA) ambitious electrification plans. The iconic Jeep Wrangler off-roader will be one of the models to get a plug-in hybrid powertrain. Meanwhile, Jeep sibling Alfa Romeo is debuting its own Tonale plug-in hybrid concept car in Geneva.

Editors' Recommendations

Stephen Edelstein
Stephen is a freelance automotive journalist covering all things cars. He likes anything with four wheels, from classic cars…
There’s a huge Black Friday sale on Thule roof cargo boxes
thule rooftop cargo boxes deals amazon november 2023 box on car

It's almost winter, which means snowy day trips and skiing, and if you pack your whole family inside one vehicle, it can be difficult to get the rest of your critical belongings (such as bikes and kayaks) to your destination. In theory, you could buy a larger car. Many families get a minivan for the explicit purpose of relieving this kind of pressure. But that's pretty extreme when you could simply expand the storage space of your current car. And with Black Friday sales like this one, putting dozens of Thule rooftop cargo boxes on big discounts, now is a good time to consider doing so. We're seeing deals were you could save $100 (or even more) or Thule rooftop cargo boxes and accessories. Just tap the button below to access the curated collection, then keep reading for our take in how to shop the sale.

Why you should shop the Thule rooftop cargo box sale
One of the first things we want you to know before you shop the Thule collection is some features that aren't immediately apparent just by looking at the cargo boxes. For example, you may be highly concerned about driving off and having your belongings (including embarrassing items like underwear) go everywhere because the box flies open. Thule boxes, however, typically snap shut with an audible click. You know your items are secure. Alternatively, items like their

Read more
Honda recalls more than 300,000 vehicles over seat belt safety issue
2015 Honda Accord Sport

Honda has recalled more than 300,000 of its 2023-2024 HR-Vs and Accords over a safety issue, according to a document posted by the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA).

The issue concerns a missing seat belt part, which means that in the event of a crash, the belt “will not properly restrain the occupant, increasing the risk of injury,” the NHTSA said.

Read more
How to watch Tesla’s Cybertruck delivery event today
Tesla's Cybertruck.

Tesla CEO Elon Musk behind the wheel of a Cybertruck. Tesla

It’s been a long time coming, but Tesla is about to deliver the Cybertruck to its first customers.

Read more