You might think something so small and so front-wheel drive would feel like a watering-down of Jeep’s go-anywhere mantra, yet the billing here is that this is the most capable model in its class. While that aformentioned four-wheel-drive version is to come, for now Jeep says the Avenger’s capability comes from its 20deg approach, 20deg breakover and 32deg departure angles, its 200mm of ground clearance and its pared-back front and rear overhangs, which are 30mm shorter than those on other Stellantis models built on the familiar eCMP2 platform that’s been adapted and improved for Jeep’s off-roading needs.
Those numbers make it at least the equal of the Jeep Renegade off road, says Jeep. Ah yes, the Renegade, the other small Jeep that sits in the B-SUV segment. Jeep says the Avenger doesn’t replace that car but rather complements it, and anyway, the two go after very different buyers given how broad a segment B-SUV is. The Renegade is also a useful amount bigger, at 4.24 metres long.
Those eCMP2 origins (think Peugeot e-2008, Vauxhall Mokka Electric et al) make for a much better starting point for a model that’s good to drive, rather than trying to reinvent something off the Renegade’s platform. This does, though, result in huge similarities both inside and on the road with Avenger siblings. This is no bad thing, mind: it’s those eCMP2-based economies of scale that allow Jeep to build the Avenger profitably. (There’s a reason Land Rover has never dropped below the Evoque in size, because the smaller the car and the lower the retail price, the bigger the volumes must be to cover the development costs). The drawback is that it just doesn’t feel very… Jeepish.
From the outside, the Avenger looks like a robust and tough little thing. There’s lots of hard black cladding around the bottom, but leaving those surfaces unpainted saves €1000 (£875) in scuff and scrape repair costs over the car’s life, says Jeep. I don’t recall ever seeing a T-Cut bill that high, but I get the point, and the net result is aesthetically pleasing.
All of which is quite some build-up, so it’s a relief to find that this Jeep is really rather likeable to drive. Engaging it is not, but it is not supposed to be. Instead, it is the kind of car thoughtfully designed and engineered to be useful and usable in real-world driving conditions, yet still with enough character not to make it just another identikit small SUV.