The Jeep has just celebrated its 80th birthday and was designed basically to stop the Germans from conquering the world!

From being a pure American company it is now part of Stellantis which is a jointly owned by a French and Italian business which has 16 different cars like Vauxhall, Fiat, Chrysler, Citroen, Maserati and more, making them one of the largest automakers in the world. They have 400,000 employees involved in more than 130 countries and manufacturing in 30.

Prior to 1940 the term jeep had been used as a US army slang for new recruits or vehicles and the second world war jeep that went into production in 1941 makes it one of  the oldest four-wheel drive mass-production vehicles now known as SUVs.

When it became clear that the United States would be involved in the war the Army contacted 135 companies to create working prototypes of a four-wheel drive reconnaissance car but only two companies responded.

The American Bantam Car Company organised in 49 days a working prototype which used off-the-shelf automotive parts, and custom four-wheel drivetrain components. The Germans didn’t stand a chance!

Jeep’s current product range consists solely of SUVs and the Grand Cherokee is part of the luxury SUV segment. They sold 1.4 million SUVs globally in 2016, up from 500,000 in 2008  two-thirds of which in North America.

And things are somewhat different now compared to what they were 80 years ago. Who would have thought then what a plug-in hybrid was? Probably some sort of plant.

There are a number of Jeep versions and everyone one of them is set to get an electric boost over the next two years – such is the future of the motoring world.

The first up is the Renegade 4xe with three trim levels to choose from – Longitude, Limited and Trailhawk. Each model has four-wheel drive and a six-speed auto. And the manufacturers have made a good job of it.

There is a 60bhp electric motor and 11.4kWh battery which turn the rear wheels and there is a turbocharged 1.3-litre four cylinder petrol engine at the front that comes in two power outputs depending on trim level. 

I was given the top-spec Trailhawk with its 238bhp, while the two lower specs have 188bhp, and couldn’t find any faults. Perhaps the brakes were a little savage but then you want tough brakes rather than wimpy ones when you’ve got a 4×4. There are three operating modes for the hybrid powertrain – standard hybrid, electric and E-Save. Hybrid lets the computer make the decision, electric keeps you on the batteries and E-Save keeps the charge for later. In E-Save you can also use the engine to charge up the batteries. 

If your daily commute is just 10 miles each way and you’ve got a plug at home you can charge the 4xe off a three-pin socket in five hours which is a pretty good effort. The official WLTP consumption is 128mpg and 51g/km CO2 when the car is charged up. You can get up to 26 miles on a full charge. When the electric power has run out the car just goes into a normal hybrid, generating electricity under braking and the e-motor helping out where it can. 

Performance is pretty good with 0–60mph in seven seconds and a top speed of just over 120mph.

The ride is smooth and the Renegade is a comfortable car for both long and short journeys and the Trailhawk produces 51g/km CO2. This means you get a good company car tax bracket. This means a 13 per cent BIK rate, while the Longitude and Limited 4xes are just under the 50g/km mark giving you a a 12% BIK rate. The diesel Trailhawk is an expensive 196g/km which means 37 per cent BIK rate. 

Talking expensive the Trailhawk 4xe will set you back around £36,500 while the entry level Longitude is £13,000 cheaper. And if you want to continue with a diesel Trailhawk you can drop to around £32,000. So there’s plenty of scope on the price front.

But you do get excellent kit – heated front seats and steering wheel, 8.6-inch Uconnect central touchscreen, rear parking camera, keyless go and the usual suite of driver assistance software.

The new Jeep Renegade 4xe plug-in hybrid can also send a text to alert owners if thieves are trying to break into their car.

My Theft Assistance has recently launched in the UK as part of My Uconnect services, available across the MY20 Renegade range.  It can provide owners and prospective buyers with added peace of mind given the rise of car thefts in 20201.

Should the Renegade 4xe detect that someone is trying to break into the car, tow it without authorisation or disconnect the battery, the owner will be made aware thanks to an instant Theft Alarm Notification via text.

Customers also have the option to receive an email, a push notification in the My Uconnect mobile app or phone call depending on what options they have chosen in the settings.

If thieves do successfully steal the car, owners can request immediate assistance through the My Uconnect mobile app, the connected vehicle platform available to all Jeep customers.

Once the theft is confirmed through the Uconnect contact centre and a police report, a number of additional safety technologies are activated through the app. Much like the Find My Phone feature available on most smartphones, a vehicle tracking function will be triggered and the vehicle’s ignition locked.