With the Jeep Cherokee and Chrysler Pacifica sharing so much, and the Wrangler already having a mild-hybrid powerplant, one might expect that Jeep’s first plug-in hybrid (“PHEV”) would be either the Cherokee or Pacifica. That, though, would ignore the fact that PHEVs are hot in Europe, where fuel prices are high—and the Jeeps that sell in Europe are the Renegade and Compass.

The Compass and Renegade are based off the same basic architecture, but the Compass is a little bigger and a lot more upscale. Fitting both (rather than just one) with the PHEV setup might have been a no-brainer, given their commonalities.

Since the point of the system in Europe is to cut back on fuel use, the gasoline engine used in the Compass PHEV is the brand new 1.3 liter   turbo  engineered under joint FCA US/FCA Italy leadership; this engine has genes dating back to the Neon 2.0, WGE, Pentastar, and various Fiat engines.

The PHEV pushes the Renegade and Compass from 0-62 mph in around 7 seconds; the Renegade has power “in the 190 and 240 hp range” while the Compass delivers “up to 240 hp” of peak power (in both cases, combining electric motors with gasoline engines).

Both can be run as pure-electric cars, like the Pacifica; the range is around 50 km and up to 130 km/h (31 mph and 81 mph).  Carbon dioxide emissions are lower than 50 grams/kilometer.

Some Mopar fans have been waiting for the new electric all wheel drive technology since Chrysler Corporation was a thing, though the promise then was an impractical “through-the-road” coordination system.  The Jeep PHEV setup, which may have been developed independently of old Chrysler efforts, uses a dedicated electric motor to power the rear wheels, with the gasoline engine pushing the front wheels. Torque can be controlled independently, front and rear, more effectively than with a mechanical system. The end result is that every Renegade and Compass PHEV will have all wheel drive.

There are three modes—hybrid (automatic), electric-biased, and “e-save,” which presumably tries to keep the battery well-charged while still switching to electric when it makes sense.

Update: Long-time forum member MJAB reported that the battery is likely to have an 11.4 kWh capacity, and is installed in the places where gasoline-only 4x4s have the driveshaft (the “hump”). The transmission in these cases is the six-speed automatic, not the nine-speed. We have not confirmed this information.

Forum member KrisW added that the architecture builds on FCA’s EU-funded research; it’s not a series hybrid. There is a front e-motor, connected to the input shaft of the transmission; a gasoline engine drives the front axle through a dual-clutch gearbox. The rear holds a Bosch electric motor, directly connected to the rear axle with a disconnect to allow front drive. “Creeping” forward without the throttle is handled by the electric motor, not the gasoline motor, helping the gearbox to last longer.

Oh, one more thing—the Jeep Compass PHEV shown was a TrailHawk model, capable of impressive off-road feats.