- The Jeep Avenger has been named European Car of the Year for 2023 – but it's not on sale in the US.
- It's Jeep's first fully-electric car and surprisingly small for an SUV at 13.4 ft.
- Jeep CEO Christian Meunier thinks it's too compact for the North American market.
Jeep's all-electric Avenger was named European Car of the Year for 2023 at the Brussels auto show on Friday.
The compact SUV is Jeep's first battery-electric model. The prize was voted by a panel of motoring journalists from about two dozen countries, per Top Gear magazine.
One was Paul Horrell of Top Gear, who commented: "This car caught me out. I expected to dislike it but experience proved the opposite. It's very usefully small, but drives like a refined bigger car."
It notched up 328 points and was ranked first by 21 jurors, eclipsing Volkswagen's electric revival of the Kombi called the ID. Buzz, and the Nissan Ariya, an electric family crossover, The Telegraph reported.
The Avenger has an "attractive exterior design reminiscent of the boxy American Seventies Jeeps along with the signature seven-slot grille first seen on the original World War Two-era Willys Jeep," according to the newspaper. "It feels comfortable and a bit special in this class of practically identical jacked-up superminis."
The Avenger is part of Jeep's drive to become a leader in electric SUVs. The manufacturer wants EVs to account for all sales in Europe by 2030, and at least half in North America as well, Tech Crunch reported.
But the Avenger will only be available in Europe and some countries in North Africa, according to Auto Express.
There's "no real market potential in North America" for SUVs as small as the Avenger, Jeep CEO Christian Meunier told Tech Crunch last year.
The Avenger, which was unveiled in October at the Paris Auto Show, is just 13.4 ft long. Designers sought to embody "brand DNA" within "compact dimensions," according to a press release from Stellantis, which owns Jeep.
Nevertheless, Jeep says the Avenger offers "uncompromised" off-road capability despite its size, as well as a range of almost 250 miles.
The Jeep Recon and Wagoneer S will be the first fully-electric Jeep SUVs available to American buyers, but they're not scheduled to go into production until 2024.
Many European countries offer government subsidies to help drivers buy EVs, which Jeep hopes will boost sales. In France, for example, buyers can receive up to 7,000 euros ($7,590) towards an electric car that costs less than 47,000 euros ($50,964).