Jeep is known for building SUVs with good off-road chops, and this subcompact crossover SUV does not disappoint. The Renegade is indeed very capable off-road, particularly in Trailhawk trim. Thankfully, the Renegade is also comfortable on city streets, making it a suitable daily driver for anyone wanting a small but capable crossover.
We find it nearly impossible not to like this extra-small Jeep. It's brimming with character, with adorable styling and hidden "Easter eggs" (such as the silhouette of a World War II Jeep in the corner of the windshield) scattered liberally throughout the interior and exterior. The controls are easy to use, and the Jeep Renegade is good fun to drive both off-road and on. Yes, it has flaws. Backseat legroom and luggage space are cramped, fuel economy isn't great, and the rough-shifting nine-speed automatic refuses to behave at all times.
Current Jeep Renegade
The Jeep Renegade is sold in Sport, Latitude, Limited and Trailhawk trim levels. The Sport is fairly basic, with steel wheels and a simple four-speaker stereo. It does get push-button ignition and a height-adjustable driver seat, but cruise control and air-conditioning cost extra. Those features are included on the Latitude, along with an upgraded stereo and other features that make it a more appealing choice. The Limited is the luxury version, with leather upholstery and automatic climate control. But if you want to do any serious off-roading, you'll opt for the Trailhawk. Comfort and convenience features are similar to those in the Latitude, and the Trailhawk adds a raised suspension, all-terrain tires, tow hooks, and unique trim inside and out.
Space efficiency is quite good inside the Jeep Renegade since it's relatively short, lengthwise, but also tall and wide. That means the back seat can accommodate three adults, and everyone, front and rear, gets plenty of headroom. Backseat legroom is in short supply for taller adults, but there's a respectable amount of cargo space. Interior fittings are excellent, materials quality is very good, and we like the Uconnect infotainment system.
Sport and Latitude models are powered by a 1.4-liter turbocharged four-cylinder engine that produces 160 horsepower. It is paired to a six-speed manual transmission, unusual for a small SUV, and can be had with front- or all-wheel drive. A 180-hp 2.4-liter engine is optional on the lower trims and standard on the Limited and Trailhawk. It comes with a rough-shifting nine-speed automatic and also offers front- or all-wheel drive (though the latter is standard on the Trailhawk). All-wheel-drive Renegades have multiple terrain modes, while the Trailhawk gets a more advanced system with simulated low-range gearing.
We've timed the 2.4-liter Jeep Renegade Latitude to 60 mph in 9.4 seconds — not particularly quick, but about average for this class of vehicle. The Renegade Trailhawk, which weighs about 200 pounds more, made the run in 9.7 seconds. EPA fuel economy estimates range from a high of 26 mpg for the 1.4-liter Renegade (both front- and all-wheel drive) to a low of 24 mpg for the 2.4-liter with AWD, but we've never had much luck duplicating those numbers in the real world. In a yearlong test of a Jeep Renegade Trailhawk, we averaged just 22 mpg, with one staffer eeking out a 29.9 mpg highway run (0.9 mpg better than the Renegade's highway mpg estimate).
Fuel efficiency may not be a strong point, but the Jeep Renegade's road manners are solid. The ride is comfortable, and the front-wheel-drive models feel distinctly carlike on curvy roads. The Trailhawk feels a bit bouncier and it leans more around corners, but its off-road abilities are very impressive.
Used Jeep Renegade Models
The Renegade hit the market in 2015, and changes have been minimal since then. In 2016, a new Beats stereo was added as an option, as well as automatic wipers, while the 2017 Jeep Renegade added xenon headlights, keyless ignition and automatic high beams.
The Renegade name actually goes back to 1970, when it was introduced as a special edition of the Jeep CJ-5. The Renegade became a trim level on the 1976-1986 Jeep CJ-7, with the Renegade name written boldly on the sides of the hood. Chrysler revived the name for a decor package offered on the 1991-1994 YJ-series Jeep Wrangler, but it wasn't until 2015 — nearly 50 years after the name made its debut on the CJ — that the Renegade became a separate model.
Read the most recent 2019 Jeep Renegade review.
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