2021 Jeep Renegade Review
We're guessing the phrase "subcompact crossover SUV" doesn't exactly send fire through your veins. Indeed, most of these pint-size runabouts are pretty dull to drive. But one exception is the 2021 Jeep Renegade. In a sea of competitors battling to be the most practical or the most fuel-efficient, the Renegade focuses instead on a more exciting driving experience.
Its Jeep Wrangler-inspired styling stands out thanks to round headlights and Jeep's familiar seven-slot grille. The short and stubby body also helps make the Renegade more off-road capable than rivals such as the Honda HR-V, Hyundai Kona and Mazda CX-30. There's even a raised Renegade Trailhawk version that comes with tow hooks, skid plates and a true low-range gear. But does that mean the Renegade overlooks critical areas such as comfort, storage space and fuel economy? Read our Expert Rating to find out how this sturdy subcompact SUV stacks up.
What's it like to live with?
We put 20,000 miles on a Jeep Renegade Trailhawk and largely came away impressed. Yes, the short overhangs and off-road ability came in handy in the dirt. But we also enjoyed the cheery interior and extra-comfy seats that helped on long road trips. Check out our long-term test of the Jeep Renegade to learn more about everything from performance to reliability. Note that while we tested a 2015 Renegade, the 2021 model is of the same generation, and many of our observations still apply.
The Jeep Renegade is a fun little SUV with more personality than its main rivals. The ride quality is a little stiff and cargo space is lackluster, but otherwise the Renegade is pretty agreeable. Give it a shot if you want a small crossover SUV with character.
How does the Renegade drive?
The Renegade doesn't do anything particularly outstanding here. We tested a Renegade Limited with the 1.3-liter engine and four-wheel drive. Its 9.3-second sprint to 60 mph makes it on the slower side of average for SUVs in this class. But more broadly, there's enough power to make passing or merging on the highway relatively uneventful.
Around town, the Renegade's brake pedal feels uneven and a bit mushy. In our brake testing it needed 135 feet to stop from 60 mph. That's longer than the class average. We do like the Renegade's engine stop-start system that provides near seamless restarts in traffic. The Renegade handles surprisingly well too. It's stable and planted in corners and easy and nimble to park.
How comfortable is the Renegade?
The Renegade's ride is surprisingly firm. You feel more bumps and road imperfections than you might expect from a small SUV. Our fully loaded test vehicle's 19-inch wheels are likely a big factor. A Renegade with smaller wheels (and therefore more absorbent tire sidewalls) should be more comfortable.
At idle, the Renegade is fairly quiet. While we didn't notice any squeaks or rattles, there's a good bit of wind and tire noise. The turbo engine doesn't offer a particularly great exhaust note either.
The climate control system works well, and our tester's heated seats and steering wheel worked quickly on a chilly day. The seats offer enough lateral support but feel a little too stiff and offer limited adjustment. Drivers who like to sit upright might find the headrest is angled too far forward.
How’s the interior?
The Renegade's interior is open and roomy with plenty of headroom and shoulder room, even with the optional panoramic sunroof. Rear-seat legroom, however, is tight for the class.
The square-shaped doors open wide, and the seats sit tall enough to make getting in and out easy. The thick windshield roof pillars compromise forward visibility, but the large side and rear windows, in conjunction with the big outside mirrors, make it easier to see out of the sides and back.
The Renegade has easy-to-reach knobs and buttons with clear labels. Major menus in the infotainment system are all placed along the bottom of the screen and remain visible even with Apple CarPlay and Android Auto smartphone integration active.
How’s the tech?
The base Renegade's infotainment system is serviceable but lacks features such as Apple CarPlay and Android Auto. Mid- and high-level models come with an upgraded system that's one of the best in the class thanks to better smartphone integration, a clean, easy-to-use menu system and a high-resolution 8.4-inch touchscreen display. Our test Renegade had two USB ports and two 12-volt outlets.
The Renegade offers a decent number of driver aids, such as adaptive cruise control, blind-spot monitoring and lane departure warning. They work pretty well, but most are optional when many competitors include them as standard equipment.
How’s the storage?
With only 18.5 cubic feet of cargo space behind its rear seats, the Renegade is near the bottom of the class. The cargo area has a boxy shape at least, and the load floor is low.
Up front there's a bin in front of the gear shifter that's great for your phone or sunglasses, and the door pockets are large enough to hold smaller water bottles. The main cupholders are awkwardly placed — they're too low and too far rearward for easy access.
The 60/40-split rear seats fold flat and have anchor and tether points on both outer positions for child safety seats. Rear-facing safety seats might be tight, but most other seats should be fine.
How economical is the Renegade?
We tested the Renegade with the 1.3-liter engine and four-wheel drive. The EPA estimates that this configuration is good for 26 mpg in combined city/highway driving. But we fell short of that on our 115-mile evaluation route, getting just 24 mpg. That's disappointing since most other vehicles in this class either meet or exceed their EPA combined rating.
Is the Renegade a good value?
The Renegade is one of the most expensive vehicles in the segment, and the list of standard features doesn't reflect that price. Our Limited High Altitude trim model checked in at an eye-watering $36,110. Build quality is fine, but there's nothing exceptional inside and it feels like you're paying a lot for the rough-and-tumble Jeep styling.
A three-year/36,000-mile bumper-to-bumper warranty is a bit skimpy, but the powertrain coverage of five years/60,000 miles is about average for the class. The five-year/60,000-mile roadside assistance coverage is reassuring.
This is where the Renegade shines. Every trim, but especially the rough-and-tumble Trailhawk model, looks and feels cool. It's shaped like a small-scale version of the Wrangler, with exaggerated lines and features that give it both a cute and rugged appearance. While it's not especially fun to drive in most trims, the Trailhawk offers a decent amount of off-road capability that nothing else in the class can match.
Which Renegade does Edmunds recommend?
Check out the Latitude. It's a nicely equipped trim that gives you flexibility with additional options.
Jeep Renegade models
The Jeep Renegade is a subcompact SUV with seating for up to five passengers. It comes in four trim levels: Sport, Latitude, Limited and Trailhawk. A nine-speed transmission is standard on all trims. All-wheel drive is optional, although four-wheel drive comes standard on Limited and Trailhawk.