What Did We Buy?
The Renegade is a new junior-size Jeep designed to compete in the emerging compact crossover class.
Like our long-term 2014 Jeep Cherokee Limited 4x4, it is the offspring of the Fiat-Chrysler marriage. In fact, the Renegade is built in Italy alongside its platform mate, the Fiat 500X. Unlike our outgoing Cherokee, however, we opted for the rugged, rough and ready Trailhawk trim level. Other trims might have been more comfortable, quiet and a little more refined, but in the end this is a Jeep. We wanted a vehicle that is capable of living up to the reputation created by round headlights and a seven-slat grille.
Jeep's last effort at a small, car-based crossover was the unloved and much-maligned Compass. Like the Renegade, the Compass shares its bones with other family products. But the Compass was the product of an era at Chrysler where hard plastics, harsh engines and bad vibrations were common. It was the antithesis of everything Jeep stands for and was a poor reskin of another poor product.
Things have improved immensely in the years since. Jeep's parent company Chrysler married an Italian and the products from the partnership are solid. The Renegade continues the trend. Not only does it look like a proper Jeep, it performs like a proper Jeep.
We came away impressed in our 2015 Jeep Renegade Trailhawk Road Test. It worked like a proper Jeep, but we still have mixed feelings about its day-to-day use. We're spending 12 months and 20,000 miles with the Renegade to evaluate its full potential.
What Options Does It Have?
A base Jeep Renegade Sport starts at $17,995. This nets you a two-wheel-drive model powered by a 1.4-liter turbocharged four-cylinder engine with a six-speed manual transmission. The Sport is equipped with keyless entry, power windows, steering-wheel-mounted audio controls and hill-start assist, but no air-conditioning, a trait shared with the Wrangler.
We opted for the off-road-focused Trailhawk model. Our Alpine White Renegade bumps the price up to $25,995. The only engine available on the four-wheel-drive Trailhawk is the 184-horsepower 2.4-liter four-cylinder that's attached to a nine-speed automatic transmission. Features that separate the Trailhawk from its more street-focused kin include skid plates (transmission, transfer case and fuel tank), Active Drive Low four-wheel drive with a 20:1 crawl ratio, a 0.8-inch lift with beefed-up suspension, hill descent control, unique 17-inch wheels with more aggressive rubber, new front and rear fascias that provide better approach angles and red-painted tow hooks.
Standard equipment on the Trailhawk includes tinted rear glass, a leather-wrapped steering wheel, a back-up camera, foglamps, UConnect infotainment with a 5.0-inch touchscreen and USB ports and, thankfully, air-conditioning.
Aside from the basic Trailhawk equipment, individual options fitted to our Renegade are a matte black hood decal ($150), remote start ($200), passive entry/keyless ignition ($295) and an upgraded speaker system ($495). We also added the Safety and Security Group I with blind-spot and cross-traffic warnings for $595, an upgraded UConnect infotainment system for $1,245 and the Premium Leather Group for $1,495. With a $995 destination charge, our 2015 Jeep Renegade Trailhawk had an MSRP of $31,495.
Edmunds True Market Value (TMV®) for our Renegade was $30,051. We purchased our Jeep for $29,577 from Alhambra Chrysler Jeep Dodge Ram.
Why We Bought It
We want to know if Jeep is capable of competing in a new, but important, segment. Jeep, like every other automaker, must make smaller and more fuel-efficient vehicles in order to meet government emissions and fuel economy standards. Can Jeep reconcile its SUV- and truck-based heritage with the realities of modern emissions and fuel economy regulations?
With the Renegade, Jeep set out to create a vehicle that doesn't have to make excuses. Inexpensive doesn't mean cheap anymore. Small doesn't mean less capable. The compact crossover class is highly competitive, with solid offerings like the Honda HR-V and Mazda CX-3. Jeep can't afford a subpar product.
Fiat Chrysler is pushing to make Jeep its flagship brand worldwide. To succeed, the company needs a solid entry-level offering that will deliver on everything the Jeep name stands for, while still being efficient and practical. The Renegade needs to fulfill those goals if Jeep is going to be a global brand.
Our initial impressions of the Renegade Trailhawk warranted a longer look. We walked away from our test of the 2014 Jeep Cherokee Limited 4x4 with mostly positive impressions. We'll spend 12 months and 20,000 miles determining if the Renegade will leave us similarly impressed.
Is the Renegade a competitive crossover? Is the Trailhawk all show or is it a serious off-roader? We're going to find out.
Best MPG: 23.7
Worst MPG: 16.4
Average MPG: 20.0
Current odometer: 1,119 miles
Edmunds purchased this vehicle for the purpose of evaluation.