Used 2015 Jeep Renegade SUV Review

The 2016 Renegade certainly isn't the first carlike Jeep, but it's the first one to prove that Jeep styling and playfulness can translate successfully to a subcompact crossover. Rewarding to drive yet still practical, the Renegade is one of our top picks.




what's new

The Renegade is an all-new vehicle for the 2015 model year.

vehicle overview

Jeep is well known for building off-road-capable SUVs like the Wrangler and Grand Cherokee. So when the company created the 2015 Renegade, a new entry-level model that's smaller than the compact Cherokee, it was bound to be different from the other entries in the growing subcompact crossover SUV class. Sure, the Renegade has unmatched off-road credentials. You almost expect that. But would you have also guessed that this Jeep is fun to drive around town and has plenty of character?

The Renegade's DNA might have something to do with that. Based on the same underlying body structure that serves as the basis for the Fiat 500X (Jeep is part of the Fiat-Chrysler merger), the Renegade is indeed small. It's 15.4 inches shorter than the Cherokee, for instance. However, it's actually about an inch wider than the Cherokee, and that has a positive effect on interior space, making the Renegade wide enough for a three-passenger rear seat and adding useful cargo capacity.

The Renegade is enjoyable to drive, too. It's nimble around town and easy to park, and four-wheel-drive models, especially the Trailhawk, offer best-in-class off-road capability. Buyers have a choice of two engines. We prefer the base turbocharged 1.4-liter four-cylinder because it is smoother than the available 2.4-liter four-cylinder. Otherwise, the engines put out similar amounts of power.

Compared to previous, inexpensive Jeep crossovers like the Compass and Patriot, the Renegade is also more personable. It's offered in a variety of bright exterior colors and the interior can be fitted with colorful interior trim pieces and lift-out roof panels. There are also some playful touches, like the mud splatter graphics on the gauges and a tiny Bigfoot silhouette on the rear window. If technology is important to you, the Renegade should satisfy thanks to things like a slick touchscreen interface and a healthy number of available safety features.

Subcompact crossovers are becoming more popular. The 2015 Chevrolet Trax is another new entry this year, but its lackluster interior and slow acceleration are major downsides. The 2015 Nissan Juke is more established and more agile on-road than the Renegade, but its interior isn't nearly as roomy. More competitive are the 2015 Kia Soul, which offers similar interior space in a more carlike package, and the 2015 Subaru XV Crosstrek, which is the only rival that offers enhanced off-road abilities. Upcoming are the 2016 Honda HR-V and 2016 Mazda CX-3. Overall, though, the Renegade earns our recommendation and is definitely worth checking out.

trim levels & features

The 2015 Jeep Renegade is a five-passenger subcompact crossover SUV offered in four trim levels.

Standard equipment on the Sport model includes 16-inch steel wheels, dual sunroofs (non-sliding, non-removable), keyless entry, power windows and locks, a 60/40-split folding rear seat, a height-adjustable driver seat, a tilt-and-telescoping steering wheel and a four-speaker sound system with USB and audio inputs.

The Latitude adds alloy wheels, roof rails, foglamps, automatic headlights, heated power-adjustable outside mirrors, air-conditioning, ambient LED lighting, a fold-flat front passenger seat, cruise control, and a leather-wrapped steering wheel. Electronic additions consist of a rearview camera, the Uconnect control interface with 5.0-inch touchscreen, satellite radio, Bluetooth phone and audio connectivity, voice commands, an additional USB port and a six-speaker audio system.

The Limited gets 18-inch alloy wheels, dual-zone automatic climate control, an upgraded driver information display, an auto-dimming rearview mirror, remote engine start, a 115-volt power outlet, leather upholstery, an eight-way power-adjustable driver seat (with four-way power lumbar), heated front seats, a heated steering wheel, a 40/20/40-split folding rear seat with pass-through, and a remote rechargeable flashlight.

The off-road-oriented Trailhawk comes with four-wheel drive, hill descent control, a raised suspension, tow hooks and underbody skid plates. In addition to the Latitude's equipment it also has 17-inch alloy wheels and all-terrain tires, a full-size spare, premium cloth upholstery, red interior stitching, and a remote rechargeable flashlight.

Many of the Limited model's standard features are offered for the Latitude and Trailhawk via option packages. Over and above that, buyers can opt for a package that includes a 6.5-inch touchscreen, a navigation system, HD radio and Uconnect Access (includes extra safety features, a WiFi hotspot and voice texting). Two safety packages are also offered. A Safety and Security package comes with a blind spot monitoring system and rear cross-traffic alerts, while the Advanced Technology package adds a lane departure warning system, lane keeping assist, rear parking sensors and a forward collision warning system.

For all Renegades, manually removable sunroofs can be ordered. On the Latitude and Limited, the front sunroof can also be power operated. Keyless ignition and entry is available for the Latitude and Limited, as is a premium nine-speaker audio system.

performance & mpg

The 2015 Jeep Renegade is offered with one of two available engines. The base engine, which is standard in the Sport and Latitude models, is a turbocharged 1.4-liter four-cylinder that produces 160 horsepower and 184 pound-feet of torque. It comes with a six-speed manual transmission.

Optional for the Sport and Latitude and standard for Limited and Trailhawk models is a 2.4-liter four-cylinder that makes 180 hp and 175 lb-ft of torque. It is paired to a nine-speed automatic transmission. All Renegades can be either front-wheel drive or four-wheel drive except the Trailhawk, which is 4WD only.

With the turbocharged 1.4-liter engine, the EPA estimates the Renegade achieves fuel economy of 27 mpg combined (24/31) in both front- and four-wheel drive configurations. The 2.4-liter engine with front-wheel drive is rated at 25 mpg combined (22 city/31 highway); the all-wheel drive powertrain earns 24 mpg combined (21/29). This is OK, though most rivals provide better fuel economy.  

All 4WD Renegades have selectable drive modes for different terrains. The Renegade Trailhawk has a more advanced 4WD system that has enhanced low-speed off-road gearing and an extra drive mode.

When equipped with the Trailer Tow package, the Renegade with 4WD and the 2.4-liter engine can tow up to 2,000 pounds.

safety

The 2015 Jeep Renegade comes standard with antilock brakes, traction and stability control, driver knee airbag, front side airbags, side curtain airbags and hill start assist. A rearview camera is optional for Sport and standard on all other trims. Two safety-oriented packages are available that add a blind spot monitoring system, a rear cross-path alert system, a lane departure warning system, lane keeping assist, a frontal collision warning system and rear parking sensors.

Uconnect Access uses embedded cellular technology to provide emergency and roadside assistance, remote door locking and stolen vehicle location services.

driving

Total power output of the two engines for the 2015 Jeep Renegade is basically a wash, so your choice hinges more on what kind of character you want. The 1.4 delivers its power in a smoother manner and generally feels sportier. It's also the only engine that you can pair with the easy-to-shift manual transmission. In comparison, the 2.4-liter engine feels and sounds coarser during hard acceleration, but its stronger low-rpm torque means it's more powerful and responsive from a stop or at low speeds. The nine-speed automatic transmission is smooth and keeps engine rpm low for maximum highway cruising mpg, but it can often require a deep stab at the gas pedal to coax a downshift.

How the Renegade drives is influenced by the suspension setup. The front-wheel-drive versions sit the lowest and are therefore the sportiest. In fact, the Renegade's small size and quick, direct steering make front-drive versions feel very carlike. Four-wheel-drive models sit an inch higher, and the Trailhawk adds another 0.8 inch to the ride height. That adds some more body lean around turns and some bounce to the ride, but the Renegade never feels unstable or harsh. The added ride height also gives the Renegade some genuine off-road prowess. The Trailhawk is the clear choice for off-roading, as unique front and rear fascias improve the approach and departure angles, skid plates protect the undercarriage and all-terrain tires add loose-surface grip.

interior

It may be the entry-level Jeep, but the Renegade doesn't feel that way from the driver seat. Although a truly base Sport does without air-conditioning and cruise control, most Renegades come pretty well equipped and have soft-touch materials for the dash and armrests.

The Uconnect system is also better than most infotainment systems. The upgraded 6.5-inch touchscreen is responsive and has virtual buttons that are easy to press with a finger. It also offers access to the Yelp local search and Uconnect Access apps on owners' smartphones. Uconnect Access offers text-to-speech and speech-to-text capability, both of which work quite well, plus remote locking and starting and, for an additional fee, WiFi hotspot capability. The Limited model also comes with a fancy display in the instrument cluster that shows enhanced trip computer information.

While the Renegade is short, it is exceptionally wide for its size and that gives it some useful interior space for passengers and their cargo. The upright design provides lots of headroom, and front seat occupants have plenty of legroom. Legroom gets tight for rear passengers, but three-across seating is possible thanks to the exceptional width. The rear cargo area offers 50.8 cubic feet of cargo space with the rear seats folded down, and 18.5 cubic feet with the seats up. Those figures beat the Chevrolet Trax, but they are bested by the Honda HR-V and Kia Soul. The Renegade's two opaque "My Sky" roof panels can be removed (if ordered that way), but they also gobble up some of the cargo space in all models except the Limited, where they stow under the rear cargo floor.

edmunds expert review process

This review was written by a member of Edmunds' editorial team of expert car reviewers. Our team drives every car you can buy. We put the vehicles through rigorous testing, evaluating how they drive and comparing them in detail to their competitors.

We're also regular people like you, so we pay attention to all the different ways people use their cars every day. We want to know if there's enough room for our families and our weekend gear and whether or not our favorite drink fits in the cupholder. Our editors want to help you make the best decision on a car that fits your life.