2016 Jeep Renegade Review
Pros & Cons
- Lots of character
- agile handling
- plenty of easy-to-use technology features
- best-in-class off-road capability for Trailhawk model.
- Middling fuel economy
- confused and clunky automatic transmission
- tight rear-seat legroom
- limited cargo capacity
- intrusive wind noise.
Edmunds' Expert Review
The Jeep 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. It's rewarding to drive, yet still practical.
When the Renegade debuted last year, some Jeep enthusiasts and critics were concerned about whether a subcompact crossover could (or should) wear the badge of a manufacturer built on a reputation of unquestionable off-road capability. Jeep's track record of building underwhelming small crossovers (see Compass and Patriot) certainly contributed to the skepticism. But with several road tests under our belts and a long-term Renegade Trailhawk in our fleet, we can happily report that those fears are unfounded. The 2016 Jeep Renegade is a fine subcompact crossover SUV that has an abundance of character, is easy to drive and can surpass the competition when the road gets rocky.
On-road, the distinctively styled Renegade is a peach. The ride is well-cushioned, with the suspension doing an admirable job of soaking up bumps and potholes. Jeep's intuitive infotainment system is placed front and center in an attractive cabin highlighted by plenty of headroom. The Trailhawk version's ride quality is a little more rough-and-tumble, but in compensation it provides off-road abilities that are unmatched in this segment and even in the compact crossover market. Indeed, when we put a Trailhawk on our RTI ramp (designed to measure maximum suspension articulation), we found it scored better than a Cherokee Trailhawk and Land Rover Discovery Sport. Part of that is thanks to the Renegade's small footprint, which also makes it a cinch to place on the road, navigate tight streets or park in crowded lots.
Subcompact crossover SUVs are getting more popular, and Jeep's 2016 Renegade is one of the best available.
If you're looking for a solid all-round subcompact crossover, however, there are a few things that keep the Renegade from being at the top of its class. Neither of its two available engines is all that great. The base turbocharged four-cylinder is OK but only comes paired with a manual transmission, while the bigger 2.4-liter engine posts just class-average acceleration and below-average fuel economy. Inside, legroom in the second row is at a premium and should be reserved for short trips as not to fatigue your passengers. A small cargo area further reduces the Renegade's capacity as a road trip vehicle full of people and luggage.
The subcompact market is heating up, with new entrants coming onto market every year. We do like the 2016 Mazda CX-3. It's a fun, sporty alternative that boasts one of the most powerful engines in the class. Similarly light-footed and powerful is the Nissan Juke, but its interior is not nearly as roomy. Conversely, the 2016 Honda HR-V is easier to live with thanks to its versatile cargo area, but isn't as sporty. There's also the 2016 Fiat 500X, which is mechanically related to the Renegade and therefore shares similar pros and cons, or the bigger 2016 Subaru Crosstrek, which is the only vehicle among these rivals that offers some enhanced off-road capability.
It's a diverse group, to be sure, but the 2016 Jeep Renegade could be a compelling pick if a sense of fun and genuine off-road ability are high on your wish list.
2016 Jeep Renegade models
The 2016 Jeep Renegade is a five-passenger subcompact crossover SUV offered in four trim levels: Sport, Latitude, Limited and Trailhawk.
Standard equipment on the Sport model includes 16-inch steel wheels, keyless entry, power windows and locks, a 60/40-split folding rear seat, a height-adjustable driver seat, cloth upholstery, a tilt-and-telescoping steering wheel and a four-speaker sound system with an auxiliary jack and a USB port.
The Latitude adds alloy wheels, roof rails, foglights, automatic headlights, heated power-adjustable outside mirrors, body-colored door handles and 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 wheels, dual exhaust tips, automatic wipers, 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 leather-wrapped shift knob and a 40/20/40-split folding rear seat with pass-through.
Most AWD Jeep Renegades will fare adequately in the dirt, but get the Trailhawk for the best off-road performance.
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, unique exterior accents, automatic wipers, a full-size spare, an upgraded driver information display, a 115-volt power outlet, premium cloth upholstery, red interior stitching, a leather-wrapped shift knob and a removable cargo floor panel.
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 forward collision and braking systems.
Manually removable sunroofs can be ordered on all Renegades. Except on the Sport model, the front sunroof can also be power-operated. Keyless ignition and entry is available for the Latitude and Limited, as is a Beats nine-speaker audio system. A tow package is available on all but the Sport trim.
Performance & mpg
The 2016 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.
In Edmunds testing, a Jeep Renegade Latitude with 4WD and the 2.4-liter engine accelerated from zero to 60 mph in 9.4 seconds, which is about average for a subcompact crossover SUV. Heavier by roughly 200 pounds, the Renegade Trailhawk recorded an average acceleration time of 9.7 seconds based on two different test vehicles.
EPA-estimated fuel economy has not been released for the 2016 Jeep Renegade, but we don't expect the numbers to change much from the last year. With the turbocharged 1.4-liter engine, 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 four-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.
The 2016 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 the 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.
In our brake testing, a Jeep Renegade Latitude stopped from 60 mph in just 116 feet, which is excellent for its class. A Renegade Trailhawk, largely because of its specialized tires, required a much longer 135 feet to stop from 60 mph.
Both of the 2016 Jeep Renegade's engines make similar power output, so your choice hinges more on what kind of character and transmission you want. The 1.4 delivers its power in a smoother manner, feels sportier and comes with an 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 can also make clunky gearchanges at low speeds (as in when stuck in traffic), along with slow downshifts for highway passing.
How the Renegade drives is largely decided 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.
It may be the entry-level Jeep, but the Renegade doesn't feel that way from the driver seat. Although a bare-bones Sport does without air-conditioning and cruise control, most Renegades come pretty well equipped and have soft-touch materials for the dash and armrests. Jeep has also given the Renegade's interior some extra character via a smattering of Jeep-themed logos and designs.
The Uconnect system is also better than most infotainment systems. The upgraded 6.5-inch touchscreen is responsive and feature-packed. 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 an attractive display in the instrument cluster that shows enhanced trip computer information.
The available 6.5-inch touchscreen features the easy-to-use Uconnect interface.
While the Renegade is short, it is exceptionally wide for its size, which 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 already limited cargo space and add a noticeable amount of wind noise. We suggest going without them unless you absolutely must have sunny sky access.