Let's start with the obvious. The 2017 Jeep Renegade is about as adorable looking as nearly 3,200 pounds of steel, rubber and plastic can get. But it's also playing in one the fastest growing, most intensely competitive segments. The subcompact crossover slice of the market where small families need a capable everyday companion, singles crave a distinct image, and no one wants to spend a lot of money.
The Renegade, which is built in Italy by Jeep's corporate brother Fiat, has a boxy shape that produces outstanding cabin room despite its diminutive exterior dimensions. And that box uses all the familiar Jeep design details to tie it into the brand's history. There is the signature seven-slot grille in front, old-school round headlights and square taillights, reminiscent of the early civilian Jeeps.
The Renegade is a bit more serious about life off-pavement than most of its direct competition. In Trailhawk trim it is available with a true four-wheel-drive system Jeep calls Active Drive Low. But even this version is not built strictly of the Rubicon vein. It can hold its own off-road, sure, yet this is not the Renegade's sole purpose. It is built around a traditional economy car unibody structure with the engine mounted transversely up front. In fact, the vehicle with which it shares most of its engineering, and an assembly plant, is the Fiat 500X. The Renegade should not be confused as a Wrangler substitute.
There are two engines offered in the Renegade. The first is a 1.4-liter turbocharged four-cylinder rated at 160 horsepower and 184 pound-feet of torque. A six-speed manual transmission is standard with this engine. Higher end trims get the naturally aspirated 2.4-liter four-cylinder, rated at 180 horsepower and 175 lb-ft. A nine-speed automatic transmission is standard here. Neither of these engine options are particularly exciting in daily driving situations but both are suitable for their intended purposes.
Despite its small stature, the Renegade is not particularly efficient in terms of fuel economy. The base Renegade, equipped with front-wheel drive, manual transmission and the turbo 1.4, is rated by the EPA at 26 mpg combined (24 mpg city, 31 mpg highway). At the other extreme, the four-wheel-drive, automatic Renegade with the 2.4 gets 24 mpg combined (21 mpg city, 29 mpg highway).
It is true the Renegade is space efficient, but don't mistake that for being able to hold five adults in comfort. While headroom is plentiful, the back seat gets snug in every other direction, especially with three across. Beyond that, there is only so much space behind the second row to accommodate luggage. Still the Renegade offers a compelling alternative to a growing segment of compact SUVs.
Let Edmunds help you determine whether the 2017 Jeep Renegade is the perfect car for you.
Edmunds attended a manufacturer-sponsored event, to which selected members of the press were invited, to facilitate this report.