The Renegade is the little Jeep that hopes it can. It is the first Jeep not made in the US and has giant foot prints to follow with the Wrangler, The Grand Cherokee, and the best selling Cherokee as it’s siblings.
My first impression of the Italian made Jeep is not a good one. It’s bulbous, ungainly, and odd looking. Then it hits me, that is a Jeep. None of them are sleek, or normal looking. Just take one gander at the front of the Cherokee, or the ridiculously impractical Wrangler, and you realize Jeep does things their own way. That’s when this little Renegade starts to make sense.
Starting at $17,995 you set your expectations pretty low on the interior fit and finish. The Renegade surprises with decent finishes, plush seats, and while the materials in the base model are nothing to brag about, they are finished well. No defects or flash on the edges and the gaps looked good. That meant you weren’t distracted by any interior flaws.
We definitely preferred the upgraded Trailhawk versions plusher materials, nicer door panels, and leather like touch areas. It also had 4WD, NAV, heated seats, and power accessories. Priced at $25,995 we say if you have the scratch, make the upgrade.
The Jeep Renegade is a funky little box slapped onto a chassis it shares with other models. The idea of a corporate chassis is great for saving money. Not so great for making decent cars without compromises. The Renegade is no different, but it isn’t a bad car.
The most interesting, or annoying thing, about the looks of the Renegade are all the Jeep heritage details. There are 31 Easter Eggs on the Trail Hawk edition alone. From Sasquatch climbing the mountain on the rear window, to Moab printed on the seat material, it can get overwhelming.
I could spend a bunch of time describing the rest of the exterior – but seriously just look at the pictures and let your eyes decide.
Let me lay out a couple of things about my car opinions. I don’t like automatics, and I don’t like 4 cylinders. The Renegade has both.
So you would think I hated driving the little Jeep and you would be wrong. The 9 speed transmission is the first automatic that comes close to being near a gear I would choose if I was shifting. It’s not perfect, it’s always a little off, and the down shifts are a bit slower that I would like – but it is far better than the 8 speed that was in the Hyundai Genesis Coupe from a previous drive.
The motor is flexible and peppy but not powerful. I drove both the 1.4 and the 2.4 liter engines. The smaller motor has a turbo but you will never notice it. Power is underwhelming at best. The 2.4 is the power plant you want. Acceleration is capable of keeping up with traffic and running down the highway it cruises along smoothly and comfortably. This is a great little road trip vehicle.
The chassis is surprisingly nimble, well damped, and sporty. It was fun to throw the Renegade around turns, carve back roads, and whip through parking lots like a go kart.
We didn’t do much off road. The Jeep is capable of going off road, but short of dirt roads about 1% of Renegade owners will ever venture beyond a secondary road. For those duties the Renegade is perfectly setup. The 4WD system may be made in Italy, but it has that legendary Jeep knowledge built into it. For bad weather, rough roads, and going to the lake this little runabout is a great pick.
If you do choose to go crazy check out this video from Dirt Every Day. They were able to tackle some tough terrain in their Renegade. We couldn’t hit the trails that hard in our loaner.
The Jeep Renegade is not a vehicle I would personally own, but it is a vehicle I would recommend to friends and family, or anyone looking for a small capable SUV that gets good fuel economy and has something a little different when you look at it.
We also want to throw out a huge thank you to Adams Jeep in Annapolis, MD for supplying the test vehicles.
For an added bonus check out the Renegade going through 18 inches of water!