New & Used Jeep Renegade: In Depth
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Making its debut in the 2015 model year, the Jeep Renegade is an all-new compact utility vehicle based on the same underpinnings as a new Fiat model, the 500X crossover. Jeep's version, however, can be spec'd to be much more trail-friendly, while the Fiat is instead focused on urban environments and buyers who want all-wheel drive for occasional foul-weather use.
The Renegade combines Fiat's expertise in small, fuel-efficient cars with Jeep's notoriety for ruggedness and iconic styling. The model lands in an increasingly crowded market of small and carlike, yet tall and often boxy utility vehicles—such as the Kia Soul, Subaru XV Crosstrek, MINI Cooper Clubman, and the Nissan Juke—and even the existing Jeep Patriot and Compass, which are slightly larger. But with true off-road capability offered, the Renegade will have an ability set that's wider than those other models.
Chevrolet just launched the similarly-sized Trax in this size category, and several other new models will be entering the space soon, including the Fit-based Honda HR-V and the Mazda CX-3.
See our review pages on the 2016 Jeep Renegade for an in-depth preview of this upcoming vehicle, as well as photos, specs, and more.
The Renegade throws out both the very creased, angular look of products like the Patriot and Liberty and the somewhat softer look of the Compass, Grand Cherokee, and new Cherokee, and instead strikes a new look that is chunky and rugged-looking, yet sophisticated and just a little playful. With its blunt slotted grille and somewhat upright windshield, the Renegade nods to Jeep tradition; yet in its curved rear flanks, and a beltline that swoops down at the middle, the Renegade eschews flat sheetmetal. Furthermore, an 'X' that repeats on the headlights, taillights, and even the roof on some versions, adding another interesting styling cue.
Inside, the new 2015 Jeep Renegade is less radical in its design statement; it's a subtle look, but one that's finished with plenty of soft-touch materials around the front seats, plus some body-color details, as well as 'clamp fastener' anodized accents. An upright seating position in front, combined with the rather low beltline, should add up to great visibility, and back-seat space should be adequate for a couple of adults. Cargo space is 18.5 cubic feet with the rear seatback up, or nearly 51 cubic feet with it flipped forward. The Renegade will offer a My Sky feature, which is basically a rollback cloth roof that can be opened or removed entirely. It is similar in concept to the Sky Slider roof that was offered on the second-generation Jeep Liberty.
Although the Renegade is aimed at a global market, which includes Asian and European city dwellers who want the Jeep name in a smaller package, this baby SUV should do well here at home as well. With an overall length of 167 inches, the Renegade is slightly longer than a Wrangler but over a half-foot shorter than the Patriot. It manages to offer interior volume similar to the Patriot by being a little wider and taller than that model, however, allowing it to fit into smaller spaces just the same.
While several engines will be offered around the world, U.S.-bound Renegades will get a choice of two powertrains, each with its own no-choice transmission pairing. A 160-hp, 1.4-liter turbocharged four-cylinder is matched to a six-speed manual, while the 184-hp 2.4-liter gets a nine-speed automatic transmission. The Renegade features an independent rear suspension with frequency-selective shocks from Koni, which should provide a good balance of handling and ride. There's even a feature to help the anti-lock brakes detect rough roads so they can react accordingly.
Off-road ability is the selling point on a lot of Jeep vehicles, and the Renegade holds true to the reputation in a way that might be unexpected. You can even order a Renegade with sufficient equipment to carry off-road ability Jeep deems worthy of its Trail Rated badge—the Trailhawk model comes with the so-called Active Drive 2 system, which adds a low range, a 20:1 crawl ratio, skid plates, increased ground clearance, and hill descent control, among other things. Meanwhile, there's also an Active Drive 1 for those who simply want an all-weather all-wheel-drive system. Front-drive is the standard layout.
Renegades also offer the latest from Chrysler's infotainment options. The Uconnect hands-free system can read incoming text messages aloud and even send dictated messages. Uconnect is also integrated with Sirius Travel Link, which provides weather, traffic, and other info. And there's also integration with smartphone apps and services like Yelp.
The Renegade went on sale in early 2015. Few if any changes are expected for the 2016 model year, although Jeep always likes to throw in a special-edition appearance package or two every now and then.