Nissan Juke vs. Jeep Renegade: Compare Cars

November 27, 2016
2017 Jeep Renegade

2017 Jeep Renegade

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Believe it or not, the Jeep Renegade and Nissan Juke are in the same category of small SUVs. But they could hardly be more different. The Renegade is Jeep's littlest SUV, with square-cut styling and genuine off-road prowess. The Juke, on the other hand, is a style-first urban warrior whose all-wheel-drive option is more for on-road traction than anything even in the neighborhood of rocky trails or mountain climbing. 

New in 2015, the Renegade is the first vehicle developed from the ground up for global sale by the combined Fiat Chrysler Automobiles. While it'll likely sell well in North America, its minimal dimensions make it best-suited to bring the Jeep brand to more crowded and less affluent markets in Europe, Asia, and South America. Its design is every inch classic SUV, with oversize lights and other details for visual interest.

MORE: Read our full 2017 Jeep Renegade and 2017 Nissan Juke reviews

The interior is straightforward, modern, and contains a number of Jeep-brand reminders in the form of "Easter Egg" design elements. The Renegade's front seats are comfortable, but there's not that much room in the rear unless rear-seat riders bargain aggressively with those in the front. The seats are comfortable and nicely bolstered, and the Renegade is clearly wider than other all-wheel-drive entries, meaning the shoulders of the two front-seat riders are suitably separated.

The Juke, on the other hand, has been with us since the 2011 model year. Its wild-style design is polarizing: You either love for it for its in-your-face, tall, haunched, bug-eyed appearance or hate it for the same reasons. A light restyle for 2015 has made it, if anything, even more mean-looking. The Juke's layout and switchgear are straightforward even if the motorcycle-inspired gauges, shiny nylon upholstery, and colorful inserts give it far more design edge.

2017 Jeep Renegade

2017 Jeep Renegade

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2017 Jeep Renegade

2017 Jeep Renegade

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2017 Jeep Renegade

2017 Jeep Renegade

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Interior space is adequate in the front, with a somewhat upright seating position, but quite cramped in the rear--and the Juke has less cargo space to boot, just 36 cubic feet with the rear seat folded down (which is how we expect most Jukes will be driven), against 51 cubic feet for the Renegade. In the end, the Jeep is simply far better at the utility jobs that many people need: hauling people and stuff.

The Jeep Renegade comes with two powertrain options. The base model is propelled by a 160-horsepower turbocharged 1.4-liter 4-cylinder engine paired with a 6-speed manual. If you don't want to shift for yourself, you'll move up to the 180-hp 2.4-liter inline-4, which uses the new 9-speed automatic transmission that's increasingly common in new Chrysler, Jeep, and Fiat products. Front-wheel drive is standard, with all-wheel drive optional for both engines.

The Nissan Juke is powered by a 188-hp, 1.6-liter turbocharged 4-cylinder engine, with either front- or all-wheel drive, and a continuously variable (CVT) transmission. The CVT makes it somewhat sluggish around town unless you drive it hard, when it tightens up and offers more fun. Performance fans, however, will go for the Juke NISMO or NISMO RS—both offering a manual gearbox. The NISMO RS gets a top-performance version of the same engine, boosted to 215 hp. The NISMO versions also get more than 100 upgrades to suit their hot-hatch personae.

While the NISMOs are in a separate category—they're smaller competitors to cars like the Subaru WRX and VW Golf GTI—the conventional Juke powertrain just isn't as direct or enjoyable to drive as the Jeep's pair. Not to mention that the AWD Juke gave us truly atrocious fuel economy during a test several years ago—only slightly more than 20 mpg.

The Juke's safety ratings are mixed—not unexpected for an older design—while the Renegade suffers under a similar lens, with just a four-star rating from the NHTSA.

2016 Nissan Juke 5dr Wagon CVT S FWD Angular Front Exterior View

2016 Nissan Juke 5dr Wagon CVT S FWD Angular Front Exterior View

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2016 Nissan Juke 5dr Wagon CVT S FWD Engine

2016 Nissan Juke 5dr Wagon CVT S FWD Engine

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2016 Nissan Juke 5dr Wagon CVT S FWD Steering Wheel

2016 Nissan Juke 5dr Wagon CVT S FWD Steering Wheel

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The 2017 Renegade comes in four trim levels: the base Sport (starting around $19,000 for the base 2WD version), the mid-level Latitude, and the top-of-the-line Limited at more than $26,000. All-wheel drive is a $2,000 option. Then there's the Trailhawk model ($26,990) with its greater off-road capability, which only comes with all-wheel drive and the larger 2.4-liter engine with the nine-speed automatic. Only a handful of small feature changes distinguish the 2017 Renegade from prior years.

The 2017 Juke starts at around $22,000 and rises to more than $30,000 for a top-spec NISMO model. Even the base Juke S includes Intelligent Key with keyless ignition, a backup camera, and the NissanConnect system with Mobile Apps and a text message assistant. The mid-range Juke SV adds a moonroof; a rearview camera system; keyless ignition; satellite radio; the I-CON system; automatic temperature control; and a leather-wrapped steering wheel. The top-trim Juke (other than NISMO models) is the SL, which layers on navigation; leather-trimmed seats; and an Rockford Fosgate subwoofer with six upgraded speakers.

Overall, the Renegade gets the nod here, but barely. The Jeep managed a 5.3 overall, while the Juke managed a 5.0. (Read more about how we rate cars.)

We think the Juke's day has passed. When the Juke was the sole hot-hatch SUV on the market, it was a new and interesting way to get that capability in a smaller size than the usual compact crossover. But now that we have entries from not only Jeep but also Chevy, Fiat, and even Buick, the Juke comes up short: It's too small and cramped, and doesn't offer the sturdy off-roading ability of the littlest Jeep.

Summary

5.0
Expert Rating
The 2017 Nissan Juke is best considered as the sportiest pick among subcompact crossovers, but it does come at a price.
5.3
Expert Rating
The 2017 Jeep Renegade is the smallest Jeep you can buy, appealing both to commuters and off-roaders, but its design can outshine its performance.

Styling

6.0
Expert Rating
The Juke doesn't look like anything else on the road, and that's exactly what some people are going for.
Read More
7.0
Expert Rating
The 2017 Jeep Renegade verges on cute, but inside and out it's a Jeep through and through—which makes it appealing.
Read More

Performance

6.0
Expert Rating
With sharp handling and a spunky turbo-4, the Juke is the "sports car" of compact crossovers.
Read More
6.0
Expert Rating
The Renegade excels off-road, even if its powertrain lineup isn't especially impressive.
Read More

Comfort & Quality

2.0
Expert Rating
The Juke's funky exterior and shape writes a check that the cramped interior space and packaging ends up cashing.
Read More
4.0
Expert Rating
Rear passengers may be cramped, but the Renegade's interior is flexible for cargo.
Read More

Safety

2.0
Expert Rating
Time has caught up to the Juke, which is reflected in its lagging crash-test scores.
Read More
2.0
Expert Rating
The 2017 Jeep Renegade gets so-so safety ratings at best, and the backup camera isn't standard on all models.
Read More

Features

7.0
Expert Rating
Cold-weather gear is standard on SV trims and higher, but the Juke is fairly well appointed already.
Read More
6.0
Expert Rating
Spartan in base trim, there are a substantial number of ways to outfit the Renegade based on need.
Read More

Fuel Economy

7.0
Expert Rating
The Juke's turbo-4 isn't bad on fuel consumption, provided you can temper your right foot.
Read More
7.0
Expert Rating
The 2017 Jeep Renegade is far from the most fuel-efficient of the growing crop of small utilities, even if it does have remarkable off-road ability.
Read More

MSRP

from $20,250
from $17,995

Invoice

from $19,667
from $17,870

Fuel Economy - Combined City and Highway

29
25

Engine

Intercooled Turbo Premium Unleaded I-4, 1.6 L
Regular Unleaded I-4, 2.4 L

Drivetrain

Front Wheel Drive Read Full Specs
Front Wheel Drive Read Full Specs
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