Jeep Renegade Vs. Jeep Cherokee: How Do They Size Up?

April 27, 2015

The 2015 Jeep Renegade has only recently started arriving at dealerships; yet it’s already looking like quite a winning complement to another vehicle in Jeep’s lineup that we already like: the Cherokee.

The Renegade is 16 inches shorter than the Cherokee, and it’s built on a wheelbase that’s about five inches shorter. The Cherokee has a more rounded (or just more tapered, perhaps) roofline, while the Renegade works the ‘boxy’ look, with a much more upright windshield and more horizontal roofline.

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While all this—and the Cherokee’s 54.8 cubic feet of passenger space, versus 49.5 in the Renegade—might lead you to believe there’s a pretty substantial difference between these two models in usable interior space, as we found this past week comparing them back-to-back, that’s not so much the case here.

It's more a case of how you want your vehicle packaged than whether you want a little more (or less) space.

Both vehicles were among 27 models vying for outdoorsy, Pacific Northwest supremacy as part of the Northwest Automotive Press Association’s annual ‘Mudfest’ roundup of SUV and crossover models. In it, the Renegade captured the top title of Northwest Outdoor Activity Vehicle of the Year and the Cherokee was a segment winner.

While we didn’t get enough back-to-back drive time with these two models to be able to sum up their dynamic differences on the road, we did get the chance to pull them up side by side, and really scrutinize their seating and packaging.

As a spec sheet will attest, the two models are pretty much the same with respect to overall height, width, and even the height of their respective loading floors. But hold your horses, and click on to see our set of impressions before you jump to any conclusions that the Renegade is too small.

2015 Jeep Renegade and 2015 Jeep Cherokee

2015 Jeep Renegade and 2015 Jeep Cherokee

2015 Jeep Renegade and 2015 Jeep Cherokee

2015 Jeep Renegade and 2015 Jeep Cherokee

2015 Jeep Cherokee - back seat legroom

2015 Jeep Cherokee - back seat legroom

2015 Jeep Renegade - back seat legroom

2015 Jeep Renegade - back seat legroom

Close for comfort

  • Rear seat folding is slightly better in the Renegade, actually, as it's a flat-folding arrangement that adds up to more of a proper ‘box’—although the front passenger seat doesn’t flip completely forward in the same way that it does in the Cherokee.
  • Officially, the Renegade has two inches more rear headroom than the Cherokee, while the Cherokee has nearly five inches more legroom than the Renegade. In shoulder room the two models are nearly identical, while hip room is about two inches more ample in the Renegade.
  • Both models have superb front-seat comfort, with lower cushions that are long enough for the long-legged yet adjustable to make shorter drivers feel at ease too.
  • In the picture above, this long-legged driver (6’-6”) driver adjusted the front seat to a comfortable minimum for a drive across town (not all the way back, but nearly). The results are what you get in terms of back-seat space—surprisingly close.
  • Cabin-wise it looks like the Renegade steps its front seats slightly more inboard than the Cherokee, yet packaging doesn't feel significantly different width-wise.

Some key differences

  • Seating position is quite different. Going from one to the other is quite eye-opening, as while they feel about the same height getting in, once you close the door the Renegade’s more upright seating position and dipping beltline make you feel higher in this model (headroom is more than ample, though). As for the Cherokee, once you close the door you feel a little more ‘inside’ the vehicle.
  • Another key difference is cargo space with the back seats up. In the Cherokee you’ll still have space to set a rather large suitcase on its side, or have multiple rows of grocery bags; but this is the only place where you’ll really notice the difference in overall width between the two, as in the Renegade you’re more limited.

Brief driving experiences this past week, which included some slalom time and a small handling/braking course, as well as off-road testing, altogether showed us that this impression of sitting higher shouldn’t be exaggerated, as the Renegade feels remarkably stable and balanced, with a low center of mass, for such an off-road-capable vehicle.

Overall, we’re very impressed with the design of the Renegade, and we think it fits right into the Jeep lineup as a great complement to the Cherokee. It may look like a smaller vehicle at first glance, or based on specs, but it’s definitely roomier than our first impressions suggested.

We’ll update you soon with expanded driving impressions of the Renegade, as we’re planning to do a long-weekend trip with one in the near future. In the meantime, see our full review pages on the 2015 Jeep Renegade.


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