2020 Jeep Renegade

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The Car Connection Expert Review

Brian León Brian León Contributing Writer
July 16, 2020

Buying tip

The Renegade Latitude trim offers the most bang for the buck, especially with active safety tech available as an option for 2020.

features & specs

Altitude 4x4
Altitude FWD
High Altitude 4x4
21 city / 29 hwy
22 city / 30 hwy
23 city / 29 hwy

The 2020 Jeep Renegade is a compact crossover SUV that’s full of character and off-road prowess, but it makes many important compromises.

The 2020 Jeep Renegade is a compact crossover SUV with some off-road flair in trademark Jeep style. While it offers overland capability and baby Wrangler looks, areas like practicality, comfort, and safety leave something to be desired. We give it 5.2 out of 10 overall. (Read more about how we rate cars.)

After a visual refresh last year, the Renegade receives just a handful of changes to the Sport, Latitude, Trailhawk, and Limited Renegades. It adds new packages for 2020, including one that makes automatic emergency braking available on all but the Trailhawk. It also gains a new nine-speaker Kenwood audio system.

Renegade buyers will undoubtedly be drawn to its mini-Wrangler looks, complete with an upright grille, boxy shape and fender flares, and rugged-looking plastic accents on the capable Trailhawk model. It’s an undeniably charming SUV, and the interior follows suit with grab bars, a traction setting knob, and air vents that resemble motocross goggles.

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With a 2.4-liter inline-4 as standard, the Renegade makes a respectable 180 horsepower, but its power delivery is sluggish through a 9-speed automatic transmission, and above all, the engine is noisy (not in a good way). An optional 1.3-liter turbo-4 (standard on higher trims) helps with motivation, but noise is still prevalent. All-wheel drive is available, as one would expect on any Jeep model, and the Trailhawk is capable off road with its higher suspension, simulated low-range gearbox, hill descent control, and 50/50 front-to-rear torque split.

Though boxy and upright, the Renegade is not as spacious as some curvier competitors, especially in the rear seat. Material quality is good, however, but sound deadening could use a major overhaul, as the Renegade is tiresome at 70 mph.

Safety leaves something to be desired too, for while not all crash test results are available, the Renegade receives only four stars in frontal crash tests from the NHTSA. Active safety features such as automatic emergency braking have expanded availability on the 2020 model, but they’re still not standard unlike some of the Renegade’s key competition. Fuel economy is mediocre at best, trailing behind its main rivals by 2-4 mpg combined.


2020 Jeep Renegade


The 2020 Jeep Renegade is unmistakable and adorable.

The 2020 Jeep Renegade is an exercise in style-by-branding, and it works. We give it 7 out of 10 for its baby Wrangler appeal.

With its upright, seven-slot grille, round headlights, boxy lines, and tall profile, there’s no mistaking the Renegade for anything but a Jeep. As if that weren’t enough, the exterior is riddled with “Easter eggs” that pay tribute to the brand and its iconic Wrangler, from small Jeep face icons in the lights and the jerry-can-shaped taillights. Squared wheel arches and plastic body cladding add to the effect, and the off-road-ready Trailhawk turns up the character to 11.

Inside, the Renegade makes more subtle nods to its brand’s off-road prowess, from the air vents that are shaped like motocross goggles to the grab bar on the passenger side of the dashboard. Thankfully, practicality is still present, with plenty of knobs and buttons, including a handy one for different traction modes.

The cabin is available in light or dark hues with optional leather, and Trailhawk models get a unique cloth upholstery with red accents on trim pieces that signal its more hardcore intentions, as if the black graphics and red tow hooks on the exterior weren’t enough.

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2020 Jeep Renegade


The 2020 Jeep Renegade’s base engine is best ignored, and the Trailhawk model offers impressive off-road capability in a small package.

The 2020 Jeep Renegade is reasonably powerful for a subcompact crossover, but its noisy and unrefined base engine is worth skipping. The Trailhawk model is seriously capable off road given its humble roots; its talent offsets the Renegade’s so-so base powertrain. We give it 5 out of 10 here.

The base Renegade engine is a 2.4-liter inline-4 that makes 180 horsepower and 175 pound-feet of torque, which it sends through a 9-speed automatic transmission and front-wheel drive. It’s got enough power for this small package, but its grating engine note is tiresome, and the transmission has one or two cogs too many for this small an engine.

All-wheel drive is optional and adds all-weather capability as well as some off-road chops, but the real option you should go for is the 1.3-liter turbo-4 with 177 hp but 210 lb-ft of torque. Optional on the Sport and Latitude but standard on the Limited and Trailhawk, this small but potent engine is much better suited to the powertrain and somewhat quieter than the base engine.

Ride and handling are comfortable and capable given the Renegade’s short wheelbase and upright stature, though larger wheels make for a less comfortable experience. Body lean is ample at higher speeds in corners, and the steering system provides minimal feedback.

The Trailhawk model isn’t just for show, as its upgraded mechanicals make for a competent off-roader short of more dedicated models. The turbocharged engine is standard, as well as all-wheel drive that splits torque 50/50 front-to-rear, and a 20:1 crawl ratio (simulated by a very low transmission gear), hill-descent control, and a taller ride height and ground clearance make for a capable little trail climber.

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2020 Jeep Renegade

Comfort & Quality

The 2020 Jeep Renegade features lots of character and high material quality, but practicality, comfort, and road noise are lackluster.

The 2020 Jeep Renegade is as close to a box on wheels as new vehicles come, but it’s somewhat impractical and not as comfortable as it should be. We give it 5 out of 10 here.

Front seats are comfortable enough regardless of trim, and feature bolstering and cushioning to suit most bodies, though the head restraint is hard and flat. The rear seats are a different story, with compromised leg room that makes it an uncomfortable experience for taller passengers.

At just 18.5 cubic feet, the Renegade’s rear cargo area isn’t vast, but it balloons to 50.8 cubic feet when the rear seats are folded flat. That’s behind even some compact hatchbacks and should be better in a vehicle that is as boxy as the Renegade.

Material quality is good for the most part, with soft-touch plastics and high-quality upholstery regardless of whether you choose cloth or leather. Where the Renegade could really stand to improve is in sound deadening, as 70-mph cruising creates a symphony of wind, tire, and raspy engine noise with the base powertrain equipped.

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2020 Jeep Renegade


The 2020 Jeep Renegade has concerning crash-test scores, but more safety tech is available on more models this year.

The 2020 Jeep Renegade's crash-test scores are concerning. A possible silver lining is the addition of optional active safety tech on base trims, but it's tarnished by a high price. We give it 3 out of 10 here.

Federal testers gave it a four-star overall score, including a three-star score for rollover safety in all-wheel-drive models. Both are relatively low for new cars. The IIHS disagrees somewhat, and called the Renegade a Top Safety Pick last year but gave the Renegade an “Acceptable” rating for the small front-overlap test, but its headlights get a “Poor” designation. 

Active safety technologies like automatic emergency braking with forward-collision warnings, active lane control, front and rear parking sensors, and automatic high beam headlights are all available, as are blind-spot monitors with rear cross-traffic alerts and rain-sensing windshield wipers. They’re an option on all versions except the Trailhawk, where the rugged front-end design isn’t compatible with existing sensors. The problem with the safety option package? It requires two other option packages. All told it's $2,765 extra for automatic emergency braking.


2020 Jeep Renegade


The 2020 Jeep Renegade is well-equipped in the middle of the range but avoid the base model at all costs.

The 2020 Jeep Renegade ranges from bargain basement to off-road ready, but the best value is somewhere in between. We give it 6 out of 10 here, with an extra point for good value at the Latitude level and above.

For 2020, the active safety tech we mentioned above gets expanded availability on all models, but it’s still not standard. LED headlights are now available on the Latitude 2.4 too, as well as optional 19-inch wheels.

At about $24,000 the base Renegade Sport is a throwback, lacking standard air conditioning and cruise control. Adding these features and others brings the cost up nearly $4,000, so take the Renegade’s low base price with a grain of salt.

Start shopping with the Latitude trim for about $25,500. It features alloy wheels, a great 7.0-inch infotainment system with Apple CarPlay and Android Auto compatibility, and dual-zone climate control. A panoramic sunroof is optional as well as a removable roof system, and active safety features like automatic emergency braking and active lane control are optional for 2020 too.

Trailhawk models add increased ride height and ground clearance, a low-range gearbox, hill-descent control, bigger tires, and red accents inside and out for a capable off-road package but is expensive for the convenience-oriented features you get.

Top-tier limited models can cost more than $30,000 and include leather upholstery, 18-inch wheels, and keyless ignition as well as nearly all features on other models.

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2020 Jeep Renegade

Fuel Economy

The 2020 Jeep Renegade is only mid-level efficient, but the turbocharged engine is the better pick of the two.

The 2020 Jeep Renegade delivers better fuel economy with its torque-rich engine, but we think more people will buy the less expensive version. Based on its fuel economy, we give the Renegade 5 out of 10 for gas mileage.

Base models with front-wheel drive and the 2.4-liter engine earn EPA ratings of 22 mpg city, 30 highway, 25 combined, while all-wheel drive drops those numbers to 21/29/24 mpg. The optional 1.3-liter turbo-4 brings a slight efficiency boost with 24/32/27 mpg for front-wheel drive and 23/29/26 mpg for all-wheel drive, while the Trailhawk sees a slight hit for its increased capability for 22/27/24 mpg.

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Styling 7
Performance 5
Comfort & Quality 5
Safety 3
Features 6
Fuel Economy 5
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