2021 Jeep Renegade

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The Car Connection

The Car Connection Expert Review

Aaron Cole Aaron Cole Managing Editor
March 4, 2021

Buying tip

If off-roading isn’t in your playbook, the Renegade Latitude is the best place to start. If it is, the Trailhawk should be the only stop for buyers.

features & specs

80th Anniversary 4x4
80th Anniversary FWD
Freedom Edtion 4x4
21 city / 29 hwy
22 city / 30 hwy
21 city / 29 hwy

The 2021 Jeep Renegade is the small off-road SUV that doesn’t know how to quit.

It’s still full of most of what shoppers are looking for from a cute ‘ute, but the 2021 Jeep Renegade crossover SUV still prioritizes off-road capability. It stands out among its rivals in that way—and, assuming that’s a good thing for you, it’s pretty capable.

It earns a 5.8 TCC Rating, which is buoyed by its standard safety gear and looks but dragged down by its efficiency in base guise. Power isn’t in the Renegade’s repertoire, but it does just enough to go just about anywhere off road. (Read more about how we rate cars.)

The Renegade is available in Sport, Latitude, Limited and Trailhawk trims this year. Front-wheel drive is standard in base trims, although all-wheel drive will be a popular upgrade for most. The Sport model ducks in at the right side of reasonable for about $24,000, but Trailhawk trims that we recommend tip the scales at just over $30,000.

Review continues below

Every Renegade gets Jeep’s signature looks: upright style, seven-slot grille, tall ride height. The Renegade is smaller than the rest, and less practical, but also less expensive.

Base Renegades are powered by a 2.4-liter inline-4 that’s forgettable for its unrefined noises and mediocre fuel economy, but optional on Latitude and standard on Trailhawk and Limited models is a 1.3-liter turbo-4 that’s better. It makes 177 horsepower and is better suited for efficiency and off-roading—we can’t say the same about the rest of the Jeep lineup. Both engines pair to an indecisive 9-speed automatic transmission that we pan and a four-wheel independent suspension of which, we’re a fan.

Four adults will fit in the Renegade, but two will be more comfortable up front with more room in the rear for gear. Despite the Renegade’s tall ride height, it’s comfortable on the road and capable off road.

The news this year is automatic emergency braking included on all models, although federal crash testers don’t have many good things to say.

Base Renegades include a 7.0-inch touchscreen for infotainment, active safety features, cloth upholstery, and 16-inch steel wheels. We’d spend up to a Latitude or Trailhawk anyway, which feature the uprated engine and an available 8.4-inch touchscreen.


2021 Jeep Renegade


The newest Jeep still has some of the oldest Jeep in it, too.

The Renegade grafts all the familiar Jeep shapes to a subcompact crossover shape without any of the penalties. It’s 7 for style with all the good feelings we have from the Wrangler’s exterior intact.

Jeep fits the same seven-slot grille to the Renegade’s nose as every other car in the stable flanked by round lights, boxy lines, and an upright hood. (Pro tip: The Jeep badge is subtly larger on the Renegade than any other vehicle, if you want to brag next to the rest.)

The rest of the Renegade is just as boxy, albeit slightly anonymous. The squared wheel arches and cladding read “tough,” but also aren’t wholly separate from other boxy off-roaders from 5-10 years ago.

Inside, the Renegade pays homage to the other Jeeps from yesteryear, including round air vents, Easter eggs, and practical nods like the shifter and terrain-selection knob.

The cabin is mostly airy, but Trailhawk models add a durable cloth and leather combo that add a new level of toughness with just enough visual interest.

Review continues below

2021 Jeep Renegade


The base engine is a bummer, but the Renegade’s off-road bona fides are intact.

The Jeep Renegade can’t escape its low base price, but a good optional engine and stellar off-road packages in top trims help it cling on a 5 out of 10 for our performance scale.

The base Renegade is powered by a 2.4-liter inline-4 that makes 180 hp and 175 pound-feet, filtered through a 9-speed automatic and front- or all-wheel drive. It’s enough power, but it’s an unrefined engine and the automatic transmission is indecisive.

The optional engine is a 1.3-liter turbo-4 that makes 177 hp and 210 lb-ft of torque. It’s standard on Trailhawk and Limited trims (optional on Latitude) and is more efficient and better for off-roading thanks to its low-end torque delivery. It’s still saddled to the same indecisive 9-speed automatic, but it’s a better mate to the torquier engine.

The ride and handling in every Renegade are well done; it’s comfortable and calm, despite its short wheelbase. The body leans hard into corners, which may be what you’re expecting from a tall-riding crossover. If it’s not, you should be.

In our experience, the Trailhawk isn’t just for show: its upgraded mechanicals and simulated low-range gearbox have ample tug off road. The all-wheel-drive system can shuttle torque from front to rear up to 50-50, and the off-road control programs are a boon to traction and grip. Go ahead, get lost.

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2021 Jeep Renegade

Comfort & Quality

Fine for the price, the Renegade won’t fit a crowd.

Among small crossovers, the 2021 Jeep Renegade can hold its own on the trail. But the school pickup line? Different story.

Starting from an average score, the Renegade earns points for its spacious cargo hold but loses one in material quality in base versions. It’s a 5 for comfort.

The front seats are mostly comfortable, regardless of trim level. There is good bolstering and seat comfort, although the head rest is small and flat. The rear seats will be a challenge for tall passengers—just 35.1 inches of leg room in the second row is available, which feels much shorter when the front seats are extended for more room up front.

The Renegade’s 18.5 cubic feet of cargo room isn’t tops of its class either, but that space expands to nearly 51 cubes with the second row folded.

Jeep wraps the interior of the Renegade in mostly high-quality materials, including soft-touch plastics and durable upholstery. (Only the base Renegade’s thin cloth feels out of place for a tough, mini-‘ute.)

The cabin is noisy though. At highway speeds, the little Renegade roars with a symphony of tire din, engine hum, and wind noise.

Review continues below

2021 Jeep Renegade


Automatic emergency braking is a big bonus for the Renegade this year.

Automatic emergency braking on all models propels the 2021 Jeep Renegade up to a 5 out of 10 on our safety scale despite poor federal crash-test scores.

Federal testers gave it an unusually low four-star overall score, including four stars for front crash safety and an even more unusually low three-star score for rollover crash safety.

Independent testers from the IIHS weren’t as bleak. The Renegade earned “Good” scores in all crash tests except for the relatively new passenger-side small overlap test, where it was rated “Acceptable.”

Front-crash prevention, which is newly standard across all models this year, was rated by the IIHS as “Superior” at avoiding forward crashes at speeds up to 25 mph.


2021 Jeep Renegade


Skip the base and start with the Latitude; the Trailhawk’s armor isn’t for show, either.

The 2021 Renegade’s good value is bolstered by a good touchscreen and good standard equipment. It’s an 8 for features, which is a big upgrade from last year.

The base Renegade Sport gets power features, a 7.0-inch touchscreen for infotainment, active safety features, cloth upholstery, and 16-inch steel wheels. Last year’s Sport had air conditioning by way of your biceps—we mean there was none, and the windows cranked by hand.

We’d start with the Latitude anyway, which offers dual-zone climate control, 17-inch wheels, a 7.0-inch digital instrument cluster, more available options, and premium cloth upholstery. Among those options is a better 1.3-liter turbo-4 with more power.

The top Limited models cost more than $30,000 and add leather upholstery, 18-inch wheels, and a bigger touchscreen. For that much, we’d step into a bigger vehicle, frankly.

Review continues below

2021 Jeep Renegade

Fuel Economy

The Renegade trails small crossover rivals in fuel economy.

The 2021 Renegade’s smaller engine is the more efficient pick, but more people are likely to drive off with the base 2.4-liter inline-4.

The EPA rates those versions at 22 mpg city, 30 highway, 25 combined with front-wheel drive, or 21/29/24 mpg with all-wheel drive. That’s a 5.

The 1.3-liter turbo-4 is a better match for its torque, power, and efficiency. It’s rated at 24/32/27 mpg with front-wheel drive or 22/27/24 mpg with all-wheel drive.

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Styling 7
Performance 5
Comfort & Quality 5
Safety 5
Features 8
Fuel Economy 5
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