The Renegade brings Jeep’s rugged off-roading heritage to the smaller crossover world. Underneath those inspiring, chunky and purposeful looks it’s really like a friendly family hatchback with extra capabilities to tackle difficult terrain, when required. Plus, it’s got bags of character and the cabin is well-equipped and well-built too.
This smallest Jeep design is now owned by the Italian company, Fiat. This means there’s a strange mix of styles coming together in new designs. Somehow, it seems to work together – like salt and caramel. Most think the Fiat/Jeep combo makes the Renegade look cute and likeable. We agree that it’s certainly distinctive, with its shrunken-down five-door SUV looks and big Jeep front grille.
Even the two-wheel drive models have high ground clearance that helps when crossing severe surfaces and, probably more importantly for most users, making it look tougher.
A facelift in 2018 refreshed the overall looks a little, including optional LED headlights. Buyers usually choose bigger 19-inch wheels to look impressive or the smaller 17-inchers for quieter driving.
Most think the Fiat/Jeep combo makes the Renegade look cute and likeable.
What’s it like to drive?
There’s no need to worry that you’re buying a tractor. It’s easy to drive a Renegade on your usual roads and routes. It can be fun too, thanks to a commanding high driving position and impressive grip. Drivers will, however, have to get used to the rugged aspects of how this car navigates the road. A selection of clunkier, sluggish gearboxes and a softer ride are to be expected.
The pay-off is that this is a true 4x4, not just a mainstream crossover dressed in a trendy outfit. It’s also available with a range of practical features, designed to help you ford rivers, climb banks and descend steep inclines.
Top-rated models get a sporty petrol motor, four-wheel drive and a sophisticated nine-speed automatic gearbox. If you have a need for speed, the fastest Renegade is actually the new plug-in hybrid.
It’s easy to drive a Renegade on your usual roads and routes.
How big is the Renegade? Well, its styling makes it look bigger than it really is. It’s a little smaller than a Qashqai-type of medium crossover and larger than a supermini or small crossover like a Juke. The Renegade looks chunky in photos – and up close, too. Be thankful for the big door mirrors and multi-adjustable driving position — they make it much easier to drive the Jeep.
With such an upright body shape, it’s no surprise passengers have plenty of headroom. Legroom, however, is much better in the front than in the back. Taller adults may feel cramped but kids will be fine. It’s certainly better suited to two than three occupants.
Overall the interior matches the outside in some ways — it’s rugged and hard-wearing. The dashboard is big and chunky. The controls are nice and sturdy, and most of the trim materials feel like they will put up with years of abuse.
The tech is up-to-date thanks to an eight-inch-detailed touchscreen system controlling all infotainment, phone connectivity, heating and air-conditioning. You’ll find a wide range of options have been supplemented on Renegades over the years. It’s still generally considered a well-equipped range. Even base models have a good standard of kit and most versions feature cruise control, sat-nav and parking sensors.
The baby Jeep scores very highly for safety. The Renegade come with a long list of high-tech standard safety equipment like lane-departure warnings, road sign reading and automatic emergency braking. Some get a reversing camera, which helps overcome the limited rear visibility. The Renegade has done very well in official safety tests.
The tailgate is nice and big. With the back seats in place, the boot isn’t as big as some rivals. It is a neat uniform shape, which helps when packing even the most awkward-shaped farming kit. The good news is that folding the rear seats more than triples the available space.
Most Renegade seats split in the normal 60/40 style. A more versatile 40/20/40 split is available and is a rather handy option. Some versions also get a useful adjustment for the height of the boot floor to make loading heavy objects easier. Note that cabin stowage space improved after the 2018 refresh.
Running costs and reliability
You’ll be able to find manuals, automatics, two - and four-wheel drive models with a range of petrol, diesel and hybrid engines. The line-up can be confusing with some versions differentiated only by their power output. It means there is a wide range of fuel economy options available — from a humble 1.6-litre diesel with two-wheel drive to the top-spec four-wheel drive petrol version.
Look forward to the new plug-in petrol hybrids being available to used buyers – they offer very low emissions and great economy with fuel consumption officially rated at 128mpg. Its 26-mile, the electric-only range is less impressive though.
Jeep reliability hasn’t always been the best. Under Fiat’s control, the early signs are that it is improving. Note that used Renegades may still be covered by a three-year warranty from new and this has been extended to five years for the hybrid model. Consider signing up for cinchCare for support with whatever comes your way.
What we love
With a likeable personality, the Renegade stands out among the small crossovers from rival mainstream manufacturers. It immediately looks interesting from the kerb and once you get inside it has a good interior with plenty of standard equipment. The safety ratings are very high too. Best of all though, the small Jeep lives up to its famous name and has genuine off-road ability.
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It’s a mini-SUV with a famous all-American badge, which can operate perfectly well as a small family hatchback on British roads too. The Renegade’s plus points include a good level of onboard kit, a strong safety record and head-turning looks.
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