Jeep Renegade Review
Few small SUVs will keep up with the Renegade off-road, but it has cramped rear seats, an average infotainment system and isn’t very comfy on bumpy roads
This score is awarded by our team of expert reviewers after extensive testing of the car
- Excellent off road
- Distinctive looks
- Reasonably economical diesels
What's not so good
- Bumpy suspension
- Not particularly fun to drive
- Cheap-feeling cabin
Jeep Renegade: what would you like to read next?
Ask anybody to sketch a 4×4 and they’ll probably produce a shape something like a Jeep. The boxy Renegade looks exactly how a Jeep should, just condensed, and makes a rugged, distinctive alternative to cars such as the Peugeot 2008, Seat Arona and Suzuki Vitara.
Step inside and you’ll be greeted by bundles of chunky details. There’s a massive grab handle above the glovebox for the passenger, contrasting metal-effect trims on the dashboard and doors, and even a fake mud splatter on the rev counter.
The materials in entry-level Sport models don’t exactly feel upmarket but higher-spec Limited, S and Trailhawk models come with plusher leather seats, a larger 8.4-inch touchscreen infotainment system and a second high-resolution screen between the dials in the instrument binnacle.
The Renegade’s high roofline and range of seat adjustment mean you’ll have no trouble getting comfortable in the front seats – even if you’re more than six-foot tall. Your back-seat passengers will find legroom tight, but the Renegade’s boxy shape means headroom is at least generous. You’ll be able to carry 351 litres of luggage in the back with five seats and the parcel-shelf in place – that’s enough for a baby stroller and a few soft bags.
Fold the rear seats down in a standard 60:40 split and you’ll have 1,297 litres of space to fill. Unfortunately, there’s a large load lip and a tall step behind the rear seats to contend with. The optional Function Pack comes with an adjustable boot floor that can remove the load lip to make the boot far more usable.
The Renegade’s impressive off-road abilities make it a great camping companion – especially if your campsite gets flooded
You can get the Jeep Renegade with a range of petrol and diesel engines and with either a manual or an automatic gearbox. Pick the 150hp 1.3-litre petrol if you spend most time driving around town – it’ll return nearly 40mpg – or choose the 120hp 1.6-litre diesel model if you spend more time on the motorway, which’ll return closer to 50mpg if driven carefully.
If you’re serious about going off-road and want all-wheel drive, you’ll need one of the two 2.0-litre diesels, with either 140hp or 170hp – they’re the only engines that get it. However, for the roughest terrain, the Trailhawk model is best. It comes with the higher-powered 2.0 diesel and a low-range auto-box as standard, as well as higher ride height, skid plates underneath and hill descent control.
Despite its prowess off-road, the Renegade isn’t a wonderful car to drive on it. It can’t match a 2008, Arona or Vitara for either comfort or cornering ability, while its boxy body also produces quite a lot of annoying wind noise at motorway speeds.
Still, if you’re often off-road and want a distinctive, rugged small SUV that stands out from the small SUV crowd, make sure you check our deals pages for the best prices.
The Renegade’s quirky interior touches and hard materials are an acquired taste
The Jeep Renegade has no great problem taking four adults, but you can easily find alternatives that will take people in more comfort and have bigger boots
Just looking at the Renegade will tell you all need to know about its practicality: its narrow, boxy body will take four adults, but fitting three across the rear bench is quite a squeeze
There’s a decent range of seat adjustment in the Renegade so it’s easy to get comfortable up front – even if you’re over six-foot tall. Its boxy body offers decent headroom, too, and the rather upright windscreen and large side windows make the cabin feel impressively airy – even without the optional panoramic glass roof.
All but entry-level Sport models come with electric lumbar adjustment for the driver’s seat as standard to help make long journeys as bearable as possible. The standard seats are comfortable enough but could do with extra side bolstering to hold you in place in tight corners. Eight-way adjustable front seats are available for both the driver and passengers for not much extra, too.
There’s enough room in the back seats for two adults to get fairly comfortable, but there are more spacious alternatives. Headroom is generous but legroom is tight for passengers over six-foot tall. Carrying three abreast is even more of a struggle, however – the centre seat is quite slim and there’s a large lump in the rear floor that cuts into foot space considerably.
You can fit two child seats in the back of the Renegade but the fiddly Isofix anchor points are slightly tricky to access. Thankfully, the Jeep’s tall roofline and wide-opening rear doors make it easy to lift in a child seat once you’ve fitted the base.
The Renegade isn’t exactly awash with storage cubbies but there’s enough space for a few family bits and bobs dotted around its cabin. The glovebox is relatively roomy and each of the front door bins is big enough for a large water bottle.
Behind the gear lever, there are two cupholders and a large central armrest with a small storage tray underneath. It’s just about large enough for a smartphone but not deep enough to hold a drinks can.
A small tray below the centre console comes with a USB port and 12V socket as standard but again, it’s not quite deep enough to stop your phone sliding out in sharp corners.
The rear door bins are nearly as big as those in front but their slightly awkward shape means they can’t hold particularly tall bottles.
The Jeep Renegade’s 351-litre boot is slightly smaller than the 375-litre Suzuki Vitara’s and lags significantly behind the roomier 410 litres offered by the Peugeot 2008.
Fold the Jeep’s rear seats down in a 60:40 split and you’ll have access to a more spacious 1,297-litre boot. That’s 297 litres more than the Fiat 500X on which the Renegade’s based and a huge 587 litres more than you’ll get in the Vitara.
All models come with a handy 12V socket in the boot and you can choose to fit an adjustable false floor as part of the Function Pack. This can be flipped to offer a wipe-clean surface instead of the usual carpet – ideal for carrying muddy boots or even muddier pets. The Function Pack 2 on Limited and Trailhawk models also brings useful 40:20:40 split-folding rear seats, allowing you to seat two people while also lying long items through from the boot between them.
There’s barely any boot lip to lift heavy items over – provided you add the optional adjustable floor, and the rear seats fold almost completely flat, so it’s a breeze to slide bulky boxes right up behind the front seats. The front passenger seat folds forward as standard, too, so you can carry exceptionally long items without having to drive around with the boot lid half-open.
The Renegade isn’t quite as comfortable as some small SUVs but it’ll leave them far behind when the going gets tough
You might never go diving but it’s nice to know your watch can survive 100m down – it’s the same with the Renegade’s off-road abilities. It’s nice to know it can…
You can get the Renegade with two petrol and three diesel engines. You can also choose between a manual or automatic gearbox and front or four-wheel-drive.
Pick a 1.3-litre petrol model if you spend most time around town – the 150hp version with front-wheel drive and a manual gearbox can return nearly 40mpg. It’s not the quietest engine out there but it’s slightly smoother than the rather grumbly diesels and uses no more fuel than the cheaper but noticeably slower 1.0-litre petrol below it in the range.
The 120hp 1.6-litre diesel will suit you better if you spend more time on the motorway. It’s noticeably louder than both petrol models but it sends fewer unpleasant vibrations through the cabin than the larger 2.0-litre diesel version. It’s just about powerful enough to keep up with fast-moving traffic and will return around 50mpg.
However, if you tow trailers or regularly head off-road you’ll want one of the more powerful 2.0-litre diesel models. The 140hp version is louder than the smaller 1.6-litre but it’s got enough poke to happily tow a caravan, while the just-as-noisy 170hp version is the only engine you can have with the off-road-focused Trailhawk model.
All models save the Trailhawk come with a manual gearbox as standard but an optional six-speed twin-clutch automatic helps take the stress out of long journeys and heavy traffic. Models with a 2.0-litre diesel engine get Jeep’s nine-speed gearbox with an optional low-range feature designed for more serious off-roading.
The Renegade’s high driving position and large windows give you a fairly good view out over traffic. However, its large front door pillars can produce awkward blind spots at junctions and the thick frame around the rear window can make parking in tight spaces a slightly nerve-wracking experience.
Thankfully, all but entry-level Sport models come with rear parking sensors as standard and you can have a reversing camera and blind-spot monitoring features fitted as an option.
Its stocky body might help it stand out in the car park, but the Renegade’s bluff front end and upright windscreen create a lot of wind noise at motorway speeds. The Renegade also feels slightly out of its depth on a twisty country road. It leans heavily through tight corners and its steering is both vague and heavy. It’s not quite wallowy enough to make your passengers feel car sick but it’s nowhere near as fun to drive as a Suzuki Vitara or Seat Arona. It tends to shake and shimmy over lumps and bumps too – especially at slow speeds.
Still, its slightly roly-poly suspension helps the Renegade come into its own when you head off the beaten track. It’s one of the most competent compact off-roaders out there and can haul its way over rocks and muddy slopes that would leave most small SUVs stranded – especially the most rugged Trailhawk model with its hill descent control, skid plates and nine-speed low-ratio automatic gearbox fitted.
The Renegade was awarded an impressive five-star safety rating from Euro NCAP in 2014. The testing procedure has been made significantly stricter since then, however.