£17,495 - £29,000 Price range
40 - 64 MPG
Amongst all of these faux-off-roaders, Jeep has now decided to tap into the segment with the Renegade. Jeep hopes it will steal a march over the competition with the aid of all-American styling and genuine off-roading ability.
It shares its underpinnings with the Fiat 500X but, while the 500X has the cute face of the 500 city car, the Renegade is pure, rugged Jeep. That seven bar grille can be traced back to the Second World War’s Willys Jeep and, to a lesser extent, so can its boxy styling and upright profile.
The butch theme continues inside, where grab handles and a chunky design allude to the car’s impressive off-road ability (when purchased with the right options). Soft-touch plastics on the main areas of the dashboard mean it doesn’t feel too utilitarian, although it doesn’t take too much scratching to find harder, cheaper-feeling materials lower in the interior.
Buyers get six engines to choose from – three petrol and three diesel. The latest is the 1.6-litre diesel, which doesn’t feel too far behind the two 2.0-litre diesels in terms of performance and feels significantly quicker than the equivalent engines fitted to the Renault Captur and Vauxhall Mokka. With 61.4mpg possible, it offers the best fuel economy in the range.
Proper off-road ability comes courtesy of the Trailhawk model that, when fitted with the more powerful 2.0-litre diesel engine, is nearly unstoppable thanks to four-wheel drive, under-body protection, and a nine-speed automatic gearbox with low-range gears.
The large, square shape of the exterior has a positive effect inside with class-leading levels of headroom available. Passengers front and rear will be comfy in the large, airy cabin and the 351-litre boot is more than adequate for most. The only complaint in terms of space is that knee room can be an issue for tall passengers sitting in the back. The seats themselves are perhaps a little hard and flat for long journeys, but aren’t back-breaking by any means.
Overall the cabin has a solid, utilitarian feel, with a number of unusual touches to set the Renegade apart from its rivals. The resulting appearance is of something that isn’t as sensible as the Nissan Qashqai, but that doesn’t have to be a bad thing. This is a fun, youthful car – though, the mud splatter on the rev counter in place of a red line is probably a touch too far, though…
Testers seem generally pleased with the driving manners of the Renegade, if not exactly thrilled. They describe a balanced chassis which offers strong grip, but a steering system devoid of feel. Overall, its slightly ponderous handling mean that it is only okay rather than class-leading.
While the chunky door mirrors look the part, they do result in quite pronounced wind noise at motorway speeds, at which point the ride seems unsettled, too. It always feels a touch firm, though it can never be described as uncomfortable.
The higher profile tyres of the Trailhawk model go some way to making things more pleasant. This top spec model is equipped a temporary all-wheel-drive system – defaulting to front wheel drive in most conditions to aid fuel economy, but when the going gets trickier sends power to the rear wheels for added security.
It’s over tricky terrain where the Jeep shows its off-road heritage. Testers agree that it’s certainly the best car through the rough stuff in this class. Thanks to the likes of a low-ratio mode for the gearbox, a variety of terrain settings and high ground clearance, the Renegade should certainly be a consideration if you frequently need to venture off the beaten track.
The Renegade is offered with four engines: one petrol and three diesels. The pick of the range amongst testers is the largest, most powerful 2.0-litre diesel unit as, due to its all-wheel-drive system, it fits the SUV brief better than any of the other versions.
When equipped with the nine-speed automatic gearbox, it offers a low range setting which makes it even more capable at climbing rough, steep terrain. The alternative gearbox, a six-speed manual, offers a “surprisingly positive and enjoyable shift.”
The Renegade received the maximum five-star rating from Euro NCAP, thanks to its high-strength steel construction and a generous helping of accident avoidance and mitigation systems.
All models are equipped with six airbags and anti-lock brakes as standard, while many feature lane departure and collision avoidance systems in order to help prevent a crash in the first place.
The Renegade is well equipped, featuring kit like keyless entry and start and a touchscreen across the range. There are plenty of colour and customisation choices, ranging from the traditional off-roady browns and dark pastel greens, to more eye catching oranges.
Buyers can specify the limited edition Night Eagle model that gets some unique cosmetic enhancements. Only 350 are coming to the UK so pick one up quickly if you want it.
You can even buy a Renegade-specific tent which integrates itself neatly over the back of the car. Prices range from competitive-to-high when compared to the competition, while fuel economy and tax rates aren’t to be sniffed at.
However, there may be some question marks over reliability. Jeep tends to score below average in ownership satisfaction surveys and, given this car shares so many parts with the Fiat range – who barely fare any better – you may spend a little more time back at the dealer than you’d hope.
The group has made big improvements in recent years, however, so we’ll need to wait and see how reliable it proves to be.
The Renegade certainly has its merits. To some, the distinctive looks, and the Jeep badge will appeal – plus the accomplished off-road ability that comes with it – will surely be a lure. However, most buyers should question whether they will ever need that ability, because if not, the likes of the Skoda Yeti are more refined on the road and have more luxuriant cabins.