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 is quite loud at motorway speeds.
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Ask anybody to sketch a 4×4 and they’ll probably draw something that looks a bit like a Jeep Renegade. This boxy little off-roader has all the features you’d expect to find on a hard-core Wrangler, just condensed into a bite-sized, city-friendly package.
As a result, it stands out from the likes of the VW T-Roc, Seat Arona and Suzuki Vitara like a man in a Victorian diving suit on Brighton beach.
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 in high-spec cars.
While the Jeep Renegade’s styling is certainly cheerful, most of the materials just feel cheap. At least you get a decent-sized touchscreen with smartphone mirroring as standard, and there’s a decent amount of seat adjustment to help you get comfy in the front.
Sadly, this roominess doesn’t extend to the back seats, where tall passengers will feel their knees brushing up against the front seats. The Jeep Renegade’s cuboid body does at least mean there’s plenty of headroom to go round, and you can lift in a large baby seat without feeling like the hunchback of Notre Dame.
This middle-of-the-road practicality theme runs through to the Jeep Renegade’s boot, too. Sure, it’s wide opening makes it pretty easy to load, but plenty of equally dinky SUVs have bigger load bays.
The Renegade is a bit like a kid who's put on an incredible hulk costume for Halloween. It looks like a seriously chunky off-roader, but in a cheeky, charming way
You don’t often get to choose from as wide a range of engines as in the Jeep Renegade, however, but despite there being six on offer, only three are really worth considering. There’s a 150hp petrol that’s ideally suited to pottering about town, a 120hp diesel that’s a more economical motorway cruiser and a 140hp diesel that’s your best bet for towing heavy trailers.
This last engine is the only one that comes in off-road-ready Trailhawk models. Paired with four-wheel drive and a special nine-speed automatic gearbox with special low-range ratios, it’ll clamber up slippery slopes that’ll leave most SUVs well and truly stranded.
On less testing terrain – such as on a school run – the Jeep Renegade’s appeal wavers. It isn’t as comfortable as many other small SUVs and it tends to lean more in tight corners. Head out onto a motorway and you’ll notice a fair bit more wind and tyre noise than in most alternatives too – a side effect of the Jeep’s chunky tyres and bluff shape.
Still, if you’re often off-road and want a distinctive, rugged small SUV that stands out from the small SUV crowd, the Jeep Renegade is well worth a look. Make sure you check our Jeep Renegade deals pages for the best prices.
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 Longitude and Night Eagle 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.
You can pay extra to get eight-way electrically adjustable seats in Limited and Trailhawk models if you’re looking for even more scope to find your ideal seating position.
There’s enough room in the back seats for two adults to get fairly comfortable, but a Suzuki Vitara is slightly more spacious. Headroom is generous but legroom is tight for passengers over six-foot tall. Carrying three abreast is even more of a struggle thanks to the narrow central seat and the 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.
There are two cupholders and a large central armrest behind the gear lever 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 boot can carry 351 litres of luggage. That’s slightly smaller than the 375-litre Suzuki Vitara’s and significantly less than you can fit in the Peugeot 2008’s 410-litre loadbay.
Fold the Jeep’s rear seats down (which you can do in a two-way 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 three 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 barely any more fuel than the cheaper, but noticeably slower, 120hp 1.0-litre petrol below it in the range.
There’s also a 180hp version of the 1.3-litre engine that feels less strained at motorway speeds, but it costs more to buy and to run. At any rate, if you do lots of long journeys, you’ll be better off with one of the Renegade’s diesel engines.
The 120hp 1.6-litre diesel is 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 180hp 1.3-litre petrol engine or a 170hp 2.0-litre diesel engine get Jeep’s nine-speed gearbox, while the latter can also be had with an optional low-range feature designed for more serious off-roading.
The Jeep 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 Jeep Renegades come with rear parking sensors as standard and you can have a reversing camera and blind-spot monitoring features fitted as an option. There’s even an optional extra for Limited, S and Trailhwak models that’ll steer for you into bay and parallel spaces.
Speaking of parking, the Jeep’s 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 doesn’t inspire much confidence; despite feeling overly weighty.
Sure, the Jeep Renegade doesn’t wallow 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 Jeep 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.
The Renegade’s quirky interior touches and hard materials are an acquired taste, but at least it stands out from the drab interiors you get in most small SUVs