Hi, I’m Chris Wardlaw for CarGurus, and this is the jaunty little 2016 Jeep Renegade. It sure is cute, isn’t it? This little Italian American lovechild all sparkly eyed and ready to take on the world. You might even be tempted to dismiss it as something other than a real Jeep or something that’s too small to be practical for daily driving. You’d be wrong on both fronts. Let me explain. What is a real Jeep? Well, in my opinion, a real Jeep possesses more than just the brand’s traditional styling cues like the round headlights, the 7-slot grille, and the rugged good looks. A real Jeep needs to go places and do things that the competition can’t, and in that respect, the Renegade is a real Jeep, especially when you get the Trailhawk edition. Now my test vehicle’s not the Trailhawk, but it still offers 7.9 inches of ground clearance, and if you get the Trailhawk, you get 8.7 inches of ground clearance. The only other vehicle in this small crossover SUV segment that can match that is the Subaru Crosstrek. Now, any other vehicle in the segment is going to be less competent than a Trailhawk, including that Subaru, and that’s because the Trailhawk’s got underbody skid plates, it’s got a lifted suspension, it’s got improved angles of approach, departure, and breakover. It’s even got a hill-descent control system, so together all of those characteristics add up to what Jeep likes to call a “Trail Rated” model. Now, since mine isn’t really Trail Rated, I think we probably need to get off of this trail and hit the pavement. As I mentioned before, I’m driving the Renegade Latitude. It’s got 4-wheel drive, and the base price is $24,390 including the destination charge. Now, my test vehicle’s got a lot of extra equipment on it. I’ve got things like heated front seats, a heated steering wheel, navigation, a Beats audio system. It’s got a windshield wiper de-icer, it’s got a 8-way power driver seat. It’s loaded up with just about everything you can put on a Latitude, but the price is still under 30 grand, which is, I’d say, pretty good value even though it’s in the compact SUV category. My Renegade does have one more option, and it’s the 2.4-liter 4-cylinder engine, which you need if you want an automatic transmission. The standard engine is a turbocharged 1.4-liter with a stick. If you can’t drive a clutch or you just don’t want the turbo engine, you’ve got to upgrade to the 2.4-liter, which is ready to make 180 horsepower and 175 pound-feet of torque. Now, the 2.4-liter doesn’t really have any trouble feeling responsive around town or maintaining extra-legal speeds
on a freeway, but acceleration is not what I would call quick, and the more people and the more stuff you put inside a Renegade, the slower it feels. Another thing is is that when you’re climbing up a mountain grade, the transmission does a decent job of kicking down and holding a gear, but it’s also calibrated to try and maximize fuel economy to the greatest extent possible, so it occasionally upshifts and kind of takes the engine out of the thick of its power. And then you have to punch it and get it to kick down, and so it’s a little bit irritating in that respect. Also, nine forward speeds – that’s a lot, and so, as you might imagine, sometimes downshifts are delayed. Sometimes the transmission doesn’t behave the way you want it to. It doesn’t happen frequently, but it happens often enough that you notice it. Jeep does supply a manual shift mode here. You just click the stick over here to the left, but the pattern is completely counterintuitive. You push it up for a downshift, and you push it down or back for an upshift. Now, I always get the two confused, so I don’t even bother using it. Now, the whole point of a 9-speed automatic is to help this Renegade get better fuel economy. With 4-wheel drive, the EPA says it should be getting 24 miles per gallon. On my test loop, I averaged 21.4, so it would appear that if you’re expecting to get what the EPA says the Renegade should get, you are going to be disappointed. The Renegade’s really well-suited to city life – it’s compact, it’s zippy enough, and it’s super easy to park. It feels structurally robust, too, so it shrugs off all the lousy pavement that you tend to find in cities: the crumbling infrastructure that creates holes and other things that can damage the suspensions and wheels of other vehicles. I also find the brake pedal exceptionally easy to modulate, which means it’s easy to bring the Renegade to a smooth stop. Now out on the highway, not necessarily at the speed we’re traveling now, which is 60 miles an hour, but I’m talking about freeway speeds—
75 miles an hour or higher— the Renegade’s less satisfying to drive at those speeds. The steering feels disconnected on center, and it’s a little too quick off center. Plus, because of the short wheelbase and the taller center of gravity, the ride quality is kind of choppy, bouncy, and jouncy, and the result is that on the highway at higher speeds, the Renegade feels kind of unsettled and dart-y, and it’s not a comforting feeling. Now unexpectedly, the Renegade’s
actually quite fun to toss down a twisty road. It handles better than any Jeep I’ve driven aside from a Grand Cherokee SRT. It’s nimble, it feels athletic due to its small size, the body roll is well-controlled, the brakes are responsive, the steering is quick, the tires don’t squeal. It’s actually fairly remarkable how well this took some of the roads here in the local Santa Monica Mountains. Now, if you spend most of your time on freeways traveling at higher speeds, the Renegade is probably not going to be the right choice for you. Otherwise, in most respects, this is actually rather delightful to drive. Now, when the Renegade’s equipped with its optional 8-way power driver seat, it is really easy to get comfortable in this vehicle, and I love the Renegade’s thick-rimmed steering wheel. It’s a wonderful piece of equipment to grip when you’re driving. Now the seat padding itself is firm and supportive, and I find it instantly comfortable. My test vehicle’s got cloth upholstery that looks and feels durable, and the front seats are heated, which is kind of unusual when you’ve got cloth seats. The Renegade also has a heated steering wheel and a wiper de-icer system, which makes it perfect for cold weather climates. What it doesn’t have is a front passenger-seat height adjuster, and that made my wife a little cranky. Now the backseat is undeniably snug for larger adults, but the nice thing is is there’s plenty of room for feet – look at all this foot room under here. And, the front seatbacks are soft, and they’re padded, so even though my knees and shins are up against it, it’s not terribly uncomfortable. The seat cushion itself though is kind of low and flat, so there’s not a lot of thigh support. And if you want cupholders, this 40/20/40-split rear seat—which is an option— this center section will fold down, and there’s cupholders in that. Also, you’ve got a 3-prong power outlet right there on the back of the center console. Now if you pop the Renegade’s rear hatch, it opens up to reveal 18.5 cubic feet of
cargo space. You’ve got this cargo floor here; there’s a bin under there where you can hide some things, or if you need more space, you can take the whole floor and slide it right through there behind the rear seat, and that makes a big, square cargo area. Now there’s enough room here for a full-size suitcase here and then a full- size suitcase there. You can’t stack two more on top of it because there’s not enough clearance between the seatback and the tailgate, so you have to put it this way. I think that if Jeep had paid just a little extra attention, they could have made this cargo area another few inches longer, and you could stick three full-size suitcases across, but they didn’t do that. Now you’ll notice I don’t have my usual compact folding stroller prop with me. The reason is because the only way it fits in here is if the wheels are down here and the handle is jammed up here. You can’t put it diagonally this way, and there’s just not enough width here to put it flat lengthwise, and obviously it’s not going to fit in that way. So there are some compromises with
regard to cargo room, but you can probably work around them. If you fold the 40/20/40-split folding rear seat forward, you’ve got over 50 cubic feet of cargo area, and then that front passenger seat also folds flat, so you can put long items right through to the dashboard and close the hatch. I like the detailing that Jeep has put into the Renegade’s interior. From the two-tone decor to the soft-touch dashboard and this big, rubber-textured grab handle on the dashboard, my test vehicle looks and feels more expensive than it is. Plus, Jeep places what it calls “Easter eggs” throughout its vehicles. Now here you can see the classic Jeep face on the speaker grille, and beneath the fabric you can see Jeep—the letters forming Jeep—visible through the mesh, and right on the dashboard here, there is a reminder of Jeep’s military heritage. Now in general, the controls are intuitive, the instrumentation is clear and easy-to-read, and for the most part the materials either meet or beat expectations for the price. Storage areas are rather minimalistic, which is kind of unusual given this Jeep’s ultimate
mission. Now although the Renegade’s dashboard can’t really accommodate the larger infotainment screen that gets used in other Jeep models, this 6.5-inch display is easy enough to use, and the Beats audio sound system that it’s connected to sounds pretty good. Now if there’s anything that really bothers me about the Jeep Renegade, it has to do with its crash-test ratings. This was an all-new design for 2015, and yet the front passenger and the driver are protected at a 4-star level in the federal government’s frontal impact test. That probably should have been better. It should have been five stars. But what’s more troubling than that is the result for the side-impact test for the rear passenger. The Jeep only gets a 3-star rating in that regard. That’s where I put my kids. It needs to be better than that. Now if you get 4-wheel drive, the Renegade gets a 3-star rollover resistance rating. The feds say that there’s a 23% chance that it could roll over if you do some kind of an evasive maneuver. If you get front-wheel drive, that rating increases to 4 stars. Now as we’re filming this video in early 2016, the Insurance Institute for Highway Safety has not assessed the 2016 Renegade. The reason is because last year, it got an Acceptable rating in the small overlap frontal impact test. Apparently Jeep may have done something to help correct that, so that the Renegade becomes eligible for Top Safety Pick, but so far no ratings are published on the IIHS website, so for now it remains a mystery as to how well the Jeep will do in that test. There’s no denying that small crossover SUVs are hot right now, and nothing in the segment has the iconic design and pedigree of the Jeep Renegade. I like the Jeep Renegade. There’s substance here, there’s thoughtfulness in the execution, and there’s real value. This Jeep is affordable, practical, and stylish. It’s fun to drive in the city,
and it’s enjoyable on mountain roads. And unlike its competition, the Renegade supplies genuine off-roading capability. It’s not perfect, though, and the crash-test ratings are really tough to understand. Jeep should have engineered the Renegade to provide better protection in a collision, especially given its likely appeal to younger drivers and cash-strapped parents with children. Be sure to check out my full review of the Renegade on CarGurus.com, feel free to offer comments below, and if you found this review helpful, please share this clip and subscribe to our YouTube channel. For all of us at CarGurus, thank you for watching. Oh, damn it, sorry – there’s a mosquito on me. Okay. Agghh! You ready? Yeah?