The Jeep Renegade is a compact crossover that’s intended to rival the MINI Countryman and Skoda Yeti. It comes with a choice of four engines - a 109bhp 1.6-litre petrol, a 118bhp 1.6-litre diesel and 1.4-litre petrol and 2.0-litre diesel units available with power outputs of 138bhp and 168bhp.
The four available gearboxes are a five and six-speed manual, a six-speed semi-automatic and a conventional automatic with nine gears. You can have a front-wheel drive Renegade or a four-wheel drive set-up, the latter being available with or without a low-ratio mode.
The 168bhp cars can accelerate from 0-62mph in under nine seconds and the 148bhp diesel manual in under ten. It’s likely that the similarly powered petrol model would be able to do this too if it were available in manual form, but it isn't. Other versions have double-figure acceleration times, the longest being 11.8 seconds for the 1.6 petrol model. Top speeds range between 111mph and 122mph.
A lot of the noise made by the diesel engines is transferred to the cabin, though if you're in a good mood you might feel that this gives the car a more rugged feel. The petrol cars are much quieter.
The gearshift in the manual cars is a little notchy, a problem which obviously does not affect the automatics. The nine-speed option may seem intimidating, but this is a well proven gearbox also found in the Cherokee and Grand Cherokee, and if you're feeling nervous do bear in mind that you can leave it which of the many ratios to select on its own.
Ride and Handling
On smoother tarmac the Renegade feels well balanced through quicker corners and is quite good fun, even if there are many hatchbacks that could do the same job far better.
The ride can be quite choppy on rough surfaces, which again may be fine if you think it suits the car's mock-Wild West apperanace but not if you don't. On smoother tarmac the Renegade feels well balanced through quicker corners and is quite good fun, even if there are many hatchbacks that could do the same job far better. Off-road capability depends on the specification of the individual car. There are many choices, but if you need to take a Renegade over really rough ground you'll want the Trailhawk, which has the most powerful diesel engine, the greatest ride height and the four-wheel drive system with the selectable low-ratio option. Lesser versions won't be able to keep up with this one, but they can venture further off the tarmac than more conventional cars.
Interior and Equipment
The Renegade was jointly developed by American and Italian engineers, and is the first Jeep not to be built in the US.
As with other Jeeps, Fiats and Chryslers, the interior design is both distinctive and attractive, and it's enhanced by various little touches called "Easter eggs" (named after the special features in computer games, DVDs and so on). These include a mud splash in place of the more usual red line on the rev counter. The height of the car leads to very generous headroom, while legroom is good all round too, though better in the front than behind. The luggage capacity of 351 with the rear seats in place is good, though limited by the shape of the load compartment, and it can be increased to 1297 litres by folding down the rear seats. All Renegades have air-conditioning (dual-zone in higher-spec cars). Different trim levels have different forms of the Uconnect infotainment system, both with Bluetooth connectivity and the superior one with satellite navigation. Sport and Longitude versions have a 3.5-inch monochrome instrument display, while the more expensive Limited and Trailhawk come with a 7-inch colour equivalent.
Most versions cost over £20,000, the highest figure being £28k for the Trailhawk.
The best CO2 rating is the 120g/km achieved by the 1.6 diesel manual, which is the only Renegade requiring annual Vehicle Excise Duty payments of £30. All the others will cost £110 or more, in some case as much as £180. Official combined fuel economy ranges from 40.9mpg for the 1.4 MultiAir 4x4 automatic to 61.4mpg for the 1.6 diesel manual. Prices vary widely. The 1.6 petrol Sport's £17k isn't really representative as the second cheapest model - the same car but in Longitude trim - costs £19k. Most versions cost over £20,000, the highest figure being over £28k for the Trailhawk.
Public interest in the Renegade will depend first of all on how many people like its appearance. It's the most butch and square-edged compact crossover on the market by some distance, and while that won't appeal to everyone there will certainly be fans. The composed drive (on smoother roads), spacious cabin and its off-road potential all add to the Renegade’s appeal, but it's worth keeping in mind that there are also rivals that are cheaper to buy and run. This is an unusual car, and you have to be in the mood for it, but it deserves to do well.