The Jeep Renegade is chunky. In the manner of SUVs from the past it is square-cut and lantern-jawed but with 21st Century manners. The model as tested in Longitude trim (around £20k depending) is no friend of mud. That sort of business it leaves to its more off-road capable 4WD brethren which are much more up for a bit of track and trail ranging.
In this trim level it is very much the small urban SUV but that's no bad thing because the styling makes it stand out from the herd of crossovers browsing across the city streets. I like the exterior very much because it is somehow in keeping with the Jeep tradition. Butch is good and looking at it you wouldn't think that underneath the lumberjack shirt there's a Fiat 500X. Built by Italians, styled by Americans.
It looks great on the outside as you can see from the images (always specify the optional and fabtabuloso special paint) but
I just don't know what to think. Do I like it or not? I really can't decide. There's a lot of hard plastic, with only a few soft touches, which I suppose is inevitable at this price point. I can say for certain that I do not care for the speaker surrounds which look like they came off Robbie The Robot. Full credit though for the dashboard which is distinctive.
The test car came with a modest 5” Uconnect DAB radio with a touchscreen that includes satellite navigation (from TomTom, so it's reliable) and Bluetooth. The screen is decidedly not on trend being smaller than my phone. On the other hand, why does it matter? It all works well and clearly this was part of the interior design philosophy. It might put some off however. You get a 7” screen on Limited and Trailhawk editions. Elsewhere, USB, 12v and Aux sockets are strategically placed on the lower dash and in the central armrest.
The seats are fine, comfortable and adjustable but what is that fabric? I don't mind the Jeep logo poking through but it seems very nylon-y. I hope that the idea is as a hard-wearing surface designed to defeat active ankle-biters. Move up the specification (see below) to Limited or the mighty Trailhawk and you get lovely leather.
On the plus side, with a light fabric as headlining and big, deep windows being inside the roomy Jeep Renegade is pleasantly light and airy. The driving position is high and there's sufficient reach and rake adjustment. Really, this crossover is a four-seater but the good news is that even with the drivers seat set for me I was able to sit behind myself and still have ample legroom.
Power Comes From...
a choice of engines, both diesel and petrol. Being lighter, I favour the petrol versions which seem to better suit the personality of the Jeep Renegade. Our test car was fitted with a feisty little 140bhp 1.4L breathing through a turbocharger. The more rugged 4WD versions get a 2.0L with 168bhp.
Drive is through a six-speed DDCT (or Euro Twin Clutch) gearbox. This transmission is essentially a Fiat six-speed manual transmission with self-shifting capabilities including a dual-clutch system which increases the smoothness and speed of the gear changes. It is by nature (say Fiat) a more efficient transmission than a hydraulic automatic with similar gearing.
It's probably best in auto mode. I tried it using the manual sequential shift option but it didn't offer anything extra although I can see it being useful in certain circumstances.
was hugely enjoyable for me yet it is hard to say quite why. Other reviewers have been a bit negative about the driving experience but I don't agree. I sometimes wonder what people expect. Sure, there's a bit of wind noise, the throttle response is a bit sluggish and the steering isn't the sharpest I have ever experienced, but I'll be willing to bet that most users wouldn't notice.
The Jeep Renegade has a 'personality' that is hard to quantify but which is something that is lacking in some other crossovers. It might be the appealing looks; all I can say is that I had fun with this car. With a 0-62mph time of over ten seconds it will not melt tarmac off the line but once rolling the diminutive engine is lively and enthusiastic. There's tons of grip and tall car lean is well controlled in corners.
Parking sensors are obligatory because the boxy shape limits rear visibility. How on Earth did we used to manage? I find myself being grumpy and critical these days because there's no reversing camera in some tested cars. Emissions are lagging behind a bit at 140g/km and the combined fuel consumption figure is 47.1mpg but I didn't get that because I was having fun with the drive.
The Jeep Renegade is up against some stiff opposition in the crossover stakes and prices across the range are comparable with other similar cars although it does not undercut them.
Some of the opposition is rather standard fare and I like the Jeep because the brand in general fares well in reliability surveys and it offers something a little different to the run of the mill. Given the choice I would pay more and go for the 4WD Limited or Trailhawk versions to get leather, more power and proper off-road ability. Around the town though this Jeep Renegade Longitude is all you need.