Do you spend your life in the city, but like to get out into the wilderness when you can? Maybe you’re a weekend warrior who wants a car with great off-road capabilities that doesn’t have an out-sized impact on the environment. If so, you should consider the Jeep Renegade.
The Renegade, which was introduced in 2015, is Jeep’s subcompact SUV. Although it’s one of the lesser-known Jeeps available, the Renegade appeals to drivers who prefer a smaller vehicle, but still want the performance and styling of a Jeep. Like all Jeeps, the Renegade has great off-road performance. It can also tow up to 2,000 pounds when properly equipped, which is more than most subcompact SUVs.
If you’re looking for an SUV that is at home in the city, in the mountains, or on the beach, the Jeep Renegade might be the vehicle for you. Here’s everything you should know before buying one.
Price and Value: A new 2019 Jeep Renegade starts at $22,300, and even the highest-end trim remains under $30,000. That’s slightly more than other subcompact SUVs, but people who love Jeeps will be willing to pay for the Renegade’s performance and styling.
To save money, consider buying a used Jeep Renegade. The Renegade hasn’t been completely redesigned since its launch in 2015. The 2019 model does have some styling tweaks and slightly altered engine options, but those might not be worth the extra price tag. However, cautious drivers will like that the 2019 comes standard with parking sensors and adaptive cruise control.
If smart-phone connectivity is important to you, choose a model year 2018 or later. That’s when Android Auto and Apple CarPlay became available in the Renegade. The same year, Bluetooth and a touchscreen became standard. Other than that, there have been few major changes since the Renegade’s launch.
Size and Capacity: The Jeep Renegade is a subcompact SUV. It has seating for five people, with 35 inches of legroom in the back row. That’s about the same as you’ll find in most sedans. The Renegade has 18.5 cubic feet of cargo space, which is plenty to bring all your equipment. If you need more room, you can fold the rear seat flat to get up to 50 cubic feet of space. The back seat’s 40/20/40 split gives added flexibility.
Unlike many subcompact SUVs, the Renegade is tow-ready (on four-wheel drive models). When it’s properly equipped it can tow up to 2,000 pounds, enough to move a small trailer or personal recreational vehicle.
Performance Specs and Fuel Economy: The Renegade is available with two engine options, which can be paired with four-wheel or front-wheel drive (which comes standard on all but the Trailhawk trim). The base engine for the 2019 Renegade is a 180-horsepower four-cylinder that produces 175 pound-feet of torque. Alternatively, you can upgrade to a 177-horsepower turbo-charged four-cylinder. Although it has slightly less power, the turbo-four has an additional 25 pound-feet of torque, which improves its performance on and off the road.
Model years 2015-2018 came standard with a 160-horsepower turbocharged four-cylinder engine that produced 184 pound-feet of torque. The 180-horsepower four-cylinder engine that became standard in 2019 was an available option.
The 180-horsepower engine gets an EPA-estimated 25-mpg combined fuel economy in two-wheel drive. The 177-horsepower turbo-four gets 27 mpg combined. The 160-horsepower engine gets 26 mpg combined fuel economy.
Trims and Features: The Jeep Renegade comes in five trim levels. There are two engine options, and both front-wheel and four-wheel drive are available. When you’re considering which Jeep Renegade is right for you, consider how often you’ll be driving. If you plan to go off-roading regularly, you’ll want a Renegade model with higher ground clearance. Front-wheel drive models have 6.7 inches of ground clearance, while four-wheel drive versions have eight inches of clearance. The Trailhawk trim, designed for off-roading, has the highest clearance of 8.7 inches.
Here’s what you can expect from each of the Renegade’s trim options (using 2019 specs):
- Sport: The base trim comes with the 180-horsepower engine and front-wheel drive, although four-wheel drive is an available option. This trim has cloth seats, a five-inch touchscreen (on model years 2018 and later) and Bluetooth connectivity.
- Latitude: The Latitude adds dual-zone climate control (air conditioning is an option on the Sport), seven-inch touch screen, Android Auto and Apple CarPlay (on model years 2018 and later).
- Altitude: This trim is similar to the Latitude, but comes with 18-inch wheel (as opposed to 17-inch on the lower trims), and styling accents like black exterior trim.
- Limited: This trim comes standard with 177-horsepower engine and upscale features like heated, leather seats.
- Trailhawk: This trim comes with a standard 177-horsepower turbo-four engine with four-wheel drive and the highest 8.7-inch ground clearance. It comes with an array of off-road features including skid plates and tow hooks.
Safety: The Jeep Renegade is a safe vehicle (especially compared to other Jeep models). The 2019 model doesn’t have an overall crash-test rating from The Insurance Institute for Highway Safety (IIHS), but the 2018 has a four out of five crash test rating. The 2018 Renegade has the highest rating of “good” from the IIHS. The Jeep Renegade comes standard with a back-up camera, but has few other standard safety features. However, additional safety features including lane departure warning, adaptive cruise control and forward collision warning are available as part of select packages.
Reliability: Jeeps are notoriously unreliable. However, Jeep devotees are willing to sacrifice reliability because Jeeps are so much better off-road than the competition. The Renegade is no different. The 2018 and 2019 Renegade models have a below-average reliability rating of 2.5 out of 5 from J.D. Power and Associates.
The 2018 Renegade has two recalls related to stalling. The 2019 model currently has two recalls related to airbag safety. If you’re purchasing a used Jeep Renegade check to see if your vehicle is subject to these recalls.
The Takeaway: Many compact SUVs are lacking in utility. However, that’s not the case with the Jeep Renegade. The Renegade has fewer standard features than other compact SUVs, but it makes up for that with available all-wheel drive, towing capacity, and off-road performance.