Weidle on Wheels
Jeep is known for manufacturing vehicles that deliver entertaining off-road excursions. Even though it’s a subcompact crossover SUV, the 2017 Jeep Renegade is still capable of having some serious off-road fun.
- Performance: turbocharged 1.4-liter, four cylinder, 160 horsepower; turbocharged 2.4-liter, four cylinder, 180 horsepower
- Mileage estimate: 24-31 mpg; 22-31 mpg
- Price: $20,200 to $30,100
- Warranty: 3 years/36,000 miles; drivetrain 5 years/60,000 miles; roadside assistance 5 years/60,000; corrosion 5 years/unlimited
The Jeep Grand Cherokee, Compass, Wrangler, and Patriot may be the preferred choice of off-road enthusiasts, but don’t underestimate the Renegade.
The smaller of the aforementioned Jeep models, the Renegade is no slouch when it comes to navigating through sand, mud, snow, and other impediments that normal vehicles can’t handle.
A surprise here—the 2017 Jeep Renegade shares the same platform as the Fiat 500X. That’s the only similarity between the two. The Renegade is a subcompact crossover sport utility vehicle that possesses a definite Jeep style—ample ground clearance. The test model driven here had a distinctive color that Jeep calls hypergreen. There was no blending in with this particular Jeep. Let’s just say with that color it was easy to pick it out in a crowded parking lot.
While not a fan of all Jeep models, we enjoyed the Renegade Trailhawk, one of four trim models (Sport, Latitude, Limited). Although typically not enamored with outlandish colors, the lime-green kind of grew on us. But color alone was not the primary appeal. We loved that the Renegade was not designed primarily for off-roading. It served as a pretty solid SUV in everyday driving situations, providing solid handling and a quiet cabin.
However, what really will be a selling point for Jeep aficionados is the Trailhawk model’s ability to excel as an off-roader. It has good clearance, all-terrain tires, advanced four-wheel drive, and protective skidplates as an added safety feature. The Trailhawk also comes with an inch more ground clearance and the front and rear bumpers are different, which allows for steeper ascent and descent angles. It also comes equipped with a “Rock” mode and can crawl over boulders at very low speeds.
All Jeep Renegade models have a choice of two turbocharged engines. The smaller of the two is a turbo 1.4-liter, inline-4 that generates 160 horsepower and 184 pound-feet of torque. One thing to note—the turbo 1.4-liter comes with a 6-speed manual transmission; there is no automatic. This engine is the better of the two for gas mileage, getting 24-31 mpg.
The other engine choice is a little more robust, a turbo 2.4-liter, inline-4 that produces 180 horsepower and 175 pound-feet of torque. Although a little more performance-laden, the turbo 2.4-liter has a somewhat noisy drivetrain. Both engines are rather sluggish; the turbo 2.4-liter goes 0-60 mph in 9.4 seconds while getting 22-31 mpg.
A subcompact SUV, the Renegade has some issues in regards to spaciousness and comfort. The two front seat drivers reside in relative comfort, and the driver sits high with good visibility. The three rear passengers are not as fortunate due to limited overall space. The Renegade’s cargo area is only 18.5 cubic feet, yet expands to just over 50 cubic feet when the second row is folded down.We believe the 2017 Jeep Renegade is a good choice for a car buyer who desires a true off-road vehicle, but also is looking for a civilized ride under normal conditions. An affordable choice, the Renegade will no doubt have its admirers.
by Jeffrey Weidel