The Renegade offers what most other subcompact crossovers don’t—true off-road capability and a distinctly butch design. The littlest Jeep samples the company’s iconic Wrangler and wraps it in a more approachable package. Although both of its four-cylinder engines are wimpy, the Renegade does have a standard six-speed manual transmission and a robust all-wheel-drive system. Its rugged interior can be outfitted with a variety of Uconnect infotainment systems; Apple CarPlay and Android Auto are optional. While we’ve praised rivals such as the Kia Soul and the Mazda CX-3 for being fun to drive on the pavement, the Renegade has the same effect on the trails and provides a taste of the Jeep lifestyle.
What’s New for 2018?
The Renegade lineup no longer includes the Deserthawk trim, which was basically a limited-edition Trailhawk. Its other 2018 updates are mild, including refreshed infotainment systems and redesigned interior components. Jeep revised the climate controls, relocated the Selec-Terrain rotary knob and a USB port, and added more front-seat cubbies. The base Sport model now has a standard 5.0-inch touchscreen with Bluetooth and voice control. The rest receive a 7.0-inch unit with Apple CarPlay and Android Auto as standard; an 8.4-inch touchscreen with navigation and remote-control smartphone apps is optional. An available dual-pane power sunroof is all new, too.
What Was New for 2017?
Little changed on the Renegade from the 2016 to 2017 model years. Keyless Go, Jeep’s name for push-button start, became standard on all trims. The Limited trim added passive entry with remote start as a standard feature, and HID headlights and automatic high-beam headlights were added to the list of available options.
Trims and Options We’d Choose
Compared with most subcompact crossovers, the Renegade stands out for its distinctly Jeep design and trail-rated capability. The cheapest version—the Sport—costs $19,640, but that’s with front-wheel drive and limited features. We prefer the next-level-up Latitude model, which starts at $23,040 and adds:
• 7.0-inch Uconnect touchscreen with Apple CarPlay and Android Auto
• Roof rails, fog lamps, and automatic headlights
• Dual-zone automatic climate control
• Heated exterior side mirrors
Of course, we’d also add all-wheel drive ($1500) for off-road adventures. Selecting the 2.4-liter inline-four and the nine-speed automatic transmission adds $1530, but we prefer the standard turbocharged 1.4-liter four-cylinder and six-speed manual. We would choose the Cold Weather package (heated front seats and steering wheel, all-season floor mats, and rain-sensitive wipers) for $745 and the Safety & Security Group ($945), which includes blind-spot monitoring, rear cross-traffic alert, and HID headlights. Unfortunately, most of the other desirable options, such as automatic high-beams, front and rear parking sensors, and power-adjustable front seats, also require the more powerful engine. The only other addition we’d want is the full-size, temporary-use spare tire ($345) to avoid getting stranded on the trails. All told, our all-wheel-drive Renegade Latitude costs $26,475.
It’s a good thing Jeep owners enjoy raw experiences, because there is no polish to either of the Renegade’s two four-cylinder engines. What’s more, the power trains are often overtaxed: our test car had the most powerful engine option and still posted the slowest acceleration times among mostly under powered rivals.