The 2016 Jeep Renegade is their smallest offering, but in this case, size really doesn't matter. We spent a week behind the wheel of the 75th Anniversary Trim and came away impressed with its spaciousness, looks, available technology, and that it's got that unmistakeable Jeep feel to it. Here are our six takeaways from the latest entry into the sub-compact crossover market.
1. THE FIRST NEW JEEP SINCE FIAT AND CHRYSLER MERGED IS TRUE TO ITS ROOTS
Since Fiat bought Chrysler in January of 2014, this is the first “new” Jeep to be produced. The Renegade is built and assembled in Italy and Brazil and it shares a platform with Fiat’s 500X CUV.
Jeep has deep American roots as it was initially an army-based vehicle, and there was concern of a renowned American product being created elsewhere. However, the Renegade was in fact designed in the good ol’ US of A, complete with carryover styling such as the round headlights, seven-slotted grill, nearly 90 degree windshield and other characteristically Jeep items. The result is an offering that fits very well in the Jeep lineup.
2. THERE ARE 5 DIFFERENT MODELS AVAILABLE
Starting off the fab five Renegade trim options is the Sport model that rings the register a bit above the $21K mark. Following that is the North trim at $26,495 and in the middle sits the 75th Anniversary model, with plenty of commemorative badging and a trim-exclusive Jungle Green available paint job, starting at nearly $29K. The high end starts with the famous Trailhawk model for a touch over $32K and at the top rung sits the Limited trim for just below $33k.
There’s plenty of room on the option sheet to tick away to get the Renegade exactly how you want it. The big differences between models is that the first three offer the smaller 1.4 L or the 2.4 L engine. The upper two have only the 2.4 L engine.
With about a $12K difference from bottom to top, Jeep has positioned itself so that most customers will have something that fits their Renegade budget.
3. THERE ARE TWO ENGINES FOR THE RENEGADE
The 1.4 L I-4 turbo engine will produce 160 horsepower and 184 lb-ft. of torque and is offered either in a six-speed manual or nine-speed automatic. As this is a smaller vehicle, the above figures should have no issues getting you zipping around town and country, even if you’re carrying people or possessions.
The engine that was in our tester, the 75th Anniversary model, was the 2.4 L "Tigershark MultiAir" with 180 horsepower, 175 lb-ft of torque. Yes, there’s only a 20 horsepower difference but there’s a reduction of torque by 9 lb-ft. Racking up close to 500 km in my week with the Renegade was comfortable. There were no issues getting up to highway speeds and the back roads of Milton showed me that there’s some oomph beneath the hood.
At times, the nine-speeds seemed confused as to whether to stay in a certain gear or level up, which I attribute to having too many gears. I understand the logic behind the nine but would rather have it maxed out at six…seven if I’m feeling generous.
Fuel economy for my tester rates at 11.2 city and 8.0 highway and after my week of mixed driving, I ended up at 11.4 overall. It’s not in the gas guzzler category but you’ll drop in a few extra dollars each visit to the gas station compared to the smaller engine.
4. IT’S SURPRISINGLY SPACIOUS INSIDE
At first glance, you see designs that are close to the 90 degree mark all around and a small foot print, which is understandable. Once inside, it’s a different story.
The Renegade does not feel cramped at all, despite what the exterior may lead you to think.
It reminded me of a Kia Soul with its boxy shape but roomy interior - take from that what you will.
As is the case for almost all vehicles that offer five seatbelts, there’s true comfort in the four corners. The two up-front folks have ample leg, hip and shoulder room and the two rear seat dwellers shouldn’t be complaining about space.
Contributing to the spaciousness is, according to Jeep: "The My Sky Open Air Roof System, which offers either a manual removable, or power tilt/slide removable dual-panel roof."
The manual option is pretty easy to whip off, if you like Jeep's removability features.
Storage with the rear seats up is 524 litres worth and with the seats down, 1,438 litres.
5. OFF-ROADING CAPABILITIES
The Renegade will see the majority of its life on paved roads, but for those who are off-roaders, there are capabilities here for you.
Jeep’s website says that the short overhangs contribute to Best-in-Class approach, with the impressive 30.5 and 34.3 degree approach and departure angles, and a 25.7 degree breakover angle that come with the Trail Rated Trailhawk which has with Best-in-Class 4x4 capability.
Other features include the Jeep Active Drive Low 4x4 system, 20:1 crawl ratio, Selec-Terrain Traction Management System with exclusive Rock Mode, 20-mm (0.8-inch) higher ride height, fuel tank, transfer case and front suspension skid plates and 17-inch off-road aluminum wheels.
6. THERE’S PLENTY OF AVAILABLE SAFETY TECHNOLOGY
As we roll into 2017, safety features have drastically increased over the past few years. The Renegade comes with a wide suite of available options, including Forward Collision Warning with Active Braking, Lane Departure Warning and Lane Keep Assist, Rear Park Assist, Blind Spot Monitoring with Rear Cross Path Detection, and seven standard airbags.
Enjoy the full gallery below: