The 2017 Jeep Renegade is part of a new wave of subcompact crossover SUVs. The smallest crossover you can buy from Fiat Chrysler’s fabled off-road brand, continues for its third model year with only minor changes. It’s the smallest Jeep sold since the Willys Jeep launched as a post-war civilian vehicle, but it’s a modern utility vehicle with features GIs never dreamed of. Some of these models aren’t so great at keeping you comfortable, but not the Renegade. It has a smooth highway ride, well-shaped front seats and, if you option it out correctly, Jeep’s impressive Uconnect infotainment system that gives the cabin a truly modern feel. There’s also plenty of headroom thanks to the Renegade’s tall, boxy design.
Riding on the same platform as the Fiat 500X, the Jeep Renegade shares little else with its Italian stablemate. With ample ground clearance, an advanced 4-wheel-drive system (4WD) and big dose of Jeep styling, the Renegade is all Jeep, larger inside than the Mazda CX-3 and more off-road capable than the Honda HR-V. A choice of turbocharged or normally aspirated engines gives the Renegade an advantage over other small-crossover SUVs, and nobody makes anything comparable to the trail-rated Trailhawk. The Renegade’s most appealing quality, however, is the enormous number of trims, features and variations, allowing customers to create a personalized Renegade that best suits their needs. Even the manual models can be fitted with options such as a heated steering wheel and navigation.
The Jeep Renegade lineup consists of Sport, Latitude, Limited and Trailhawk trim levels and offers two powertrain combinations, both available with front- or all-wheel drive. If you want a manual transmission, you’ll get the Fiat-designed 1.4-liter turbocharged MultiAir engine as standard; it delivers 160 hp and 184 lb-ft and is EPA-rated at 24 mpg/31 mpg city/highway. Automatic buyers get the 2.4-liter Tigershark engine, rated at 180 hp and 175 lb-ft. With its nine-speed transmission, the 2.4-liter Renegade returns 22 mpg/31 mpg city/highway with front-wheel drive and 21/29 with all-wheel drive.
Unique for an entry-level compact SUV, the Jeep Renegade offers a host of advanced driver-assist technologies including lane-departure warning, blind-spot monitor and Jeep’s Forward Collision Warning-Plus, which applies the brakes and can even stop the vehicle in the event of an eminent collision.
Subcompact crossovers like the Honda HR-V and the Mazda CX-3 will probably never see or be able to cope with anything more demanding than a dusty road. For the weekend off-roading warrior on a budget, the most basic version with the manual transmission might be the ideal ride. The richer rock-crawler should check out the Trailhawk version.
The Jeep Renegade in all trim levels is pretty good off-road, but the Trailhawk version improves its ability with an enhanced all-wheel-drive system with low-range gearing, hill-descent control and a terrain-selection function as standard. It also receives a slight suspension lift, skid plates, tow hooks, all-terrain tires (on 17-in alloy wheels) and sport cloth upholstery.
If you’re looking for an affordable compact SUV with loads of optional equipment and the ability to be taken off-road, Jeep’s Renegade SUV checks all the right boxes. The Renegade offers more features and powertrain choices than competitors, plus can be had with 2-wheel (2WD) or 4-wheel drive.