Though it’s about the same size as the Wrangler, the all-new Jeep Renegade packs a lot more for the money. The 2015 Renegade is Jeep’s new entrant into the hot subcompact SUV segment, and it quickly became a sales leader in the class.
All new for 2015, the Jeep Renegade is built alongside the Fiat 500X in Italy. This makes it the first Jeep built in Europe and imported to the U.S. The subcompact four-door Renegade is offered with two engines – a turbocharged four-cylinder and a larger, naturally aspirated four-cylinder. There is also a choice of a manual or an automatic transmission, along with front- or four-wheel drive. The 2015 Renegade is available in four trim levels: Sport, Latitude, Limited and Trailhawk.
The boxy, upright Jeep design has been translated onto a small body with four doors and a liftgate. It does not look exactly like a Jeep Wrangler, but it has all of the Jeep design cues. This starts with round headlamps and a seven-slot grille, with almost slab sides, an upright windshield, a boxy roof and squared taillights. Compared with the similarly sized two-door Wrangler, the Renegade has a longer wheelbase and less ground clearance.
Our test vehicle was a four-wheel-drive Renegade Limited, which features a removable roof system that requires a key to free the roof panels over the cabin.
Choosing the Trailhawk 4X4 model offers a higher ride height with all-terrain tires that are made for off-road driving. All Renegade models have a few details showing the brand’s pride, such as an etched military Jeep on the lower right-hand corner of the windshield and the iconic logo with two round headlights and a seven-slot grille logo etched into the taillights. Overall, this Jeep looks the part and is befitting of its heritage.
Jeep wanted the Renegade to be a fun vehicle to drive, and that fun factor is definitely conveyed in the interior. It is ergonomic with durable plastic and plenty of details showing the brand’s pride in its heritage. Instrumentation starts with two dials in the gauge cluster, along with a wild orange graphic set around the redline of the tachometer. A thin-film transistor (TFT) screen between the dials shows trip and vehicle information, along with readouts for fuel and temperature information. The steering wheel switches and stalks, as well as the other controls across the dashboard are logically placed and feel high quality.
This includes controls for terrain selection and four-wheel drive lock, which are located in the deep part of the console. The shifter has a tall stalk, rising from the low console and ending up right at the driver’s hand. There is a push-button start switch in the corner of the steering column.
In our Renegade Limited model there was leather upholstery that combined beige seating surfaces with orange and brown trim. The front seats are firm, but very comfortable and supportive for varying distances. Bolstering is good at the cushion and in the seatback. Power seat adjustments were plentiful in our test Renegade Limited and included lumbar support. Rear-seat room is among the best in its class, as back-seat passengers get good legroom and a tall roof for headroom.
The boxy roof helped in carrying taller packages in the rear. The Renegade has 18.5 cubic feet of cargo space with all seats in use, which expands to 50.8 cubic feet with the rear seats folded. Our Renegade Limited featured a 40-20-40 split-folding rear seat. Other models receive a 60-40 split-folding second row. The liftgate opens high for tall people to load without bending over.
The 2015 Jeep Renegade comes standard with a turbocharged 1.4-liter four-cylinder engine with 160 horsepower. A six-speed manual transmission and front-wheel drive are standard, while four-wheel drive is optional. Also available is a 2.4-liter four-cylinder engine with 180 horsepower, which is paired with a nine-speed automatic transmission.
The base Jeep Renegade gets an EPA-estimated 24/31 mpg city/highway. Choosing the larger engine and automatic transmission results in slightly lower estimates of 22/31 mpg.
Our test Renegade had the 2.4-liter engine and four-wheel drive system. The long wheelbase works well, providing a solid ride with four-wheel independent suspension. Handling is good, with minimal roll and lean. The Renegade keeps everything even on many surfaces – including on trails and rougher terrain. The steering system offers a good turning radius and braking is strong with four-wheel discs.
Choosing the Renegade Trailhawk adds a transfer case with low-range gearing, as well as hill decent control. These systems work well on rougher terrain, including steep declines.
Jeep’s Uconnect infotainment systems are available across all Renegade models. Our Renegade Limited had a 6.5-inch touch screen with HD Radio, satellite radio and a navigation system. This system also works with the Uconnect Access smartphone app, which enables integration with apps like Pandora, iHeartRadio, Aha and Slacker.
Bluetooth connectivity is available, along with an auxiliary input and USB ports. A nine-speaker audio system with a subwoofer is available on the Limited and Trailhawk models.
The Insurance Institute for Highway Safety (IIHS) gave the Renegade top ratings of Good in moderate overlap front, side and roof strength tests. The Renegade received second-highest Acceptable ratings in testing for the head restraints and seats, as well as the small overlap front test. The Renegade receives an Advanced rating from the IIHS when equipped with a front crash prevention system.
The Renegade’s standard safety equipment includes anti-lock brakes, a suite of air bags and stability control.
A rearview camera is standard on most Renegade trims. Additional features include blind spot monitoring, lane departure warning, forward collision warning and rear park assist.
With a starting price of $17,995, the front-wheel drive Renegade Sport with the manual transmission is one of the least expensive SUVs in its class. The Limited represents the top of the Renegade line, with four-wheel drive models starting at $26,795. Our test Renegade came with a sticker price of $31,320, which is getting expensive for the segment.
As Jeep’s smallest model, the Renegade excels as perhaps one of the best SUVs in its class. It offers a small footprint, unique styling and a fun interior design. The Renegade also provides a level of off-road capability that may be difficult for competing crossovers to match.