2016 Jeep Renegade

Starting MSRP: $17,995 - $26,495

Estimated MPG: 24 city / 31 hwy

2016 Jeep Renegade Review

The subcompact SUV segment is heating up, and the 2016 Jeep Renegade is one of the strongest contenders. Unlike its competitors, the Renegade is the only model offering true off-road capabilities with two available four-wheel drive systems.

By Matt Keegan
Last Updated 05/03/2016

The 2016 Renegade is the entry-level model for Jeep that’s priced from under $20,000. Available in front- and four-wheel drive configurations, the two engine choices and room for five passengers. Four trim levels are offered: Sport, Latitude, Limited and Trailhawk.

For 2016, the Jeep Renegade gains an available nine-speaker Beats audio system with a subwoofer and a 506-watt amplifier. Other changes include new exterior color choices and the addition of available rain sensing wipers.

Exterior

Exterior
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The Renegade is the first Jeep to be built overseas, and it’s manufactured at a Fiat plant. As such, Jeep could have gone with a less rugged design for the Renegade, perhaps emulating the similar and softer Fiat 500X, with which it shares a platform. Happily, Jeep’s designers were given much more latitude to deliver a model that offers an admirable representation of this iconic brand’s heritage.

Up front, the fascia is all Jeep, with the expected seven vertical slats present in the grille, which is hemmed in by circular headlamps. Daytime running lights flank the front bumper and a narrow lower grille opening is offset by the housing for the available fog lamps.

Square and rectangular lines dominate, beginning with the hood and extending from pillar to pillar. The Renegade’s profile is marked by raised wheel wells, a gently falling roofline and an even beltline with a notable rise behind the rear seat. Character lines and sculpting are also noticeable in the lower body trim.

The rear has a spoiler, a clamshell liftgate, body sculpting and reflector lights. The Renegade’s combination lights offer a distinct squared design with white “x” marks denoting the backup lights.

All models are outfitted with all-season tires, except the Trailhawk edition, which has all-terrain tires. Steel wheels are standard; painted or polished aluminum wheels are available. Black-clad side mirrors in the Sport edition give way to color- or accent-coordinated side mirrors in other models. Heated side mirrors are available with the Sport and standard on the other trims.

The Renegade Trailhawk is the only model outfitted with two front tow hooks and one rear tow hook (all three are painted red). An available trailer-tow group includes a Class-III receiver hitch, a wiring harness and a full-size spare tire. Otherwise, a temporary spare is included and found beneath the storage compartment floor.

Interior

Interior
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The Renegade’s boxy exterior provides an important benefit for the interior — excellent headroom and sufficient passenger space front and back. Bucket seats up front and a 60/40 split-folding bench seat in the rear add up to room for five. The rear seat offers ideal room for two and space for one more in a pinch.

A bright and airy cabin is sensibly ordered and uncluttered. The instrument panel is marked by an analog tachometer and speedometer, along with a large digital driver’s information readout between the two.

The center stack has a pair of vents on top, followed by the Uconnect infotainment display. Further down are dials for managing climate control. Beneath that are the USB port, an auxiliary input jack, and a 12-volt power port.

Splitting the front seats is the shifter, the electronic parking brake switch and two cup holders. A narrow armrest gives way to a small but deep storage compartment. All four doors provide bottle holders; pocket nets are found in the storage area and are ideal for holding small items. The cargo hold also includes tie-down loops and a cargo lamp.

To give the Renegade brand credibility, Jeep included a few design embellishments within the interior. At the base of the center console is an embossed design representing the trademark Jeep seven-slat grille. The tachometer has orange paint splatter at the 6,000 rpm point and above, replacing the standard redline. The cloth seats have a repeating Jeep logo design on the seat back and seat surfaces. Together, these touches are designed to impart the Jeep mystique to the smallest SUV in the brand’s expanding fleet.

Performance

Performance
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Jeep offers a pair of engine choices with the 2016 Renegade. Standard on the Sport and Latitude is a turbocharged 1.4-liter four-cylinder engine that makes 160 horsepower and 184 pound-feet of torque. It comes paired with a six-speed manual transmission only. This model is EPA-rated at up to 24/31 mpg city/highway.

The second engine choice, a 2.4-liter four-cylinder, is standard with the Limited and is available with other trims. This engine makes 180 horsepower and 175 pound-feet of torque and comes paired with a nine-speed automatic transmission. As equipped, this model gets 22/31 mpg city/highway with front-wheel drive and 21/29 mpg with four-wheel drive.

The test model supplied by Jeep for this review was a front-wheel drive Renegade Sport. As the base model in this segment it comes with the manual transmission and is the antithesis of the burly Renegade Trailhawk.

The Renegade’s transmission took some getting used to. Finding the sweet spot in the relationship between the correct gear and the engine dominated my first few days with this model. Gradually, I discovered that third and fifth gears were best for optimizing power. Clutch travel is average, and the transmission shifter moves with relative ease.

The other trims provide a larger engine with an automatic transmission and off-road capabilities. Where the base Renegade Sport emphasizes fuel efficiency, the various four-wheel drive models are designed to appeal to off-road enthusiasts. Its off-road prowess is something I cannot comment on, but four-wheel drive models get Jeep’s Selec-Terrain system with Auto, Snow and Sand driving modes.

Choose the Renegade Trailhawk and this model adds a fifth drive mode (Rock) and brings in Active Drive Low with 20:1 low-range gearing. All Trailhawks also come with a higher ground clearance, as well as improved approach, break over and departure angles.

Technology

Technology
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The Renegade is available with Fiat Chrysler’s Uconnect infotainment system, which is composed of a media and audio hub, plus an available navigation system and other features. The hub has an audio jack and a USB port. A second USB port for device-charging purposes only is part of a package upgrade.

The base model has a basic audio system with a 3-inch screen. Upgrades bring in a 5-or 6.5-inch touch screen with Bluetooth connectivity.

Although the test model offered the mid-level Uconnect system, this writer has tested other Fiat Chrysler products equipped with the top-of-the-line system with navigation, and that’s a better choice here. In the Jeep Renegade, the system is composed of knobs and switches as well as touch-screen access to manage the radio, media, navigation, phone and other features.

Other available features include rear park assist and Beats Audio.

Safety

Safety
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Crash testing for the 2016 Jeep Renegade by the Insurance Institute for Highway Safety (IIHS) was not complete as of publication. However, the 2015 model achieved top scores in three categories: moderate overlap front, side and roof strength. In the small overlap front and head restraints and seats categories, this model received Acceptable scores. The IIHS also recognized the Renegade for its available front-crash prevention system with an Advanced rating.

Standard safety features include a suite of seven air bags. A rearview camera, blind spot monitoring, lane departure warning and rear cross-path detection are available.

Cost-Effectiveness

Cost-Effectiveness
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With a base price of $17,995, the Jeep Renegade undercuts its competitors. However, that price point outfits this model with the turbo four-cylinder engine and six-speed manual transmission only. Moreover, air conditioning requires a package upgrade, and that alone is a deal killer for many buyers.

Further up the line, the four-wheel drive Renegade Latitude offers a very good starting point for shoppers who want an SUV with off-road possibilities and included equipment such as aluminum wheels, ambient lighting, satellite radio and Bluetooth. Choose the larger engine and automatic transmission and add in navigation, and your final price including destination comes in around $27,365. At this price point the Renegade is at the high end of the subcompact SUV segment.

Overall

Overall
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The Jeep Renegade is similar to the Fiat 500X and both models are built at the same assembly plant in Italy. The Fiat comes across as more refined and is configured primarily for on-road driving. The Renegade’s competitors include the Mazda CX-3, Honda HR-V, Chevrolet Trax, Mini Countryman, Subaru Crosstrek, Buick Encore and Nissan Juke.

The Jeep Renegade gives buyers off-road possibilities not available elsewhere in the segment, especially in the Trailhawk edition. As a bonus, four-wheel drive models have a 2,000-pound towing capacity.