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By Katrina Ramser
San Francisco Bureau
The Auto Channel

Having entered the automotive scene just last year, the Renegade mixes car-and-utility style with unmistakable Jeep trademarks in hopes to draw in a brand-loyal fan base. It’s also a lot more capable on the trail than your typical five-passenger subcompact crossover.

I drove a 2016 Jeep Renegade with the 180-horsepower 2.4-liter four-cylinder engine paired to an nine-speed automatic transmission and four-wheel drive. Available in four trims – the base Sport, Latitude, Limited (including a 75th Anniversary Edition) and Trailhawk – my Limited model came with the following standard features: leather-trimmed bucket seats; heated and powered front seats; Uconnect with a five-inch touchscreen; rearview camera; Bluetooth; six-speaker audio system; heated steering wheel; height-adjustable rear cargo floor; cornering front fog lights; and eighteen-inch wheels. Price as described came to $26,995 without extra options.

You won’t find too many other comparable vehicles – consider the Subaru Crosstrek its main rival – but the Renegade does have such subcompact crossovers to worry about like the Honda HR-V and Mazda CX-3 as well as character rides like the MINI Paceman and Fiat 500X.


Stylish But Comfortable Results: Jeep has taken special care to make sure the Renegade looks and feels like a modern Jeep with soft-touch interior materials and competitive technology that includes Uconnect and a nine-speaker Beat premium audio system ($695). The removable My Sky roof panels ($1,470) represent Jeep’s functional trademarks, but they are not so much fun to take off (must unlock with key, manually dismount and stow away in cargo area) – similar vehicles in its class have sunroofs operational at high speeds and require one touch of a button. Second-row space is an issue with limited cargo space; if you do hit the trail, it will be a short excursion because you won’t have room for supplies. Additional options on my test drive included a $1,245 6.5-inch navigation display; a $645 Safety and Security Group (Blind Spot and Cross Path Detection, tonneau cover); and a $995 Advanced Technology Group (Lane Departure Warning, ParkSense Rear Park Assist, collision warning system).

Reliability & Safety Factor: The Insurance Institute for Highway Safety (IIHS) gives the 2016 Jeep Renegade ratings of “Good” in many important such as moderate overlap front, side and roof strength, but “Poor” with headlights and a “Marginal” with child seat (LATCH) ease of use. The vehicle has an overall rating of 4-Stars with The National Highway and Traffic Safety Association (NHTSA). Standard safety includes anti-lock brakes, stability and traction control, and an advanced airbag system.

Cost Issues: The price of the Renegade ranges from a base Sport at $17,995 with my fully loaded Limited at $33,165. Just to price-shop on off-road vehicles, a base Toyota 4Runner SR5 starts at $33,810 with a recent Trail Premium trim test drive reaching $40,445.

Activity & Performance Ability: Jeep is known for remarkable off-road systems, and the Renegade has easy-to-use selectable drive modes anyone can work – the Trailhawk trim boasts a build that can work around angles when climbing bigger boulders if you’re really serious about adventure. On the highway, the 2.4-liter is surprisingly smooth and responsive when punched after a full stop. There is a base turbocharged 1.4-liter with 160 horsepower and six-speed manual transmission, but results are not as vigorous. If you want something grander from the brand, the Grand Cherokee’s trail-rated status can be felt from sand to snow.

The Green Concern: Fuel economy is a disappointment at 21-city and 29-highway for a combined 24 miles-per-gallon. The Honda HR-V’s 141-horsepower 1.8-liter engine offers 28-city and 35-highway for a combined 29 miles-per-gallon with all-wheel drive.

With the 2016 Jeep Renegade, the price is right and so is the performance – and while it might not be your first choice for an off-road vehicle, for what it does it is certainly the most capable sub compact crossover on the market.

©2016 Katrina Ramser

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