- Lots of character with a classic Jeep look
- Agile handling when going around turns
- Plenty of easy-to-use technology features
- Best-in-class off-road capability with Trailhawk model
- Middling fuel economy
- Confused and clunky nine-speed automatic transmission
- Tight rear seat legroom for adults
- Limited cargo capacity compared to rivals
- Boxy shape makes for lots of wind noise on the highway
The 2017 Jeep Renegade is part of a new wave of subcompact crossover SUVs. 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.
On the outside, the Renegade has a variety of design cues that help it fit into the Jeep family. The vertical-duct, Wrangler-style grille is a dead giveaway, of course, as are the circular headlights. The design touches are more notable than you might think because the Renegade actually shares much of its underpinnings with the Fiat 500X. But the Renegade also backs up its mudslinging heritage with its available Trailhawk version, which comes with a higher ride height, all-terrain tires and an off-road-tuned suspension. If you're hoping to keep going when the pavement ends, the Renegade Trailhawk will more than likely oblige.
The Renegade isn't without fault, though. Even though it's a small vehicle, the Renegade isn't very efficient; EPA estimates are average at best. And if you're looking for a crossover with room for five, you might want to look elsewhere. The Renegade's backseat has limited legroom, and the trunk isn’t very large. We're also not fond of the the nine-speed automatic transmission and its clunky shifting.
If the 2017 Jeep Renegade doesn't light your fire, there are several other options to choose from. We'd start by recommending the Honda HR-V and Mazda CX-3. The Honda is one of the roomiest vehicles in the class, while the CX-3 offers a sporty driving experience and a refined road-going demeanor. There's also the aforementioned Fiat 500X and the improved Chevrolet Trax to consider. The Subaru Crosstrek is the only other off-road-worthy opponent, but it's larger than the Renegade (which may or may not be a bad thing). Still, we like the Renegade and consider it a viable option, particularly if you're looking for a fun subcompact crossover that can readily bounce along light-duty trails.
WHAT'S NEW FOR 2017
The 2017 Jeep Renegade essentially carries over from the previous year. Xenon headlights (delayed availability), automatic high beams, and keyless ignition and entry are new features this year.
TRIMS & EQUIPMENT
The 2017 Jeep Renegade is a five-passenger subcompact crossover SUV offered in four trim levels: Sport, Latitude, Limited and Trailhawk.
Standard equipment on the Sport model includes 16-inch steel wheels, keyless entry, push-button start, power windows and locks, a 60/40-split folding rear seat, a height-adjustable driver seat, cloth upholstery, a tilt-and-telescoping steering wheel, a driver information display, and a four-speaker sound system with an auxiliary jack and a USB port. A Sport Appearance package adds alloy wheels and roof rails. The Power group adds heated, power-adjustable outside mirrors, cruise control and air-conditioning.
The Latitude gets the Sport package and Power group contents plus foglights, automatic headlights, body-colored door handles and mirrors, ambient LED lighting, a fold-flat front passenger seat and a leather-wrapped steering wheel. Other equipment for the Latitude includes a rearview camera, the Uconnect control interface with 5-inch touchscreen, satellite radio, Bluetooth phone and audio connectivity, voice commands, an additional USB port and a six-speaker audio system. The Altitude package adds 18-inch wheels, upgraded cloth upholstery and vinyl door trim.
The Limited gets unique 18-inch wheels, dual exhaust tips, automatic wipers, full keyless ignition and entry (with remote engine start), dual-zone automatic climate control, an upgraded driver information display, an auto-dimming rearview mirror, remote engine start, a 115-volt power outlet, leather upholstery, an eight-way power-adjustable driver seat (with four-way power lumbar), heated front seats, a heated steering wheel, a leather-wrapped shift knob and a 40/20/40-split folding rear seat with pass-through.
The off-road-oriented Trailhawk comes with four-wheel drive, hill descent control, a raised suspension, tow hooks and underbody skid plates. In addition to the Latitude's equipment it also has 17-inch alloy wheels and all-terrain tires, unique exterior accents, a full-size spare, an upgraded driver information display, premium cloth upholstery, red interior stitching and a removable cargo floor panel.
Most of the Limited model's standard features are offered for the Latitude and Trailhawk via option packages. Over and above that, buyers can opt for a package that includes a 6.5-inch touchscreen, a navigation system, HD radio and Uconnect Access (includes extra safety features, a Wi-Fi hot spot and voice texting). Two safety packages are also offered. A Safety and Security package comes with a blind-spot monitoring system and rear cross-traffic alert, and the Advanced Technology package adds a lane departure warning/intervention system, automatic high beams, rear parking sensors, and forward collision warning and braking.
Manually removable My Sky sunroofs can be ordered on all Renegades. Except on the Sport model, the front sunroof can also be power-operated. You can also get a nine-speaker Beats premium audio system on Renegades except the Sport model. A tow package is also available providing you opt for four-wheel drive.
INTERIOR & SAFETY
It might look rugged on the outside, but on the inside the Renegade is comfortable and well-trimmed. Although a bare-bones Sport does without air-conditioning and cruise control, most Renegades come pretty well equipped and have soft-touch materials for the dash and armrests.
The Uconnect that controls the Jeep's infotainment is one of the easiest systems on the market to use. The upgraded 6.5-inch touchscreen is responsive and feature-packed with access to the Yelp local search and Uconnect Access apps on owners' smartphones. Uconnect Access offers text-to-speech and speech-to-text capability, both of which work quite well, plus remote locking and starting and, for an additional fee, Wi-Fi hot-spot capability. The Limited model also comes with an upgraded display in the instrument cluster that shows enhanced trip computer information.
Measured from front to back, the Renegade isn't very long, but for its class it is pretty tall and wide, which gives it some useful interior dimensions. The boxy shape and tall cabin mean lots of headroom and three-across seating is possible thanks to the exceptional width. Up front there's plenty of legroom, but adults will be a little cramped in the rear. Behind the second row, the Renegade has 18.5 cubic feet of cargo space. Lowering those seats will give you 50.8 cubes to work with. These are respectable numbers, though vehicles such as the Honda HR-V or Kia Soul wagon offer even more.
The Renegade's two opaque My Sky roof panels can be removed (if ordered that way), but they also gobble up some of the already limited cargo space and add a noticeable amount of wind noise. If you're looking for that Wrangler-convertible feeling, they help a bit, but otherwise we'd steer clear of the removable panels.
Standard safety equipment for the 2017 includes antilock brakes, traction and stability control, driver knee airbag, front side airbags, side curtain airbags and hill start assist. A rearview camera is optional for the Sport and standard on all other trims. Other optional safety features include rear parking sensors, blind-spot monitoring, rear cross-traffic alert, lane departure warning and intervention, forward collision warning, and forward collision mitigation with automatic emergency braking.
The Uconnect Access system can provide emergency and roadside assistance, remote door locking and stolen vehicle location services.
In our brake testing, a Jeep Renegade Latitude stopped from 60 mph in just 116 feet, which is excellent for its class. A Renegade Trailhawk, largely because of its specialized tires, required a bit longer, 123 feet, to stop from 60 mph.
In government crash tests, the Renegade earned an overall rating of four stars (out of a possible five), with four stars for total front-impact protection and five stars for total side-impact protection. The Insurance Institute for Highway Safety gave the Renegade a top score of Good in its moderate-overlap front-impact, side-impact and roof strength tests.
PERFORMANCE & HANDLING
The 2017 Jeep Renegade is offered with one of two available engines. The base engine, which is standard in the Sport and Latitude models, is a turbocharged 1.4-liter four-cylinder that produces 160 horsepower and 184 pound-feet of torque. It comes exclusively with a six-speed manual transmission.
Optional for the Sport and Latitude and standard for Limited and Trailhawk models is a 2.4-liter four-cylinder engine that makes 180 hp and 175 lb-ft of torque. It is paired to a nine-speed automatic transmission. All Renegades can come with either front-wheel drive or four-wheel drive except the Trailhawk, which is 4WD only.
During Edmunds performance testing, a Jeep Renegade Latitude with 4WD and the 2.4-liter engine accelerated from zero to 60 mph in 9.4 seconds, which is about average for a subcompact crossover SUV. Heavier by roughly 200 pounds, the Renegade Trailhawk recorded an average acceleration time of 9.7 seconds based on two different test vehicles.
Official EPA estimates for 2017 weren't available at publishing time, but last year the turbocharged 1.4-liter engine and the manual produced an EPA-estimated 27 mpg combined (24 city/31 highway) in both front- and four-wheel-drive configurations. The 2.4-liter engine with front-wheel drive was rated at 25 mpg combined (22 city/31 highway), and the four-wheel-drive powertrain earned 24 mpg combined (21 city/29 highway). This is OK, though most rivals provide better fuel economy. And in a one-year test of a Renegade Trailhawk, we found that real-world fuel economy often came in below EPA estimates.
All 4WD Renegades have selectable drive modes for different terrains. The Renegade Trailhawk has a more advanced 4WD system that has enhanced low-speed off-road gearing and an extra drive mode. When equipped with the Trailer Tow package, the Renegade with 4WD and the 2.4-liter engine can tow up to 2,000 pounds.
The kind of driving experience you get out of your Renegade depends on what trim level and suspension setup you go with. Front-wheel-drive versions feel more carlike with light, direct steering and the ability to change direction quickly. If you go with the taller, off-road-oriented Trailhawk, you'll get some more body roll in the corners and a bit of bounciness to the ride. With the Trailhawk, though, you get a compact crossover that's legitimately good at going off-road, which is something not many others can boast. Regardless of which Renegade you go with, the highway ride is one of its best features. Small bumps are easily dealt with, along with most of the large ones, and there's a comfort level you wouldn't expect from a vehicle of this size. The Jeep's boxy shape does end up producing a noticeable amount of wind noise at highway speeds, though.
As previously mentioned, there are two engine-and-transmission combos for the Renegade. They make about the same power, but they have different characteristics. The 1.4-liter engine has smooth power delivery and is the sportier of the two, but it comes only with the manual transmission and you can't get it in higher trim levels. The manual shifts well, though, so city driving shouldn't be difficult. The more common 2.4-liter engine feels and sounds coarser during hard acceleration, but its stronger low-rpm torque means it's more responsive from a stop or at low speeds. Unfortunately, it comes only with a nine-speed automatic that's prone to clunky shifting at low speeds and a lack of downshift swiftness when you press on the gas for a quick burst of speed.
The Jeep Renegade certainly isn't the first carlike Jeep, but it's the first one to prove that Jeep styling and playfulness can translate successfully to a subcompact crossover. It's rewarding to drive yet still practical.