Tuesday 25 October 2016
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Test Drive: 2015 Jeep Renegade Limited Review

Test Drive: 2015 Jeep Renegade Limited Review

Many of our radio show listeners have expressed interest in the 2015 Jeep Renegade.  I have to admit when I heard that Jeep was coming out with an SUV based on a Fiat chassis and drivetrain, being assembled in Italy, I was-shall we say-concerned.  I was totally surprised by the ride, drive, performance, and most of all the value of the Renegade, and I must say, it was a very pleasant surprise.

Starting under the hood, it has a 2.4-liter naturally-aspirated 4-cylinder engine, putting out 180-horses, more than enough for a 3100-pound SUV.  If you are willing to sacrifice a little power in exchange for better fuel economy, you can also get a 1.4-liter turbocharged 4-cylinder rated at 140-horsepower.  With the smaller engine, you can get a 6-speed manual transmission, which is getting hard to find.  My review vehicle has a 9-speed automatic.

Renegade can be purchased in front-wheel or 4-wheel drive versions, except in the Trailhawk, which only comes with 4-wheel drive.  The Renegade I am driving is the Limited version, but you can take one step down to the Latitude, or you can go to the entry-level Sport, which starts at just $17,995.  Up from the Limited, you’ll find the Trailhawk, which is a very capable off-road Jeep that I would liken to the Wrangler on a smaller scale.  Trailhawk is Jeep Trail Rated and starts at $25,995 plus shipping.

The Renegade Limited comes nicely equipped with standard features like rearview camera, keyless entry, Bluetooth, heated steering wheel, heated leather seats, power drivers seat, 18” wheels, a black painted roof, and more.  In fact, everything you see on this Renegade comes as standard equipment; there are no added packages.

I stop short of calling this a luxury compact, but it is has an unusually nice interior.  Although there is a lot of plastic on the inside, it is soft to the touch.  You get the Chrysler Uconnect system with a vivid touchscreen monitor that is super simple to operate, which I love.  Large air vents sit atop the dash to cool the vehicle better, and I like the way the front seats sit up high for great vision of the road.

Renegade has a really nice amount of legroom in the back seat, and it has a huge amount of headroom for all passengers.  People well over 6-feet tall can be comfortable in the Renegade.  The cargo area is larger than I thought it could be, and if you fold down the second row 40/20/40 seat, you get 50.8 cubic feet of cargo area.  If it is dark while you are loading things up, just remove the built-in flashlight.

The gauges on Renegade are easy to read with a 7” color display between the speedometer and tachometer.  You can scroll through a number of screens to get all the information you could need, including current fuel economy.  I love the tachometer, it has a splattered mud graphic instead of the traditional red line.

The Jeep Renegade is fun and the designers were very imaginative, although I think they were trying to get their message out that Renegade is a Jeep, in spite of the fact that it is Italian made.

This is where the Renegade gets fun. Jeep has hidden the classic Jeep grill, called the Sarge Grill, all around the vehicle.  It is on all four speakers, on both sides of the inside rearview mirror, inside the tailgate, inside the cargo tray, on the headlights and I am sure I missed some.  The “X” taillights are unique and cool and are supposed to remind you that back in 1941, Jeeps had two gas cans mounted on the back.  There are topical plastic maps inside the center console, and in the cubbyhole tray under the air conditioning controls.

Around the ignition switch, it says “To New Adventures”, and behind the gas tank door, it says “Ciao, Baby”.  Built into the dash, you are reminded that Jeeps have been around since 1941.  This stuff is probably too cutesy for some, but I think it is kind of fun.

Renegade comes in a lot of cool colors including the standard colors, but you can also get orange, green, yellow, or the color of my review vehicle, which is Mojave Sand, which is a tan shade, with a black roof and black interior.  It’s quite attractive.

Bottom line on the Renegade, it’s impressive when you look at the window sticker price of $25,865.  It feels substantial, and if you don’t need 4-wheel drive, you’ll enjoy the fuel economy of this one, which is 22 in town and 31 on the highway.  Interior quietness is very good, and handling is terrific.  Jeep set all four of the wheels out to the corners of Renegade, and that gives it a lot of stability, especially for a compact SUV.

If there is a downside for the folks at Fiat Chrysler, I think the Renegade could spell the end for the Jeep Patriot, I think Renegade is a much better SUV and value.

What I liked most:  The value of the SUV.  It is priced right.

What I would change:  Actually nothing.       

MSRP: Base price $24,795. As equipped $25,865.

Fuel Economy:  Rated at 22 City/31 highway/25 combined and getting it.

Odometer reading when tested: 7300 miles.

Weight:  3126 Pounds.

Length-Width-Height: 166.6” long/79.6” wide/66.6” High.

Fuel Tank Capacity: 12.7 gallons.

Towing Capacity: 2000 pounds.

2015 Jeep Renegade in a few words:  Cutesy and fun, a great value!

Warranty: 3-year/36,000 mile bumper-to-bumper, 5-years/100,000 miles of powertrain coverage with roadside assistance.   

Car Pro Rating: 5 out of 5 Stars.

Dealers: We have great Jeep dealers in Austin,, Chicago, Cleveland, Dallas-Fort Worth, Grand Rapids, Houston, Los Angeles, Lubbock, Milwaukee, Phoenix, Raleigh, Sacramento, and San Antonio.

Manufacturer’s website: Jeep

Jerry Reynolds, The Car Pro

Photo Credit: Jeep