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2015 Jeep Renegade: New Car Review

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ADDITIONAL MODEL INFORMATION

author photo by Autotrader March 2015

The 2015 Jeep Renegade keeps the revolution going in Jeep's crossover lineup. For years, Jeep only offered the Compass and Patriot siblings to compact-crossover shoppers, both of which were roundly panned by critics, but then the reinvented Cherokee came along, and now there's the Renegade, a small crossover derived from the FIAT 500L hatchback. Like the Cherokee, the Renegade is leaps and bounds ahead of the Com-Patriot duo, and it offers the added advantage of chunky, muscular styling that looks genuinely SUV-like from most angles.

Under the hood, you can choose from two appealing engines: an eager 1.4-liter turbocharged 4-cylinder and a 2.4-liter 4-cylinder with some extra pep. Inside, the Renegade boasts huge headroom and enough rear legroom for adults to ride in comfort, along with a healthy 50.8 cu ft. of maximum cargo space. Available equipment is generous, including Wi-Fi hot spot connectivity and a dual-panel removable roof. Throw in a decent dose of Jeep's legendary off-road performance, and you have one of the best little SUVs in the business.

What's New for 2015?

The Renegade is an all-new model.

What We Like

Easy to park; zippy engines; surprisingly spacious interior; distinctive styling; solid off-road capability

What We Don't

Mediocre fuel economy for such a small vehicle; air conditioning isn't standard on Sport 4x2

How Much?

$18,990-$26,990

Fuel Economy

Standard on the Sport and Latitude trim levels is a 1.4-liter turbocharged 4-cylinder engine rated at 160 horsepower and 184 lb-ft of torque. A 6-speed manual transmission is standard, but a 9-speed automatic can be selected as an option.

Optional on those two trims and standard on the Limited and Trailhawk is a 2.4-liter 4-cylinder rated at 180 hp and 175 lb-ft. The 9-speed automatic is the only transmission offered.

According to the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA), the 2.4-liter engine returns 22 miles per gallon in the city and 31 mpg on the highway with front-wheel drive and 21 mpg city/29 mpg hwy with optional all-wheel drive.

Note that the Trailhawk comes standard with a more advanced 4-wheel-drive system that includes low-range gearing.

Standard Features & Options

The 2015 Jeep Renegade is offered in Sport, Latitude, Limited and Renegade trim levels.

The Sport ($18,990) includes standard items such as 16-inch steel wheels, dual My Sky fixed sunroofs, manual exterior mirrors, power windows and locks, manual front seats with driver height adjustment, a 3.5-in thin-film-transistor (TFT) driver information display and a 4-speaker audio system with an auxiliary audio jack and a USB port. Remarkably, air conditioning costs extra with front-wheel drive, though it's standard with all-wheel drive.

The Latitude ($22,290) adds standard air conditioning, thankfully, along with 16-in alloy wheels, fog lights, body-color door handles, heated power mirrors, ambient LED interior lighting, a 5-in touchscreen, a rearview camera, Bluetooth, satellite radio, a 6-speaker audio system and an additional USB charging port.

The Limited ($25,790) throws in perks such as 18-in alloy wheels, a 7-in TFT driver information display, automatic climate control, leather upholstery, a heated steering wheel, an auto-dimming rearview mirror, an 8-way power driver's seat, heated front seats and 40/20/40-split folding rear seatbacks (60/40 seatbacks are standard on lower trims).

The Renegade ($26,990) gets an enhanced 4-wheel-drive system with low-range gearing and a terrain-selection knob as standard, and it also receives a slight suspension lift, skid plates, off-road-oriented tires and sport cloth upholstery. It lacks some of the Limited's standard upgrades, however, such as the auto-dimming mirror.

Many of the standard features on higher trims are offered on lesser models as options. Additional extras include two My Sky roof upgrades (manually removable or power retractable/removable), a 6.5-in touchscreen with navigation, a 9-speaker audio system, mobile Wi-Fi and keyless entry/start.

Safety

The 2015 Renegade features 4-wheel anti-lock disc brakes, stability control and seven airbags (front, front-side, driver-knee and full-length side-curtain).

Options include a blind spot monitoring system (with rear cross-path alert), lane-keeping assist and forward-collision alert with automatic braking. The latter is a rare offering in this value-minded segment.

Behind the Wheel

Unlike many compact crossovers, the Renegade actually feels like an SUV from the driver's seat. The headroom is astounding, for one thing (you can wear your 10-gallon hat with inches to spare), and the blocky, upright dash evokes the Wrangler rather than modern car-based crossovers. Of course, the Renegade technically is based on a car platform, sharing its underpinnings with the FIAT 500L and the upcoming FIAT 500X, but its ample ground clearance and available 4-wheel drive with low-range gearing give it serious skills out on the trail. The only real disappointment is that the Renegade's towing capacity maxes out at 2,000 pounds, so it lacks true SUV functionality in that regard.

On paved roads, the Renegade's economy-car roots pay dividends in the form of a smooth ride and nimble, confidence-inspiring handling. You sit higher in this Jeep than in most compact crossovers, yet cornering never feels less than secure. The Renegade is particularly appealing for city dwellers because it's so easy to park; we're talking about a seriously small SUV here. It doesn't feel that small, though, thanks to both the elevated ride height and adequate performance from either engine.

Other Cars to Consider

2015 Chevrolet Trax -- The Trax has no off-road pretensions, but it does offer a serene highway ride and a high-tech touchscreen interface with Wi-Fi connectivity.

2015 Mini Countryman -- If you're considering higher-priced Renegade models, that brings the sporty and upscale Countryman into play.

2015 Nissan JUKE -- The funky JUKE's athleticism and turbocharged spunk make it a great alternative if you're not planning to venture off the pavement.

Used BMW X1 -- BMW's certified pre-owned program can get you into a lightly used X1 for the price of a new Renegade, and you'll enjoy superior performance and luxury in the Bimmer.

Autotrader's Advice

We love that Jeep equips turbocharged Renegades with a 6-speed manual by default. Consider going with the manual-shift Sport or Latitude and saving some serious cash.

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Used 2015 Jeep Renegade 4WD Latitude
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Used 2015 Jeep Renegade 4WD Latitude
Used 2015 Jeep Renegade
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Used 2015 Jeep Renegade 4WD Limited
Used 2015 Jeep Renegade
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Used 2015 Jeep Renegade 4WD Limited
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This image is a stock photo and is not an exact representation of any vehicle offered for sale. Advertised vehicles of this model may have styling, trim levels, colors and optional equipment that differ from the stock photo.
2015 Jeep Renegade: New Car Review - Autotrader