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2017 Jeep Renegade: New Car Review

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ADDITIONAL MODEL INFORMATION

author photo by Autotrader December 2016

The 2017 Jeep Renegade is a smart solution to a couple of problems. First, how does a company with an incredible reputation for off-road talent compete in the automotive world's new big thing, the subcompact crossover? And second, how can that vehicle be seen as a continuation of the rugged Jeep heritage while also offering modern features?

Subcompact crossovers like the Honda HR-V and the Mazda CX-3 will probably never see -- or be able to cope with -- anything more demanding than a dusty road. The Renegade, however, offers an all-wheel-drive system with low-range gearing, and it's boxy yet characterful styling results in useful approach and departure angles. It even has the option of a removable roof, like its older sibling, the much-respected Wrangler. But the Renegade is still a vehicle for the times, with a turbocharged small-capacity engine and optional Wi-Fi.

What's New for 2017?

Keyless entry/ignition is now standard across the range. HID headlights with automatic high beams are now part of the Advanced Safety options bundle.

What We Like

Easy to park; excellent outward vision; distinctive styling; off-road capability

What We Don't

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

How Much?

$18,990-$27,640

Fuel Economy

A 1.4-liter turbocharged 4-cylinder engine, rated at 160 horsepower and 184 lb-ft of torque, is standard in the Sport and Latitude trims. It's paired with a 6-speed manual, which is the sole transmission for this engine. The Environmental Protection Agency estimates fuel consumption at 24 miles per gallon in the city and 31 mpg on the highway with either front- or all-wheel drive. Because of the turbo, this engine uses premium gasoline.

A naturally aspirated 2.4-liter 4-cylinder making 180 hp and 175 lb-ft of torque is optional for the two lower trims and standard in the Limited and Trailhawk models. A 9-speed automatic is the only transmission offered with this unit. This setup returns 22 mpg city/31 mpg hwy with front-wheel drive and 21 mpg city/29 mpg hwy with all-wheel drive.

The Trailhawk comes standard with a more advanced all-wheel-drive system that includes low-range gearing.

Standard Features & Options

The 2017 Jeep Renegade comes in Sport, Latitude, Limited and Trailhawk trim levels.

Sport ($18,990) includes 16-inch steel wheels, hill-start assist, dual fixed sunroofs, manual side mirrors, power locks and windows, manual front seats with height adjustment on the driver's side, keyless entry/ignition, a tilt-telescopic steering wheel, a 3.5-in thin-film-transistor (TFT) driver information display, a 12-volt outlet in the cargo bay and a 4-speaker audio system with an auxiliary input. Remarkably, air conditioning is an option, as are cruise control, a USB port and power adjustable heated side mirrors.

Latitude ($22,490) has those last four items as standard and adds 16-in alloy wheels, fog lights, automatic headlamps, roof rails, body-color door handles, a folding front passenger seat, ambient LED cabin lighting, a 5-in touchscreen, a rearview camera, a leather-wrapped steering wheel, Bluetooth, satellite radio, a 6-speaker audio system and a second USB port.

Limited ($26,190) brings 18-in alloy wheels, a 7-in TFT driver information display, dual-zone automatic climate control, remote start, leather upholstery, rain-sensing wipers, a heated steering wheel, an auto-dimming rearview mirror, a leather-wrapped gearshift knob, an 8-way power adjustable driver's seat, heated front seats, a 115-volt outlet and 40/20/40-split folding rear seats with a pass-through hatch (60/40-split folding seats are standard on lower trims).

Trailhawk ($27,640) has an enhanced all-wheel-drive system with low-range gearing, hill-descent control and a terrain-selection function as standard. It also receives a slight suspension lift, skid plates, tow hooks, all-terrain tires (on 17-in alloy wheels) and sport cloth upholstery. It doesn't have some of the Limited's upgrades, however, such as the auto-dimming mirror and leather upholstery.

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

Safety

The Renegade comes standard with 4-wheel anti-lock disc brakes, stability control and seven airbags (front, front-side, driver's-knee and full-length side-curtain). Options include a blind spot monitoring system with rear cross-path alert, lane-keep assist, rear parking sensors and forward collision alert with automatic braking. The latter is a rare offering in this budget-conscious segment.

The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration has given the all-wheel-drive Renegade four out of five stars overall, with four stars for frontal impacts, five stars for side-impact protection and three stars in the rollover test. The Insurance Institute for Highway Safety gave it a top score of Good in the moderate front-overlap, side-impact and roof-strength tests. It took the second-best score of Acceptable in the small-overlap front crash test and the head-restraint test.

Behind the Wheel

Unlike many compact crossovers, the Renegade feels quite like an SUV from the driver's seat. Headroom is particularly generous, and the blocky, upright dash is more Wrangler than car-based crossover. Trunk space with the rear seats up comes to 18.5 cu ft., or 50.8 cu ft. with those seats folded down. That's pretty good for a crossover of this size.

The Renegade is actually based on a car platform (shared with the FIAT 500X), but its ample ground clearance, short overhangs and optional all-wheel drive with low-range gearing give it respectable skills out on the trail. The only real disappointment is that towing capacity maxes out at 2,000 pounds, so it lacks true SUV functionality in that regard.

On paved roads, the Renegade's car-based 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, but cornering never feels less than secure. The Renegade is particularly appealing for city dwellers because it's so easy to park. It doesn't feel too small, though, thanks to both the elevated ride height and decent performance from either engine.

Other Cars to Consider

2017 Chevrolet Trax -- Slightly updated for 2017, the Trax has no off-road pretensions, but it offers a serene highway ride and a high-tech touchscreen interface with Wi-Fi connectivity.

2017 FIAT 500X -- The Renegade's platform-mate is more attuned to city duty than country life. It's still pretty good, though.

2017 Honda HR-V -- The HR-V is versatile and enjoys Honda's exemplary build quality.

2017 Mazda CX-3 -- The CX-3 is well-built and offers one of the sportier drives in this class.

2017 Mini Countryman -- Anyone considering a higher-priced Renegade should also check out the sporty and upscale Countryman, which is all-new for 2017.

2017 Nissan Juke -- The Juke is athletic and turbocharged, but not everyone will like the looks.

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

Autotrader's Advice

For the weekend off-roading warrior on a budget, the most basic version with the manual transmission might be the ideal ride. The richer rock-crawler should check out the Trailhawk version. Everyone else might prefer the Latitude with a few options.

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New 2017 Jeep Renegade FWD Latitude
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New 2017 Jeep Renegade FWD Latitude
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New 2017 Jeep Renegade 4WD Sport
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Used 2017 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.
2017 Jeep Renegade: New Car Review - Autotrader