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2018 Jeep Renegade: New Car Review

If you’re looking for information on a newer Jeep Renegade, we’ve published an updated review: 2019 Jeep Renegade Review

Chances are, the 2018 Jeep Renegade subcompact crossover may never have to cope with anything more troublesome than a dusty road or the occasional snowfall. But it’s reassuring to have an appreciable amount of Jeep heritage and know-how under you when conditions are less than ideal.

The Renegade offers an all-wheel-drive system with low-range gearing. And its boxy (yet characterful) styling results in useful approach and departure angles. It even has the option of a removable roof, like its sibling, the much-respected Wrangler. Yet the Renegade is also distinctly modern, with a turbocharged small-capacity engine in its lower trims and optional Wi-Fi throughout the range.

What’s New for 2018?

The interior has been revamped, creating a little more storage space and adding a rearview camera as standard, along with Bluetooth phone connectivity, voice control, remote keyless entry and two more speakers for the Sport trim’s audio setup. A 5-inch touchscreen now comes with the basic infotainment system. The top three trims are eligible for an optional 8.4-in touchscreen. See the 2018 Jeep Renegade models for sale near you

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 in the basic Sport model

How Much?

$19,640-$28,040

Fuel Economy

A turbocharged 1.4-liter 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 (EPA) estimates fuel consumption at 24 miles per gallon in the city, 31 mpg on the highway and 26 mpg in combined driving with front-wheel drive 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. A 9-speed automatic is the only transmission offered with this unit. This setup returns 22 mpg city/30 mpg hwy/25 mpg combined with front-wheel drive and 21 mpg city/29 mpg hwy/24 mpg combined with the all-wheel-drive system.

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

Standard Features & Options

The 2018 Jeep Renegade comes in Sport, Latitude, Limited and Trailhawk trim levels.

The Sport ($19,640) includes 16-in 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 rearview camera, a 3.5-in thin-film-transistor (TFT) driver information display, Bluetooth phone connectivity, a 12-volt outlet in the cargo bay, a 5-in infotainment touchscreen and a 6-speaker audio system with an auxiliary input. Remarkably, air conditioning is an option, along with cruise control, a USB port and power-adjustable/heated side mirrors.

The Latitude ($24,540) has those last four items as standard and adds 16-in alloy wheels, fog lights, automatic head lamps, roof rails, body-color door handles, a folding front passenger seat, ambient LED cabin lighting, a leather-wrapped steering wheel, a 7-in touchscreen, Bluetooth, satellite radio, Apple CarPlay/Android Auto smartphone integration and a second USB port.

The Limited ($26,840) 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, a self-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 seats are standard on lower trims).

The Trailhawk ($28,040) has an enhanced all-wheel-drive system with low-range gearing, hill-descent control and a terrain-selection function with a Rock mode 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 self-dimming mirror or 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), an 8.4-in touchscreen with navigation, a 9-speaker Beats audio system and Wi-Fi.

Safety

The Renegade comes standard with 4-wheel antilock disc brakes, stability control and seven airbags (front, front side, driver knee and full-length side curtain). Options include blind spot monitoring with rear cross-path alert, lane-keeping assistance, 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 (NHTSA) has given the all-wheel-drive Renegade four out of five stars overall; four stars for frontal impacts, five stars for side-impact protection and three stars in the rollover test. The Insurance Institute for Highway Safety (IIHS) gave it a top score of Good in the moderate-overlap front crash, side impact and roof strength tests. It took the second-best score of Acceptable for the small-overlap front crash and head restraint categories.

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 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 Trailhawk can wade through 19 inches of water. The only real disappointment is that maximum towing capacity is 2,000 pounds, so it lacks true SUV functionality in this regard.

On paved roads, these 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. It doesn’t feel too small, though, thanks to both the elevated ride height and decent performance from either engine.

Other Cars to Consider

2018 Chevrolet Trax — No off-road pretensions, but offers a serene highway ride and a high-tech touchscreen interface with Wi-Fi connectivity.

2018 Fiat 500X — The Renegade’s platform-mate is more attuned to city duty than country life. Still pretty good, though.

2018 Honda HR-V — Versatile and enjoys Honda’s exemplary build quality.

2018 Mazda CX-3 — Built well and one of the sportier drives of this class.

2018 Mini Countryman — Anyone considering a higher-priced Renegade might also check out the sporty and upscale Countryman.

2018 Nissan Rogue Sport — Nice chassis, nice seats, nasty continuously variable transmission (CVT).

2018 Subaru Crosstrek — All new for the 2018 model year, the second-generation Crosstrek comes with all-wheel drive as standard. Feels a tad underpowered, though.

2018 Toyota C-HR — A newcomer to this little scene. Crazy styling with a so-so driving experience. No all-wheel-drive option.

Used BMW X1BMW’s certified pre-owned (CPO) program can offer a lightly used X1 for the price of a new Renegade. You’ll enjoy the superior performance and luxury.

Autotrader’s Advice

A Latitude version provides enough, um, latitude to explore the options list more fully. This approach can work for most buyers. If this is meant to be a weekend plaything, the most basic Sport version could easily suffice. Those with more extreme desires and deeper pockets should consider the Trailhawk.

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