The Jeep Renegade was a trend setter when it debuted back in 2015. Despite the increased competition from just about every other automaker, the 2020 Jeep Renegade remains the most off-road-capable, and arguably the most characterful vehicle in the popular subcompact crossover segment. From its boxy styling to its bevy of quirky design touches to its available “My Sky” removable roof panels, Selec-Terrain traction settings and go-anywhere Trailhawk trim, the Renegade offers fun and capability that its more sterile competitors do not.
The Renegade was updated for 2019 with a new 1.3-liter turbocharged engine, which not only boasts considerably more torque than the 2.4-liter base engine but also feels far smoother and refined. It’s definitely the engine to get, though it’s also saddled with the same frustrating 9-speed automatic that plagues all three compact Jeep models. Be sure to make a passing maneuver during a test drive to see if you could live with it.
That blemish aside, the Renegade is otherwise well-rounded in the segment, and it’s a strong contender for anyone looking for a subcompact SUV.
What’s New for 2020?
After receiving a mid-cycle update for 2019, the Renegade moves into the 2020 model year with only mild changes to its packaging availability. The Safety and Security and Advanced Technology Groups are now available on all Latitude, Upland, and Sport models, while the LED Lighting Group and optional 19-in wheels are now available on Latitude trims with the base engine. A Kenwood premium audio system and a new standard Global Telematics Box Module will be introduced later in the year. See the 2020 Jeep Renegade models for sale near you
What We Like
- Distinctive styling
- Comfortable high-mounted seating position
- Easy-to-use tech
- Uncharacteristic off-road capability for a subcompact crossover
What We Don’t
- Unresponsive transmission and throttle
- Unrefined and inefficient base engine
- Minimal cargo capacity
- Aging design
The Renegade Sport and Latitude trim levels come standard with a 2.4-liter 4-cylinder engine that’s good for 180 horsepower and 175 lb-ft of torque. A 9-speed automatic transmission is standard on every Renegade. Front-wheel drive is standard on these trims, and all-wheel drive is optional. Estimated fuel economy is 21 miles per gallon in the city, 29 mpg on the highway and 24 mpg in combined driving with AWD or 22 mpg city/31 mpg hwy/25 mpg combined with FWD. Compared to the rest of the segment, these figures leave something to be desired.
Optional on those trims and standard on the Trailhawk and Limited is a new 1.3-liter turbocharged 4-cylinder that produces 177 hp and a stout 200 lb-ft of torque. It includes an automatic stop/start system and active aero shutters in the grille (on all trims but Trailhawk) to increase fuel economy. Fuel economy for the new turbo comes in at 24 mpg city/32 mpg hwy/27 mpg combined with FWD, or 23 city/29 hwy/26 combined with AWD. The addition of off-road features in the AWD-only Trailhawk means it suffers a bit with regard to efficiency, returning 22 city/27 hwy/24 combined.
Standard Features & Options
As in years past, the 2020 Jeep Renegade is a subcompact crossover SUV available in four trim levels: Sport, Latitude, Trailhawk and Limited.
The base Sport ($23,770) comes standard with 16-in wheels, power windows and locks, manual mirrors, a backup camera, a height-adjustable driver seat, cloth upholstery, a 60/40-split folding back seat, Bluetooth, a USB port, a 5-in touchscreen and a 6-speaker sound system with an auxiliary audio jack and a media player interface. The Uconnect 7.0 Group adds a 7-in touchscreen, Apple CarPlay, Android Auto, dual-zone automatic climate control and satellite radio.
The Latitude ($25,620) includes the above Sport options as well as 16-in alloy wheels, extra body-colored exterior trim, automatic headlights, foglamps, roof rails, a leather-wrapped steering wheel and a second-row USB port. The Cold Weather Group adds a heated steering wheel, heated front seats, all-season rubber floor mats and automatic windshield wipers with de-icers.
The Trailhawk ($29,290) differs from all other trims with its off-road-oriented mechanical components and more rugged styling. It’s upgrades include simulated low-range gearing for the standard AWD system, extra ground clearance, hill-descent control, the Selec-Terrain system (which is optional on other AWD trim levels and includes different settings for different low traction conditions), all-terrain tires on 17-in alloy wheels, a full-size spare, skid plates, tow hooks, special cloth upholstery, all-season floor mats, special red interior accents and an upgraded instrument cluster. The Popular Equipment Group adds a 6-way power driver seat, a 40/20/40-split back seat, an auto-dimming mirror and the Cold Weather Group (available separately). The Premium Leather Group basically includes all of that plus leather upholstery.
The Limited ($28,140) reverts to the standard Renegade mechanical component set, although the turbocharged engine is included as standard. The Renegade Limited comes with 18-in wheels, chrome exterior trim, proximity entry and push-button start (optional on all other trims), keyless ignition and the same contents as the Trailhawk’s Premium Leather Group.
While it’s standard on the Trailhawk, AWD is available on all other trims for an additional $1,500.
As of the 2020 model year, the Safety & Security Group, which includes blind spot monitoring and rear cross-traffic warning, automatic wipers, HID headlights and a cargo cover, is available on all trim levels. As is the Advanced Technology Group, which adds full-speed forward-collision warning and automatic emergency braking, lane-keeping assist, adaptive cruise control, an automatic parallel and perpendicular parking system, front parking sensors and automatic highbeams.
Optional on the top three trims is an 8.4-in touchscreen (includes HD radio and integrated navigation), a tow package, and the LED Lighting Group, which adds a variety of LED exterior lighting, including the headlights.
A full-size spare tire is optional on non-Trailhawk trims, but it eliminates an under-floor storage bin. All trim levels can be equipped with the “My Sky” roof, which combines a removable, power-sliding metal front sunroof with a just-removable metal rear roof panel. For something less complicated and quieter, the top three trims can add a more traditional panoramic glass sunroof.
Basic safety features offered on the Renegade include 4-wheel anti-lock disc brakes, stability control, a backup camera and seven airbags (front, front-side, driver-knee and full-length side curtain). Options include blind spot monitoring, rear cross-traffic warning, lane-keeping assist, forward-collision warning and full-speed automatic braking.
The government gave the AWD Renegade four out of five stars overall, with 4-star frontal, 5-star side and 3-star rollover ratings. The non-profit Insurance Institute for Highway Safety 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. Other subcompact crossovers fare better.
Behind the Wheel
Unlike other subcompact crossovers, the Renegade feels more like an SUV from the driver’s seat. Headroom is particularly generous, and the high seating position is not only good for visibility but also for legroom. And despite being based on a car platform shared with the Fiat 500X and Jeep Compass, the Renegade offers a surprising amount of ground clearance to go with its short overhangs. These are enhanced considerably in the Trailhawk, which also gains simulated low-range gearing and boasts off-roading capability that nothing else in the segment approaches.
On paved roads, the Renegade is pleasantly nimble and the ride is comfortable, though the Trailhawk does add some harshness. Unfortunately, the glacial throttle and transmission responses constantly frustrate, particularly during passing. You’ll punch the accelerator and wait an interminable amount of time for something to happen, and when it finally does, the transmission often doesn’t pick the right gear, so your passing opportunity may have closed. This issue persists regardless of whether you get the underwhelming, unrefined base engine or the new, punchier turbocharged one.
In terms of interior quality and design, the Renegade is quite good for this segment. The 7- and 8.4-in touchscreen interfaces are feature-rich, user-friendly and easy to reach. The driver seat is also quite comfortable, and when it’s equipped with 6-way power adjustment, it’s friendlier to taller drivers than most other vehicles in the segment.
The cargo area is less friendly. While its inherent boxiness gives it an upper hand at times over the competition — with its 50.8 cu ft. of maximum space — the Renegade ultimately has a smaller footprint behind its raised back seats. With only 18.5 cu ft., it’s among the smallest in the segment.
Other Cars to Consider
2020 Subaru Crosstrek — Redesigned for 2018, the Crosstrek is slightly bigger than the Renegade, and it offers better safety ratings and a better reliability record as well. The Crosstrek’s powertrain is its weak point, as most reviewers call it criminally underpowered. AWD is standard.
2020 Hyundai Kona — A top pick in this segment thanks to its compelling design, ample feature content, strong turbocharged engine and fun-to-drive personality, the new Kona is worth inspection.
2020 Jeep Compass — The 2020 Compass is mechanically based on the Renegade, and it even shares its base engine. If you’re OK with a higher payment (or less equipment), you’ll get considerably more space in the Compass.
Used Jeep Cherokee Trailhawk — The Cherokee is bigger, it’s more refined, and it offers a much stronger V6 engine. Its Trailhawk version is even more capable than the Renegade’s, and a used or certified pre-owned Cherokee should be priced similarly to a new Renegade.
One of the Renegade’s biggest selling points is the off-road capability offered by its Trailhawk trim, which is something you don’t typically find in this segment. While it’s a little less comfortable on the road, the Trailhawk is the coolest and most capable of all the Renegades — it’s the Renegade at its best. With that said, if you’ve got no use for off-road features, the Latitude trim offers a good balance of equipment and value. We strongly recommend opting for the turbocharged engine if you go for this trim. Find a Jeep Renegade for sale