From £17,2957
Chirpy Jeep goes well off-road, as much as that’s likely to matter. Decent handling on it, with a few flaws

Our Verdict

Jeep Renegade

Jeep’s core values are applied to a Fiat-based compact crossover

Matt Saunders Autocar
18 September 2014

What is it?

The Jeep Renegade is something of a different kettle of fish for the compact crossover segment – which still doesn't have what you’d call a proper, old-school 4x4 within it: a car with plenty of grunt, a low-range transfer box and ground clearances to put a Land Cruiser to shame.

Most manufacturers would say that’s because compact crossover buyers simply aren’t asking for one, and certainly aren’t willing to pay a premium for one. But to a car-maker like Jeep, given how fast this part of the market is growing, that’s an irresistible invitation to launch one – whether the market wants it or not.

The Renegade is a 4.2-metre SUV-in-miniature that’s been designed and developed in the USA, is based on a heavily adapted Fiat supermini platform, and is being built in Italy alongside the forthcoming Fiat 500X.

Powered by a choice of MultiAir turbo petrol and Multijet turbodiesel engines, it offers clutch-driven lockable permanent four-wheel drive, an ultra-short crawler transmission ratio, hill descent control and as much ground clearance as a Range Rover Evoque – provided you plump for the range-topping Trailhawk diesel auto version that we tested.

What's it like?

The Renegade’s supermini underpinnings are a bit misleading; inside and out, the car’s a closer match for a Nissan Qashqai than a Juke. As such, its nearest rival would be a Skoda Yeti or a Vauxhall Mokka – both proof that bridging the gap between the ‘B’- and ‘C’-segment SUV can produce sales success.

Boot space is on a level with a Focus-sized family hatchback, while passenger space is more generous – with headroom in ample supply. The seats themselves are a touch flat, hard and short in the base for optimal long-range comfort, but they’re entirely comfortable over middle distance.

Jeep’s Fiat parts bin cabin materials are a mixed bag; there are fairly rich mouldings on parts of the fascia, but the switchgear’s all classic Fiat Group stuff – relatively plain and dull-looking. And yet the Renegade carries its material plainness well because there are enough characterful flourishes to lift the ambience just above the humdrum. Large, squared-off cupholders; oversized, stylized air vents; bevel-trimmed instruments; even a grab handle ahead of the front passenger seat.

The Renegade isn’t a particularly refined car to drive, but the entirely reasonable way it conducts itself comes as a relief in the wake of the under-cooked Cherokee. Those oversized door mirrors and upright A-pillars make for plenty of wind noise at motorway speed, and the 2.0-litre diesel engine and automatic transmission could both be smoother – but performance is just about strong enough to be a selling point.

The chassis, meanwhile, is decently balanced, stout and stable – and also adequately quiet over scarred roads. The ride fidgets somewhat at high speeds, but the car’s primary controls are sensibly weighted and placed, and they feel broadly consistent, though lacking in tactile feedback.

On standard-fit Goodyear ‘M&S’ tyres, the Renegade Trailhawk develops a limited quantity of lateral grip on tarmac, and suffers with a squidgy sense of directional imprecision at high speeds.

Both are tolerable conditions if you’ve need of the car’s abilities off the road, where it’ll ford, climb, slither and claw more determinedly than you’d believe of anything spawned of a Punto. The relatively firm suspension makes for an abrupt offroad ride at times, but the Renegade seldom struggles for contact with the ground.

Should I buy one?

Absolutely, assuming you’ve need of those rugged abilities – but if you’re shopping at the lightweight end of the crossover market, there’s a strong chance you don't.

Given that those off-road abilities touch and compromise not just this Renegade but every derivative in the range to a greater or lesser extent, we’d be surprised if the car became an overnight sensation.

Still, choice is always a welcome addition to any part of the market – and this particular agent of it has no small amount of charm, which isn’t a bad place for any new car to start.

Jeep Renegade 2.0 Multijet II 170 Trailhawk auto

Price £25,000 (est); 0-62mph 8.9sec; Top speed 122mph; Economy 48.7mpg; CO2 155g/km; Kerb weight tbc; Engine type, cc 4cyls, 1956cc, turbodiesel; Power 168bhp at 3750rpm; Torque 258lb ft at 1750rpm; Gearbox nine-speed automatic

18 September 2014

Wow! That really has fallen out of the ugly tree and hit every branch on the way down. That's right up there with it's cousin the Fiat 500L for Fugliest new car. Good luck with that one Jeep.

18 September 2014

You could buy a full size 4x4 for this money! No sorry this should be £14000- £20000.

18 September 2014

...run that past me again? £25,000 ? twenty-five thousand pounds?!

oh how we laughed! Let's hope someone in FIAT-Chrysler has done their sums properly.

A match for a Qashqai? I think not.

18 September 2014

How on earth could a company with access to Italian designers come up with something like this? I actually quite like the new Cherokee and at the very least, its proportions are pretty good, but this is a whole different kettle of fish - a real world interpretation of a box on wheels if ever I saw one.

18 September 2014

£25000 for a car apparently styled in a kindergarten drawing lesson does not strike me as cheap!
Frankly, some of the comments Autocar staff come up with days make me laugh.

jt

19 September 2014

What the "writer" of this review conveniently "forgot" to mention is the starting price for the Renegade.
19.900 euros in Germany. l wonder why he did not mention that.

Morty

18 September 2014

I quite like it, far more interesting than cars like the Countryman or Mokka. 25k for one is a lot though, wonder how much the lower spec diesel will be

19 September 2014
superstevie wrote:

I quite like it, far more interesting than cars like the Countryman or Mokka. 25k for one is a lot though, wonder how much the lower spec diesel will be

I presume this will be like every other Jeep/Chrysler model which depreciates quite swiftly, so patience might mean a decent drop in price. My problem with this model is that it looks so like the Jeep Patriot model of 10 or so years ago, with a slight nip and tuck to freshen it. It certainly looks "chunkier" than its Fiat sibling, so may take a trick.

19 September 2014

Yes, this looks overpriced, I reckon the Jeep and Chrysler dealers were hoping it will be a Duster rival. The Patriot was a missed opportunity too, good value but poorly marketed and confusing when sat alongside the Compass and with a pricey diesel option. Real opportunity for Suzuki to nip into the £15k bracket with the new Vitara.

18 September 2014

is it just me, or, does the wheelbase look too short in comparison to the wheel arches? look at picture 13 (a side view), the front wheel's too far back and the back wheel's too far forward

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