The Jeep Renegade is capable and affordably priced. It’s also cute in the eyes of many, maybe excessively so in the eyes of some. For the latter group, there is the Renegade Trailhawk, with rugged looks and greater capability in rugged terrain.
More than a foot shorter than the recently launched Cherokee, the Jeep Renegade is the most compact Jeep wagon since the original 1941 Willys Jeep. It looks the part of a modern Jeep: tall and slab-sided, with oversized styling cues to accent its heritage. Flanking the familiar seven-bar Jeep grille are large, round headlights in an era when headlights no longer need to be large and round to be effective. Rubber-lipped trapezoidal wheel arches suggest strength. The taillights are stamped with X shapes, harkening to WWII-era jerry cans strapped on back.
Two engines are available: A turbocharged 1.4-liter four-cylinder engine comes standard, making 160 horsepower and 184 pound-feet of torque, and is paired with a 6-speed manual gearbox. Also available is a 2.4-liter four-cylinder that produces 180 horsepower and 175 pound-feet of torque that comes with a 9-speed automatic. Neither delivers extreme acceleration performance, and fuel economy is average for the class.
All-wheel drive (4×4) is available with either engine. Front-wheel drive (4×2) comes standard.
Renegade 4×4 models have settings for extreme conditions: Mud, Sand, or Snow, plus a hill-descent braking mode that’s welcome in steep terrain. The Renegade can be equipped with some of the latest safety features, bundled into a Technology Package that’s available for upper models.
The Renegade Trailhawk is the model for rugged terrain, with all-wheel drive, more ground clearance, special bumpers for improved approach and descent angles, big tow hooks and other features. Not to be confused with audio options, a Rock mode enables the Trailhawk to crawl over rugged terrain at very low speeds.
Still almost spanking new, the Renegade was launched as a 2015 and there are few changes for 2016. The 2016 Jeep Renegade offers a new 506-watt BeatsAudio setup with nine speakers.