Highlight: The Jeep Renegade shares a platform with its Italian sibling, the Fiat 500X.
Test vehicle’s MSRP: $29,330 (base model $18,990)
Seating Capacity: 5
Standard Safety Features: airbags; 4-wheel disc brakes; all-speed traction control; daytime running lights; electric stability control system; a hill start assist system; a passenger assist handle; and a tire service kit
Standard Equipment (base model): 16-inch tires; a 6-speed manual transmission; cargo tie down loops; cloth bucket seats; manually adjusted front seats; electric parking brakes; electric power steering; front center sliding armrest; a rear window defroster; a remote keyless entry system; steering wheel mounted audio controls; a manually operated tilt/telescopic steering wheel; and a 3.5-inch screen
Upgraded Standard Features On Test Model: 17-inch wheels; a 2.4-liter engine, 180-horsepower engine; a 9-speed automatic transmission; 4×4; 5-inch display screen with Jeep’s Uconnect system; accent color badging; air conditioning; automatic headlights; deep-tinted sunscreen glass; electronic roll mitigation; skid plates; a leather-wrapped steering wheel; outside temperature display; a rear back up camera; and a remote keyless entry system
Optional Features On Test Vehicle: fixed roof removable panels and a navigation system
Other Trim Levels:
Standard Audio On Test Vehicle: a 4-speaker AM/FM audio system
Bluetooth Connectivity: Depending upon trim
iPod connectivity: Depending upon trim
Bumper-to-Bumper Warranty: 3 years or 36,000 miles
Powertrain Warranty: 5 years or 100,000 miles
Standard Engine/Horsepower: 1.4-liter, 4-cylinder/160-hp
Recommended Fuel: Regular
Standard Fuel Mileage: 21-city/29-hwy
What’s New: The Jeep Renegade is the newest 4×4 addition to the brand.
Pros: Unlike the Patriot, the engineering team made the Fiat-based cartoon-like Renegade a true Jeep. The entry-level Renegade is trail-rated with all of the 4×4 capabilities one expects in a Jeep. The mini Jeep is also available in a 4×2 configuration. The Renegade is capable of off-road adventures, as well as being a fun-to-drive street cruiser, depending upon the configuration.
The Renegade is available in four trims: Sport, Latitude, Trailhawk and Limited. Unlike the other trims, the Trailhawk, which we reviewed, is only available in a 4×4 configuration. Our Trailhawk added a fun factor too, with its optional pop-out, removable open air panels. Occupants could pop out one top or two. When both panels are popped-out, the vehicle is easily converted into an open air vehicle just like its sibling, the Wrangler. Jeep also offers an optional power-operated roof, too.
The Renegade Trailhawk we reviewed was also outfitted with FCA’s (Fiat Chrysler Automobiles) new 9-speed more fuel efficient transmission, which was mated to a 2.4-liter engine, the same one that is shared with the Fiat 500X.
The mini Jeep, depending upon the trim, can be optioned out with such features as a/c, a dual zone a/c system, heated front seats, heated steering wheel, leather seats, power driver’s seat, a windshield wiper deicer, a navigation system, a 9-speaker audio system, satellite radio, black painted roof panels, specialized hood decals and black side roof panels, 17-inch wheels, 18-inch wheels, and more.
Optional safety features include an electronic blindspot system, a cross patch detection system for backing up, a forward collision automatic braking system, a lane departure warning system, rear parking sensors and a security alarm are available.
Cons: When we popped out both optional roof panels in the Trailhawk, we didn’t realize that the rear panel had to be popped back in first, before sliding the front panel end. We wasted valuable time figuring that out.
Since the Renegade and the Fiat 500X share the same platform, both vehicles are equipped with electronic parking brakes. This seems out of step with a trail-rated vehicle. A vehicle that equipped for trails should have a traditional hand-pull braking system. Depending upon the trim, as in the case of the Trailhawk, the vehicle can’t be equipped with such features as a lane-changing system or a blind spot detection system.
The Renegade is the least fuel efficient vehicle in the segment. Despite its compact size, the it burns gas even with its more fuel-efficient 9-speed transmission. To put this in perspective, the power house Corvette Stingray pushes out over 455-horsepower and it garners 29 miles on the highway, which is just two miles lower than the Jeep Renegade.
Verdict: Initially, we were somewhat skeptical about Fiat and American’s SUV icon, Jeep, sharing the same platform. To our surprise, FCA pulled it off, allowing both Fiat and Jeep to maintain their identities, just as in a great marriage. If you’re looking for a compact Jeep with loads of spunk and personality in either a 4×2 or a 4×4 configuration, this 5 passenger compact crossover is worth checking out.
Competition: Chevy Trax, Honda HR-V, Mazda CX-3, Nissan Juke and Subaru XV
Jeff Fortson is an auto analyst and editor of a car-buying website for women and minorities. To learn more about his popular car-buying workshop and/or to price a new-vehicle, drive on over to www.JeffCars.com. Follow him on Twitter/JeffCars.