The Jeep Renegade compact off-roader

by Dan M | Posted on Saturday, December 31st, 2016

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By David Goodspeed
Special Contributor
autoworlddavid@yahoo.com

I finish out the class of 2016 with a vehicle that features a
legendary name but actually arrives from a little boot-shaped country
in the Mediterranean. The Jeep Renegade compact off-roader came to be
thanks to the corporate influence of Fiat and proved to be quite the
surprise of a vehicle.
I was a bit skeptical when I first learned of a Jeep/Fiat
alliance for the new Renegade but after spending a week behind the
wheel I actually prefer this model over the Compass and Patriot models
that have been in the Jeep fleet for quite some time. I give the nod
to the Renegade in all areas including styling, powertrain, amenities,
capability, etc. I would recommend this model over those other two any
day of the week and quite honestly feel it should have replaced those
dated models.
Powering the new Renegade is the Fiat 2.4-liter Tigershark
inline four-cylinder engine or the peppy little 1.4-liter MultiAir
Turbo four.
The Tigershark is mated to a nine-speed automatic gearbox while
the Turbo is paired with a six-speed manual transmission (yes, you can
get a turbo motor with a manual tranny in this little off-roader).
Our tester arrived in the Trailhawk 4×4 trim level and featured
nearly every option available on this model line and despite its
somewhat diminutive size the Renegade Trailhawk offers rugged good
looks (along with Jeep’s Trail Rating and off-road capabilities).
We enjoyed driving around town with the 180hp Tigershark
2.4-liter engine and nine-speed auto that gave us plenty of power and
acceleration when needed but never got overly loud or harsh as some
four-cylinder powerplants tend to demonstrate. The Renegade rode very
stable even in corners and offered a surprisingly smooth on-road feel
and quiet cabin.
Seating proved to be ample for four adults and the grandkids
really liked riding around in back as well. The second row seat is
tight for three passengers and will not accommodate three car seats
but Renegade is perfect for four no matter how you mix up the
combination.
The new Jeep Renegade arrives in 4×2 and 4×4 configurations.
Renegade was the first FCA US vehicle to utilize the new corporate
small-wide 4×4 architecture that is now also used on the Fiat 500x
crossover. The fully independent suspension offers wheel articulation
up to 8.1 inches and ground clearance up to 8.7
inches. Renegade is the first Jeep to integrate Koni’s frequency
selective damping front and rear strut system that leads to the very
good on-road driving characteristics.
For those taking your Renegade off of pavement you will be taken
care of by Jeep’s Active Drive or Active Drive Low 4×4 systems. There
is also the Jeep Selec-Terrain system where drivers dial in their
weather or surface conditions of Auto, Snow, Sand, Mud, and even Rock
mode in Trailhawk editions.
Our Trailhawk tester also added 20:1 crawl ratio, skid plates,
signature red front and rear tow hooks, unique front and rear fascias
for improved approach, breakover, and departure angles when
off-roading, unique 17-inch aluminum wheels with all-terrain tires,
hill descent control, water fording up to 19 inches, and 2,000 lb. tow
capability. Trailhawk also adds badge-specific paint and decal
packaging.
Inside the Renegade, occupants will enjoy all the latest Jeep
amenities and technology including Uconnect 5.0 infotainment system
with touchscreen display, integrated voice command, and Bluetooth
connectivity, 7-inch color cluster display, leather wrapped steering
wheel with redundant system controls, leather-trimmed seating with
power front seats, heated steering wheel, remote start system, and
blind spot and cross path detection.
Overhead we enjoyed the My Sky roof system with power
retractable/removable panels.
Pricing for the 2016 Jeep Renegade Trailhawk began at $26,495
with our loaded tester arriving at $31,400.
Fuel economy is rated at 21 mpg city and 29 mpg highway for this 4×4 model.
The new Jeep Renegade may speak with an Italian accent but it is
making itself right at home here in America. It embodies nearly
everything that is Jeep and features rugged, boxy styling with
softened edges.
It was a surprise how much I enjoyed driving this vehicle and it
is a model I will be recommending to those shopping the small utility
segment.

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