Jeep Renegade: road test

Posted on February 23rd, 2015 by James Luckhurst

Jeep has neatly captured the essence of a small SUV.

Jeep Renegade: road test

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What is it?

A small SUV that sits between the Nissan Juke and the Nissan Qashqai in size. Additionally, higher specification versions can be classed as proper off-roaders.

How safe is it?

Jeep promises great things in both the Euro NCAP tests and also the US equivalent. Six airbags are standard, as are a host of electronic driver aids including both a city safe system and an anti-rollover system.

Who should buy one?
Anyone who wants a small, yet internally roomy, capable SUV with classic off-roader chunky looks and traction in slippery conditions.

Road test by Tristan Young, published 23 February 2015

 

 

DRIVING AND PERFORMANCE
Jeep Renegade: road test

For a car that’s just 4.2 metres long – approximately the same as a Renault Clio – the first thing that strikes you is the Renegade appears larger than you’d expect, both from the outside and from the decently high driving position.
Unlike Jeeps of old, the Renegade eschews soft suspension for maximum off-road ability and comfort for a much more European feel. The diminutive SUV will happily tackle twisty roads with minimal body roll and plenty of grip, particularly in the higher specification and higher powered 4×4 models, although even the front-drive cars have good levels of grip. However, the lighter two-wheel-drive versions seem to be on the stiffer side, and therefore jiggly, in terms of ride comfort.
The engines offer enough shove to cope with motorway work easily or overtake safely.
However, while the 1.4 petrol is refined, both the 1.6 and 2.0-litre diesel engines are on the noisy side and the 2.0-litre also passes vibrations back through the steering wheel under acceleration.
The refinement is further harmed by intrusive road and wind noise from around the door mirrors at motorway speeds.
Jeep also offers two different four-wheel drive systems. The first is a straightforward system linked to some very clever electronics to give better traction on different surfaces. Like modern Land Rovers, there’s a dial that can be used to select the surface you’re on; mud, snow, sand or just opt for automatic. The system works very well and is probably all that the vast majority of owners would need. However, if you opt for the top-spec Trailhawk model you also get a low-ratio gearbox and a ‘rock’ setting. At this point you have a class-leading off-roader capable of tackling very difficult terrain.

SPACE AND PRACTICALITY
Jeep Renegade: road test

The advantage to the classic Jeep look is that it provides a squarer vehicle which means interior space is maximised. You can easily fit four adults on board with plenty of leg and headroom for the rear-seat occupants. However, fitting three across the back would be a squeeze for shoulder room. There’s also an okay-sized boot at 351 litres. That’s good against cars such as the Nissan Juke, but less impressive against rivals such as the Skoda Yeti and Mini Countryman – which Jeep sees as its main competition.
All but the top 4×4 version, dubbed Trailhawk, come with a tyre repair kit. For these ‘lesser’ models the boot is fitted with a false floor that is level with the boot lip, but it can be easily lowered if maximum space is needed.
The rear seats can also be folded to give a total load space of 1297 litres.

SAFETY
Jeep Renegade: road test

All but the entry level Sport model have lane-keeping assistance, a city brake system, adaptive cruise control as well as anti-skid control and six airbags across all models. The only small downside is the large A-pillars which contain the curtain airbags but also block vision in some sweeping corners.
The dashboard is very clear.

EQUIPMENT
Jeep Renegade: road test
Expect alloy wheels for all models, plus a large colour screen displaying radio and vehicle information plus standard Bluetooth phone connection. Above Sport, the Renegade includes sat-nav as standard.

COSTS

Jeep Renegade: road test
With a starting price of £16,995 OTR for the front-wheel drive 1.6-litre eTorq Evo 110hp Sport, the new car, which goes on sale in the UK early next year, represents good value for money. At the top end of the Renegade range, the highly specified 2.0-litre MJet 170hp 4WD Auto Low Trailhawk version costs £27,995 OTR, and features 17-inch aluminium wheels, dual zone climate control, transfer case, front suspension and fuel tank skid plates, heated front seats and steering wheel, leather upholstery and rear parking sensors. Carbon dioxide emissions and fuel economy aren’t quite up to scratch. With a CO2 start point of 120g/km both the Mini and Yeti are a shade better. In terms of fuel-efficiency the Jeep is some way off the pace, with official mpg figures 10mpg worse than its two main rivals.

WE SAY

Jeep has neatly captured the essence of a small SUV.

AT A GLANCE:
Price: from £16,995
Performance: 0-60mph in 10.2 seconds
Economy: 50.4mpg combined
Insurance: Group 15 (estimate)
Tax: Band C (£0 first year)