The Renegade nameplate is one that Jeep has used frequently in the past on variants of its heavy-duty Wrangler models. It’s now been resurrected as a model in its own right principally targeting the blossoming 2WD soft-road SUV market but with some Wrangler characteristics in its 4WD Trailhawk variant.
We reviewed the Trailhawk recently so will concentrate on the urban models (Sport, Longitude and Limited) here.
While Renegade isn’t the company’s first venture into the 2WD market it certainly beats its two predecessors, Compass and Patriot. Externally there’s no doubt the Renegade is a Jeep with that iconic square styling and seven-slot grille. Yet under the surface it’s very Italian, being partly designed and also built there, a consequence of the GFC-fuelled collapse of the Chrysler-Jeep company and its subsequent purchased by the giant Fiat group.
Renegade is built in Italy alongside the closely-related Fiat 500X.
Inside the Renegade there are plenty of reminders of Jeep’s WWII origins with a little silhouette on the side of the windscreen and “Since 1941” above the multimedia touchscreen. The latter somewhat ironic given that Jeeps would be have been all over Italy for the following four years!
Even the ‘X’ shaped taillights that distinguish Renegade from its rivals have history, being based on the military fuel cans used on the original Willys Jeep.
The Renegade’s tall shape provides good interior space, with plenty of headroom at both front and rear. There’s good legroom for adults in the rear seats although its narrow width effectively makes it the same two-adult / three-children proposition as its competitors.
At 351 litres the luggage space is acceptable. The rear seatbacks fold flat in three sections, allowing load-through in the centre with the front passenger seat also folding flat to allow for even longer items to be carried. There’s also a dual floor setup for hiding items where necessary and a space-saver spare wheel beneath. Sensibly, the 4WD Trailhawk gets a full-sized spare.
ENGINES / TRANSMISSIONS
The Italian influence extends under the bonnet with a very un-American 1.4-litre turbo-petrol engine powering three of the four 2WD models. A Fiat MultiAir2 unit, the 1.4 generates 103 kW of power and 230 Nm of torque and is mated to a six-speed DDCT (Dual Dry Clutch Transmission) automatic.
The entry level Renegade Sport, also 2WD, has a 1.6-litre Etorq naturally-aspirated 81 kW and 152 Nm petrol engine with a five-speed manual gearbox.
In line with its greater off-road ambitions Jeep Renegade Trailhawk has a 2.4-litre petrol engine with 129 kW of power and 230 Nm of torque and drives through a nine-speed automatic.
Diesels are offered in some markets but the Australian importer says there’s little demand for these in this class so has no plans to import them.
All Renegade models come with seven airbags; ABS brakes with brake assist and electronic brakeforce distribution; stability and traction control; electronic rollover mitigation; reversing camera; daytime running lights; and IsoFix child seat brackets. The mid-spec Longitude adds blind spot monitoring; automatic headlights; front foglights; and rear parking sensors while the Limited also gets bi-xenon headlights.
All 2WD Renegades have a stop/start fuel saving system.
Sport and Longitude models have a 5-inch touchscreen display with the Limited getting 6.5 inches with the inclusion of satellite navigation. Limited also gets a 7-inch colour instrument display in front of the driver cluster that can be personalised to suit; and a higher quality nine-speaker BeatsAudio sound system.
Bluetooth phone and audio streaming is standard with USB and auxiliary sockets conveniently placed above a smartphone-sized pocket at the bottom of the dashboard.
Wheels sizes rise progressively from 16-inch in the two Sport models; to 17-inch in the Longitude; and 18-inch in the Limited. All are alloys.
Extra comfort features include two-step lumbar support in the Longitude and Limited with the latter also getting leather upholstery, heated front seats and steering wheel.
Our test was in the 1.4-litre turbo-petrol Limited. Entry is easy and the seats are supportive and comfortable with plenty of headroom. External visibility is restricted by large A-pillars that curve into the windscreen as well as by the large camera/sensor housing at the top centre of the windscreen.
There is a fair degree of turbo lag on hard acceleration at take-off but once up and running the engine is quiet and refined. The ride is comfortable with good road grip and noise and vibration well subdued. With its boxy body corners need to be negotiated with care but that applies to most SUVs.
During our week-long test we averaged 7.1 litres per 100 kilometres, which is about 20 per cent above the listed 5.9 L/100 km but much as we expect from the anomalous testing system.
Jeep has reacted to initial criticism of Renegade pricing with reductions, in January 2016, of between $1500 and $2500 together with the option of a $1000 drive-away surcharge on the two Sport models.
A driveaway price of $29,000 on-road for the manual Sport is still more than its rivals but not to the extent that it will deter true Jeep lovers looking for the blend of looks, character and capable performance that Renegade provides.
AT A GLANCE
Sport 1.6-litre turbo-petrol FWD five-door wagon: $28,000* (manual) Sport 1.4-litre turbo-petrol FWD five-door wagon: $32,000* (automatic) Longitude 1.4-litre turbo-petrol FWD five-door wagon: $33,000 (automatic)
Limited 1.4-litre turbo-petrol FWD five-door wagon: $36,000 (automatic)
Trailhawk 2.4-litre petrol 4WD five-door wagon: $40,000 (automatic)
Note: The Sport models are available at drive-away prices of $29,000 and $33,000 respectively. The other models prices do not include government or dealer delivery charges. Contact your local Jeep dealer for drive-away prices.
SPECIFICATIONS (Jeep Renegade Limited 1.4-litre turbo-petrol FWD five-door wagon)
Capacity: 1.368 litres
Configuration: Four cylinders in line
Maximum power: 103 kW @ 5000 rpm
Maximum Torque: 230 Nm @ 3000 rpm
Fuel Type: Premium unleaded
Combined Fuel Cycle (ADR 81/02): 5.9 L/100km
CO2 Emissions: 137 g/km
DIMENSIONS, WEIGHT AND CAPACITIES:
Length: 4255 mm
Wheelbase: 2570 mm
Width: 1805 mm
Height: 1667 mm
Turning Circle: 11.1 metres
Kerb Mass: 1295 kg
Fuel Tank Capacity: 48 litres
Front: Ventilated disc
Rear: Solid disc
Three years / 100,000 km