Demand for affordable compact crossover vehicles has reached a fever pitch. And Jeep is making quite certain their lineup stays at the forefront of consumers’ minds. So if the legendary Cherokee is simply too big for the job, a Wrangler seems over-equipped or the newfangled Compass is just a wee bit too much car, then maybe it’s time to consider the Renegade. Jeep’s very first foreign-produced offering is a fairly new option with some very real clout among its competitors. This highly-capable crossover provides consumers with an affordable Jeep badge and exciting experience behind the wheel.
The Renegade, named for an historic Wrangler CJ variant, is slotted just below the aforementioned new Compass size wise. It is available in four trim packages: the base-level Sport, the more equipped Latitude, the high-end Limited and the off-road ready Trailhawk. Models are equipped with either a 160 horsepower turbocharged 1.4L 4-cylinder mated with a manual six-speed transmission (standard in all Sport packages) or a 180 horsepower 2.4L 4-cylinder with an available nine speed automatic (found in the spiffier Limited). Sport, Latitude and Limited packages can all be upgraded from front-wheel drive to all-wheel drive. But the Trailhawk stays off-road ready with ever-present four-wheel drive.
Renegade options offer a roomier ride and more cabin space than its class competitors. Anybody looking for pure fun? The My Sky feature lets drivers pop out matching sunroofs for a Wrangler-like experience of near rooflessness. And the “Trail Rated” Trailhawk continues to impress drivers who refuse to sacrifice four-wheeling capability just because they want a smaller SUV; its higher ground clearance, Active Drive Low system, Selec-Terrain traction management and skid plates are some of numerous features that lend trail status to the Renegade.
Jeepers are abuzz with excitement for the relatively new Renegade because of its widespread likability among different consumers. The Renegade welcomes new Jeepers in the club for under $20,000. That’s especially attractive for those who desire a Jeep badge but get a knee-jerk reaction at the hefty price tag. Twenty-nine mpg highway mileage snags the attention of fuel conscious consumers. And the Renegade consistently ranks among the best of the subcompact crossovers for those more concerned with critical acclaim. Impressive considering the Renegade is competing with the likes of a wildly popular Kia Soul, Nissan Juke and Fiat 500X.
Sales of the young Renegade have been undeniably strong. In fact, Renegade led its class in sales the year of its release (2015) despite not even being available for the entire year. Though there is certainly a sales boost that comes with being the new kid on the block, sales nearly doubled (over 109,000 sold) in 2016. And early 2017 numbers show no signs of The Little Crossover That Could slowing down.
Immediate success has already resulted in offshoots and special editions. The Renegade Desert Hawk debuted in Europe last year, with a sand-colored paint job, a map of Moab on the hood, U.S. Army-style decals and all the specs of a Trailhawk. The Renegade “Dawn Of Justice” edition allows comic book fans to ride like Bruce Wayne in the recent Batman v Superman: Dawn of Justice movie. Bring on the carbon black everything inside and out and 18″ black wheels. There has even been a Renegade-inspired return of the Jeep Comanche, a Cherokee-based pickup truck from the late 20th century. Though it was a one-off diesel concept creation for the Easter Jeep Safari last year, it makes clear the importance of the Renegade at the center of the brand as it moves forward with new ideas. After all, it’s not just a Jeep, it’s a cultural phenomenon.
Jeep sales continue to rise across the board year after year. CEO Sergio Marchionne has stated on record the company’s goal is a whopping 1.9 million vehicles sold globally by 2018. So the versatile Renegade will no doubt be one of the models driving those figures ever-upward. Genre blurring looks, car/SUV middle-ground appeal and affordable pricing just might make those lofty goals a very real achievement. Jeep lovers have always been a cliquish lot, thus “a Jeep made for everybody” hasn’t necessarily been a realistic concept. The Renegade, however, is the closest thing we’ve seen.