The Jeep Renegade is the brand’s latest attempt to compete in the red hot small crossover category. Jeep has been here before, with vehicles like the Compass and the Patriot, but this latest Jeep is unlike those vehicles in a lot of ways. But do these changes make it a competitive option, and do the changes make it worthy of the Jeep name on the hood? Read on to find out.
2015 Jeep Renegade Performance
The Renegade is available with two different four cylinder engine options. Our review unit came with the smaller, and slightly less powerful, 1.4 MultiAir I4 that you’ll recognize from the Fiat 500 Abarth. It makes 160 horsepower and 184 lb-ft of torque.
This power is mated to a 6-speed manual transmission. That’s right, even today you can still buy a new, non-sports car with a manual transmission. We applaud Jeep for making it still available.
Ours was equipped with the four-wheel drive system, which is similar to the version in the Cherokee sibling. When driving normally, the Renegade acts like a front-wheel drive vehicle. To help save fuel when cruising, the four-wheel drive system has a disconnecting front axle. Literally no power at all is sent to the rear.
The four-wheel drive system features a few modes, including Mud, Sand, and Snow. Also, there’s the default Auto mode. The driver can also choose to lock the vehicle in four-wheel drive even when he or she isn’t using one of the special modes.
The special drive modes alter throttle input, steering weight, and traction control intervention to help get you through the harshest of conditions. Also, they prevent the four-wheel drive system from only operating in front-drive mode.
Acceleration feels surprisingly brisk considering the amount of power coming from the engine. It doesn’t make the pops and crackles like the Fiat 500 Abarth, but it sounds perfectly fine. The manual transmission definitely adds to the feel of sportiness.
The manual itself isn’t the greatest gearbox in the world. While I could confidently find the odd numbered gears when accelerating hard, the even numbered ones didn’t feel like they slid into place properly. It was an odd sensation, to say the least. But the gearbox is still better than many manuals I’ve driven.
READ: We Drive the All-New 2016 Fiat 500X Crossover
Handling is where the Renegade really surprises. Based on the same platform as the Fiat 500X, the Renegade seems to like to be tossed into corners. Handling is pretty neutral for a front-drive biased vehicle, but will obviously understeer at the limit. Those limits are pretty high, though, and the tires give up before the chassis does.
It’s not a canyon carver, but if you want to take the twisty road home from work, you definitely can.
2015 Jeep Renegade Features
The Renegade can be had in various trims, all the way up to the top-of-the-line and extremely off-road capable Trailhawk. But the Sport is the base model, and it doesn’t come with much. Air conditioning isn’t even standard, which we find surprising.
Our review unit had the Customer Preferred Package 21A, which included $195 black roof racks, the $1,095 MySky roof, and the $1,495 Power and Air Group.
The Power and Air group is pretty much a must for us, since it’s what you need to do to get air conditioning. Also, power heated exterior mirrors and cruise control are part of the package.
The MySky removable roof panels are interesting. It’s like having a big, dual-pane moonroof that has removable glass. Popping the panels off are easy, just unlock the panel with the included key and pull the lever.
Driving around with the roof pieces off and the windows down is almost like driving a Wrangler with the roof off.
2015 Jeep Renegade Fuel Economy
For a four-wheel drive vehicle, the fuel economy on the Jeep Renegade is decent. The EPA rating for the vehicle is 24 MPG in the city, 31 MPG on the highway, or 27 MPG combined. During our week with the vehicle, we observed 26.6 MPG.
The 31 MPG number seems obtainable, since on certain trips it was easy to get into the 30s over shorter distances. We were just having too much fun to drive for the sake of fuel economy all week.
2015 Jeep Renegade Price
In the desirable four-wheel drive trim, the Jeep Renegade starts at $19,995 for the Sport model. Our reasonable options bring the total to $23,775, including the $995 destination charge. For an everyday driver, we think this is a pretty good deal.
If we were ordering it ourselves, we’d still option up Bluetooth at least. The included USB and auxiliary are great for a standard stereo, but once you live with Bluetooth everyday it’s hard to use a different setup.
2015 Jeep Renegade Final Verdict
The Jeep Renegade continues the tradition of great FCA products that have been pretty awesome since the bankruptcy and dark ages. The Renegade, even in base form, has a functional and stylish interior combined with a funky looking exterior and all-weather ability with four-wheel drive.
Options like the MySky roof add to the fun, and decent fuel economy rounds out the package. It should sell like gangbusters.
- Affordable price.
- Funky, fresh look.
- Award-winning interior.
- Fun driving dynamics.
- Air conditioning not standard.
- Sometimes vague manual gearbox.