What good? Quirky. Good off-road potential.
The compact crossover segment is filled with plenty of cars, but how many can you name which will get you out of deep mud and ascend steep hills? You see, crossovers offer the looks of a 4x4 with the space and practicability of a hatchback, but they can't perform off-road like the 4x4s that they try so hard to mimic. Most car manufacturers would tell you that the reason there are no proper 4x4 compact crossovers is because there's no market for them, but Jeep has other ideas with the Renegade, a crossover which offers something very different in the crossover segment with a low-range gearbox, permanent four-wheel-drive, and lots of ground clearance.
Let's take a look at Jeep's latest car and see what's what.
I'm going to get straight to the point: The Jeep Renegade is the ugliest car Jeep's ever produced and it's right up there with the likes of the Fiat Multipla and the Chrysler PT Cruiser in the fictional top 5 ugliest cars since 1998 awards. Of course, your opinion may differ wildly to my own, but for me the design of the Jeep Renegade is way, way off the mark when the likes of the Nissan Qashqai and Mazda CX-5 offer style in abundance. I'm not alone in my thought process either - a top comment on a review of this car likens the Jeep Renegade to a box on wheels. I think that's a perfect description.
Of course with a car like the Jeep Renegade style isn't everything, and we know that Jeep set out to create a capable compact off-roader for those browsing the crossover market. So what's it like to drive? Well I haven't had chance to test this car out yet, but it's available with a choice of MultiAir turbo petrol and MultiJet turbo diesel engines. The 2.0-litre MultiJet diesel is likely to be the best seller, with 168 horsepower and 258 lb/ ft of torque from 1,750rpm.
The car is 4.2-metres long and all models benefit from a low-range gearbox and clutch-driven lockable permanent four-wheel-drive. On Renegade Trailhawk models, you get best-in-class 4x4 capability with lots of technologies, including Jeep Active Drive Low with 20:1 crawl ratio; Selec-Terrain system with exclusive Rock mode; increased ride height 0.8 inches to 8.7 inches; skid plates; signature red front and rear tow hooks; unique fascias deliver 30.5 degree approach, 25.7 degree break over and 34.3 degree departure angles; unique 17-inch wheels with aggressive on-road and off-road tires; up to 8.1 inches of wheel articulation; Hill-descent Control; up to 19 inches of water fording; and up to 2,000-lb. towing capability with available tow package.
For the best off-road experience in a Jeep Renegade, Trailhawk models are your best bet. No models are going to be particularly refined though, with that heavy four-wheel-drive system pushing the tyres into the road to create road noise. It also doesn't look particularly wind-friendly.
Inside the Jeep Renegade is a nice place to be. It benefits from rugged switchgear, knobs, and controls, and a leather-wrapped steering wheel and gear knob as well as a 5-inch colour touchscreen comes as standard across the range. As you might expect in a car designed to go off-road, the interior isn't the most comfortable place to be with scratchy hard plastics scattered around the cabin, but there's enough quality in the cabin to reassure you that it won't fall to pieces when the going gets tough.
The highlights of the cabin are the ergonomic steering wheel and the fascia which has some high quality mouldings to boost quality.
Boot space is okay too. You get 350-litres of space with the rear seat up or 869-litres with the rear seat down, which is to say it's almost on par with the boot capacity of a Ford Focus.
The Jeep Renegade is available as a front-wheel-drive only machine and these are the most fuel efficient models out there. We don't think many people will be buying them, though.
The Jeep Renegade Trailhawk 2.0 Multijet diesel has claimed economy figures of 48.7 miles per gallon with a 155 g/km CO2 output, which translates to £180 annual car tax.
Trim and equipment
All Renegade models get a 5-inch colour touchscreen with Bluetooth and phone as standard along with a leather-wrapped steering wheel and gear-knob. There are two trims - Latitude and Trailhawk - the former gets a black accent roof and roof rails, 16-inch alloy wheels, front fog lamps, deep tint sunscreen glass, and ParkView rear reversing camera. Trailhawk models get all of the above, including all of the 4x4 technologies listed above in our drive section.
Optional equipment is vast. You can choose from an upgraded steering wheel with heating, My Sky dual-panel roof, plus much more. US spec and UK spec cars will differ.
It's hard to imagine any sensible motorists purchasing the Jeep Renegade, especially when used Land Rover Freelander's can be had at a considerable discount. The estimated price of a Jeep Renegade Trailhawk is £25,000, which is a lot of money to ask for such a small car that doesn't offer the refinement, economy, or style of a less off-road savvy compact crossover. Who will buy this car? I suspect motorists who live in deep rural areas where a Land Rover is too big to maneuver, and also potential new Freelander buyers - the Freelander has now been discontinued.