Jeep Renegade

   One look at what’s parked on your local High Street is probably all it takes to tell you that SUVs (that’s Sports Utility Vehicles) are proving rather popular these days. So popular in fact that for the first time, last year, sales of small and mid-sized SUVs, be they four–wheel drive or just those just pretending, out-sold hatchbacks. SUV registrations rose 24% in 2015 to 3.2 million, and it was small SUVs that help boost those numbers most.

    It was the Jeep probably, or to be more accurate the Willys Overland Quad design that first brought a small, sturdy off-roader to the masses, during the Second World War. Willys trademarked the name Jeep – the origins of which are still open to debate - soon afterwards before turning its military vehicle into an off-roader aimed primarily at farmers. The rest as they say…

    As Jeep’s first entry into the small SUV segment, this, the new Jeep Renegade, marks another series of firsts in the company’s history. The Renegade is the first Fiat Chrysler Automobiles car to be jointly developed by both Italian and American engineers. It’s also the first Jeep to be built in Europe but sold in the USA.

    The Renegade is also the first small SUV to feature a nine-speed gearbox and the first in its segment to have rear axle disconnect - more on which later. It’s recently been voted 4x4 magazine’s 4x4 of the year too.  

    Styling–wise it’s instantly Jeep and could easily still pass as something used by the US military. The classic styling cues such as the seven slot grille, round headlamps and trapezoidal wheel arches are all present and correct. It’s unashamedly chunky. It looks like a mini Humvee.

   Climb aboard and an equally tough looking interior greets you. Hard wipe-down plastics are the order of the day – this is a “proper” 4x4 after all – but further inspection reveals some nice design details. There’s a nod to the original M38 in the windscreen surround, the redline on the rev-counter looks like a mud-splash, and “Since 1941” is stamped in the dashboard just above the touchscreen. There’s even an Oh Sh*t! grab-handle for your passenger. That’s what Jeep calls it, I hasten to add.

    Up-front plus there’s plenty of room plus a few useful storage spaces, including a large glovebox and a handy cubby under the passenger seat. Rear seat passengers don’t get quite such a good deal though. Although the Renegade offers headroom in abundance getting three adults in the back is a big ask. But at least the boot’s a decent size and depth, so carrying a baby buggy, the weekly shop, a mountain bike or two, or a weekend’s camping gear need not be a problem.

    It is ultimately the outdoor life rather than that of the city that the Renegade has been designed for. Around town the enormous A-pillars cause too many blind spots, and at motorway speeds the wind noise generated by the large door mirrors coupled with the tyre –rumble becomes tiresome. Suspension that’s been designed to offer class leading articulation leads to somewhat of roly ride too.

   But, get the Renegade away from the traffic and off the tarmac and it’ll easily embarrass nearly all of its all-together more suburban orientated competition.

   The aforementioned rear axle disconnect system seamlessly switches between two and four-wheel-drive guaranteeing traction but in-turn reducing the energy required and thus lowers fuel consumption when go-anywhere capability isn’t required. Jeep Active Drive and Active Drive Low are combined with Jeep Selec-Terrain giving the driver four settings (five on the Trailhawk version we tested) for optimum off-road performance on any surface be it rocks, mud, snow, sand or whatever it is you point that trademark square bonnet at.

   Jeep claim the Renegade sets new standards of 4x4 capability in the small SUV segment. And from where I’ve been sitting for the last week I’m inclined to believe them. Sat high behind the Renegade’s thick –rimmed (and heated in our case) wheel you can’t help but feel pretty formidable. If perhaps not always totally comfortable.

    And that perhaps sums the Renegade up. It is a little bit of a compromise. In some respects it’s hard to fault: it’s tough, it’s fun, it’ll go anywhere, and that bonnet badge is iconic. But, it’s also expensive, it’s noisy, and it’s a just a tad unrefined. Buying the Renegade buys you the original SUV. Quite whether it’s the best though (it depends really on what you’re going use it for) I’ll let you decide.


Jeep Renegade 2.0 MJet II 140hp 4WD TRAILHAWK


Engine: 1,956cc 4Cyl turbo-diesel

Transmission: 9 Speed Auto with manual option, four wheel drive.

Power:  140 bhp @ 3,750 rpm

Torque: 258 lbft @ 1,750 rpm

0-62MPH: 8.9 Sec

Max Speed: 122 mph

CO2: 155 g/km

MPG: 47.9 combined

Price: £28,595


Many thanks to Catrina at Jeep’s UK press office for the loan of the Renegade




Liam Bird Liam Bird

I'm Liam Bird, a freelance Motoring Writer based in the South Shropshire Marches. I currently write car reviews and road tests for a number of regional lifestyle magazines and newspapers which are distributed throughout Cheshire, Herefordshire, Shropshire, Staffordshire, Worcestershire, most of Wales and beyond.

As a member of the Welsh Group of Motoring Writers I'm as happy behind the wheel of a super-mini as I am in the latest super-car. I have press accreditation with most of the major motor manufacturers, meaning that as well as always being on the look out for further commissions, I always have a number of cars arriving each month ready to review.

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