Few other compact crossovers pack in as much style and character as the Jeep Renegade, and now it gets a more modern image backed up by new engines. These include two all-new petrol options, while Jeep adds more safety systems to keep the Renegade up to date with the competition.
In the metal
One thing that the Jeep Renegade doesn't lack is attitude. It may be the smallest of the iconic off-road brand's range, but it has all the attributes you'd expect - if slightly exaggerated to compensate for its size. One thing you won't miss on the Renegade is the company's signature seven-slot upright grille on the front. As part of this latest raft of updates, the Jeep also gets modern looking LED daytime running lights that illuminate a ring of light around the outside of the headlights. It's easy to draw comparisons to the recently launched Mercedes-Benz G-Class and, somehow, we don't think Jeep will get too upset with the association.
That front end also gets something of a chin thanks to the lower bumper design. It's not exactly conducive to off-roading, but most Renegade buyers aren't likely to attempt that anyway. For those that are, Jeep offers a Trailhawk version that has all-wheel drive and cut-back bumpers to improve approach and departure angles. The rest of the exterior tweaks are just that: tweaks. New tail lights mimic those that also appear on the latest generation Wrangler.
Jeep introduced some improvements to the interior of the Renegade not that long ago, so little has changed inside this time around. Jeep claims that quality has improved and to cast a passing eye over the cabin you'd tend to agree. It's only when you poke around a bit more that you discover some cheap plastics with less-than-perfect fitment. Distracting you from that, however, is lots of Jeep iconography throughout, while the 8.4-inch touchscreen (the standard item is a 5.0-inch unit) keeps things feeling modern inside. Passenger space in the rear isn't bad, either, helped by the high roofline.
Among the new engines joining the Renegade line-up, the 1.0-litre turbocharged three-cylinder petrol unit tested here offers a good balance of performance vs. economy for the average user. Its output of 120hp enables the Renegade to feel brisk enough for typical urban driving conditions and it doesn't have such a thrum that can often be a characteristic of three-cylinder engines. Aside from the cheap feeling gear selector, which, despite its metallic look, feels more like a Christmas tree bauble, the manual transmission feels on a par with most of its rivals'. Not the snick-snick accuracy of an MX-5, perhaps, but far from feeling sloppy.
If you're a fan of the rough and tumble styling of the Renegade, then you're unlikely to be disappointed by the ride quality. The suspension is firm, which wasn't entirely helped by the 19-inch wheels fitted to our test car. The firmness of the ride does entice you to try to have a bit more fun in the bends. A combination of a heavier-than-average steering setup and some decent damping should be enough to put a smile on most owners' faces. As you might expect, the Renegade does feel most at home when darting in and out of traffic. Near-vertical front and rear ends make it easy to place and even easier to judge when trying to squeeze into a tight parking space.
Out of town, the 1.0-litre engine can get the Renegade up to speed reasonably well, better than the 11.2 seconds it takes to reach 100km/h might suggest. Its tall and rather un-aerodynamic shape doesn't do it any favours at higher motorway speeds, though it does remain reasonably stable. Wind noise starts to pick up once you approach 120km/h, especially around the generously sized door mirrors.
What you get for your money
Exact specifications are still in the process of being finalised ahead of the car's introduction in Ireland during the latter part of 2018. The Renegade will come on a selection of wheel sizes ranging from 16- to 19 inches. Several interior upholstery options will be available including leather.
Jeep plans to make more of its safety equipment standard across the range, and this is expected to include Lane Sense Departure Warning-Plus and Intelligent Speed Assist with Traffic Sign Recognition, as well as Forward Collision Warning-Plus with Active Emergency Braking on Limited models. Optionally, owners will also be able to add Adaptive Cruise Control, Blind-Spot Monitoring and Rear Cross Path Detection. After launch Jeep will introduce Parallel and Perpendicular Parking Assist that includes a Pull-Out Assist.
Once the full specifications for each grade are confirmed, we will update this section.
With no shortage of style and character, the Jeep Renegade is bound to win some fans at first sight. The addition of what is claimed to be a more economical petrol engine is well-timed, and the introduction of a more comprehensive array of safety systems should keep it current while adding another layer of appeal.