Playful Compact Crossover
The last time a Jeep was so popular in Italy was when the durable, go anywhere workhorse of World War II was helping liberate the country. Seventy years later, Jeep is making its mark again in Italy. The 2017 Renegade is built in the small town of Melfi, about 100 miles east of Naples, in the southern part of the country, near the Boot. So why the geography lesson?
The Renegade is built in the same plant, and shares much of the same pieces, as the Fiat 500X, a small crossover Smarticd found to be the best-looking and most versatile in the Fiat 500 family. So, we were curious how the Renegade would perform–it brought a smile to our face.
Introduced in 2015, Jeep enthusiasts were wary about this small Italian creature, wondering if it truly was a Jeep. As Smarticded, at the time of its launch, Jeep engineers and designers were very involved with the Renegade’s development. So yes, it really is a Jeep.
Smarticd drove the 2017 Jeep Renegade Altitude 4X4, equipped with a 1.4-liter turbocharged I4 engine producing 160 horsepower and 184 pounds-feet of torque. If you want a bit more horsepower (180), but don’t mind a bit less torque (175), you can opt for the 2.4-liter naturally aspirated Tigershark I4 engine, with the nine-speed automatic transmission. Smarticd’s Renegade had a six-speed manual transmission that had a solid feel and went through the gears smoothly.
Running on regular gasoline, the 1.4L Renegade has an EPA rating of 24 city/31 highway/26 combined fuel economy. Smarticd drove the Renegade 389 miles, with an even mix of highway, city and some mountain roads, and achieved a respectable combined average of 27.2 mpg. However, in two 100-mile freeway runs with the cruise control set to 65 mph, we achieved 32.2 mpg.
The 1.4L was smooth at both around-town driving and cruising at highway speeds. The 0-60 time of around 10 seconds was unspectacular, which is about the same as its competitors in this class of small crossovers. The benefit of having the six-speed manual was that when climbing a grade, downshifting to move the Renegade’s 3,210 lbs. was a relatively easy task. When revved pulling a grade, the engine was a bit buzzy, but this is not only to be expected but is normal.
Driving Experience: On the Road
Smarticd’s Renegade 4X4 was equipped with Kumho Crugen Premium 225/55R all-season tires. The Altitude trim level is noticeable for its “blacked-out” look. Our tester was the none-to-subtle Hypergreen Clear with 18-inch gloss black wheels. Maybe this Jeep should have been called “Attitude” because it certainly had a lot of sass just sitting still.
The Renegade line is designed to be equally capable for street and off-road driving, with the latter the special focus for the Trailhawk trim. The 1.4L turbo engine ran smooth and provide enough power when needed for getting on the freeway and zipping around in town. Handling was agile and great for getting errands done. The overall ride was refined to the point of not being reminded you are driving a small, all-wheel drive crossover.
The Renegade comes in FWD and 4WD. Smarticd’s 4WD Renegade used Jeep’s Active Drive system that sends power to the front wheels during normal street driving. If that surface gets wet or icy, then the computer automatically sends power to the rear wheels to assist in traction. Selec-Terrain and All-speed Traction Control also add to the Renegade’s stability. For more capability off-road, check-out the Renegade Trailhawk model.
Smarticd had the opportunity to drive on a rutted, gravel road, which was not the most challenging test of how the Renegade can perform off-road. We did get a feel for the electric power rack and pinion steering, the McPherson strut front suspension with coil springs and the rear struts, coil springs and stabilizer bars, making for a very surefooted driving experience on steep hills and even muddy river banks. We were glad we did not need it, but were glad the Renegade was equipped with electronic roll mitigation.
Stopping was very good, confident, solid and straight through the single-piston front vented and solid rear rotor power-assist brakes. The Renegade comes with an anti-lock brake system, brake assist and electronic stability control.
Driving Experience: Interior
The Renegade isn’t very long but is tall and wide, making for a roomy interior. It has lots of headroom and legroom in front, but the rear seat, while providing for three-across seating for adults, shorts them on legroom. For safety, the center rear seat passenger gets a three-point seat belt. Storage behind the second row handles a few bags, but expands nicely with the 60/40 rear seat laid flat. The Renegade had a nifty feature of a height adjustable rear cargo floor, which came in handy when hauling a taller object.
Access was easy through wide doors leading to a high driver and front passenger seat positions. Like the exterior, the Altitude means you get a blacked-out interior as well. Premium cloth front seats have Jeep branded mesh inserts and are six-way manually adjustable. If you opt for the Premium Leather Group, then the seats are power adjustable, including lumbar.
The Renegade Altitude’s dash is clean and straight-forward in design. Again, it is all blacked-out, save for the chrome accents around the radio and temperature wheels and the gearshift lever. Everything is laid-out in logical, easy-to-read locations. Our Renegade was equipped with the optional Altitude Package that includes a six-speaker sound system and a 6.5-inch color touchscreen for the Uconnect operating system with navigation and SiriusXM satellite radio (one-year subscription included)/AM/FM/CD/MP3/HD radio. The leather-wrapped steering wheel has controls for audio, Bluetooth phone and cruise control that are easy to use on a system with a quick learning curve.
The Renegade Altitude had convenience features such as tilt and telescopic steering column, rear window/wiper, power windows with one-touch express up and down, power door locks, heated power exterior mirrors with turn signals, manual heat and A/C, front and rear floor mats, remote keyless entry, push button start, 12V power outlet, remote charge-only USB and AUX ports and multiple cup holders.
Driving Experience: Exterior
The Renegade Altitude looks non-threateningly aggressive with the blacked-out trim and wheels. The round headlights offsetting the grill tells you it is a Jeep. The grill’s vertical bars harken back decades and the Renegade has absolutely no unnecessary cladding or chrome work. The hood and roof are near-flat, with an integrated spoiler shading the rear hatch. There are several little hidden design gems–Easter eggs–on the Renegade, including the “X” pattern in the rear taillights, that go all the way back to WWII and the gasoline jerrycans that were strapped to the side of an open-air Jeep. Take a few minutes to peruse the Renegade for more Easter eggs, hint: front windshield.
A cool feature was the My Sky Open-Air sunroof that consisted of dual, manually removable panels, opening the Renegade to the sky. The panels when not in use are stored in a padded bag.
Safety and Convenience
The 2017 Jeep Renegade has been rated by (National Highway Traffic Safety Administration), earning Four Stars overall. Our Renegade was equipped with eight airbags, a ParkView rear backup camera, ParkSense rear park assist, tire pressure monitoring system, tire service kit (no spare tire), brake assist, hill start assist and cruise control.
Pricing and Warranties
The 2017 Jeep Renegade Altitude has a base price of $23,495. Smarticd’s test Renegade had the Customer Preferred and Navigation Group packages and the My Sky Open-air Sunroof options for a total MSRP of $27,037. All prices exclude the $1,095 destination charge.
All 2017 Renegade models come with these warranties:
- Basic Three years/36,000 miles
- Powertrain Five years/60,000 miles
Observations: 2017 Jeep Renegade Altitude 4X4
Fun and easy to drive. On and off-road capability. Seats five adults. 30+ mpg on the highway. Just quirky enough to get attention, but no derision. All for under $24,000 base price.
Jeep has four different Renegade models to choose from, each offering something a bit different. This nifty little (I had one woman say it was “cute”) on-and off-roader just might be what you need to liven-up your life.
Whatever you end up buying, enjoy your new car and as always, Happy Driving!
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