Jeep has certainly made a name for itself, producing some of the world’s most capable off-roaders. And whether they’d admit it or not, this can cause a problem to any new model not fitted with a live axle or mechanical locking differentials. Such is the hardcore nature of a typical would-be Jeep buyer that anything not remotely “Trail Rated” is dismissed as rubbish and sent packing to the junkyard in the sky. But at the same time, Jeep can’t stay blind and deaf to the world of the small crossover. It’s certainly lucrative and represents the fastest growing segment globally. If Jeep wants to ascertain its future in the world market, it needs a good one in in its line-up.
Enter the all-new Renegade, Jeep’s newest crack at the small crossover segment. It’s sure to appeal to a broader range of buyers while still managing to keep its small, but vocal loyalists quiet.
In a broad sense, the Renegade takes whole chunks from the Jeep styling book lock, stock, and barrel. The seven-slate grille, round headlights, square taillights; even the long flat hood, flared trapezoidal wheel arches, and short overhangs don’t look out of place in a Wrangler. Yet, stare carefully and there’s a dozen or so Easter eggs sprinkled around. The Renegade doesn’t go full-on-retro, but it’s not over styled either. It’s cheeky and cute; bordering on flamboyant, which is to be expected, since it’s the Italians (FIAT) that’s largely responsible for this number.
The same attention to detail makes the interior an equally fascinating place. From a tiny map of Moab, Utah on the center console to the jerry can influence on the cup holders to Big Foot climbing up the rear wiper mechanism, there’s no shortage of conversation pieces inside the Renegade. And thankfully, the cabin’s not just about design as well. The boxy styling translates to a surprisingly roomy cabin whether you’re in front or back. Head, shoulder, and legroom is in ample supply for those in front; and even those in the back, there’s solid knee room for two full-sized adults as well. For the driver, as well as front passenger, the Renegade comes with power adjustments for the seats. Combined with a tilt/telescopic steering wheel, and it makes for a comfortable driving position. Sightlines are reminiscent of the Wrangler in the way the hood looks low and long from behind the driver’s seat as well as the resulting blind spots from the upright A- and thick D-pillar.
With a sole variant available locally, the Renegade comes packing with a solid list of creature comfort features. Apart from the powered front seats, it comes with leather upholstery, ambient LED interior lighting, forward collision mitigation, lane departure warning, rear parking sensors, and an UConnect infotainment system with built-in navigation. That last one is generally good when it works properly, but otherwise, it defaults back to Italian for no apparent reason, taking your personalization options with it. Oh and the standard Beats speaker system is a bit of a downer too. Dr. Dre must be sad.
Jeep has dropped in a curiosity of an engine in the Renegade: a 1.4-liter turbocharged 4-cylinder from FIAT. With 168 horsepower at 5,500 rpm and 250 Nm of torque at 2,500 rpm, the on paper performance figures seem reasonable enough. And at first crank, it does. It’s reasonably quiet with minimal turbo lag. It offers decent acceleration and can belittle this crossover’s portly 1,450-kilogram curb weight. But as much as it feels racy, don’t try drag racing the Renegade. Physics will still rear its ugly head and it’s obvious whenever you try commanding it to overtake slower traffic. You’ll find yourself questioning where all that power went, as it takes some revs for the engine to get into the zone. Plus, it’s exacerbated by the 9-speed automatic’s propensity to hunt through gears too much. And sometimes, downshifts can be too aggressive causing some noticeable shudder.
Even with the Renegade’s serious weight problem, it’s still a dynamically solid crossover. It doesn’t drive small, but at least it feels planted in all but the hardest of cornering maneuvers. Push it extra through a bend, and it does tend to tip a bit, but at least the body roll comes in progressively and predictably. The steering is also largely light on feedback, but at least the weighting builds up steadily and linearly from on-center to full lock. It takes more turns to get things to respond, but at least dialing in the right amount of steering is quite easy. On flatter pieces of road, it’s extremely poised and comfortable, showing that it has got the appetite for eating up long distance driving. Some bumps and imperfections do make it into the cabin, but they’re of the bigger variety and even so, the absorption feels very controlled. If there’s one thing that needs improvement though, it’s the brakes. On most occasions, it feels severely under braked. Sometimes, there’s brake dive mixed in too.
Priced at P 1,941,000, the Renegade is at least half a million pesos more expensive than its similarly-sized rivals. And though the premium pricing seems like the most glaring mark against the Renegade, at least Jeep’s taking a chance here. With the crossover genre all about taking chances, Jeep has certainly dug into their well-known design heritage and off-roading know-how to produce a well-packaged crossover that’ll appeal to a wider range of consumers. And not only is it well-styled, but it’s also proving to be an able, entertaining, and roomy companion on both on- and off-road excursions.
2016 Jeep Renegade 4x4 Limited
|Ownership||2016 Jeep Renegade 4x4 Limited|
|Vehicle Classification||Compact Crossover|
|Body Type||5-door Crossover|
|Engine / Drive||F/AWD, Lock|
|Under the Hood|
|Layout / # of Cylinders||I4|
|BHP @ rpm||168 @ 5,500|
|Nm @ rpm||250 @ 2,500|
|Fuel / Min. Octane||Gasoline / 95~|
|Fuel Economy @ Ave. Speed||5.21 km/L @ 13 km/h|
|Dimensions and Weights|
|Curb Weight (kg)||1,450|
|Suspension and Tires|
|Front Suspension||Independent, MacPherson Strut|
|Rear Suspension||Independent, Multi-link|
|Front Brakes||Vented Disc|
|Tires||Bridgestone Turanza T001 225/55 R 18 V (f & r)|
|Anti-Lock Brakes (ABS)||Yes|
|Traction / Stability Control||Yes|
|Parking Sensors||Yes, Rear|
|Other Safety Features||Hill Start Assist
Hill Descent Control
Forward Collision Warning Plus
Lane Departure Warning Plus
|Fog Lamps||Yes, Front and Rear|
|Steering Wheel Adjust||Tilt/Telescopic|
|Steering Wheel Material||Leather|
|Seating Adjustment||Electric (front)|
|Folding Rear Seat||Yes, 60/40|
|Power Door Locks||Yes|
|Climate Control||Yes, Dual Zone|
|# of Speakers||9, Beats|