Review: Jeep Renegade 2020

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Author: | Updated: 27 Jan 2020 12:30

The Jeep Renegade remains one of the most unique new cars on the market. While there are a few trade-offs with driving a car so squat and rugged, it's clearly a car that tugs at the heart.

Few vehicles catch the eye quite like a Jeep Renegade. The squat and compact crossover has the paradoxical appearance of being calm but beastly, angry but approachable, capable yet unruly.

Aiming to blend on-road performance and off-road capability with value for money, it’s also apparent the Jeep Renegade wants to be all things to all people. Can a car with such high hopes succeed? Let’s find out.

Jeep Renegade

Lives up to its name.Leasing.com five-word review

Walking around the car, its uniqueness is apparent at all stages. It’s shorter than most cars in its segment but also wider and taller than them too. Like we said in the intro, it’s a bit of a paradox, But would you want a Jeep to look any other way than a boxy and squared off? One thing’s for sure, in these days of homogenised car design it sticks out like a sore thumb (in a good way), and really brings to mind the heritage of a brand which stretches all the way back to 1941.

The infamous seven-slot Jeep grille obviously takes pride of place, widened and with contrasting chrome surrounds now, while its squared-off wheel arches and bulbous tail-lights add an air of ruggedness, the design of which we’re told is inspired by old US Army petrol cans. You can even take that a step further by ordering the Renegade with US Army Star door decals if you’re that way inclined. Other new features on the refreshed exterior include new LED headlights, larger fog lights and coloured roof rails.

Jeep Renegade Interior

Step inside the Jeep Renegade and the puzzlement continues. Similar to the exterior of the car, it’s inspired by Jeep’s heritage. That means functionality is one of its big selling points, with a passenger grab handle for when the speed bumps in Tesco’s car park get too much. Big chunky dials and switches, thick indicator and wiper levers, and practical storage solutions all give the interior a rugged appearance. That’s further amplified by the hard-wearing plastic on the dashboard and doors. Contrast this with other points though, such as plush leather seats with contrast stitching and heated steering wheel, and you see why we keep coming back to the same word throughout this review. It’s a paradox.

Jeep Renegade Map

Elsewhere in the driver’s seat, you’ll find a 7in TFT instrument cluster where you can see your speed and route navigation among other things, as well as an 8.4in Uconnect infotainment system on the centre of the dashboard.

It’s a firm ride too, and whether that’s intentional or unintentional, it certainly acts as another reference to other old-school Jeeps of the past.

This proves to be a bit of a mixed bag. Whereas those chunky dials and switches to control everything from the heating to the volume to the drive mode work wonders, the touchscreen infotainment can at times prove unresponsive and frustrating. Add to that it’s rather low-res map and it almost does a disservice to the car. But wait! It’s like Jeep pre-empted this criticism and so was clever enough to include button shortcuts for regularly used infotainment features. Meanwhile, the scroll knob on the bottom of the unit means you don’t have to use the touchscreen at all which is perfect for when you’re on the move.

Jeep Renegade OTR

And when you are on the move the Renegade proves to be responsive, and easy to drive with plenty of grip and stability offered on the road. While you couldn’t claim the Renegade is particularly comfortable for long haul trips, or great at handling, these are trade-offs we can accept for a vehicle of this type. It’s a firm ride too, and whether that’s intentional or unintentional certainly acts as another reference to other old-school Jeeps of the past.

With all that in mind, it’s clear this FWD Jeep Renegade stands as a model for those who are drawn to the Jeep brand, heritage, and everything it stands for

The 1.6 TDI Multijet-II engine proves up for the job too. Offering 120hp and 320Nm of torque it also returns a decent 55 mpg during a week of predominantly motorway driving. It’s powerful and smooth in manual too, and while it’s not the quietest engine common consensus says it’s the best one out of the range.

And as for off-road? Well, the model we tested was front-wheel drive. A sheep in wolf’s clothing if you will. As we said, the Renegade is a paradox. If you really want to go off-road in this car then you’ll want to opt for the Trailhawk. This top of the range model offers exceptional levels of traction and manoeuvrability that will ease you along rugged trails and across rushing streams with hardly any effort thanks to its Trail Rated 4x4 capability, hill descent control and Selec-Terrain drive modes.

Jeep Renegade passenger

Practicality-wise, the Jeep Renegade offers passable space for rear passengers, albeit you’d only really fit two in the back and they might complain there’s nowhere for them to store stuff. They might be happy with the USB port for charging their phone though.

The boot offers 351-litres of space. With those rear seats folded in 60/40 configuration that extends to 1297-litres and most importantly they sit flat which allows for easy loading.

With all that in mind, it’s clear this FWD Jeep Renegade stands as a model for those who are drawn to the Jeep brand, heritage, and everything it stands for, without necessarily needing or wanting the things Jeep is famous for. Whereas they might be able to find comfier (Skoda Karoq), classier (Mercedes-Benz GLA) or more driveable (Nissan Qashqai) vehicles in the compact crossover segment, they’re just not Jeeps are they? And in that situation, only one car will do: the Renegade.

Jeep Renegade rear

Model tested: Jeep Renegade Limited 1.6 Multijet-II

Exterior

Shorter, wider and taller than any other car in its class, the Jeep Renegade is unique. Would you want a Jeep to look any other way than a boxy and squared off?

Interior

Inspired by Jeep’s heritage, functionality is one of its big selling points thanks to big chunky dials and switches, thick indicator and wiper levers, and practical storage solutions all giving the interior a rugged appearance.

Driving

Offering a firm ride it’s not the most comfortable option, but the Renegade proves to be responsive, and easy to drive with plenty of grip and stability offered on the road.

Space

The Jeep Renegade offers passable space for rear passengers, while the boot offers 351-litres of space. With those rear seats folded in 60/40 configuration that extends to 1,297-litres and most importantly they sit flat which allows for easy loading.

Efficiency

The 1.6 TDI Multijet-II engine proves up for the job, returning a decent 55mpg during a week of predominantly motorway driving. It’s powerful and smooth in manual too.

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