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Overall verdict

The Top Gear car review:Jeep Renegade

Overall verdict
Buy it for the looks and lifestyle, then put up with the flaws. Likeable, but irrational


Chunky-cute looks, useful off-road, well-equipped and well-trimmed


Ride and refinement are immature, woeful gearboxes


What is it?

For the time being, the smallest, cheapest Jeep, though the Fiat-owned-but-staunchly-American company says an even smaller baby Jeep is in the works. That’s likely because the Renegade has found plenty of friends – over 800,000, in Europe, the Middle East and Africa since 2014 – for its characterful styling and low running costs, but is rather over-engineered as a tail-munching tractor for most everyday needs.

Yep, the Renegade is all about distilling that authentic Jeep ‘freedom’ pastiche into a dinky car the size of a Renault Captur or Seat Arona. Thing is, it stands apart from all the other me-too crossovers by being a true downsized 4x4, not a dressed-up supermini. You can have full-time four-wheel drive, a trail-rated Trailhawk model with various terrain modes and rearranged bumpers for greater approach and departure angles (you’ll smack it into banks and ridges less often) and there’s tech like hill-descent control and lockable differentials for wading into scenarios from a North Face catalogue.

For its 2018 facelift, Jeep treated to the Renagade to some (optional) LED light units, a refreshed and rather sharp touchscreen, and mainly, a new family of engines. Predictably in the current market, it’s petrols taking the limelight, in the shape of a 1.0-litre tri-cylinder turbo unit with 118bhp, and a 1.3-litre four-cyl turbo good for 148 or 178bhp. Pay attention here because it gets complicated: only the top-rated 178bhp petrol engine can be specced with 4x4 drive, and it’s tied exclusively to a nine-speed automatic. A six-speed manual is standard on the 1.0, while the 1.3 gets a six-speed dual-clutch.

Course, we’d like to reel off just how clean and efficient these powertrains make the Renegade right about now – but Jeep hasn’t yet homologated the engines and revealed what they’ll do to the gallon.

Diesel-wise, you can have a 118bhp 1.6-litre derv, or a 2.0-litre with either 138bhp or 170bhp. Here, it’s the basic 1.6-litre that’s a front-drive only (and therefore the CO2-saving company car darling). Both 2.0-litre Renegade diesels get a nine-speed automatic gearbox and all-wheel drive. The six-speed dual-clutch is available on the 1.6-litre diesel only.

Jeep’s complicated drivetrain line-up isn’t helpful, but the trimlines are relatively understandable: Sport is baseline, Longitude is heartland, Limited is over-specced top-of-the-line, and Trailhawk is for green-laning enthusiasts. Outside of Utah, good luck ever spotting one.

Highlights from the range

Title 0–62 CO2 MPG BHP Price
The fastest
1.4 Multiair 75th Anniversary 5dr 4WD Auto
8.8s 160g/km 40.9 170 £27,845
The cheapest
1.6 E-torQ Sport 5dr
11.8s 141g/km 47.1 110 £17,995
The greenest
1.6 Multijet Dawn Of Justice 5dr
10.2s 115g/km 64.2 118 £21,140
Continue: Driving