Jeep Renegade Review 2021 | Top Gear
Advertisement
BBC TopGear
BBC TopGear
Car Review

Jeep Renegade

£ 19,480 - £ 36,430
610
Published: 12 Jun 2018
Advertisement
Buy it for the looks and lifestyle, then put up with the flaws. Likeable, but irrational

Good stuff

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

Bad stuff

Ride and refinement are immature, woeful gearboxes

Overview

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.

Advertisement - Page continues below

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.

Advertisement - Page continues below

What's the verdict?

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

Look, you could have a quieter, more comfortable, more enjoyable car to drive for the same money as a Renegade. The question is: do you actually want any of them? In a class of copycat pseudo-SUVs with less personality than their sat nav voiceover and all the off-road ability of copper bathtub the Renegade looks and acts a little differently, and that alone imbues it with likeable character. It’s not a crossover you’ll buy rationally – it’s the only car in its class that’s a heart-over-head purchase.

Chances are if you’ve fallen for its bonsai-Rambo looks, you’ll overlook the Renegade’s powertrain bugbears and come to see it as a treasured member of the family. If you’re simply after a diminutive, rough-and-tumble workhorse, we’d be looking at the likes of the Hyundai Kona, Citroen C3 Aircross or BMW X2 instead.

compare car finance
Powered byZuto Logo
more on this car
Take one for a spin or order a brochure
Powered byRegit Logo

Subscribe to the Top Gear Newsletter

Get all the latest news, reviews and exclusives, direct to your inbox.

By clicking subscribe, you agree to receive news, promotions and offers by email from Top Gear and BBC Studios. Your information will be used in accordance with our privacy policy.