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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
2.0 Multijet Trailhawk 5dr 4WD Auto
8.9s 166g/km 42.8 170 £30,320
The cheapest
1.0 T3 GSE Sport 5dr
11.2s 138g/km 46.3 120 £19,480
The greenest
1.6 Multijet Night Eagle II 5dr
123g/km 120 £24,480