What's the used Jeep Renegade 4x4 like?
Think of Jeep and you will call to mind a butch and perhaps a trifle unsophisticated brand that is as American as Route 66 or mom’s apple pie.
It comes as quite a shock to discover, then, that the Renegade is made in Italy and rides on the underpinnings of nothing more rugged than a Fiat 500X. It is, as you would imagine, a co-operative effort between US and European designers working under the Chrysler and Fiat flags, the two firms having long been an item.
The Renegade chases a slightly different market to Jeeps of old, instead pitching itself against the likes of small SUVs such as the Renault Captur and Mini Countryman. Where you might expect to find four-wheel drive – a must for any serious mud-plugging off-road action – most Renegades are in fact front-wheel drive. And where you might hope to see a V8 engine, it's a range of four-cylinder units. The Renegade is, however, short, tall and wide, fitting in with the traditional packaging of a Jeep, but at odds with most modern cars, it seems – even SUVs.
There’s one petrol option in the shape of a 1.4-litre unit, and diesels of 1.6-litre and 2.0-litre capacity, as well as a range of trims so vast that it’ll make your head burst. To start with there’s Sport, Longitude, Limited, Trailhawk and 75th Anniversary. Entry-level Sport has intelligent traction control, hill start assist, electronic stability and roll mitigation control as standard, while inside there is air conditioning, a six-speaker audio system and Fiat's Uconnect infotainment system with a 5.0in touchscreen display. Upgrade to Longitude and not only can you get four-wheel drive, it also comes with heated door mirrors, cruise control, rear parking sensors and front foglights. Limited models add a chrome exhaust, dual-zone climate control, heated front seats and steering wheel, front parking sensors, leather upholstery, sat-nav and a 6.5in touchscreen infotainment display. There is also the inclusion of Fiat's forward collision warning mitigation and lane departure warning systems.
Range-topping Trailhawk gets numerous additional features, including hill descent control, reinforced protection plates for the fuel tank, transfer case and transmission, rear privacy glass and Trailhawk-specific decals. Currently, rounding off the range is the limited-edition 75th Anniversary trim, which has all the standard features from Limited and comes with bronze exterior details, a choice of black or sandstorm and yangerine upholstery and an electric sunroof.
Later models even have the option of three more trims with wonderful names: Desert Hawk, Night Eagle ll and Tough Mudder.
On the road, the Renegade is a mixed bag. The petrol car feels a bit weedy, while the 2.0 diesel is unpleasantly noisy. The 1.6 is a little smoother and performance is adequate if not spectacular. Alas, the steering is a little vague and inconsistently weighted, while the body leans right over in bends. Grip levels are moderate but respectable, while the handling, if distinctly agricultural in feel, is at least safe and secure. The ride, too, is rather old-fashioned, although it never threatens to get too out of control, while refinement is definitely from the old school, with plenty of road and wind noise.
Inside, things start off well, with a good driving position and logically placed controls, but visibility to the rear is hampered by the large rear pillars and interior quality is noticeably inferior to its more mainstream rivals.
Things are better when it comes to space, with plenty of room up front, as well as good leg and head room for two rear passengers, although three abreast will be cramped. The boot is usefully shaped and at least the same size of those in its competitors.