2016 JEEP RENEGADE SPORT FUN TO DRIVE
By Tom Crosby
Jeeps surfaced as part of the war effort in 1941 and in the 75 years since, have been modified often. Today, jeeps are still beloved by many for their rugged – and consistent – look and on-off road versatility. That formula was followed last year when the new Jeep Renegade was launched and remains unchanged for 2016, except for variations in options.
The Renegade has four trims – Sport, Latitude, Limited and Trailhawk with various optional features, including safety aids like rear camera and blind spot detection. For lovers of any kind of Jeep, there are many choices available.
We test drove the base Renegade Sport with four-wheel drive, smooth shifting 6-speed manual transmission and four different drive modes – sand, snow, mud and auto. The mode selection adjusts traction settings for the best grip according to road conditions.
On a 1,200-mile trip averaging 28 mpg, the side-bolstered, manually-adjusted cloth seats with subtle Jeep badging were surprisingly supportive. There is no adjustable lumber support but no backache either. Our Renegade’s only added options were 16-inch aluminum wheels on all-season tires, air conditioning, cruise control and power heated mirror. Safety options are available.
The Renegade handled well in snow and rain off-road, with responsive steering and the suspension, while stiffer than a sedan, wasn’t jarring despite a unit-body platform. Inside, the armrest is well positioned and the driver visor is extendable, a feature lacking in some higher-priced vehicles. Visibility is good and seat height high.
The price is competitive with similar subcompact SUVs and versatility is excellent with 60/40 split folding second row seats to increase an average sized cargo area. A tire repair kit substitutes for a spare tire. Rear seating is tight for adults, suited best for short trips. Underway at highway speeds, there is some intrusive wind noise, easily overcome by the four-speaker AM/FM radio, which did a good job finding local stations. There is a USB port and auxiliary EV jack.
Outside, the shape is boxy, and the black cladding wraps the underbody, helping off-roading. The large iconic 7-slot vertical chrome grill between circular headlights says “Jeep” imitating the original. Five spoke aluminum wheels add a nice touch to the look.
Now built by Chrysler-Fiat, Jeeps remain seemingly omnipresent on the streets and the Renegade has generated excellent sales, making it a popular new subcompact addition within a hot marketing segment.
LIKES: Price, seats, mileage, handling, audio, versatility
DISLIKES: Acceleration, noise, need for safety options
BOTTOM LINE: If you love jeeps, this one’s good on and off road
- Base price w/destination fee $20,990 ($23,080 as tested)
- Curb weight 3,044 lbs.
- Wheelbase 101.2 inches
- Length 166.6 inches
- Width 69.2 inches
- Engine specs 1.4-liter, inline-4, turbo SOHC
- Horsepower 160 hp at 5,500 rpm
- Torque 184 ft-lbs. at 2,500 rpm
- Transmission 6-speed manual
- EPA Rating 24 mpg city/27 mpg hwy
- Range 12.7-gallon tank, regular
- Performance 0-60 in just under 9 seconds