2019 Jeep Renegade
Just how 'Renegade' is it, really?
Published on 10 Mar 2022
(NOVEMBER 2019) The Jeep Renegade when launched, was truly a revelation, making the ‘Jeep’ mantra truly more accessible to so many. Boxy like a traditional 4x4, the Renegade was praised for its funky styling, practicality and its edge over many others in the Compact Utility Vehicle (CUV) segment (basically a small SUV), in terms of actual off-road ability. While its dimensions betrayed it from being a proper hard-core 4x4, it was rated as being more than capable in stock form, to handle what the average urban adventurer and occasional weekend explorer could throw at it. Related to the Jeep Compass (which has more contemporary SUV styling) and the Fiat 500X, the Renegade sits smack-bang in the middle of a segment, providing a unique proposition in the CUV class.
Now available in Sri Lanka with a ‘blink and you’d miss it’ facelift, Motor paid a visit to Jeep HQ at DIMO 800, to find out whether it still retains enough appeal as it did when launched, to make it in a fiercely competitive segment.
The facelifted Renegade can only be told apart by a few slight design cues initially. However, once you see them, you begin to realize that Jeep has fine-tuned the Renegade to look even better, and appeal to the buyer that was interested, but drawn away by the overly cutesy styling of the pre-facelift model. Both front and rear bumpers sport new designs, now even more aggressive with meatier fog-lamp surrounds, and also included are LED headlamps straight from the new Wrangler. The front fascia is boxier and less ‘friendlier’ drawing on the angular themes from Jeep’s back-catalogue. The 7 vertical slat grille distinguishes the Renegade as a clear Jeep product. New wheel choices and a sharper rear completed face-lift upgrades, and overall, the Renegade seems to have a more mature feel in terms of design. The concept of the compact Jeep has been enhanced, and the vehicle does look fresher and in tune with its brothers in the Jeep stable. The rest of the car is identical to the pre-facelift and retains the boxy outlook. There is also a lot of clearance, and excellent proportions with a glasshouse design, much like a traditional 4x4, with short overhangs.
Every body panel has some cue to Jeep’s heritage. So much so, that you can witness this even without unlocking the car. Cues such as the original Willys Jeep grill and profile sneakily etched onto glass and door panels, Jerrycan-style X’s built into the rear tail-lamps, even a sketch of the mystical North American legend, Big-Foot or Sasquatch (or ‘Squatch’ as some believers call him) makes an appearance just above the rear windshield washer assembly. This is the funkiness that made the Renegade such a hit the first time, and even with this facelift, the novelty remains. Almost as if Jeep is sending us a message, that growing up is fine, but always keep the inner-child close by and see the fun side of life and always strive to venture out and explore.
Mech & Tech
The Renegade features a Fiat MultiAir2 1.4-liter turbocharged engine mated to a 9 speed automatic gearbox with a manual mode, putting out 168bhp and 250Nm. For the most part the Renegade mostly drives the front wheels, but is equipped with Jeep’s Active Drive 4×4 system with Jeep Active Drive Low 4×4 and Hill Start Assist to add to the capability of the Renegade. Sharing a platform with the Fiat 500X and made in Italy, there is also a lot of handling prowess built into to the suspension and chassis, as we found out on a small excursion while on our test – more on that later! The 4x4 system is accessed via the Selec-Terrain® Traction Management System and has up to five settings, for a range of terrains, namely Snow, Sand, Mud and Rock, with an Auto setting for when you really have no clue what surface you are on. Some of this terrain would probably require some additional clearance, but it’s refreshing to see a full suite of 4x4 capability available on a CUV, when there are many ‘Great Pretenders’ on the market with no such technology, let alone any drive to the rear wheels to back the tough-guy looks. Motor took the Renegade on a series of surfaces as available on a weekday in Colombo, to find out what it was like to drive.
Our first spot of driving was heavy mid-day traffic in Peliyagoda. Amidst all the towering 40-foot container trucks, we sat confident in our Command driving positions in the Renegade. As a city cruiser stuck in traffic, the Jeep was a comfortable place to be in, with the higher seating position giving the driver and passengers the confidence that they were in a much larger vehicle. The start stop function too worked well, but at times we found it to have the slightest of delays when switching back on, especially on upwardly inclined surfaces. The Jeep also handled potholes beautifully, absorbing the impact and with minimal transmission of that stress to the cabin.
On the expressway to Ja Ela, the Renegade was extremely car-like and truly to its European underpinnings, was a very stable drive. The steering was reminiscent of a larger SUV with a nice built in weight. Some may feel it less direct, although you must remember that the Renegade is a CUV and not a sports car- the value proposition is completely different. Getting onto some B-roads that served us a mix of concrete and asphalt surfacing with some curves, the Jeep excelled with a ride that was planted and comfortable. There was controlled body roll, but much less than you would expect from a car with these proportions. Braking was powerful too, inspiring confidence in some spirited motoring all-in-all.
As we were all injected with some Jeep courage and inspired by all the graphics that are plastered on the car, we decided to take the car onto a bit of sand for a photo-op and a light test of the 4×4 system. Additional clearance on the Renegade gave us even more confidence, although it is best to have a spotter outside the car to make sure you clear every obstacle on the path that you wish to take, this is good off-roading practice.
Switching to 4x4 was super easy, unlike old-school off-roaders which require you to alight, lock hubs, etc.. Here, with a twist of a knob, we were in Sand mode, probably similar to a 4H on a traditional 4x4. The Renegade definitely does have the system to deal with such terrain beautifully, and did so well on the sand, clearly leaving many in the CUV market behind – especially if you are the sort of buyer that would like to take his/her CUV off tarmac and onto a dirt or gravel road on your trips.
Living with the Renegade
The Renegade has a spacious cabin further enhanced by the large windows all around, which also means great visibility right around the car; an excellent attribute often prized in larger 4x4s and not incorporated into a lot of car-based CUVs as well. The front seats are quite supportive; even when driven aggressively, they provide good thigh and side support adding to a sense of stability. There is an abundance of headroom right through the cabin, and taller individuals will be more than comfortable in the back seats as well. Big windows, means passengers get to see more of the outside world, and this is great for families who like to venture out on long weekends.
The dash is very similar to the pre-facelift, but the biggest improvement has been the larger 6.5” touchscreen display with the ParkView rear-view camera too is a useful feature, as well as the dynamic ParkAssist System, that helps you make short work of parking and saving you a lot of potential embarrassment. The images are quite crisp and clear as well – no doubt the resolution is quite high. The ana-digi instrument cluster too has now shed the mud-splatter, thankfully, and is more traditional and there is a large info display which relays a lot of useful information. The interior plastics seem quite robust, and are built to be used, but do not feel cheap at all. The gear knob too is of a good size, as is the steering, and both feel very good to use, given that these are the main touch-points for any driver. The AC controls also have knobs provided and are clear to use, with individual temperature controls for left and right (dual-zone).
The rear load lip is relatively flat, given that you would have to lift items to place in the back, which is good as that extra ‘lift’ effort is saved. The boot floor is nice and flat as well as wide, and can take a number of large bags and items essential for travel.
The Renegade comes with 7 airbags as standard, and a chassis made of high-strength steel, it’s no wonder that it has scored 5 stars at the Euro NCAP. With ISOFIX seat fitments in the rear, as well as features like Electronic Stability Control, Traction control and full suite of 4x4 features to handle any terrain, you can be rest assured that you and your loved ones will travel securely.
Fuel Econ & Price
DIMO estimates the Renegade to return fuel figures of 7.5 to 8Km/L in Colombo/city running, and around 12Km/L on sub-urban trips outstation. These are decent figures, given the power available and this being a 1.4L turbocharged powerplant with fully functional 4x4, and a fairly upright body rather than a low-slung, aerodynamic shape. Pricing is LKR 10.9m ex-stock at time of writing in 2019, which puts it in a lot of murky water, in terms of choice, but the potential buyer will definitely know if the Renegade is for him or her, instantly. Such is the charm the car carries. It all depends if you want something that looks like it can go off road, or something that actually can go off road. DIMO also offers a 5 year, unlimited mileage warranty for the Renegade giving owners’ peace of mind in terms of support and assistance.
So where does the Renegade fit? Jeep’s CUV is not just a car-based vehicle with cutesy boxy looks made to attract buyers. Jeep have drawn on their heritage and know-how to create a scale model 4x4, which is a head and shoulders over the competition in its segment in terms of off-road ability, loaded with features and tech, and packaged in a funky, approachable styling that doesn’t seem cartoonish at all anymore.
With this face-lift, Jeep has made the Renegade seem more mature, without compromising the values of ‘Freedom’ which Jeep has held close to its heart through all of its heritage. This is a true shrunken-down Jeep, and embodies the concepts fully, and would be an excellent buy for anyone, who balances city lifestyle, with a sense of adventure.