When Jeep introduced the rugged little Renegade here last year, there was just one model, the high-spec Trailhawk. We enjoyed the dinky off-roader but felt that it was just too darn expensive which probably explains why it’s a rare sight on our roads. Fast forward a year and Jeep has slashed the price of Trailhawk by eight grand, and introduced two cheaper models.
The range now starts at $34,990 for the 75th Anniversary Edition and tops out at $44,990 for the Trailhawk. In the middle sits the Limited at $39,990.
The Limited loses the four-wheel drive, and the famous trail rating. There’s a down-sized engine too, the 2.4 ‘tigershark’ replaced by a 1.4-litre turbo unit that, while down on power (103 vs 129kW), is not completely toothless, producing the same 230 units of twist as its big bro. There’s three less cogs in the box too, numbering just six, but it’s a twin-clutch unit instead of a conventional auto.
Elsewhere, the spec is much the same; figure on heated cow-hide covering the seats and steering wheel, a bluetooth-enabled touchscreen with navigation, tinted windows and a stereo system designed by a Doctor going by the name of Dre. Beats me too. There’s cruise control, reversing camera and blindspot monitoring, but active safety items are cost options. Differentiating the Limited from the Trailhawk is a deeper, meaner looking front bumper, silver exterior highlights, lower ride height and 18-inch alloys.
The Renegade oozes fun and looks super cute with styling that is chocka full of quirky design motifs. There are multiple references to Jeep’s history dotted around; we liked the little Willys Jeep on the windscreen, the Moab trail map in the centre console and the paintball splash on the tacho. Funkier than your average SUV that’s for sure. The interior is finished with a mix of soft-touch surfaces and hard plastics while silver highlights make it more appealing. Some more padding in the seats wouldn’t go amiss though; we found them a little hard over longer distances.
Fitted to this model is the My Sky removable roof which, like the TV service, is rather costly ($2500) but mildly entertaining. The plastic panels can be removed in seconds (once you locate the special key), but take several minutes to stash in the supplied bag. You need to be pretty committed to drive any distance without the top on; it’s rather loud, and the buffeting annoys. We fitted the deflector which reduced the latter to a mere roar. Evidently cracking the windows helps cut the noise some. It was far more bearable at 70km/h and even better at 50. Best to go topless when just cruising then.
The 1.4 multijet engine performs better when cruising too. Driving the Renegade in a sprightly fashion requires a foot-to-the-floor approach and there’s no sport button to hasten progress. It handles the twisties well enough, the steering hefty but lacking in chat. The dual-clutch gearbox is a smooth shifting unit, although not always so keen to kick down through the gears. Stop/start helped keep the fuel consumption down, although we couldn’t better 8.0L/100km overall, even during a long stint on the highway. The worst we saw was 11.6.
The Renegade is all about having fun and inspiring a sense of adventure. It may not be the sharpest drive but it more than compensates with its personality and quirky styling. Buy it to stand out in a crowd. We’d be tempted most by the 75th Anniversary model, which drops a little of the Limited’s spec in favour of an even lower price tag.
|Model||Jeep Renegade Limited||Price||$39,990|
|Engine||1368cc, IL4, T/DI, 103kW/230Nm||Drivetrain||6D, FWD|
|Fuel Use||5.9L/100km||C02 Output||137g/km|