2017 Jeep Renegade: Maintains tough reputation

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As the original sport utility vehicle, Jeep has endured wars and multiple owners. It’s prideful, tied to patriotism and known for its off-road durability. It’s also now a hybrid, not via engine options, but in origin.

The smallest vehicle in the manufacturer’s lineup, the 2017 Jeep Renegade is the brand’s third-year subcompact crossover. Jeep still manufacturers many of its vehicles near its original plant in Toledo, Ohio. But the Renegade is assembled Melfi, Italy, and in Guangzhou, China. It’s the first Jeep produced outside of North American for international markets, including the United States.

The 2017 Jeep Renegade is available in multiple trim levels.
The 2017 Jeep Renegade is available in multiple trim levels.

The Renegade debuted with substantial importance. It was set to replace the Jeep Compass and Jeep Patriot. But while the Patriot departed in late 2016, the 2017 Compass was launched earlier this year.

With much competition, the Jeep Renegade fills a niche market. It’s for buyers seeking an SUV with off-road attributes and daily driver qualities. It does both successfully with a few caveats.

The 2017 Jeep Renegade is available in Sport, Latitude, Limited and Trailhawk trims. Many new vehicles have lengthy standard feature lists and the Renegade follows suit.

In addition to much of the equipment from other trims, the Limited, my test vehicle, included: 18-inch wheels, dual exhaust tips, automatic wipers, full keyless ignition and entry (with remote engine start), dual-zone automatic climate control and an upgraded driver information display.

An auto-dimming rearview mirror, remote engine start, a 115-volt power outlet, leather upholstery, an eight-way power-adjustable driver seat (with four-way power lumbar), heated front seats, a heated steering wheel, a leather-wrapped shift knob and a 40/20/40-split folding rear seat with pass-through are also in the hefty standard equipment list.

A 2.4-liter four-cylinder engine that produces 180 horsepower is standard for the Limited paired to a nine-speed automatic transmission. Front-wheel or a four-wheel drive is offered, with the latter on my vehicle. Acceleration is average for the segment, with the 0-60 miles per hour standard achieved in 9.4 seconds. Gas mileage averages are 21 and 29 miles per gallon, respectively, in city and highway driving.

The manufacturer’s suggested retail price is $27,195. It’s slotted several thousand dollars less than the average price a new vehicle in the United States. It optional technology ($995) and security ($895) packages are inexpensive and worthy of consideration. The navigation system ($1,245) and retractable roof and removable side panels ($1,495) and destination fee ($1,095), push the Renegade’s price to $32,920. It doesn’t make the Renegade overtly expensive for its segment, but it’s not a bargain, either.

All four-wheel drive Renegades have a large handy turn dial behind the shifter for various driving modes. It helps define the vehicle’s utilitarian personality as does Renegade’s ability to tow 2,000 pounds.

The Renegade offers a smooth, powerful ride, particularly on the freeway. The interior is surprisingly spacious, especially considering its designation as a subcompact SUV. Jeep models have a boxy exterior design and it presents one of the vehicle’s only downfalls Wind noise is prominent at high speeds.

The Renegade is also pushed around in strong winds, which I experienced often while driving from the Napa Valley and onto Interstate 80 en route to Sacramento a few hours before the area was evacuated in the recent mass fires.

The first civilian Jeeps were introduced in 1945 and they’ve steadily modernized far beyond the original vehicle while maintaining their rugged design and personality. The iconic nine-slot long ago became a seven-slot grille, and it’s now a more subtle presentation. Yet Jeep’s utilitarian reputation remains at age 76. It’s sturdy, lightweight and unmistakable as an automotive icon.

Likes:

Quiet, comfortable ride.
Spacious seating.
Terrific overall vision.

Dislikes:
Boxy design.
Stability issue in strong winds.

Facts & Figures: 2017 Jeep Renegade

Acceleration: 0-60 mph, 9.4 seconds.
Airbags: 8.
Fuel economy: 21 mpg (city), 29 mpg (highway), 24 mpg (combined) nine-speed automatic transmission.
Horsepower: 180.
Manufacturer’s Suggested Retail Price: $27,195.00.
Price As Tested: $32,920.00.
Warranty: Bumper to bumper, 3 years/36,00 miles; Powertrain, 6 years/60,000 miles; Corrosion, 7 years/unlimited miles.

What Others Say:

“The Renegade’s most appealing quality is the enormous number of trims, features and variations, allowing customers to create a personalized Renegade that best suits their needs.” — Kelley Blue Book.

The Weekly Driver’s Final Words:

“A combination of daily driver and off-road SUV, the 2017 Jeep Renegade is a solid choice. Just hold on tight in strong winds.”

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