The Jeep Renegade is the small, fuel efficient, manual 4x4 wagon(ish) the world has been yearning for. What do you need to know before you buy a Jeep Renegade? Don’t worry, we’ll tell you everything right here in the Ultimate Buyer’s Guide.

In 2013, if you wanted a cheap vehicle capable of moderate off-roading but you didn’t want to spend all of your money on gasoline, you had no choice but to buy a Subaru. If you wanted fuel efficiency and a little more off-road capability, you were pretty much out of luck.

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But in 2014, Jeep launched the 2015 Jeep Renegade and it changed all that. The Trailhawk trim’s approach and departure angles allow it to climb things that would claim the fascias of its Subaru rivals. Andrew Collins from Truck Yeah! gave us a glimpse of the baby Jeep’s off-road chops when he went out to Moab, Utah in the Trailhawk for some rock crawling. Here’s what he found:

But nevermind the Trailhawk — the base model might just be cooler, because it comes with a manual transmission and can be had with 4x4. Yes, folks, a fuel efficient, 4x4, manual, wagon-like CUV. The automotive gods have listened.

What It’s Like To Drive

The Renegade wears the “Jeep” costume pretty well, and the Trailhawk can make its way down a road rough enough to send most crossovers scurrying back to the safety of proper pavement.

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But the little Renegade no Wrangler. That’s a bummer when you’re trying to rock crawl, and a godsend everywhere else.

Renegade’s true nature as a compact car isn’t as exciting to talk about as off-road abilities but the reality is, it makes for a much better daily drive.

Handling is well-balanced and the brakes are more than strong enough to keep the little car in check. Especially since it’s in no hurry at all to accelerate, even with the bigger 2.4 engine. You will make it to the speed limit without any trouble, but you’ll need a decent running start to pass long trucks on a two-lane highway.

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In town is the ideal setting for a Renegade as power feels plenty adequate from stopped to 35 MPH and the stubby shape is ridiculously easy to park. The nine-speed automatic transmission stays busy and never seems to make it to top gear, but operates smoothly enough that you’re never going to think about it.

A lot of the Renegade’s “fun feel” is derived from its looks, and you never forget you’re playing Jeep with all the cute “SINCE 1941" accents around the interior. But if most your driving is done at legal speeds on public roadways with the occasional trip down a fire road or off onto the sand that’s going to feel like enough.

What’s New About The 2016 Jeep Renegade:

The Jeep Renegade got new wheels for 2015. And a new fascia. And new engines and transmissions. Oh, and the interior is new. And the taillights are new. And...

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Okay, 2016 was the first model year for the Renegade, so everything was new. Or, if you like PR speak, the Renegade was “all new.” The 1.4-liter turbo and the 2.4-liter I4? Those come out of the Dart and the Cherokee, but for the Renegade, they were new. The 9-speed automatic transmission and the 6-speed manual? Those also came from the Cherokee and Dart, respectively, but they’re new for the Renegade. In fact, the entire small-wide platform, which is shared with the Fiat 500L, is new to the Renegade.

But after all that newness for ‘15, 2016 brings only the addition of standard rain-sensing wipers on higher trims and a new exterior paint color. Prices also went up on all models sans the base trim.

Powertrain Breakdown

Jeep offers only two engines in their Renegade: a 1.4-liter turbo inline four found in the Fiat 500 Abarth and a 2.4-liter naturally aspirated inline four found in the Chrysler 200 and Jeep Cherokee.

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While the Trailhawk and Limited come with a somewhat problematic 9-speed 948TE automatic transmission, you can row your own gears in the Sport and Latitude, as it can be had with the C635 6-speed manual transmission.

2016 Jeep Renegade Engine Options

EngineMax Horsepower (hp)Max Torque (lb-ft)
1.4L Turbo I4160 @ 5500 rpm184 @ 2500 rpm
2.4L I4180 @ 6400 rpm

175 @ 3900 rpm


Fuel Economy Breakdown

The Renegade doesn’t get great fuel economy, but it does okay for a boxy little soft-roader. The base sport model with the stick gets you 27 MPG combined. What’s interesting on the base car is that opting for the $2000 4-wheel drive option doesn’t penalize you in fuel economy. The bigger engine doesn’t quite manage as many miles from a tank as the 1.4-liter, but at 25 MPG combined for the 2wd and 24 MPG combined for the 4wd, you’ll be able to skip quite a few more gas stops than you did in your old Wrangler TJ.

2016 Jeep Renegade Fuel Economy Ratings (City/Hwy/Comb)

_1.4L Turbo I42.4L I4
Six-speed Manual24/31/27 [2wd]
24/31/27 [4wd]
NA
Nine-speed AutoNA

22/31/25 [2wd]
21/29/24 [4wd]

Trim Level Breakdown

All Renegades come with a Chapman Strut rear suspension, MacPherson Strut front suspension, and electric power steering. Front disks are ventilated 11- or 12-inch rotors, and rears are solid 10.95-inch disks.

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Renegades come in four main trims: Sport, Latitude, Limited, and Trailhawk. For 2016, Jeep adds the Dawn of Justice and 75th Anniversary trims, which are both based on the Latitude.

  • Sport: Base model. Starts at $17,995. Notable standard features: 6-speed manual transmission, 1.4-liter turbo I4 engine, 2-wheel drive, cloth seats, power seats, 60/40 folding rear bench, 16 inch steel wheels, 4-speaker audio system, AM/FM radio, trailer sway damping, front and side airbags, hill start assist, keyless entry, 3.5 inch cluster display. Notable options: 4-wheel drive ($2,000); Power and Air Group: Air conditioning, power heated mirror, cruise control ($1,495); 2.4-liter I4 engine plus 9-speed automatic transmission ($1,280 + power and air group); Uconnect 5.0 AM/FM/BT: Uconnect 5.0 A/FM with five-inch touchscreen and Bluetooth ($695+Power and Air Group); 16 inch aluminum wheels ($595 + Power and Air Group); Roof rails ($195 + Power and Air Group + My Sky removable panels); My Sky Removable Panels ($1,095 + Power and Air Group + roof rails).
  • Latitude: Starts at $21,395. Notable standard features over Sport: 16 inch aluminum wheels, Uconnect 5.0 AM/FM/BT, Power and Air Group, leather wrapped steering wheel, automatic headlamps, fog lamps, roof rails, remote start. Notable options: 4-wheel drive ($2,000); 2.4-liter I4 engine plus 9-speed automatic transmission ($1,480); Cold Weather Group: floor mats, heated seats, heated steering wheel, windshield wiper de-icer ($595); Safety and Security Group I: Blind Spot and Cross Path Detection, security alarm ($695); Advanced Technology Group: Forward collision warning, lane departure warning, rear park sensors ($995 + Popular Equipment Group + Safety and Security Group I + 2.4-liter engine and 9-speed transmission + $125 proximity keyless entry + $125 Remote Start); Popular Equipment Group: 40/20/40 rear seat with pass-through, 9-speaker stereo system, Automatic temperature control, power driver’s seat with lumbar support ($645+2.4-liter engine and 9-speed auto+$125 proximity keyless entry+ $125 remote start); Navigation with Satellite radio ($1,245); power retractable My Sky removable panels ($1,470).
  • 75th Anniversary Edition: Starts at $23,375. Basically a Latitude with unique exterior and interior trim, Beats audio, My Sky removable panels.
  • Limited: Starts at $25,120. Notable standard features over Latitude: 18 inch aluminum wheels, 2.4-liter I4, 9-speed automatic transmission, heated leather trimmed seats, power driver seat, automatic temperature control, heated steering wheel, 7 inch cluster display, painted black roof, chrome exhaust tip. Notable options: 4-wheel drive ($2,000); Safety and Security Group I: Blind Spot and Cross Path Detection, security alarm ($645); Advanced Technology Group: forward collision warning, lane departure warning, rear park sensors ($995+Safety and Security Group); My Sky power retractable removable roof panels ($1,470); Navigation with Satellite radio ($1,245); Beats audio system ($695).
  • Dawn Of Justice Special Edition: Starts at $26,250. Notable standard features over Latitude: four-wheel drive, gloss-black wheels and trim, unique interior seats and trim, Popular Equipment Group, 2.4-liter I4 with nine-speed automatic. Notable options: Navigation with Satellite radio ($1,245); power retractable My Sky removable panels ($1,470); Cold Weather Group: floor mats, heated seats, heated steering wheel, windshield wiper de-icer ($595).
  • Trailhawk: Starts at $26,745. Notable standard features over Latitude: 2.4-liter I4, 9-speed automatic transmission, Active Drive Low 4wd system with Selec-Terrain dial, hill descent control, 17 inch aluminum wheels, unique cloth seats, all terrain tires, lower final drive ratio, additional underbody skid plates, taller off-road suspension, red tow hooks, unique off-road front and rear fascias. Notable options: Cold Weather Group: heated front seats, heated steering wheel, windshield wiper de-icer ($495); Popular Equipment Group ($595); Premium Trailhawk Group: split-folding rear bench with pass-thru, dual-zone automatic temperature control, heated front seats and steering wheel, Lux leather-trimmed seats, power driver’s seat, auto-dimming rearview mirror, windshield wiper de-icer ($1,545).

Which One We’d Buy

There are three Renegades that we’re drooling over. The Sport, latitude and Trailhawk. The base Renegade Sport comes with a manual transmission and a torquey turbo four, so it has our attention. But it’s pretty spartan. At the very least, we’ll want to add the Power and Air group for $1,495 to get some nice R1245yf-cooled air blowing in our faces.

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Then we’ll see those steel wheels and think: “Man, those look pretty rough. Let’s get some Aluminum ones.” There goes another $595. Then we’ll want all-wheel drive because it doesn’t hurt the fuel economy, and it will help us out in the snow and off-road. At the end if it all, our air-conditioned, aluminum-wheeled, 4x4 Renegade sets us back $22,085 plus a $995 destination charge for a total of $23,080. Not bad if you’re looking for the cheapest reasonably-equipped Renegade.

Of course, for an extra $1,310 you can get the 4x4 Latitude, which comes with all that plus Uconnect 5.0 AM/FM/BT, roof rails, remote start, fog lamps and a couple of other doodads.

The other Renegade we want is, of course, the Trailhawk. It will take us way farther off-road than the other trim levels, and we like the way it looks. The red tow hooks and the revised fascia give the little puppy dog a bit of a growl. We wouldn’t tick a single option box on the Trailhawk, since it already comes with enough good standard content. All in with destination fee, we’d be looking at a $27,490 for the little off-road billy goat. [Build Your Own]

Important Facts At A Glance:

MSRP: $17,995-$26,745 [Sport-Trailhawk]

Max Advertised Towing Capability: 2,000 pounds [2.4L]

MPG: 21-24 city/ 29-31 hwy / 24-27 combined [4wd 2.4L-2wd 1.4L]

Engines: 1.4-liter turbo I4, 2.4-liter I4

Horsepower: 160-180 [1.4L turbo I4-2.4L I4]

Torque: 175-184 lb-ft [2.4L I4-1.4L turbo I4]

Curb Weight: ~3,020-3,500 pounds

IIHS Rating: Not A Top Safety Pick (2015)

Transmissions: 6-speed manual, 9-speed Automatic

Drivetrain Layout: Front engine, FWD/4WD

Photo credit: Jeep