For its second year, Jeep has added a couple of refinements to its Renegade for 2016, giving fans of the spunky subcompact crossover the opportunity to upgrade to a Beats Audio premium sound system and rain-sensing wipers as well as new colors.
The sound system, which features nine speakers and a 6.5-inch subwoofer and 506-watt amplifier, is a $695 option available on Latitude, Limited and Trailhawk trims (but not the base Sport), and the wipers are part of an optional package on the Latitude model and standard on Limited and Trailhawk trims.
New colors are a granite crystal metallic and a blue metallic clearcoat, making a total of 10 exterior colors.
Other than that, this is pretty much the same vehicle that represented a major step up from Jeep’s other smaller crossovers, the Compass and Patriot.
Along with a two-wheel drive models, the Renegade offers two 4X4 drive systems, a full-time system for Sport, Latitude, and Limited versions and another with low-range capability for the Trailhawk, and two different engines.
The Sport and Latitude trims get a 1.4-liter turbo four-cylinder (160 horsepower, 184 pound-feet of torque) as standard and the Limited and Trailhawk have a 2.4-liter Tigershark four-banger (180/175, respectively) that is also optional on the Sport and Latitude.
A six-speed manual transmission is standard on the Sport and Latitude with a nine-speed shiftable automatic as a an optional. The automatic is the only tranny offered on the Limited and Trailhawk, which is a shame because you can get more kick out of the manual. Response with the automatic tends to lag when you hit the accelerator, which is noticeable even at highway speed in passing situations.
Fuel economy figures are a bit on the low side for the class. The 1.4-liter engine is rated at 24 miles-per-gallon, 31 highway and 27 combined for both the 4X2 and 4X4 configuration. Numbers for the 2.4-liter are 22/31/25 for 4X2 models and 21/29/24 for 4X4s.
Our test vehicle was the Limited 4X4, which offers a long list of standard features like a backup camera, remote keyless entry and remote start, hill start assist, Jeep’s UConnect 5.0 telematics system, power adjustable driver’s seat (manual for the passenger), and more for an MSRP of $27,990 including the $995 destination and delivery fee.
Options such as the advanced technology group that includes lane departure warning, forward collision warning, and park assist plus other niceties like navigation with a 6.5-inch screen, an upgraded UConnect system, and the premium sound system ran the final price up to $33,560.
The UConnect system works easily enough, and the navigation system basics are easily figured out without extensive study of the owner’s manual — a huge plus. Who has time to figure out the index in your typical manual?
The interior has kind of funky design features with the orange trim accents around the air vents, speakers, and even the shifter on the console something you either love or hate. Materials aren’t luxury, but are fine for the price range.
Front seat passengers get nice room and if they’re short, the room in the back is OK as well. But things can get a bit cramped for rear-seat riders if those in the front have to move their seats back.
The cargo area behind the second row is average for the class (compact SUV, remember) and folding the second row nearly triples the available space. If you routinely need more, you are shopping in the wrong segment.
What’s good about this vehicle: This a nicely equipped vehicle for its genre, and all the technological gizmos are easy to figure out. AC and radio operate off easy-to-use knobs.
What’s not-so good about this vehicle: Fuel economy numbers could be better, and the optional gee-whiz techno features get the price into rather steep territory.
For a look at the 2016 Jeep Renegade Limited and more details, check out the accompanying slide show.