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2019 Jeep Renegade Review

The 2019 Jeep Renegade’s new engine should help this likable crossover SUV use less fuel.
The 2019 Jeep Renegade is a compact crossover SUV with the chunky details and a boxy shape to drive home the brand’s woodsy heritage. With the Renegade, Jeep persona goes deeper than the surface on rugged Trailhawk trims. It's a capable performer off-road but requires compromises—such as rear space and noisy engine—to everyday usability that make some competitors better choices.

For that we give it a 4.8 out of 10. Its biggest demerit is its poor safety record—mediocre crash test results and limited standard active safety gear hold it back in our ratings scale.

The 2019 Renegade receives a new optional engine and last year’s premium 2.4-liter engine becomes the base setup in the lower trims. The new 1.3-liter engine is equipped with a stop-start system and a thoroughly revised (and hopefully improved) 9-speed automatic transmission, but we haven’t driven it yet. We'll update this space when we know more.

The 2019 Renegade wears revised front and rear fascias, new wheel designs, and optional LED headlights and taillights. Adaptive cruise control is newly available and the Renegade can now park itself in certain situations.

The base Renegade Sport’s steel wheels and bare bumpers solidly back-to-basics, but Latitude, Limited, and Trailhawk trims add more features. The popular Latitude trim extends the availability of certain options such as a removable panel roof and 19-inch wheels. The Limited features chrome, larger standard wheels, and leather seating that's heated up front.

The smaller turbocharged engine is standard on the Limited and the Trailhawk, while the rough-sounding 2.4-liter engine comes on Sport and Latitudes.

The Renegade comes standard with front-wheel drive, but there are two all-wheel drive systems available. The Trailhawk receives a version with a simulated low gear, likely enough for most owners considering the rest of the vehicle’s capabilities. Both all-wheel drive versions automatically engage the rear axle when a slip is detected but run in front-wheel drive in most situations to save fuel.

Once underway, the small Jeep handles better than one might expect given its short wheelbase and small overall size. The soft suspension helps daily life in the Renegade. A slight lean during corning are the only notable drawbacks. A more glaring strike against the Renegade is its lack of standard active safety features—automatic emergency braking is a costly option on most trims.

The Jeep Renegade tries hard to channel the brand’s off-road heritage.
The 2019 Jeep Renegade’s boxy shape is big on rugged touches with its short front and rear overhangs and relatively tall tires.

We like the boxy look and rate it 7 out of 10 on our scale.

For 2019, the Renegade’s seven-slot grille receives a moderate update and is flanked by large round headlights now available with LED lighting. The short front overhang and upright grille do their best to bely its front-wheel-drive underpinnings while a healthy dose of unpainted trim increases the visual ride height. The thick rear pillars and squared-off wheel wells add to the strong appearance while around back, square taillights are widely spaced apart and are complement the deep shapes of the tailgate.

The base Sport trim’s black 16-inch wheels increase in size and style all the way up to optional 19-inch bright aluminum alloys. Different grille, mirror, and headlight surrounds mark each trim level, while the Renegade Trailhawk has a taller ride height to fit meatier tires and its reshaped bumpers improve off-road clearance.

Red tow hooks and a black hood sticker tie the Trailhawk in with Jeep’s costlier off-roaders

The interior is full of big shapes despite its tidy space.

Alien-looking vent pods sit on top of the center dash panel while the space in front of the passenger receives an integrated grab-bar. An optional 8.4-inch infotainment screen is the focal point of the dash panel. Big knobs for the fan speed, temperature, and an off-road mode selector are surrounded by buttons and there is actually very few plainly shaped surfaces up front and along the doors.

The interior is available in light and dark hues in most trims, while the Trailhawk has a unique cloth surface and red shifter surround and speaker grille surrounds.

The Jeep Renegade may not lead the charge up the mountain, but in Trailhawk form it’s a surprising off-roader.
The 2019 Jeep Renegade is offered with two engines mated to automatic transmissions and a choice of front- or all-wheel drive. The all-wheel drive system helps the Trailhawk fulfill its capable persona.

For this added capability, we score the Renegade at 6 out of 10—with the asterisk that we haven’t driven the Renegade’s newly optional 1.3-liter turbo-4. 

That new engine sits at the top of the engine lineup and comes standard in Limited and Trailhawk trims.  A 2.4-liter inline-4 rated at 180 horsepower and 175 pound-feet of torque powers the lower two trims, Sport and Latitude. The non-turbo 2.4-liter inline-4 furnishes decent acceleration, but its 9-speed automatic transmission often feels confused. It’s especially troublesome around town, where it can fumble the first few shifts. We hope that Jeep has improved the transmission with the new 1.3-liter engine. With 177 hp and 200 lb-ft of torque, it’s promising.

Last year’s 1.4-liter turbo-4 and 6-speed manual transmission have been booted to the curb. We won’t miss either.

The optional all-wheel drive system launches the Renegade from a stop with both axles engaged for maximum grip but can disconnect power to the rear wheels at higher speeds to reduce fuel consumption.

Around town, the Renegade’s soft suspension yields a comfortable ride, especially given its short wheelbase and upright shape, though the larger wheels create a bit of impact harshness. Higher-speed turns generate moderate body roll, though the power steering doesn’t seem to be on board with such behavior as it provides little feedback.

Renegade Trailhawk
The Renegade Trailhawk features several mechanical upgrades that increase its off-road capabilities. The 1.3-liter turbo-4 and 9-speed automatic transmission are matched with an uprated all-wheel-drive system that features off-road terrain settings, a low gear (with a crawl ratio of 20:1 to let it lope along at fairly slow speeds), hill-descent control, and 50:50 front/rear torque split lock. A taller ride height and reshaped bumpers increase its ability to clear obstacles.

The Renegade is a capable on-road compact crossover SUV and is competent at comfortably winding up mountain roads. Off-roading is best left to the Trailhawk, which has decent ground clearance and a well-calibrated traction control system that can handle slippery terrain.

Comfort & Quality
The 2019 Jeep Renegade doesn’t make especially good use of its space inside..
Being able to climb over rocks and ford relatively deep water mandates certain tradeoffs when it comes to the 2019 Jeep Renegade.

We rate it at 4 out of 10, dialing a point back for its tight rear seat and gruff nature, but adding one back for decent cargo space. 

The 2019 Renegade’s front row seats are comfortable with decent bolstering and overall space. Taller rear passengers taller will be uncomfortable when sitting behind someone equal their height due to limited legroom. Consider two shorter adults in the rear as maximum capacity, though headroom isn’t an issue.

The cargo area is deep and features flat sides. But at 18.5 cubic feet, it is smaller than most rivals. With the rear seats folded down, the volume increases to 50.8 cubic feet. In most trims the front passenger folds flat as well, enabling the Renegade to carry longer items.

Most of the materials that make up the interior are soft-touch and there are plenty of bins and cubbies throughout.

On the road, the Renegade’s economy-car roots are hushed out until it approaches highway speeds. Above 70 mph, tire and wind noise intrude and the engine’s growl has us reaching for the radio’s volume knob.

The 2019 Jeep Renegade comes with more safety gear this year, but its crash-test ratings are troubling.
The 2019 Jeep Renegade is light on safety gear and hasn’t performed well in crash tests.

For that, we give it a disconcerting 2 out of 10. A three-star government crash-test rating docks it two points on our scale and we dial back another for its costly active safety tech.

For 2019, the Renegade’s optional safety tech lineup grows with newly optional adaptive cruise control and the ability to park itself in certain situations. Those features are bundled with automatic emergency braking in a costly package for Latitude and Limited trim levels only.

A four-star overall rating from the NHTSA isn’t much to brag about, either. We’re even more concerned with the three-star rollover rating for the all-wheel-drive Renegade.

The IIHS also gave the 2019 Renegade mixed reviews, with mostly “Good” scores tempered by an “Acceptable” score in the challenging small-overlap test that simulates impact with a utility pole.

The 2019 Jeep Renegade has a back-to-basics feel in Sport trim, but well-equipped models are a decent value.
The 2019 Jeep Renegade offers a wide range of customizability, but beware its low base price—the Renegade Sport isn’t much crossover SUV for the money.

We rate the lineup at 6 out of 10, a score we get to by adding points for customizability and relative value, but deducting one for the chintzy base trim.

The Renegade Sport is a throwback in all the wrong ways. It lacks standard air conditioning and cruise control, features we take for granted these days. Adding features most buyers will want pushes the price from about $20,000 to around $24,000.

The mid-trim Latitude brings worthwhile features such as tinted windows, alloy wheels, a 7.0-inch touchscreen for infotainment with Apple CarPlay and Android Auto compatibility, and dual-zone automatic climate control. It also offers a panoramic sunroof in addition to Jeep’s optional remove and stow panel roof system.

The Limited trim adds heated leather seats, proximity entry with push button start, 18-inch wheels.

The Trailhawk builds on the Latitude with off-roading goodies such as reshaped bumpers, smaller wheels for larger tire sidewalls, a slight increase in ride-height, and hill-descent control.

All in, a Renegade easily tops $30,000—but a decently equipped Latitude costs around $28,000 and is often discounted.

Fuel Economy
We don’t have a full picture for the 2019 Jeep Renegade’s fuel efficiency.
Consider the 4 out of 10 score we assign the 2019 Jeep Renegade to be a placeholder. That figure is based on the standard base engine, but we don’t yet know fuel efficiency for the new optional turbo-4.

The official fuel economy estimates are not yet released for 2019 though the 2018 model with the standard 2.4-liter engine achieved 21 mpg city, 29 highway, 26 combined with all-wheel drive and 22/30/25 mpg with front-wheel drive.

This year’s new 1.3-liter turbo-4 also includes automatic stop/start, which may help its fuel economy numbers.

As it stands, the Renegade trails many of its rivals that hover in the 28 mpg combined range.


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