Auto Nsider Review: 2016 Jeep Renegade Sport FWD

So…you need new wheels….and you’d really rather have something new…but you’ve got a $20-ish budget….and you’d really like to have something with a little style.     Tough recipe, but if that’s you, Jeep just might have something for you.

 

Sure….there’s dozens of good, reliable economy vehicles with price tags in the $20’s.    But most of ‘em are a little hard to find in a parking lot, right?

 

Not so with Jeep’s blocky little Renegade.   No half-used bar of soap here.

Jeep’s Renegade kinda’ says capable and cute all in the same breath.

 

As Jeep’s smallest member of the family, the Renegade is perfectly sized to explore narrow, way-back-in-the-weeds trails in 4X4 form.

 

But we had the front-wheel-drive version, so what, exactly, did we have?

 

In short, a distinctive little economical suv.

 

We tested the economy version…the entry-level “Sport”.   This little guy starts at an advertised $17,995.   Add destination fees, aluminum wheels and air conditioning ( yes….due to it’s outdoor nature, the Renegade is perhaps the only vehicle on which AC is not standard these days )…and you’ve got a real, genuine Jeep for just a hair over $21K.

 

That $21K sticker had us shifting for ourselves with a 6-speed manual and a 1.4 liter, 160 horse turbo motor.   Opt for Jeep’s 9-speed automatic and you’ll get a 2.4 liter turbo with another 20 horses.   Our combination was rated at 24 city and 31 highway.   We actually got a bit better than that….high 20’s in our usual commute and high 30’s when “trapped” on a heavily-patrolled 55 MPH parkway.

 

The 6-speed shifted smoothly, even for a guy who only drives a stick maybe 4-5 times a year.   Plus it had Jeep’s standard “hill-start-assist”…preventing one from rolling back as you let out the clutch starting out from a stop on a hill.    And even with the tiny 1.4 motor, the Sport can tow 4,000 lbs.

 

You won’t be embarrassed if you show up in a base Renegade Sport.   Want to dress it up a little, tho’?   Jeep makes it easy to upgrade.   For just a few thousand more, you can get most of the luxuries and connectivity that you’ve come to expect….and one or two that might surprise you, like the Renegade’s completely removable dual roof panels.

 

Even with Jeep’s top-of-the-line 4X4 Trailhawk, you’ll be hard-pressed to spend more than $30,000.

 

Enthusiast publications have heaped praise on the 4X4 versions of Jeep’s Renegade.   I think that the entry-level grocery-getter “Sport” …for what it is….is equally praiseworthy.

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